In his own words: Co-founder Kevin Nazemi
Putting patients first
OSCAR started when one of my co-founders, Josh Kushner, opened up an insurance bill with an “Explanation of Benefits”, yet when you read it, it didn’t explain anything. Together, Josh, Mario and I started talking to people, and they all felt the same way. Insurance is such an important part of people’s lives and a big part of the economy. Solving the delivery of high quality healthcare at low cost will make or break the long-term economy of the U.S. We really felt like it was incumbent on us to build something from the ground up that we would want to use ourselves. We decided to put the consumer first.
A big leap of faith
My interaction with KV actually started when I was working at another company. I remember the team there saying that KV makes long-term bets on people and sticks with them through all the twists and turns. Four years later with OSCAR, that couldn’t be truer. KV definitely has patience even when the path to success isn’t linear.
Solving the delivery of high quality healthcare at low cost will make or break the long-term economy of the U.S.
The idea that a bunch of tech-focused entrepreneurs could come into a highly regulated, capital-intensive environment in just a year’s time requires people to take a big leap of faith. There aren’t a lot of people who would take a bet where there is no precedent. It’s not like having four social networks, and we’re coming up with the fifth one. It takes people who realize and want to encourage the fact that we’re entering a new frontier. KV was early and willing to do that. When we talked to Vinod, he immediately loved the audacity of what we wanted to accomplish and recognized that we’d have a real opportunity to make an impact if we got it right.
People who’ve gone through it just get it
To put things in context, in New York, there hasn’t been a new commercial insurer licensed in 15 years. You need to submit a 9,000-page application in order to get a license. Before that, you have to negotiate with every hospital and get doctors on board since you need a network to deliver care, not to mention a business plan.
I remember fondly when we talked about the regulatory issues with Vinod and Samir. They just smiled because of their experience with Square. I remember Vinod saying that this stuff doesn’t faze them, because they had to deal with it in every state. It was refreshing; they already had exposure to these issues. People who’ve gone through it just get it.
The art of giving good feedback
From the outset, KV has made a bet on us as the entrepreneurs. They really get the art of giving good feedback. They don’t sugarcoat it, but they also are not so declarative that it makes the entrepreneur feel like the waiter instead of the chef.
Samir and I talk about the challenges of our business openly. He will tell me what he really thinks and that’s an important characteristic. Anyone who’s trying to be a good entrepreneur can’t think of feedback as criticism. It takes a certain nuance to be able to share an opinion that may not be in line with what you already believe.
There aren’t a lot of people who would take a bet where there is no precedent….KV was early and willing to do that.
At times, it can be painful when you’re going through it, like going to the gym: you don’t like it while you’re doing it, but when you leave, it’s awesome. That’s the type of investor you want. KV is authentic and that authenticity shows through both good and bad times.