Jay Desai committed himself to build a meaningful startup. His health tech venture has already raised $100 million and is growing rapidly.
During our interview on the DealMakes Podcast, Jay talked about transforming the healthcare industry, how he is investing in and advising other startups and entrepreneurs, his take on incorporating your startup, including hiring co-founders, your most important employees, and solving marketplace businesses.
Entrepreneurial DNA & Career Pivots
Jay Desai was born in Wheaton, Illinois to parents who had immigrated to the United States from India.
His father is a pharmacist. Instead of going to work for CVS, Walgreens, or some other big chain, he decided to open his own business in Chicago’s south side. He says this definitely implanted the seeds of being driven to create your own destiny.
After going to college in Michigan, Jay went on to work in private equity and investment banking.
These proved to be very foundational experiences that helped prepare him to found his own company.
At Lehman Brothers he says he learned:
- How to work hard
- About capital markets, M&A, IPOs and financing
- How to use Powerpoint and Excel, and frame and present arguments
At Parthenon he learned about:
- Market-driven and customer-driven journeys
- The healthcare industry and how it operates as a business
- What makes a good investment
- How to think about financial models and debt versus equity financing
- The type of company cultures he enjoyed, and not
His boss Parthenon Capital ended up being an investor in his current venture. That’s even though Jay had been hired out of the firm to one of the companies that Parthenon had invested in.
Then Desai decided to make a pivot in his career. He joined the Coro Fellowship in NYC and went on to Wharton for business school.
He was one of the few if only in his class to join the public sector, instead of pursuing a feel-good title and just the money. He craved something that felt more mission-driven.
He told our audience that he had become jaded with the healthcare system. Especially, how care is shaped. At the time Medicare was also slashing reimbursements. As an investor, he felt the industry was just chasing where the dollars were flowing. He wanted to have an impact and make things better.
So, after business school, Jay Desai went to work with Medicare and Medicaid. He was passionate about finding ways to improve the quality of healthcare and reduce healthcare costs. As well as investing in preventative care and coordination of care. Things that can help you stay healthy, and reduce the need to have to go to the hospital.
At Medicare, he says he enjoyed working with others who really cared about making things better. He found those engaged in healthcare policy as well as leaders who were inventing solutions.
One of the big problems that Jay encountered was that primary care doctors were only really designed to be motivated to help patients once they walked into their offices.
They really didn’t have a full picture of what was happening the rest of the time. When they did come in, they might be referred out to another facility or service provider or sent home to recover until the next time they felt unwell.
Jay saw the opportunity to change these dynamics. Both to equip and incentivize primary care doctors to engage in more preventative care, but also to equip them with more knowledge about their patients.
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