More than 20 years ago, e-commerce was in its infancy. At the time, Kevin Dunn had just jumped on board Delta Airlines, starting as a bag handler, transitioning to a post behind the check-in counter, and quickly rising through the ranks to be part of the team behind the first iteration of Delta.com — the mammoth e-commerce site that now helps you find and book the cheapest fares from your phone.
Aside from his Delta pedigree and two degrees from Georgia State University, Dunn has built and led several e-commerce companies across different industries, from video games to electricity to human resources.
Now CEO of HR solutions platform Decisely, Dunn led a capital raise of $60 million earlier this year, which helped Decisely expand its product development, staff, and its footprint to Utah and Sacramento, CA.
Today, the company also announced it has acquired the small business division of IBX, an insurance licensee of Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, in order to add new employee benefits features and services for insurance brokers. It will also help them expand their footprint in Chattanooga and across the Southeast.
“IBX is a well respected partner to brokers across the country and we are excited to
welcome them to the Decisely family,” says Dunn. “With IBX, we can help bring small businesses and brokers together through a high-touch, technology-enabled solution that benefits both.”
Here, Dunn shares more about his career trajectory, including the time he brought the 11th largest bankruptcy in U.S. history back to life, the words he lives by as a leader, and what’s next for this Alpharetta-based company.
For those unfamiliar with Decisely, what do you do?
More than 90 percent of the businesses in the U.S. are small businesses. We serve them by giving them access to technology. We offer applicant tracking as well as onboarding products. We provide them with insurance products for their employees and give them a way to manage talent acquisition and retention.
How do you stand out from other employee management platforms out there?
We stand out in two ways. We recognize that technology cannot replace the human touch that’s necessary for small businesses. Our technology facilitates efficiency, but we have relationship managers that have one-on-one conversations with the employer. They are available to help the employer satisfy their needs. When you sign up for our technology, the relationship manager’s picture is right there along with their contact details. We do the same for employees — if they have questions, they can contact us.
The second way that we are different is that we work with brokers. There are thousands of brokers across the U.S. and we work with them so they can become more efficient as well. It’s a broker-friendly environment.
Your career has taken you across industries often unrelated to one another. What has attracted you to these companies?
The common theme is e-commerce and distribution. The reason I created this company is that employers and employees need access to information and need advice for healthcare. They estimate that by 2025, 20 percent of GDP will be healthcare-related. People need tools to make decisions and e-commerce is the best way to be efficient and to be available when the employer or employee needs a solution.
Think of travel — you can’t imagine not being able to go online and look at fares or check in your bag. That was a decade ago. In the healthcare industry, it’s just now starting to be e-commerce friendly. In the next 3-5 years, the industry is going to fundamentally change.
How does your overall experience across industries help you drive Decisely’s current growth?
In a company like Delta, even though it’s a huge company of 80,000+ employees, I got to be an entrepreneur inside the organization and start various businesses and segments such as Delta.com. Also, to work with entrepreneurs at Priceline, Hotwire, and other e-commerce site. It gave me the experience and the understanding of how a small business works and how it is different from a large company.
At Mirant [an energy company, since re-named and acquired], the team and I attempted to reorganize the contracts and debt after it was named the 11th largest bankruptcy in U.S. history. We secured a commitment from three leading investment banks for $2.35 billion in exit financing. Took it out of bankruptcy within 18 months and re-listed it on New York’s NASDAQ.
Then you look at mergers and acquisitions that I did at [professional services firm] Marsh & McLennan, which gave me the financial acumen and contacts necessary to fund the business that I’m in today and to work with venture capitalists.
What other leadership lessons have you learned so far?
We learn something every day. In my office, on my whiteboard, I wrote: “Be humble. Allow your wisdom, integrity, and work do the job for you.” I truly believe in that. The reality is that listening skills and understanding what other people’s views are will help you learn tremendously. We take that to heart here and we try to instill it into the work culture. Listen to your client, listen to what their needs are, and react by making things better for them.
With the new funding this year, how have you leveraged the money so far and what’s next for Decisely?
We’ve started using the venture capital from a people perspective — we are three times the size we were at the beginning of the year. Aside from our Alpharetta headquarters, we have an office in Utah and Sacramento, CA. The funds weren’t only allocated for operations, but also acquisitions. We’ve acquired the small business division of IBX.