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What happens when the enhancement is in more demand than the original product? That was the quandary faced a few years ago by entrepreneurs operating an insurance agency. And, like all good entrepreneurs, they followed the money, right into a whole new business.

Dino Carbone, executive vice president for sales and marketing at SmartPay Solutions LLC, tells the story published by Hartford Business Journal, of the firm’s inception.

He and his partners had set out to make it easier for clients to pay their insurance bills. Their pay-as-you-go software was a hit. Soon, clients wanted to buy the software as well as the insurance. The partners hung a “for sale” sign on the agency and set up shop in the emerging field of insurtech.

In 2013, Connecticut Innovations became an investor. In 2014, a Series A round closed with $1.4 million, including investments from Tennant Capital Partners and Stonehenge Growth Capital. But in 2015, the partners changed course and took the firm private again. Robert Conerly, who had joined the firm as CFO, was named CEO. Dino Carbone

Today, SmartPay has more than 10,000 businesses on its platform. There, payroll information is massaged against the client’s workers’ compensation insurance needs. SmartPay shops more than 30 carriers, including many of the best-known firms, for the best rates and coverage matches.

But the element that sets SmartPay apart from competitors is that its software can make changes in 24 to 48 hours, as staffing levels change.

And during a pandemic, that ability is an asset. Keeping pace with ever-changing workers’ comp rates has been a selling point for SmartPay. But times change. Carbone leaves no doubt the pandemic has been a boon for SmartPay’s business.

Through furloughs and layoffs, Paycheck Protection Program-funded rehiring and false starts at reopening, clients always had their workers’ comp coverage right. No gaps in coverage. No over or under payments.

The underlying software logic makes it applicable to any insurance situation where coverage is based on variables like headcount or pay rate.

And Carbone says major expansion is ahead, as quickly as the staff of 24 can manage it. First up is a new website, to be launched within weeks. Then it’s on to new lines of coverage.

Carbone says SmartPay is on course to double its revenue. He’s cautious about dropping names and numbers but says about $14 billion in payroll data crosses the platform. He also said Liberty Mutual is one of the large firms offering workers’ comp insurance through SmartPay’s platform and his firm has done “a lot” of work with The Hartford.

Carbone says SmartPay works with “thousands” of independent insurance agents.

He sees the firm’s main competitors as large national payroll providers, which are moving into the bill payment space. And that’s part of SmartPay’s pitch to recruit smaller payroll providers to its team.

SmartPay lets payroll providers add workers’ comp pay-as-you-go as a service, improving their competitive position as well as SmartPay’s.