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Tech-Driven Healthcare: Exploring the Impact of Digital Solutions in Medicine (Episode 171)

Shane Foss is the Founder and CEO of Hooray Health. His work has gained him recognition for his leadership with a nomination for “CEO of the Year” by D Magazine. 

As a self-built business leader and innovator, Shane has created, negotiated, and optimized countless business strategies and surmounted numerous challenges over decades.

After over 20 years as an executive in the medical industry, Shane launched Hooray Health, an unconventional health insurance company that works hard to provide affordable healthcare benefits for employers and employees. 

At Hooray, Foss and his team focus on offering peace of mind to lower-income individuals and families who face medical challenges, while also providing business owners with an affordable way to reward and retain employees.

What you will learn

  • Shane shares the inspiration behind starting his business Hooray Health
  • Find out what prompted Shane to step out of the corporate world
  • Shane gives us a frank overview of the healthcare situation in the United States
  • Shane shares what it was like in his early days as an entrepreneur
  • Discover actionable strategies to raise money for a startup
  • Learn why it’s so important to get the right investors on board
  • Tech-driven healthcare: Learn about the impact of digital solutions in medicine
  • Discover how AI can transform the customer service experience
  • Shane shares his best tips for budding entrepreneurs

Transcript

Jeff Bullas

00:00:03 - 00:01:26

Hi everyone and welcome to The Jeff Bullas Show, wherever you are from all around the world because this goes as we have with the power of the web and the internet, we go everywhere. So just so we have Shane Foss with us today. Now a little bit about Shane before we leap in to have a fun conversation, Shane is an entrepreneur and founder and CEO of Hooray Health. Shane runs a company on a digital plan. They leverage the Hooray Health App for Members to find care, get their portal and view where to send their medication. As a business leader and innovator, he's created and negotiated and optimized countless business strategies and surmounted numerous challenges over decades and over 20 years as an executive in the medical industry, Shane launched Hooray Health, an unconventional health insurance company in the USA that works hard to provide affordable health care benefits for employers and employees. Shane's beat himself into the business leader innovator. He is today through more than 20 years of tenure as an executive in the medical industry with humble beginnings at the University of the Incarnate Word, Shane will go and earn an MBA from Rice University with lessons that would last him a lifetime. At an array, Foss and his team focused on offering peace of mind to lower income individuals and families who face medical challenges and also providing business owners with an affordable way to reward and retain employees. That sounds like a fantastic mission, Shane. Welcome to the show. Thank you for coming on.

Shane Foss

00:01:26 - 00:01:34

Oh, thanks Jeff, thanks for having me. Those things always sound a lot better than I really am.

Jeff Bullas

00:01:34 - 00:01:38

Well, it also sounds better when someone else says it. So that's when you get introduced.

Shane Foss

00:01:39 - 00:01:40

Right, it legitimizes it.

Jeff Bullas

00:01:40 - 00:01:51

Yeah, that's the thing. It's like, you know, I've done a fair bit of public speaking around the world and someone says, well, can you introduce yourself and they're going, I just sound like a wanker as they say in Australia. Can someone introduce me?

Shane Foss

00:01:52 - 00:02:01

Right, please. It sounds so much better.

Jeff Bullas

00:02:01 - 00:02:30

So, Shane, you've done a few things in your life. Tell us, you were a veteran of the United States Air Force and you did a surgical technology course there. And so obviously there's a little bit of a, I suppose a theme which is to do with health and medicine. So let's go back to the beginning a little bit there. So, where did this interest in health and medicine start?

Shane Foss

00:02:31 - 00:05:21

You know, it's a great story in the sense that when, you know, so many college kids don't know, they just don't have life experience. And, you know, I've never had any exposure except for my very, you know, all my stitches and broken bones as a kid. But never really had any exposure to health care otherwise. And so, you know, I joined the United States Air Force and which is, you know, the greatest thing I ever did and I was what they call the surgical technologist. So I assisted surgeons during surgery. And so, you know, there's lots of surgical instruments and there's a lot of procedures that go on. And so I fell in love with medicine, just absolutely loved it. And so that really started my path in the healthcare space. And so, you know, I would never have started there unless I joined the military. So it was, you know, great experience. And so, I went from there to medical device sales. I am actually applying to medical school. My wife had already been accepted to medical school and we've been married for, I guess about a year and she came home one day and said, hey, guess what, I'm pregnant. And so, you know, somebody had to work and so she was already accepted to medical school. So she's a nasty job today. Very proud of me. And so I started working for Johnson and Johnson in the orthopedic medical device area, which is a total hips and total knees is what we sold. And so I stayed there and ended up really strike orthopedic spending most of my career there, leading large sales organizations, but always in the operating room medical device, really loved it. It's such a, you know, such a rewarding place to be because people come in with pain and they leave without pain and their lives are changed. So being part of, especially on the orthopedic side, so it was really a great experience. Striper was a wonderful place to be. They spent a lot of time and energy developing me, you know, sending me to graduate school doing all these, you know, different Harvard programs. Can people meet people from around the world and work in teams, which was, you know, just a really great experience for me. And so, that was really how I started, you know, but I've always been in sales as well, which I think is key for an entrepreneur because you really learn to listen and understand what's going on because you're talking to customers every day. And I learned, you know, I really learned about people growing up with my grandfather and that was, he was always such a, you know, he was the person that really got me talking to people. So that was, you know, it was part of my younger years.

Jeff Bullas

00:05:22 - 00:05:23

Okay. Right. So, was your grandpa a little bit of inspiration?

Shane Foss

00:05:23 - 00:06:01

Oh, absolutely. Yeah, he's, you know, he's one of those guys where I, you know, he introduced me to everybody all the time. I spent a lot of time with him and, you know, I never heard him speak ill about anybody. You know, sometimes you meet people and then they're like that person, but not my grandpa, he was always like, man, that guy's the, you know, the best janitor best, you know, whatever he was the mayor, he's this, he was that, just always really build people up and then I really took a lot from them. He he always saw the good people. And I'm kind of, you know, I'm the same way. I'm always a very optimistic person.

Jeff Bullas

00:06:01 - 00:06:03

You know, it's great to be a half glass full, isn't it? Instead of half glass empty?

Shane Foss

00:06:03 - 00:06:09

Yeah, I feel sorry for those people. It weighs on you.

Jeff Bullas

00:06:10 - 00:06:45

Yeah, I have a bit of a routine each day. I'm just basically say to myself how grateful I am for a variety of and many things actually. So the place I live, what I do, my team that works for me and supports me. So all just being grateful. I think it's something you can work on that. I think it's, you know, and I think the other thing that makes you grateful is to travel and see how different parts of the world either thrive or just survive.

Shane Foss

00:06:45 - 00:07:31

Yeah. My wife and I, we've been going on a medical mission to Guatemala in Tiba, Guatemala for 18 years now. And my wife actually heads up three trips a year and we do orthopedic procedures. So going back to my military days. So I scrub in and assist during surgery, but we'll do, you know, 70-80 total knees, total hips, complex trauma procedures during the week. And, you know, it's at no cost, you know, we volunteer our time, our surgeons do. And it's, you know, you really, there's such an appreciation for what we do down there and the gratitude, you know, it's just, it's an incredible experience. And so, you know, yeah, I agree with you. You got to get out and see the world.

Jeff Bullas

00:07:32 - 00:07:34

Yeah, it's very, very important because it gives you context.

Shane Foss

00:07:35 - 00:07:42

And is this a first world problem? We always ask our kids that.

Jeff Bullas

00:07:43 - 00:07:49

Yeah. And typically we catch ourselves on a partner going first world problem.

Shane Foss

00:07:49 - 00:07:50

Right.

Jeff Bullas

00:07:50 - 00:08:16

Yeah. So let's be grateful for where we are and what we do. So you're working in corporate America in the health industry. And you learn sales obviously and you get a lot of training, which is great. So what inspired you to step outside that comfort zone of the corporate job, the executive corporate job?

Shane Foss

00:08:16 - 00:09:34

Well, you know, there's always a, you know, it's funny, there's always a pivotal moment in your career where you make the decision. And mine was really funny because we had, you know, Striker was a very large corporation and I loved it, loved all my friends. And but there was a point where I'll just make it real simple where you really figured out you were just a number right? That you were very dispensable and no matter how important ingrained in the organization were, you were still disposable. And I figured that out. But, you know, I gotta figure out what I'm gonna do the rest of my life. And so from that point on, I really worked on doing something as an entrepreneur and I'd always done stuff that even as a kid. But that was really what drove me kind of over the edge. And then I did some things on the private equity side really getting, gaining some experience that I wanted to get. And then when the opportunity presented itself, you know, came up with the idea of Hooray Health and here we are, you know, almost eight years later.

Jeff Bullas

00:09:35 - 00:09:59

So yeah, we, that's the thing about corporate life is that you really end of the day, especially in large organizations that you're just a number to get a job done and then you go, well, I think I can do something for myself and for my family and give myself the freedom to make either mistakes or create success. You can do it both ways.

Shane Foss

00:09:59 - 00:10:48

Right. Oh, absolutely. I mean, the risk is on you. I mean, I, you know, entrepreneur is a very lonely place to be, you know, it's funny because it seems like when you talk to people and you have success, you know, which we have now, you know, everyone's like, you know, he's an overnight success, like, oh, my gosh, you have no idea. You know, I, when we first started we had no money, we had no sales and we were told no and you're writing a check every month to make sure that everybody else has money and you have none, you know, but it's, I think it's, if you make it through, it's an experience you wouldn't, you know, you wouldn't give up for anything.

Jeff Bullas 1447286

00:10:48 - 00:11:23

Yeah. It's afraid minute and which is both good and bad, but the freedom in it is really something that I appreciate. So when you started to array, there obviously was some inspiration, you've been watching the and being immersed in the health industry in the USA and the USA has its own particular challenges as we before we started. So what were some of the things that you saw that you thought you could and typically an entrepreneur will go and solve a problem? So what was the inspiration to start Hooray Health? What was the observation you made that said there's an opportunity here and there's a need to be met, what was that?

Shane Foss

00:11:35 - 00:17:24

Right. But I think there's a couple of things. It was so when Obama had passed the Affordable Care Act, after the first couple of years, it was very obvious that the cost of health care was going to dramatically increase year over year. And when we say dramatic, we're talking 20-30% year over year and that's not sustainable. And from a business standpoint, from an employee standpoint, they can't afford to pay for it. So in my last room, we did a lot of analytics on plan utilization. So, in the United States, for example, about 70% of families only use $1000 of their annual deductible in a given year. Then we start looking at all the CDC data. We're in the utilization data. And it's really interesting, people don't realize that, you know, under the age of 65 an average person sees a physician three times a year, but under the age of 45 the average person sees them 1.9 times per year. And so now all of a sudden you're looking at, okay, where are all the health care costs? And they'll tell you this right, you know, 90% of your health care costs are in the last, whatever it is, four months of your life or last year of your life, whatever it is. And so just everyday health care costs shouldn't cost you, you know, $6000 a year and a $5000 deductible, right? And for your family, it certainly shouldn't cost more than $30,000 plus which is more than what people are putting away from the house, right? So there's this huge transfer of wealth. So I thought that at some point, there's gonna be a reflection point. And so what we did was we took a very pragmatic approach and looked at the data and said, okay, well, what's going on? And so 66% of all personal bankruptcies in the United States, 66%. So two thirds are related to medical bad debt. So when we start looking at the debt, it blew us away because you would think oh, average debt 30,000 right is driving us to bankruptcy. Well, then you find out it's 600 bucks. So then the data really starts making sense because what happens is it's, there's three reasons. It's a physician on this visit. It's an affiliated laboratory or x-ray with that visit or an accident going to an emergency. So we said, okay, how do we cover all those and make sure that our members really have limited if not any zero out of pocket expense. So we went with what was called the hospital indemnity policy and then also an accident medical expense. And so the accident medical expense, we pay up to 5000 or 10,000 per accident, okay? With no deductible so like I had 14 stitches in my hand, it cost $980. I didn't pay that. Insurance plan covers the whole thing no problem. Well, then on the other side, there's a, I don't know how it is in Sydney, but in the United States, we have a new form of caregiver called an urgent care. So an urgent care is basically a physician's office, a normal physician, but they have office hours from 8AM to 8PM, five days a week and then they're open Saturday and Sunday typically from eight to five, well, which is very convenient, but they have on-site lab and on-site x-ray. Well, what's really nice about that is they don't require an appointment so I can just walk in and get the care I need also my acuity level, right?. So, whether I need, I'm dehydrated and I need, I'm deathly sick, right? Like, with the flu or, you know, strep throat or something, you can go in there. And it's very convenient. Well, so what I did was I went to these, we have over 50 there's almost 10,000 of them today and we have almost 50% of them contracted with us. I said, look, if we pay you X amount per, we have a $25 copay, we pay you within, you know, 10 business days and we'll pay 100% of this. Can we get this done with everything included? And we said, they said yes. And so we created our own provider network. So now it's a $25 copay with no balanced bill and being in the United States a balanced bill is really it's just common practice. And to give you an example is I went into an urgent care. I had a $75 copay with United Healthcare. I paid this copay well, then three weeks later and I get an $800 balance bill because they took an x-ray of my neck and gave me two injections of muscle relaxer, anti-inflammatory. Well, the problem with that is I have no, I'm now responsible for it but I had no idea what it was gonna cost and they couldn't tell me, right? And I thought it was included in my copay, which is not. So now, you know, this person that has less than $500 in their bank account can go see a doctor for a $25 copay. No balance bill. Not worry about any of it. Get the care that they need and not, you know, and not get sent to collections.

Jeff Bullas

00:17:25 - 00:17:29

Right. So, you almost doing the job of what government should be doing.

Shane Foss

00:17:29 - 00:17:55

Yeah, exactly. I mean, our, look, our plans start at $40 a month, right? They're nothing. And so, you know, it's, you're absolutely right. This is the base, I mean, we should be covering the basic needs. That's what we should be covering and, you know, it's gonna take the USA while to figure this out, but now we'll get there, I guess.

Jeff Bullas

00:17:56 - 00:18:01

Yeah. But the reality is that governments got the leverage to do that.

Shane Foss

00:18:02 - 00:18:03

Yeah. Absolutely.

Jeff Bullas

00:18:03 - 00:18:09

And, but you were able as an entrepreneur to go into 50 clinics and negotiate that.

Shane Foss

00:18:10 - 00:18:48

Oh, no, 50%. We've got 5000 clients. We have 50%. So, which is even more important because, you know, we work with large employers that have, you know, that have people all over the United States and we're able to cover them. And so, and then, you know, the other thing is nobody, you know, we use technology, hardly anybody else uses technology in space. So, you know, when you wanted to see a provider, right? Then you literally just look it up on the mobile app and go see the provider and it states right there, this is what you pay $25.

Jeff Bullas

00:18:48 - 00:19:08

Yeah. The medical industry traditionally has been very slow to adopt technology especially in its communication. Yeah, booking an appointment, I remember recently I think it was like, can you send me a copy of that via a PDF? Oh no, that has to be via fax.

Shane Foss

00:19:08 - 00:19:20

Yeah, they still fax everything because it's HIPPA compliant, right? It's the most compliant way I know it's like it's crazy.

Jeff Bullas

00:19:20 - 00:19:26

Let me check my watch and my oh shit. Fax actually stopped being used in about 1995.

Shane Foss

00:19:26 - 00:19:28

Yeah exactly.

Jeff Bullas

00:19:29 - 00:19:37

Yeah, so, alright, so you've gone in and you negotiated so they're still making money, you save people money, you keep people healthy, you stop them having debt collectors show up. Now you told me a great story about someone who went and bought a lot of health debt. Tell us that story that's really, that's fantastic. So he went and bought the debt that all these people owed.

Shane Foss

00:19:57 - 00:22:33

Right. So, what people don't understand is so in the United States and for common people to have common sense, it doesn't make any sense. So in the United States, if I go have a total knee procedure, so I have my knee replaced. If I get it done with Medicare, it's gonna, the hospital is gonna get paid $12,000. If I go to have that same hospital saying doctors saying implant everything done, it could be as much as $60,000 with an insurance plan. United Health based on their contract. And so what happens is if I have a balance bill and I don't pay it's medical bad debt. And so and it's usually 10 to 20 times more than what they would accept, you know, for pennies. I mean, they accept pennies on the dollar for it. But so this, he, it's the gentleman that's on HBO and I can't remember his name but he went out and bought like $60 million in medical bad debt out on the market for like $10,000. And called every one of the people that had all this 60 million bad debt and said I just bought your medical debt, bad debt, you're out of debt, you're good. And so it freed them all from the, you know, from the bad debt but, you know, it really is. It's comical but yet it's bad because, you know we're hurting people financially and long term financial, stability and, you know, we always tell everybody, we're a short term financial tool if you are worried about paying rent or, you know, or your car payment, getting to work, you know, you can't afford $5-600 a month for major medical insurance. You just can't today and not only can you not afford that, you can't afford the $5000 deductible because think about this. So right now, it's not uncommon for us to see a family plan where the monthly premium is over $2000 and you have $13,000 deductible to meet before you, so think about that. So you just paid 24,000 plus another 30. So you have to pay $37,000 out of pocket before the plan pays anything. It's insane.

Jeff Bullas

00:22:33 - 00:22:47

Yeah. And, and that's what I admire about what you've done is to relieve that pain so people can get the care they need because essentially they're being taken to the cleaners by the wealthy corporations who don't give a shit.

Shane Foss

00:22:48 - 00:23:32

Yeah. It's, you know, the government has, you know, and I, we talked about this before, I think you know, I was really disappointed. I thought Obama had a really good opportunity to really shape some good legislation to really help health care. But, you know, I think, you know, he was looking more for the headline and his legacy than really making a difference and he really, he made it, he compounded the issue to be honest with you. If you look at where pricing is gone for the United States, it's, you know, it's gone up 5-6 times just over the last, you know, since Obamacare came.

Jeff Bullas

00:23:32 - 00:23:37

Yep. So the idea was good in concept, but the execution was poor.

Shane Foss

00:23:37 - 00:24:35

Yeah, I mean, they rushed everything, right? They rushed everything and they didn't think through it. And, you know, the problem is when you have government bureaucrats that have never run a business and they think limiting profitability is the way. But what they don't understand is that blue, you know, our insurance carriers still have to answer to Wall Street, right? And so they have to grow every year. Well, if you limit their profitability to 15% guess what, 15% of a billion dollars is a lot better than 15% of $100 million. So, you know, they're allowing, they've got to allow the health care cost to rise to take, you know, to take their premium. I mean, I was just looking United grew their bottom line by 12.4% this last quarter, 12.4%. You know, who's paying all that? Us.

Jeff Bullas

00:24:36 - 00:24:49

Yeah. It's the government had the negotiating power to actually get something done, but they didn't do it. But you've done it with Hooray Health. So maybe there's an opportunity for you to start foster care when you're president.

Shane Foss

00:24:50 - 00:24:59

Yeah. Oh, thank you. Yeah, I couldn't do it. Yeah.

Jeff Bullas

00:25:00 - 00:25:32

Okay. So let's wind it. We've got some context about the health care situation and what you did and what drove you and hats off to you, Shane for doing what you've done. So let's go back to the beginning. So you observed what was happening in the health industry, you saw it as an opportunity as a problem to be solved to make it affordable for pretty well everyone. So did you start on your own? And what was some of the, what were the first days, first year like as an entrepreneur in this space?

Shane Foss

00:25:32 - 00:30:08

Well, it's funny. So what I did was I started by seeing it. So I got a bunch of urgent care owners in the room and started talking about the contract. So, hey, what makes sense? What are the most common things? All really the people that I'm in the contract with? I got their feedback and by the way, we haven't changed our contract in eight years, same pricing, same everything. And that's unheard of in our space, by the way. So, and the reason was I went to them and asked them. So I started calling, there's no central phone book that says, oh, hey, call care now over here call, you know. So I literally was networking and linking and we didn't have a single life and I was getting contracts and I just sold the dream, you know, Walmart, who I'm sure you're familiar with. They were one of the first clinics to sign with us. They loved the idea and that's what we get out. So we've been partnered with them for a long time. But it was, you know, it was once we got, I think the first 1800 locations and figured we had something. We, you know, then we started, you know, getting the product underwritten from an insurance, we found a carrier and I got a couple of people that I worked with at my last organization that were really sharp. He's incredible. I would say young, you know, he was young now. He's old. But, you know, and one of the things as an entrepreneur I think is what you have to find the people that especially when you can't hire hundreds of people, right? You gotta be very specific and I couldn't be more different. And, you know, he's organized, he's incredibly intelligent. He's, I mean, this guy is the backbone of our organization and has been since day one. So, you know, being lucky enough to have somebody like that in the beginning was, you know, was huge. And so we, you know, so we started building, it was just, there's three of us and then there was four of us and so what I did was I funded it myself in the beginning. And then I went out and raised a million dollars from friends and family kind of proved the concept. And then I went to the market and I, we got a private equity group that was ended up our lead investor for the term sheet and we raised, I think $7 million about $7 million. And so we're, you know, all in right now. We haven't had another round. We had to do a couple of convertible notes during COVID. We got hurt during COVID. But other than that, we've, you know, we haven't had to raise a ton of money, but we're, you know, we're doing very well now. But, you, when you talk about key milestones, we, you know, I remember when we started off with all these small clients. I mean, you know, they're only, you know, they have 3-4 people enrolled and you're just, you know, one after the other, getting them signed up and chasing money and then you learn and it was really fun. But, I remember when we got our first real large national client and it was just such an eye opener to me like, oh, this is how it was supposed to be. And then we really started to focus there and we started growing and then adding people and, you know, over the last, really, over the last four years, we haven't lost a client ever. We haven't lost any employees. We, you know, we've really focused on our employee base making sure that they're comfortable that they're, you know, they're able to do what they do best every day and make sure that their voice is heard and, you know, and the bottom line is, you know, we were talking before we started, you know, I think appreciation is a huge part of leaders. Responsibility is really saying thank you. And, you know, and that's part of what we need to do every day. And so we've got a really good organization.

Jeff Bullas

00:30:09 - 00:30:50

Yeah. I think letting your employees know that you are grateful to have them and tell them regularly and it's really important to know that they're appreciated. The other thing too, I think in building a team is to trust them to actually get the job done instead of micromanaging. And that's really important too. I think so. Well, I hired you to do job X and then just say, look, off you go do it and results will speak for themselves and then that trust happens and you build a team that actually feels valued, that's really important, isn't it?

Shane Foss

00:30:51 - 00:32:11

Yeah. Well, I think the other thing too is that, you know, you bring up a great point is trust and letting them, you know, failure is part of our, you know, part of our journey. You know, you don't learn anything unless you fail and you're gonna make mistakes. But I think one of the other exciting things about being an entrepreneur and even as an employee working in an entrepreneurial startup is, you know, every day you're in with finance, you're in with operations, you're in with sales, you're in with compliant, you know, you're not, you know, when you, when I was at Striker, I was very silent, right? You're like, hey, don't get over, you know, don't get over the line right here. There are no lines, right? You know, it's, you know, our youngest employee calls me up. Hey, you owe me this. Can I get this right? I mean, there's no, you know, which is great. I love it. You know, I absolutely love it and I think that's part of, you know, what I love about getting young employees into it that are inexperienced. We got a lot of experience, we got a lot of inexperience is that, you know, you just get to watch them develop and grow and, you know, and they, especially when they start getting their voice and they understand what they're doing and, you know, it's a lot of fun.

Jeff Bullas

00:32:11 - 00:32:35

Yeah. It’s good to see people grow and learn, isn't it? And I think one of the motivating things is, I think as individuals, for me especially, is to actually grow and learn and that becomes motivating, becomes almost a virtuous loop as well. I'm better now. I keep learning. So what's the size of the team now, Shane?

Shane Foss

00:32:36 - 00:32:59

So, we have 25 full time employees. We've got another 15 that are 1099 that are hourly, so, you know, we're up to 40. Yeah, it is. But especially when there were three of us in the beginning.

Jeff Bullas

00:32:59 - 00:33:15

Yeah. So, what is, okay, so it's not a bed of roses. You actually had to go out and get, you know, basically you had to get your first, what, 1800 carers companies. So, basically you're doing a lot of cold calling.

Shane Foss

00:33:15 - 00:33:26

Oh, yeah, absolutely. And that's where the sales came in, right? You gotta sell the dream. So, you know, I sold a lot of the dream.

Jeff Bullas

00:33:27 - 00:33:58

So on top of that, that raised another interesting question for me is and I've heard it in the startup world is that I remember talking to Melanie who I know this, the founder of, with her partner, of Canva. And I think she did 45 different presentations before she got anyone to buy it in terms of investing in Canva, which is now a $40-50 billion Australian startup.

Shane Foss

00:33:59 - 00:33:59

Wow.

Jeff Bullas

00:34:00 - 00:34:18

So Canva provides, you know, online graphics, you know, for companies to use. So it's a well known in digital industry, which I'm part of. So when you went out to raise money, you would have had to put a slide deck together to sell the dream. How was that?

Shane Foss

00:34:18 - 00:35:41

It was very humble. It was a great learning experience. I think everybody should do it because it is one of those things where you really, you know, you've got to be careful because you don't want to oversell, right? You know, because there's expectations but, you know, so there's a fine line between overselling, under, you know, I mean, you gotta hit that fine point. But, yeah, I gave hundreds of presentations and then I think one year long gave me my thing online like Zoom calls. I did 430 in presentations. Yeah. And so not a lot of those were climate but I, yeah, It did a lot from on the investment side. It is hard. But, you know, I think you're, you know, you've got to be realistic with yourself and you gotta make sure that you're honest and make sure that, you know, you're going back and refining the message every time because there's, you know, there's always consistent themes with every race that you have. So you just got to make sure that you're communicating that.

Jeff Bullas

00:35:42 - 00:35:55

Yeah and also putting a slide deck together. You are basically working out. What is my message? In other words, the honing of the message must have been very, very important.

Shane Foss

00:35:55 - 00:36:38

Oh, absolutely. Yeah, because you are, you know, you've got a lot of really smart people out there, really smart people that ask very good questions and you need to be prepared and your message only has so much of it as well, right? So you got to remember that you've got your component, which is your business, but there's a lot of other people that are gonna be like, well, what if we have nationalized health care? What are you gonna do? What, you know, and then just it really is amazing and it's a great experience. So I wouldn't change it for the world, but, wow, I'm glad I'm not doing it right now.

Jeff Bullas

00:36:39 - 00:36:48

Okay. So raising money was a challenge. What are some of the other challenges you found along the way that entrepreneurs need to understand that maybe is not apparent?

Shane Foss

00:36:49 - 00:38:41

Making changes quick if it's not working. I think people hold on to people too long. I'll give you an example. We had our very first sales lead, which is a seasoned insurance person that we had and I kept on, I kept him on for probably, you know, I should have let him go a year earlier and then but, you know, what to Long's, you know, just insight, you know, his credit. He told me he's like we need to make that change because it's not working and he was right and, you know, we made the decision and but you gotta make a lot of hard decisions and you gotta make them quick because you run out of money. Heck of a lot faster than you think you do, especially if you're, you know, you've been raising money and I think the other part of it is from an entrepreneur standpoint. Just making sure that you're getting the right investors, make sure, you know, if you've got a bunch of people that have never been in your business, they can't really help you. So making sure that, you know, our investors are, you know, most of them are from our space. So I have a huge knowledge base to lean on to call and just say, hey, I don't understand this or can you help me, do you know this person? And so being very strategic about where your money comes from because we had a lot of people that were offering this money that just didn't know anything about this space and thought it was an interesting idea. But the problem is, you know, they don't help you get to that next level, which is really important.

Jeff Bullas

00:38:41 - 00:38:51

So what I hear you saying is that it's very, very important to get investors on board who add to the mastermind to help you get to the next level.

Shane Foss

00:38:51 - 00:40:19

Yeah, absolutely. Because there's a lot of people that will say I can help you do this, I can help you do that. And you know, I'm numb to it now because I've heard it so much and I don't believe anybody but, you know, in the beginning, people that want to invest like, oh, I'll make your introduction to XYZ. We'll get you 20-30,000 customers like that. Well, and then when they feel it, when they get the, you know, the reality, you know, sets in when you go meet with the first one and they're like, yeah, this isn't right for us. We're not gonna do that and, that person's sitting there. Well, I tried, I thought I could do it but, okay, why aren't you profitable yet? You know, it's like, so you gotta make sure that you're getting the right investors that understand the space. And then they're typically a lot more patient and understanding as well. Because, you know, we had a big issue with COVID. Everybody just said we're not doing anything else. We're not changing. We're not doing anything and we had been down the path with a bunch of potential clients that were like, we're just gonna not do anything today. And we're like, you gotta be kidding. So we just held on to what we had for that, you know, a year and a half. And, but, you know, we came out of it really strong but, you know, but our investors understood what was going on.

Jeff Bullas

00:40:20 - 00:41:02

Yeah. A lot of the challenge with startups is that you're in an arms race. Number one is the market share arms race, which is the sales marketing race. Then the other challenge typically, especially as a lot of businesses are essentially digital businesses now. You are a technology company, is the technology arms race to stay ahead of the curve? So tell us a little bit about, I'll be intrigued by your answer to or answers to how technology serve you and what's some of the challenges you've had there in terms of you using obviously an app. Tell us a little bit about that.

Shane Foss

00:41:02 - 00:43:45

Yeah. So from a technology, from a mobile app point, we have long leads that part of the business and we have a team in Bangladesh that we work with and have now for seven years and they do all of our development work over there and it's gone great. Mobile app has always been really our focus because it centralizes all of our benefits and really helps our members get to where they need to be. You know, we have $0 cost virtual primary care so they can talk to somebody right on the phone or doctor get prescriptions, stuff like that. So that's always been really important for us. And so we've really owned that. Well, historically, you know, as a startup, we didn't raise enough money to build our own platform, right? Our own enterprise resource ERP platform. So what we did was we used another software and it was really challenging because we, it didn't do what we needed it to do, even though it was in this industry, there were a bunch of little things that actually compound. And so we have, so we literally have five people on payroll that just do manual adjustments to this platform. And so our text app was really, you know, limited. And so what we've done now is we've actually built our own ERP platform that addresses everything. And so now those five people are repurposed, right? So you're able to run our business at a much higher, more efficient level and provide better customer service because of our ability to report to do all these other things right, built into the platform. And so, but that's expensive as a startup, you know, if you do it right away, I think, you know, not only, you know, the million dollar price tag, but you're gonna add another couple of million in there because you don't know, I'm glad we waited to do it because you didn't know what you were gonna need that room because we've evolved so much. So yeah, so from a technology standpoint the great news is we have, I mean, there's so much stuff out there that, I mean, we haven't even scratched the surface with AI yet. And that's gonna be the next I think area for us that'll really help. But, yeah, technology is really exciting right now and, but what's amazing is not, a lot of people are doing it in our space right now. They're not, you know, they're not really utilizing it. So it's interesting.

Jeff Bullas

00:43:46 - 00:43:53

So a lot of people wouldn't know what an ERP system is. Could you tell, because that's an acronym. So tell us?

Shane Foss

00:43:53 - 00:45:21

Yeah, Enterprise Resource Platform, which is basically it's a platform that is designed specifically to address our business needs, our business strategies. So, for us, we have a lot of components to our business. Not only do you have the sales component, so you need to have your client management in there, but we have policy management for insurance. We have to went for a broker to sell our product. We have to have them appointed with the carrier. So there's a broker management system, there's a finance where you're collecting premiums and then you're paying commissions. There's, you know, we have all these different components that are unique to us and we have a bunch of different capabilities that we have that some other people don't where for example, you know, a weekly billing process. It sounds like it's not a big deal but in our world it's much more challenging. So, yeah, that ERP platform is really important for us to because there's no off the shelf platform that's gonna work, right? So you gotta, you know, you just gonna, you, so what you do is you hire people to fix it or just work manually.

Jeff Bullas

00:45:22 - 00:45:42

So let's have a little quick chat about AI. I know that you're sort of just scraping the surface yourself, but it's obviously got huge implications for almost everyone. And one of the abilities of AI is to take a lot of data and make sense of it, right? And you must have a lot of data.

Shane Foss

00:45:43 - 00:45:46

Yeah, we got a lot of loading utilization data.

Jeff Bullas

00:45:46 - 00:46:17

So what are some of your thoughts on the use of AI in business that you, that is not necessarily keeping you up at night, but you see as maybe an opportunity to do what you do better to do more with less, in other words, amplify the team and get smarter and even more creative because AI is also very good at creating new combinations that humans just hadn't thought of. I'd be interested in some of your thought bubbles on AI for business that you cross your mind.

Shane Foss

00:46:17 - 00:48:50

Yeah, absolutely. So I think first and foremost, we'll start going down the AI path immediately is within the next year on the customer service side because there's so much compliance and regulation on an insurance standpoint. I think we've got it boiled down to like 50 questions that are standard questions that come up. And from an AI standpoint, we can really work to provide 24/7 high level customer service that looks like a person that isn't a person because, you know, most of our clientele, our members want tax anyway. So it's very capable. But where I think a I really has the biggest opportunity is so in the United States, one of the biggest challenges is people choose to go to the emergency room first before going to the emergency area, you know, and so an emergency room bill is going to be $3-6000 for something that should cost 200 bucks, okay. So I think AI where AI is gonna come into play and we're looking at a few different options now is on our mobile app having the ability, I'm sick and then start walking through symptoms to where they can determine where you should go. And even from a, you know, when you think about it from a, when you look at from a liability standpoint, you know, you got to be very careful with that. But on the flip side, if I have somebody coming in that says I'm having chest pains. I don't want them to go to the urgent care. I want them to go to the emergency room, right? So you want to make sure that they're doing that. But there's enough, you know, AI in health care that it's gonna revolutionize health care and I think it's gonna bring misdiagnosis down dramatically. And that's where I really see it and I really see the benefit. And it'll be interesting to see if we can optimize some of our plans, right? I mean, we did it manually ourselves, right? We take a very pragmatic approach, you know, we're not, we don't have a lot of crazy things. We literally have very, just a handful of benefits that are what we call meaningful, but also where I can still deliver an affordable product.

Jeff Bullas

00:48:51 - 00:49:28

Yeah, it's, I think medical area is gonna be huge because one of the things I go to a doctor and I look at them and I ask them a question and like, you know, let's say I'm dying of, well, I've got lung cancer and what are the latest treatments and or whatever, it really doesn't matter. Like I've got a blood problem. What are the latest, you know, research showing on that globally? Well, an AI agent would have access to all this world data, well, could have. So because humans are, you know, my memory is shit, especially the older I get.

Shane Foss

00:49:29 - 00:50:55

Well, I mean, we make, exactly, we make mistakes. And the other thing is you're very regional. So I told you my wife is a physician. Well, it's interesting because we had a friend that was up in Colorado and went back to South Texas, went to see a doctor and the first doctor was like, jeez, I don't know what's going on. Weird rash fever stuff. Just really weird. Well, next doctor walks in and he goes, oh, I was just up in Colorado and you see this all the time. This is Rocky Mountain fever, blah, blah, blah. And he goes, were you just in Colorado? And I was like, yeah, I was just in Colorado. He goes, yeah, you got Rocky Mountain fever. But the symptoms are very specific. But if you don't see it, right? I mean, we're human, we've got limited capabilities. But if you type that in and said I have white dots on my wrist and I've got a fever in this and they're gonna be like, oh, that's Rocky Mountain, right? So, yeah, I agree with you. I mean, I think AI is you're still, you know, you're still gonna need physicians to do the work. And, but from a physician standpoint, what a great sitting there walking through and think about that as we, this physician shortage compresses, right? I mean, being able to do more with, you know, with AI is gonna be huge. Yeah, I agree with you, I think it's a huge opportunity.

Jeff Bullas

00:50:56 - 00:51:00

Yeah. Look, I don't see AI as a replacement. I see it as an enhancement.

Shane Foss

00:51:01 - 00:51:02

Absolutely.

Jeff Bullas

00:51:03 - 00:51:11

And that, just like what we talked about, there's like, just imagine you have access to a super agents that's got access to all the latest research on every disease on the planet.

Shane Foss

00:51:11 - 00:51:14

Yeah. Absolutely.

Jeff Bullas

00:51:14 - 00:51:33

And you're going, okay, the pattern is this, the agent comes in, you know, the AI comes back and says, well, it's, it's either A, B or C and the doctor says, oh, I have no idea just like happened with your doctor and doctors are great and they're fantastic. But I look at some doctors and they're just showing up.

Shane Foss

00:51:33 - 00:51:39

Yeah. Just like anybody else, right?

Jeff Bullas

00:51:40 - 00:52:07

And there's other doctors that are so passionate about what they do. They go to every course they're doing, they're adding to their medical background with, you know, naturopath type solutions. So this is what I think this is what excites me on many levels about AI and this an AI is the biggest generational change in technology and humanity I'd say ever.

Shane Foss

00:52:08 - 00:52:51

Yeah, I was gonna say ever because, yeah, I mean, I don't know if you saw that 60 minutes but they were interviewing, you know, so they were interviewing the Google CEO and then one other CEO, I can't remember who it was, but the Google CEO is literally the AI there, I can't remember what they're calling him, but literally taught itself some random language, like Hindu, blah, blah, blah language, they never taught it. So it was teaching itself, right? And I mean, it's, which is a little scary, right? I mean, you know, we need to have a big cord that we can cut if it gets too crazy, right?

Jeff Bullas

00:52:51 - 00:53:08

Yeah, just make sure you got the off switch just sitting right nearby. Yeah. Well, there's some sort of like one of the myths is that you tell a machine to make a, the best way to make paper clips and then it turns the whole world into paper clips. But alright, so just to wrap it up, like the AI area is just fascinating. I'm rather excited by it and because we're more a media company, digital media company. So the opportunity lies in basically content creation at one level. And then there's I discovered a new if you've got a lot of content, it's basically you can use AI to learn from your content then that can become an online AI coach. And then you can actually do a digital version of yourself. In other words, your visual, then the sound of your voice and your tone. And look, we've got about three or four million words on just my website and there's other products as well. We've got nearly 3000 articles with 2000 words in it. Like I, you know, I'm very curious guy. So, sort of part of me goes, I don't wanna die just yet because there's a lot of things I'm still curious about, right? And I said to my partner, I'm gonna live forever, but I'm just gonna be digital version. I'm going to terrorize my children and my grandchildren because I'm gonna become an avatar that uses my database to actually talk to them beyond the grave. I think there a certain fun in that, I think.

Shane Foss

00:54:28 - 00:54:58

Yeah. Right. Well, what's interesting about it? I mean, think about this, you know, we knew our grandparents but we didn't know our great grandparent or don't remember them very well, right? And then of course, you're great, great grandparents, you know, but can you imagine having that avatar to talk about your life? And, you know, four generations of children are, hey, I wanna see, you know, what great, great, great grandfather, you know, Shane was about, right?

Jeff Bullas

00:54:59 - 00:56:04

Well, the other thing I was thinking about too long, this is that if you've, I've written a lot of personal content about, you know, the my journey, what I've learned along the way, whether it's about learning or whatever and it's buried in the noise of content that is hard to find. But if you teach an AI and give it all the content, it will find it in within one question. So you're going, hang on my, that genius quote. I said 10 years ago, the AI will find it for me and make me look really smart, right? So, yeah, but look, the possibilities are endless. The imagination is going to be part of this joy and fun. I think so. Yeah, I, so there's a part of me wants to live forever and terrorize my descendants. But the only thing is I'm just gonna have to keep paying for the web hosting and the software. So I might have to build that into the will.

Shane Foss

00:56:05 - 00:56:12

Yeah, I was just gonna say, you know, you gotta build the trust for that. That to keep that continually funded.

Jeff Bullas

00:56:13 - 00:56:58

Yeah. And anyway, it's, I'm having a lot of fun with it because the concepts are slightly terrifying but also exciting. But so as an entrepreneur having to raise money and building a team, what is a couple of tips you'd like to leave for those who want to be an entrepreneur already are and they feel quite often it's a lonely place to be because you're it and you can't share everything with the employees that, you know, the things that keep you up at night. So, what are some of the couple of top tips that you'd like to share before we wrap this up?

Shane Foss

00:56:58 - 00:57:31

I think there's three, I think first of all, they never happen as fast as you want them to, right? So, be patient. Hire people that you're not. So, don't hire a bunch of sales people if you, you know, when you need a bunch of operational, you know, client services, everything, right? So make sure you're open and honest with that. And the other thing is just thank your team every day because that appreciation goes a long way and, you know, it keeps you humble and, you know, just enjoy the ride.

Jeff Bullas

00:57:32 - 00:57:43

I love those. And that reminds me of a quote from Bill Gates saying everyone overestimates what they can do in 12 months, but underestimates what they can do in 10 years.

Shane Foss

00:57:43 - 00:57:45

Right. Exactly.

Jeff Bullas

00:57:45 - 00:57:54

And you're on a long journey, you're eight years in and I'm sure you look back and you're going, wow, we've done this.

Shane Foss

00:57:54 - 00:58:06

Yeah. We thought it would happen a lot faster, but now we're exponentially going beyond what we thought, right? So, Bill Gates is right.

Jeff Bullas

00:58:06 - 00:59:02

Yeah, I just hats off to you. I think it's amazing that and this is what I love about humans is that they take an idea and make it a reality. And the other thing for me too, as an entrepreneur is there's so much joy in the journey and pain. And I was reading a bit of Nitch Key the other day and he said in a lot of spaces as humans, we're happy with a handful of certainty rather than a bucket full of possibility. And you have a bucket full of possibility that is changing the world to make people able to afford healthcare and not be taken to the debtors. So, hats off to you, Shane, it's amazing what you've done and I'm looking forward to seeing Foscare announced in the next decade.

Shane Foss

00:59:03 - 00:59:07

Alright. Well, thanks Jeff. Really appreciate the time. Thank you. Great time.

Jeff Bullas

00:59:08 - 00:59:12

It’s an absolute joy, mate I mean buddy, as I said in America, mate as I say in Australia.

Shane Foss

00:59:12 - 00:59:18

Yeah, absolutely. Great. Seeing you take care. Have a great day. Alright, bye.

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