LU 373: How Zenefits is Focusing on Processes AND People for Long-Term Growth with CMO Kevin Marasco(podcast)

Most legacy HR software is complicated, costly, takes forever to get up and running, and worst of all seems to neglect one of its primary concerns – people. Zenefits changes this by bringing everything HR into one radically simple app, including the human element. Today we chat with Kevin Marasco, CMO at Zenefits about its unusual growth story, while also digging into his accidental journey into marketing as well as his favorite hobby – ultra-marathons! Kevin starts out by telling us how he switched from engineering to marketing and software development as a student, thereafter stumbling into what became a 15 year-plus path through multiple exits with different high growth SaaS companies. From there, we get into the tumultuous and controversial story of Zenefits, touching on its pivot from an online insurance broker to HR SaaS platform and Kevin’s take on its 2016 scandal. Kevin takes us on a deep dive next into what exactly Zenefits does as an HR platform built for people, weighing in on its quick onboarding process and services in the fields of compensation, performance, and wellbeing. After hearing about pricing models, growth metrics, and an updated strategy for increasing organic reach at Zenefits, we dig into Kevin’s passion for ultra-marathons. He talks about why he started them, how they have helped in a charitable as well as a personal sense, and how he honed his skill for them in no time using a continuous improvement formula! Be sure to tune in!


[00:41] Before we jump into today’s interview, please rate, review, and subscribe to the Leveling Up Podcast!

[01:25] Kevin’s accidental road into marketing and experience in the high growth SaaS sphere.

[04:47] Being a part of Zenefits’ journey from online insurance broker to SaaS platform.

[06:44] Leading with freemium versus pureplay SaaS and a key Zenefits differentiator: quick onboarding.

[07:22] Zenefits’ features; displacing legacy HR platforms by being built for people, not processes.

[09:36] The pricing structures at Zenefits from eight to 21 dollars per employee.

[09:50] Differences between mediatized portrayals and actual perceptions of Zenefits’ scandal.

[12:06] Metrics for growth, retention, customers, and Zenefits’ payroll solution adoption rates.

[13:12] Moving to a more widespread and organic growth model and the benefits of this.

[14:09] What ultra-marathons are, why Kevin does them, his mindset, and training process.

[17:04] Why Kevin’s favorite business tool is Gong and how it improves marketing messaging.

[17:36] Turning adversity into advantage and Kevin’s favorite book on this topic.

[18:37] The best way for people to learn more about Zenefits and find Kevin online.

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About Eric Siu

Eric Siu (@ericosiu) is the CEO at Single Grain, a digital marketing agency that focuses on paid advertising and content marketing. He contributes regularly to Entrepreneur Magazine, Fast Company, Forbes and more.

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