San Francisco, California-based Ease has raised a $19 million Series B led by Centana Growth Partners as it looks to continue its growth trajectory, enter new markets and further broaden the capabilities of its platform.

The 130-person company, formerly known as EaseCentral, has developed a platform meant to help small and medium sized businesses with HR and benefits enrollment and administration.

Ease specifically targets companies with between two and 250 employees that have previously been shut out of enterprise software solutions created by companies like SAP, Workday and Oracle.

“Many of the small businesses around the country are still filling out paper forms. Those forms are being manually proofed, scrubbed, people are collecting this information, then it’s being scanned and then someone is manually keying this in,” said Ease CEO and co-founder David Reid.

“Today’s buyers expectations are that things will be able to be done in the cloud, nice and neat and without any paper.”

The company was founded in 2012 and its new Series B round brings its funding total to more than $27 million. Ease said it works with more than 1,200 brokerage agencies, 60,000 employers and has helped more than 1.5 million employees enroll in benefits plans.

Reid said the new capital will be used to more than double its sales operations to build on its momentum in states like Minnesota and California and expand into new markets in Texas, Illinois, New York, Pennsylvania and Florida.

In contrast with upstart benefit companies like Zenefits and Gusto, which are trying to disintermediate the employee benefits space, Ease makes its money by selling its software to brokers who pay a flat subscription fee to offer its platform to employers.

Reid said the company is positioning themselves as pure technology company that isn’t trying to disrupt the existing broker relationships in the SMB space.

An additional growing revenue stream has been integrations with carriers and vendors like Humana, ADP and Guardian which view Ease and its broker relationships a new distribution pathway for their products.

“The small group employer and agent have struggled with the inefficiency of paper to administer employee benefits. They have started to demand better,”  Gary Davis, Humana’s National Leader for Distribution Partnerships, said in a statement.

“The Ease and Humana partnership represents an integration of services for an underserved market hungry for technology solutions. Our system integration will create a real-time flow of enrollment and benefit administration services powered by Ease.”

The rise of APIs to more easily link up backend systems and the need for better consumer experience for end-users has been a driver of this business line for Ease. Additionally, as opposed to companies servicing large enterprises, carrier integrations on Ease are standardized and reusable for new employers.

“The carriers are now very accepting of this process and are interested in doing business in new ways. Specifically, they are much more ready to move away from their legacy systems and find new ways of building connectivity,” Reid said.

“The timing is now perfect because most small businesses have not adopted technology and all agree virtually all will over the next five years.”

Photo: shylendrahoode, Getty Images

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