Interview With Shankar Arul
Describe your product or service:
“We are a healthcare pricing transparency platform where people can research what ER visits or hospitalizations may cost prior to choosing where to go. Or they can use the data to negotiate surprise bills or expensive hospitalizations. We also have a bill management system to help people track their healthcare expenses which they could use for budgeting and not to miss payments on their bills.”
Describe your company values and mission:
“Our mission is to bring transparency around healthcare costs in the US. The system is stacked against the average person, and we want to make it easy for people to find prices so they can make informed decisions regarding their care. We are hoping this transparency also causes hospitals to more competitively price care and bring down overall costs.”
How are you funded? I.e. type of funding, number of funding rounds, total funding amount.
How big is your team? Tell us a little about them!
“Four — we have two physicians on the team, a CTO that has worked with many healthcare startups, and a marketing manager who quit healthcare due to the predatory aspects of our current system. We are all very motivated to change the system based on our own unique experiences within it.”
How did you come up with and validate your startup idea? Tell us the story!
“We started our company based on our own individual experiences within the healthcare system. As physicians, my co-founder and I see people affected by rampant healthcare costs and their inability to pay directly affecting their health outcomes. There are many companies that are trying to change the system, and we found our niche. If Indeed and GasBuddy can bring transparency around salaries and gas prices, then why couldn't we replicate the same for healthcare prices? Our data is from real bills, so people see what others paid.”
How did you come up with your startup's name? Did you have other names you considered?
“We brainstormed many names and eventually put it up to an elimination vote. Unfortunately, healthcare names are quite repetitive, and we wanted to find something that was a play on transparency and also conveyed that we were in the healthcare space.”
Did you always want to start your own business? What made you want to become an entrepreneur?
“Being an entrepreneur is a new experience for me. I wanted to start the business because I wanted to affect change in my industry.”
What was the biggest obstacle you encountered while launching your company? How did you overcome it?
“Our current obstacle that we are facing is definitely the largest. With healthcare, there is a large amount of skepticism within the general population due to many different factors. This is something we've considered will affect our user growth process. We are currently trying to build a community around our product to start conversations regarding health care and outcomes and hopefully bring out change in the larger field.”
Feeling inspired? Learn how to launch your company with our guide on how to start a startup.
Who is your target market? How did you establish the right market for your startup?
“Our target market is going to be people in their mid-30s–50s who are tech-savvy but starting to enter the healthcare space due to varying factors. These people are usually insured and are being saddled with surprise costs and bills. They are also part of the generation that grow up with comparison shopping and shopping for deals, which would be ideal for a platform like ours. The younger ages don't have too many health problems so we wouldn't be very useful for them. Retired consumers are not tech savvy, but we are planning on possibly partnering with organizations like AARP and CMS in the future to provide services for them.”
What's your primary marketing strategy?
“Given how much skepticism is currently present around healthcare, our primary strategy is to build trust in the brand. We are growing a community in various slack groups and social media channels that are interested in changing healthcare or deal with patient advocacy. We are also approaching companies for strategic partnerships that would benefit from a product like ours, such as HSAs and health share companies.”
What are the key customer metrics / unit economics / KPIs you pay attention to to monitor the health of your business?
“Currently, we are focused on growing our customer base by measuring active users and new users.”
What's your favorite startup book and podcast?
“‘Zero to One’ is my favorite startup book. My favorite startup podcast currently is the ‘Draper House.’”
What is a song or artist that you listen to for motivation?
“I feel like listening to easy music like the Black Pumas helps a lot with keeping ourselves on track and motivated.”
Is there a tool, app, or resource that you swear by to help run your startup?
“Currently, we are quite dependent on Slack. It makes communication quite easy and helps us coordinate much quicker.”
What is something that surprised you about entrepreneurship?
“How frightening starting a company would be. There is constant doubt and fear of failure!”
How do you achieve work/life balance as a founder?
“You have to place strict boundaries on work to achieve a good balance. There are things that need to be taken care of, but if it is not an emergency, it can wait till business hours.”
What was your first job and what did it teach you?
“My first job was [as] an usher. It taught me the importance of being at the right place at the right time. Having a job like that was great for seeing shows and artists that I would never have been able to afford on a college kid's salary.”
More on Clearity Health
Shankar Arul, founder of healthcare startup Clearity Health, shared valuable insights during our interview that will inspire and motivate aspiring entrepreneurs.
We asked Shankar Arul, founder of Clearity Health, to share the most impactful ways to support their startup, and this is what they had to say.