Solve.Care is a new, healthcare-focused company that aims to tackle many of the inefficiencies of the healthcare system using Blockchain technology. Its founder, Pradeep Goel, is a veteran of this industry, with 4 successful companies and 26 years of experience under his belt. He has also been named in the Goldman Sachs list of the top 100 entrepreneurs in the world. The Fintech Times recently caught up with Pradeep for an in-depth chat about Solve.Care, what it can do, and about his personal background leading him to this point.
Hi Pradeep, excited to be talking to you; we have heard so much about your entrepreneurial journey! Is it true that you created your first startup at Uni? How did you progress from there?
A: Thanks guys, I started my first company with my brother in 1991, while studying for a Master’s Degree. It was an IT company focused on automation and workflow software. We eventually ended up focusing just on the healthcare industry – we were looking to fix and simplify billings from doctors to insurance companies and the government. And, as it happens, I have been working in healthcare ever since!
We managed to beat all the big industry players to win major clients. Most large healthcare insurance firms including various Blue Cross Blue Shield organizations, adopted our platform, and we also ended up working with the Medicare program. We definitely managed to disrupt this traditionally old-school industry!
Q: What would you have done differently if you could hit reset? What advice would you give to someone starting a new business during their studies, or indeed to yourself back then?
With my first company, everything in the beginning was done with very little capital or external support. So, if I were to start again, having more of both of those things would be a priority. Other than that I wouldn’t change much; Healthcare has proved itself to be a very supportive industry when the right idea comes along. I’m very glad that this is the sector I have chosen to specialise in!
What advice would I give? Always keep in mind that the whole process will take you longer than you think. Despite that, you shouldn’t give up, make sure you stick with it – it’s worth it in the end. You should also choose your team carefully – this is crucial because they are vital to your success in everything that you do.
Q: Great tips Pradeep! Obviously, you started out quite a few years ago- what changes have you noticed in terms of starting a business then, compared to now?
I would say that this is the best time in human history to be young and disruptive. This is because society these days expects change, and status quo gives way to innovation far faster than it used to. For a young entrepreneur, therefore, it is much easier for a good idea to get traction. That being said, the execution of any idea is still hard- always is, always will be.
I would also say that you definitely have to run faster and work harder in today’s climate, living as we do in this 24/7 world. This makes attaining a good work/life balance much harder than it used to be – you are always online, people are always talking to you, and the various forms of media are always switched on. Maintaining that balance will be one of the key steps to being successful.
Q: Speaking of young entrepreneurs, how about your upbringing – did your family and your childhood environment encourage your entrepreneurial spirit?
It’s hard to know where exactly this desire, this motivation that drives me, comes from. What I do know is that my parents – I am originally from India – had a high standard of expectation for my brother and myself. They believed that the main person to compete against is always yourself; you need to strive till you are satisfied with your own performance. When I moved to the US for my studies, my spirit and entrepreneurial impulses were fostered and developed. I truly believe that the US is great for encouraging any new entrepreneurs.
Q: Well your entrepreneurial spirit definitely flourished in the US – you are now onto creating your 5th company! It’s been a long road for you – can you tell us about what has been your most challenging experience?
Yes, certainly, there is one instance that immediately comes to mind. When I started my first company and signed our first major client, our system was placed in their mail room operations in the basement of their big building. So I spent a lot of my time working with the mail room staff, who used to start their work shift at 4:30AM and so I did the same. We spent many years working with this client and over the years we grew as the client grew their business. I eventually became their Chief Information Officer and was regularly in the Board room on the top floor. To me it is both a matter of honour, and a matter to pride to have made that journey from the mail room to the Board room.
Q: So, now you have moved onto creating Solve.Care, a company that will utilise Blockchain to tackle the inefficiencies and administrative failings of the current healthcare system. I believe your motivation behind this is due to your own personal experience?
Yes, my 3 year old son has a developmental disorder and he requires a tremendous amount of care, getting therapy and assistance from a range of professionals with specialised skills. Everyone has been as helpful as possible including dealing with the insurance/financial side of things, but I ended up thinking that there must be a better way. Restrictions, delays, manual coordination, who owes who what? This really hammered home, to me, the many inefficiencies of the centralised systems and how things are working.
Therefore, I believe that we need to a better, a more decentralised approach, with more Peer-to-Peer transactions, which is basically the only way to deal with, and to keep up with, the speed and the complexities of modern healthcare systems.
The current centralised systems are not only inefficient, they are prohibitively expensive to maintain. Simple modifications and changes end up incurring extortionate cost, under the current system. For example, we were once invoiced over 2 million dollars just to modify a report!
Essentially, Peer-to-Peer capability can empower consumers and doctors, and this is where the Blockchain and Solve.Care come in. We are working to help facilitate P2P transactions between all the stakeholders without the need for policing all transactions between them, resulting in a net benefit to all users of the system.
Q: It’s a great idea and project! The problems that you are trying to address, involving insurance companies etc., can seem quite US-Specific. Can Solve.Care also have applications in other countries?
A: Absolutely, we have received so much interest from so many clients around the globe – from Singapore, the Middle East, EU, and the UK. There is such an appetite for what we are doing; we are basically giving patients greater authority, whilst simplifying payments for doctors and practitioners.
There are four pillars of healthcare: access to healthcare, the administration and management of care, timely and accurate payment for patients, and achieving optimal outcomes for patients. These are principles that we can apply anywhere, regardless of how the healthcare system is managed within a country, be it the US model, or the UK model.
The great benefit of our system is that everybody wins. Employees/Consumers/Patients are not receiving a lower standard of care; insurance companies are able to cut costs without impacting quality of care; similarly, government bodies can enable greater access to care, whilst also saving money. We aren’t robbing Peter to pay Paul for this model to work – it’s a win-win.
Q: Like many Blockchain startups, you have turned to an ICO as a way of raising funds for your company. How is the process going so far?
So far, it has been a challenging journey. The first issue is that this whole area is a rapidly evolving field, with many things that were true a month or two ago no longer being applicable now. Secondly, we took the decision of running a blue-chip token sale.
What does this mean? Well, we are only selling to accredited token buyers, and not making grand statements or speculation. We are conducting ourselves as if this was an IPO, playing everything by the book. By going down this route, we have actually made things harder for ourselves. I do not regret this approach, we have benefited from being conservative, compliance and have avoided being sucked in to the pay-to-play approach that is very prevalent in the ICO world.
Q: Does Solve.Care represent where all your previous work has been leading? Is this the final point for you?
I have worked for, and with, insurance companies, large employers, and government organisations. I have worked in a few different roles, and also created companies in a few different areas. I have also been privileged to work on key government initiatives during the Bush and Obama administration… I definitely feel like Solve.Care is the culmination of all of my working experiences.
I have a very clear personal vision for Solve.Care. This company will deliver value to everyone, and not just in the US. I also want an engaged and effective management team, because this mission is bigger than my lifespan. In the end, I hope that the next generation of managers that we are grooming will be able to take over. I am not working on a build-to-sell model here. This is why we have gone down the ICO route as opposed to seeking VC funding – we are keeping control of the company and building for the long term, same as Jeff Bezos built Amazon and Jack Ma built Alibaba. The people who are helping build Solve.Care will end up running it all.
Speaking of people who helped to build it, how important is it to enable them to take control one day?
Very important- this is why I have such enthusiasm for creating an in-house academy set-up at my companies. I was inspired by Jack Welch, CEO of GE, who set up an academy where all the managers went to be trained, and this is what, I believe, made GE one of the greatest companies in the world.
In these academies, we look to bring in top talent from universities from a local region, and then give them extra skills and training, investing in them. Many of these people have become some of our best performers – obviously we have turnover and lose some people- but that is natural. Internal promotion is a slower path that takes more time and effort, but I believe it is a more sustainable path, it helps us grow and keeps us strong in the long term.