As Axios experienced explosive growth in preparation for its launch in 2017, the founders needed a simple way to onboard new hires and provide access to health insurance.
Media + Technology
Virginia, Washington, D.C.
The Co-Founders of Axios, Jim VandeHei, Mike Allen and Roy Schwartz, set out to create the next great media company in an ever-changing landscape. After their success leading POLITICO, the founders were on a mission to create a new media company that delivers information quickly, efficiently, and in a shareable way.
As Kayla Brown, Chief of Staff and first hire at Axios put it, “We address a problem at a critical time in media — there’s more information than ever before but the most important stories aren’t being delivered to consumers in a way that is most convenient. Our newsroom utilizes smart brevity to get readers up to speed on issues that matter most for them to succeed: politics, business, tech, science and media. Axios means worthy in Greek and we’re always striving to be worthy of your time, attention and trust.”
Building a new media company is an exciting venture, but it comes with a set of administrative challenges that the founders needed to address.
In the summer of 2016, Axios (then, an unnamed company) wasn’t using any official payroll or benefits systems. “All of us were essentially self-employed,” said Kayla.
As the company experienced explosive growth in preparation for its launch in early 2017, the administrative needs increased dramatically and the founders realized they needed a simple way to onboard all new hires. They also wanted to take care of their growing team by providing them with access to high-quality health insurance.
“I began the process of meeting payroll vendors and insurance brokers,” said Kayla. “But then someone told me it’s much more efficient to utilize a PEO.”
A PEO, or Professional Employer Organization, bundles small and medium-sized businesses together so they can have access to affordable, high-quality health insurance, just like enterprise-level businesses. Besides benefits, a PEO also covers payroll administration and helps with compliance.
“From a simplicity standpoint, it was evident that we should go the PEO route,” Kayla said. “We weren’t certain how fast we would grow or quickly we would scale, but it became clear to keep it as a one-stop shop.”
After researching different PEOs, Justworks stood apart from the rest. “I didn’t have a lot of bandwidth to learn and implement a new system. We already had two office locations on day one and expectations to grow from four employees to 80 in less than a year” said Kayla. “Justworks was the easiest and best option.”
Once Axios started using Justworks, their new employees had access to high-quality health insurance from day one, and they could easily sign themselves up on Justworks’ platform.
“Everyone loves how easy it is,” said Kayla. “I never hear complaints saying, ‘I couldn’t figure that out.’ Employees don’t ask me, ‘How do I set up payroll?’ or, ‘How do I select my health insurance plans?’ Justworks has freed our team from administrative headaches and allowed us to focus on our core mission.”
Once an offer letter is signed, Kayla intakes the new Axion’s information and sets up their profile: including payroll details, benefits and individual vacation policies in Justworks. Then the employees take it from there.
“Justworks has helped us with large-scale onboarding by streamlining the process into a seamless hassle-free experience for me and the new employee. The entire set-up takes minutes from me inputting their information from the offer letter to the employee being setup for payroll and benefits selection,” said Kayla.
“I know that their first paycheck and vacation days will be prorated accurately and the new hire can fill out their payroll withholding forms before they start. Axios runs a lean operations team, so using Justworks to streamline the new hire process allows Axios staff to remain efficient and mission-focused."