Comstock's magazine 0419 - April 2019 - Page 102

n SEED ROUND: MEET THE FOUNDER GEORGE KALOGEROPOULOS HEALTHSHERPA When HealthCare.gov — the Affordable Care Act’s health insurance exchange website — went live in 2013, it was slow, buggy and hard to navigate — a digital mess. That same year, three programmers in the Bay Area built HealthSherpa.com, an alternative website to help online shoppers understand their options under the ACA, including plans and prices, quickly. Like a Sherpa guides hikers in the Himalayas, this startup was created to navigate customers along the rough terrain of health insurance coverage. Its primary custom- ers are large companies, insurance agents and nonprofits, who use the website to help part-time employees see what they qualify for and get health coverage, enroll clients and assist the people they serve, respectively. “All of these people need a way to do ACA enrollment,” says cofounder and CEO George Kalogeropoulos. “They need a customized version of HealthCare.gov geared to- wards their specific needs. We provide that, in effect building the ‘last mile’ to coverage for these audiences.” Since 2014, HealthSherpa has enrolled 1.8 million online shoppers (with the most recent enrollment bringing in more than 500,000 cus- tomers). Two years ago, the startup moved its headquarters to Sac- ramento for the livability and talent pool, Kalogeropoulos says. Health Navigator My backup name for the startup was ......................................................... auto mechanic If I could have any other job, I’d be an................................................ (“I love working on cars.”) ............................................................................................ insane luck A startup can’t be successful without.................................. The book that best represents my approach to business “Good to Great” by Jim Collins would be ................................................................. irrelevance My biggest fear about launching was................................ WHAT MAKES HEALTHSHERPA.COM APPEALING? “Think of us like tax software for health insurance exchange. You can file your taxes using the IRS e-file sys- tem, but you choose options like TurboTax or H&R Block because they’re more user-friendly.” IS THE CURRENT ADMINISTRATION A THREAT TO YOUR BUSINESS? “When the current administration was elected, we all looked at each other and said, ‘Well, good try everybody, let’s pack it up and go home.’ But the people at the Department of Health and Human Services have been working really hard to make Healthcare.gov work well. We’ve been a tremendous beneficiary of them making it easier to do marketplace enrollment. Two years ago, if you had told me the Trump administration would be very helpful for an Obamacare startup, I never would’ve believed you, but here we are.” For more on HealthSherpa, read Russell Nichols’ “Startup of the Month” column at comstocksmag.com. 102 comstocksmag.com | April 2019