Q&A with Nick Desai, CEO of Heal and 2015 Moneyball Winner

November 9, 2015

Heal just celebrated its first anniversary, and it’s been a big year! (Click here to see highlights from the competition on MontyTV.) The Montgomery Summit’s Brannack McLain dropped by Heal’s Santa Monica office to catch up with CEO Nick Desai. Read on to see how the company has been doing since winning Moneyball and securing over $300,000 of investment from the judging panel and Summit audience.

Brannack: So, what is Heal?

Nick: Heal is a house call service—it’s like Uber for doctors. You hit a button and a doctor comes to your door in an hour or less, any time, 8:00am-9:00pm, 7 days a week. We have licensed and board-certified pediatric and family practice doctors, so we can see people from one month to 100 years old.

B: Are there any big milestones you’ve hit over the past year, and how do they play into your larger mission of making [Heal] part of someone’s life?

N: We launched in Los Angeles and San Francisco on April 15. In that first 6 months, our number one goal was to see 1,000 patients. We saw 1,097 patients. Our second goal was to have a Net Promoter Score [NPS] of +60 or better. We ended the year with a Net Promoter Score of +90, which is nearly perfect. The third big metric: 50% of Heal customers said they don’t ever want to go to a doctor’s office again, and 35% of the people we saw made Heal their primary care doctor.

B: What was it like to present to the panel of VCs judging the Moneyball competition?

N: Speaking on the Moneyball stage at The Montgomery Summit was phenomenally exciting. There was a huge audience and I loved the format. You’re going to get up there and VCs are going to ask you questions—that’s like game on. It’s one thing to present your idea—give your spiel—it’s another thing to have a panel of five VC’s asking questions on the spot. That was a great educational experience. It was instrumental to how we pitch the company. The fact that we won jump-started a seed funding campaign, which made my fundraising job a lot easier. Across the board, we built some great relationships that have been very, very helpful in our success.

B: So what big news would you share with the judges if you were talking to them now, six months later?

N: Starting November 2nd, we will be in-network with one of California’s largest insurance providers—Anthem Blue Cross—with almost five million California users. You will be able to take a picture of your insurance card and—in real time—we will check your insurance status with your insurance company and update your deductible. If you could pay $30 for a doctor to come to your house, or $30 for you to pack the kids into the car, drive to a doctor’s office, pay $10 to park, wait in a dirty waiting room, and then see a doctor for 7 minutes in a small room, which one are you going to pick? By the end of the year we will be launching with three other major California health insurance companies in addition to Anthem. The other big thing we are ready to announce is that we are now CLIA approved in California to do everything typically done in your doctor’s office, in your house—and then some. Blood tests, urine tests, strep tests, pregnancy tests, STD tests, annual physicals, flu vaccines, sutures, joint aspirations, and more.

B: While you were winning the Moneyball competition last year, our 2014 winner, Deep Forest Media, was about to announce their acquisition by Rakuten Marketing. When Moneyball comes around next year, what do you hope to be able to announce?

N: Five Fortune 50 corporate clients in California will be launching with Heal January 1st, 2016, as a primary in-network benefit for their employees.
What I hope to announce in March of next year is that we’ve gone from 5 to 25 corporate customers and that our customer base has expanded from 1,000 to 10,000 with over 40% of our users using us as primary care.

B: Do you have any plans to expand beyond Los Angeles and the Bay Area?

N: December 1, we launch San Diego. By March of next year, we want to have launched our first one or two out-of-state markets. We are looking at an East Coast market—Washington DC, NYC, or Boston—we are looking at a Texas market—between Houston and Dallas—and we are looking at Seattle.

B: Do you have any advice for other entrepreneurs balancing the duel responsibilities of building a company and raising a family?

N: You have to be willing to change the way you work. I would always say, “My work is at work and my home is at home.” Now, I try to get home by 6:00, feed my kids, play with them, put them to bed, and then get back onto the computer for an hour or so. Don’t pick one over the other, force yourself to find the balance, and you will work smarter.

B: Do you think that on-demand service companies like Heal help make it easier to find that balance?

N: I think they do. I use Soothe to get therapeutic massages. I use Washio to get the laundry done. We use Instacart to get our grocery shopping done. We use Postmates to get lunch every day. All of those things are actually adding to the amount of quality time I can spend working or with my kids. As a parent, the value of Heal is that I can see a doctor for my son and get all my kids to bed on time. We can have dinner with the family instead of “Dad’s at the doctor with the kid, mom’s at home, and the kid’s home late and crabby for school the next day.”

B: We started by asking, “What is Heal?” A year from now, when Heal hits its 2 year anniversary, how would you like your typical user to describe Heal?

N: “Heal is our doctor.”