In the bustling landscape of entrepreneurship, stories often emerge from diverse backgrounds, each narrating a unique journey. Ty Wang, the founder of Angle Health, shares his inspiring tale that begins with immigrant roots and leads to the establishment of a groundbreaking healthcare benefits solution.
The venture, Angle Health, has attracted funding from top-tier investors like Aloft VC, PruVen Capital, Wing Venture Capital, SixThirty Ventures, and Correlation Ventures.
In this episode, you will learn:
- Ty Wang’s entrepreneurial journey is rooted in the inspirational story of his immigrant parents, who turned necessity into entrepreneurial success.
- Growing up fascinated by technology, Ty’s educational journey and government service laid the groundwork for his future in the tech and entrepreneurship space.
- Ty’s stint at Palantir exposed him to the dynamic venture world, sparking his interest in entrepreneurship and paving the way for future endeavors.
- Admission into Y Combinator provided Ty with crucial insights, shaping Angle Health’s foundation and its approach to building a disruptive and sustainable business.
- Ty highlights the capital intensity of the healthcare sector but emphasizes Angle Health’s success in securing licenses and launching with minimal capital compared to industry norms.
- Establishing a fully remote company during the pandemic, Ty underscores the importance of intentional communication and team-building efforts to foster a strong organizational culture.
- Angle Health’s vision extends beyond traditional healthcare, aiming to democratize access to preventative health services and reduce the prevalence of preventable diseases in the future.
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About Ty Wang:
Ty Wang is the Co-Founder and CEO of Angle Health, the digital-first, fully licensed health insurance platform.
Before founding Angle Health in 2019, Ty was at Palantir, where he met his Co-Founder, Anirban Gangopadhyay.
Ty has a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical and Electronics Engineering, as well as a Bachelor’s in Systems Engineering, from Washington University in St. Louis. He splits his time between Salt Lake City and Denver.
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Read the Full Transcription of the Interview:
Alejandro Cremades: Alrighty hello everyone and welcome to the dealmaker show. So today. We have a really exciting episode ahead of us. You know we’re gonna be talking with this amazing founder. We’re gonna be talking about accessing medical services racing around in 2022 all the craziness that was going on and and what a different world that we’re in now are the lessons you know on what needed to happen and what was important there to raise the money that they did and then also building what it is a fully remote team again. Amazing inspiring journey in front of us here today. Ah, without further ado. Let’s welcome our guests today die 1 welcome to the show.
Ty Wang: Thanks Alejandro! Glad to be here.
Alejandro Cremades: You So originally born in the Us to Emig grandparents. You also walked through memory lane. How was life growing up.
Ty Wang: Um, yeah yeah, I would say I I lived a ah ah pretty kind of normal immigrant. Ah ah, upbringing in that my parents moved here. Ah twenty thirty years ago with ah, no education and made a life for themselves and and for me and and it was definitely inspiring and and what ultimately led me to being an entrepreneur I believe.
Alejandro Cremades: So you grew up in ah in ah in Colorado and and blue collar family. So what? what? what pushed you into into wanting to become an entrepreneur.
Ty Wang: Yeah, um I think one of the really ah incredible things with ah with with this country that we’re in and the opportunities that there that there are here is that my parents were entrepreneurs themselves but out of Necessity. They weren’t able to find. Work especially in the two thousand s and ended up having to start their own companies to really provide for for themselves and for our family and I think ah through seeing seeing them do that I’ve always really wanted to um. Ah, start my own company and and now with the education that that they’ve been able to provide me. Um I’m I’m now able to be in just a single generation be an entrepreneur by choice rather than out of necessity.
Alejandro Cremades: So what about engineering what they caught your eye on engineering because that’s ultimately what they what you studied and and and really what got you going? So why? engineering.
Ty Wang: Yeah I think growing up I’ve always been someone that tinkered with things that loved computers and and learning how things were built and actually ended up getting a scholarship through the federal government that. Was a full ride with the condition that I went into an engineering field. So I ended up studying electoral and systems engineering at Washington University in St Louis
Alejandro Cremades: So after the studies you had to ah go back to government and you were there for quite a bit I believe it was something like 7 years where you were doing all types of stuff and then also traveling quite a little bit around the Middle East and in South Asia so what was that experience like and what kind of world. Do you e gave you from seeing other parts of the world as well. So.
Ty Wang: Yeah, that was an incredible experience for me and I actually so so as part of this scholarship program I interned at various government agencies over the summers and then um, after graduating I worked for the federal government full time for. Several years there as you mentioned I got to travel travel the world to a lot of very unique places and and that was an incredibly eye-opening experience just seeing kind of how ah other people lived experiencing different cultures and. And really I would say learning how to communicate with all kinds of um of of people from different walks of life. Ah so yeah, it was it was for sure a very eye-opening experience for me.
Alejandro Cremades: So so at what point do you realize that maybe working for government is not your thing that maybe there’s a different world a world of business outside. Yeah.
Ty Wang: Yeah, yeah, So ah after and and I I Love my time there and I think it was an incredible opportuniTy Wang: and ah and a great ah launch pad for kind of my career. Um, ah but I think ah ah After. I Think after being in it for for so Long. Ah, the the government is a huge organization. There’s a lot of red tape when it comes to um, really just just getting things done when when that’s all ah I think anyone wants to do um and. I had been approached a couple times and and active and I had many friends that also moved from kind of their their government jobs into these various tech companies. So That’s that’s really where I think Ah, that’s really When. Ah. I Decided that I wanted to kind of make a make a move and and see what else was out there.
Alejandro Cremades: So then let’s talk about what else was out there. You know what did you? What did you look at and and how do you eventually land in volunteer.
Ty Wang: Yeah, so I had been reached out to by quite a few recruiters for for various companies. Both ah primarily actually in tech and and also in consulting which is not ah, not an uncommon thing to. Happened particularly in the field that I was in within the federal government and I had several friends that had actually moved over to palantir right around the same time. Um, heard really great things about it. Visited their office. Interviewed and I think all around the the environment, especially the the entrepreneur culture that they really um, tried to try to foster their resonated with me and and ended up deciding to make that leap. Um, ah after meeting a lot of the a lot of the individuals there and the people that I would be working with.
Alejandro Cremades: So let’s talk about the you know because in palant you were there for about a year so um you know I will say I’m sure that you kind of like saw the whole craziness in the venture world you know and and and how amazing you know fast space. You know this world is. You know I’m sure that you eventually got the book and you are like my god I feel like I want to do it. You know myself. So what was that moment like you know when you were like hey you know I think that baby is time to give the notice here and and and take a step at it myself. Yeah.
Ty Wang: Um, yeah, um, actually remember remember that um moment or kind of the lead up to that fairly clearly and and I was actually ah during that time I was listening to a lot of podcasts and including yours including this podcast here and. Just getting very inspirational stories from a lot of founders I think ah, that really I think um palantir really hires people that that I would say are very entrepreneurial that are that that have kind of. Or or get that kind of bug especially once they get exposed to a world like this. Um and I think the really the um, the the major kind of trigger point. There was ah was getting into YCIntoYCombinator after kind of throwing around. Ah, few ideas. But um, ah the experience I palier really kind of drove our decision to ultimately leave palantier and and start angle health and and part of that was really seeing a lot of the different kinds of companies that. Ah, really being exposed to how many of these massive organizations operated um, seeing a lot of kind of similarities when it came to my government job and then really seeing I think a lot of the issues when it comes to.
Ty Wang: Being able to modernize and adopt kind of new technologies to bring about um ah ah, a much. Ah I would say like a much more efficient, much more integrated way of of operating especially when it came to very very core and important services for. For people and for families like the one that I grew up in and that was especially true in Healthcare And Healthcare care is if you’re familiar with palantier one of palantier’s largest verticals.
Alejandro Cremades: So so tell us about y come errors you were referring to earlier. You know why come iner 1 of the best if not the best is startup accelerator program I mean it’s tougher to get into why like getting into Harvard which is unbelievable, but how was the. You know before and after you know what did you guys enter y communator with when you were going in with angle health and then what was the angle health that you came out with you know from the experience had y communator.
Ty Wang: Yeah y combinator was an incredible experience for us as first time founders we really didn’t know what we were doing at the time I think ah. 1 of the the couple biggest values that yc provides are are the network are essentially kind of training you to to be a founder through the experiences of all of these other founders and and partners most of whom are former founders as well. Ah, and. And really exposing you and educating you on the whole kind of fundraising and venture capital ah ecosystem which is something that I never had any experience in before. Um, so I think I think going into y c.
Ty Wang: We were we We were really just kind of ah two friends with an idea ah with with a lot of kind of challenges and problems we saw with with some of these ah legacy industries and and these legacy companies and. Coming out really having ah a strong sense of what it takes to actually build a highly disruptive company which I think many Yc companies are and ah and also very importantly, how to how to raise the capital that’s needed in order to. Build a company like that particularly a company like ours like angle health which is highly regulated and and and it is fairly capital intensive when compared to most other startups.
Alejandro Cremades: So in for the people that are listening to get it. What ended up being the business model of Ango Health how do you guys make money.
Ty Wang: Yeah, so ah, so we do a variety of things but essentially what anglengel health is is a one-stop healthcare care benefits solution for employers where we’re making it faster and easier and more affordable for employers to purchase health insurance for their employees and for their employees to access healthcare benefits. So our our products themselves are comprehensive Aca and area compliant group health insurance plans that’s health insurance purchased by employers and covering their employees which is the vast majority of health insurance in the us. So ah so.
Ty Wang: We provide much more than just the insurance product itself but we actually operate a fully licensed health insurance carrier as well as um, a couple other entities and in a third party adistry that provides essentially this. All the services that sit around kind of your health care benefits.
Alejandro Cremades: So you were alluding to this earlier which is basically the regulatedness of building a company like this I mean when you are ultimately building a startup you know, especially a startup like this. You have 2 things I mean you have 2 uncertainties 1 the 1 of building a company from nothing and then two is building in a very a highly regulated. Market. So how has it been being able to blend. Both of those uncertainties and how did you guys you know come across. You know the challenges that and that you’ve experienced so far.
Ty Wang: Yeah, so I think this is one where maybe our background has helped us. So so my co-founder honoran also worked for the federal government as a machine learning engineer for several years before joining volunteer as well. But um, ah. Having operated and and at palantir where we had a lot of government customers that we worked closely with I think it it really taught us how to kind of navigate navigate these various government organizations and and and operate in in environments that have. Ah, very high level of regulation compliance. Um, ah and and overall kind of regulatory risk. So ah, so so I I think our experience there really helped us kind of.
Ty Wang: Navigate all of this and and and be comfortable in kind of operating and in in this sort of environment. Um I would say that the ah the biggest challenge when it comes to building a company in a regulated space. Especially early on is is that it it becomes. There’s a long lead time when it comes to actually being able to go live with a product because especially if it’s a company or a product that requires licensing regulatory approvals things like that. Ah, so so it does require a decent amount of capital upfront to be able to go through that process or those processes and then and then actually be able to launch a product there. Um I think the. The it’s definitely not for everyone I think the ah the important piece there is really ah, being able to do it I mean I think 1 thing that that that really spoke to. Ah. Um, kind of our story and and and too many of our investors is that we were able to to go through these processes fairly capital efficiently so when compared to many of the genwaan insur texts that um, raised pre raised more capital than we’ve raised.
Ty Wang: Pre-launch than we’ve raised in the entire existence of our company. Um and took one to two plus years to go live. We actually got licensed in ah in about six months from the time that we decide to enter our first market and went live within a year with. Ah, a fraction of the capital that many of these kind of first generation insure techs ah needed to to get to the same point.
Alejandro Cremades: So talk to us too about being capital intensive I mean you guys have raised quite some money you know about 63000000 how has it been the experience and the journey of raising money as well for you guys.
Ty Wang: Um, yeah, so ah for us the the capital intensity comes in the form of essentially regulatory capital requirements from ah from from our regulators so similar to because because like a core piece of our business is. Actually providing health insurance. We’re providing that that is a regulated financial service similar to a bank where we actually are required to maintain. Ah ah capital maintain a certain amounts of capital on our balance sheet to assume the risk that we’re assuming. Um, so ah, ah when it comes to fundraising for that. That’s obviously not kind of a a traditional use of venture capital nor nor would I say is a very efficient or or good use of venture capital in that. Ah. Ah, venture capital is ah or equity capital is a very expensive form of capital for what will essentially just sit on your for capital that will just sit on your balance sheet. Um, so there are other there are other tools for that but getting started. Um. We did raise and many of these most of these insured techs that have formed over the past ten years or so have raised venture capital to address that to address that concern I would say the challenge with that is really in in I think the performance and and and.
Ty Wang: Kind of what? Ah, ah, people were chasing prior to I would say kind of like the 2021 2020 timef frameme where not not just in insure tech. But but across tech in general capital is very freely available. Um, everyone was chasing essentially chasing kind of like top line revenue numbers whereas in a business like ours and and especially in the time that we were fundraising. Um, ah this is one a time where many of these kind of. Gen 1 insure texts had gone public people saw how they performed in the public markets and realized oh this is a business that where the underlying business fundamentals fundamentals matter a lot and that’s really. What we needed to focus on and and and focus on building a very so kind of sustainable business even at a very small scale. Um, when it comes to what is actually important for the business itself and I think now over the past couple years. We’ve really moved into an era where where that that’s also true of. Of ah of any company where um, the unit economics are extremely important where the where today capital is is fairly constrained and ah survival kind of being being that default alive is.
Ty Wang: Is what matters in in kind of today’s market
Alejandro Cremades: Can you talk to us about the that comment on default life because this is something from Paul Graham from a y combinator and something that is saying very much present on the world that we’re living in today for startup. So could you expand on that.
Ty Wang: Yeah, so so the idea of being kind of default debt or default alive is really ah ah is is I is really about kind of well. Actually I don’t really I don’t think that I should really explain that I think I think I think I should direct people to Paul Graham’s blog posts specifically about it I don’t want to take like any credit for this, but it’s really about about as a company. Ah are you. Um, if if you just continued operating the company as it is today. Um are you default dead in that you will ah eventually run out of money or are you building a company where you’re default alive where you. Ah, maybe you’re not profitful today but but by continuing to operate the way that you are and and and and growing in the way that you are. You will be default alive and that you will ah ah with or ideally without additional capital. Um. Um, be able to hit a point of break even or or have the option to be profitable.
Alejandro Cremades: You know it’s It’s definitely an amazing um shift that we have experienced in the market because you know going from the growth above everything else to now profitability right now Now that’s what people are really um, appreciating I think that that that.
Ty Wang: If.
Alejandro Cremades: Ah, statement, you know and and and and that essay from Paul Grammys is a real good one for for the people that are listening to read and and amazing know that that comment that you mentioned in that regard I think that one one aspect that is very interesting about your ge’ operation with Ungo Health is that everyone is fully remote. So. How have you guys gone about building a fully remote team and and tell us about this.
Ty Wang: Yeah, so ah, we we started the company. Ah, right? as the pandemic was getting started. We went through yc ah, we we finished Yc in March of 2020. So so when everything shut down and that’s when we. Raised our first round so we’ve yeah so we’ve really built the company through ah through the pandemic and as a result ah have built a fully remote company I would say building culture is one of the hardest things when you have ah a fully remote company like that where. Um, actually I mean for the our many of our employees met ah ah someone else at the company for the first time. Ah, ah, just a few months ago when we had ah our first kind of full company offsite I think the the.
Ty Wang: The most important pieces when it comes to building a remote first company is continuing to build kind of a sense of culture and and having consistent touchpoints across the company when it comes to um, employees just meeting each other and one one of the things that I always try to. Um, ah note especially when we have new employees joining at our all hands is to reach out to ah 2 employees to to others, especially people that you don’t work with on a day-to-day basis just to get to know them just to ah just to learn just have a random coffee chat. There’s actually. There’s actually a few slack apps to that essentially facilitate this for you. Um I think what’s also really important when it comes to working in a really in a fully remote company is um and when it comes to communicating effectively is. Is having good documentation and having strong kind of ah ah, guidance on how to communicate on what tools are used for for what and and um.
Ty Wang: Ah, and and also when it comes to kind of resources for the team and and who to reach out to for a given issue and I I know I know a lot of these things are actually and we’ve we faced this a lot through the kind of growth of our company. A lot of these things don’t exist at. At smaller startups. But I think even even for 10 twenty thirty person companies. These are still extremely important if you’re fully remote.
Alejandro Cremades: So imagine you were to go to sleep tonight time and you wake up in a world where the vision of Ango Health is fully realized what does that world look like.
Ty Wang: Yeah I think ah I think that world looks like maybe this is ah this is a little lofty but that that world looks like a one where where preventable diseases are a thing of the past where things like um like. Diabetes and and hypertension and and and many of the chronic diseases that ah the most prevalent chronic diseases that exist in in our world today um are actually not ah ah.
Ty Wang: Not prevalent or extremely rare because we’ve done ah such a good job of preventing these kinds of diseases in the first place and really that comes down to being able to build a system that. Focuses on things like preventative health that increases access to the the programs and services that deliver this level of preventative health and really we we built angle out of our own frustrations with the health care system here and I bet I bet you and and everyone that has. That is listening to this has had some story around whether it’s themselves or a family member or a friend dealing with some some negative experience with health care. Um, and for me personally I grew up in a working class immigrant family. My parents worked multiple service jobs they couldn’t afford to um. Do things like take time off work to go to in-person doctor’s appointments or take care of their own health while providing for our family and and they also want multiple chronic diseases. It wasn’t really until going to palarian seeing how many of these large organizations operated that I realized. Why especially in the past ten years or so we’ve had this explosion of new ways of receiving medical services things like telehealth and telemedicine and chronic disease management programs when it comes to things like diabetes and and msk but the the way that many of these.
Ty Wang: Programs and many of these services are distributed especially these kind of digital or tech enabled ones is through employer benefits or through kind of directly these companies directly contracting with other companies to offer that as a benefit on top of their health insurance. We realize that in order to really kind of. Increase access to these kinds of services to ah ah um, to really kind of democratize who can access these services so it’s not just your employees that are working at like Netflix or Google or palantier who’s paying. 6 to 7 figures to to these companies to to provide that as an additional benefit. Um, ah in order to really kind of expand that to the people that really need them the people that are working for your restaurant groups or your manufacturing companies or retail chains or things like that we had to rebuild kind of this this. Health plan infrastructure this health plan stacked from the ground up um on this modern infrastructure. So thought we could integrate these kinds of services and deliver them to the people that truly need them because ah it’s not it’s it’s not your. it’s it’s not your um most of your engineers or lawyers or or um, ah, financial people at these large financial institutions that need ah diabetes prevention programs. It’s your people that are generally working in kind of lower income. Um.
Ty Wang: Ah, professions and in areas to so places that are essentially kind of healthcare deserts that that really need access to um services like telehealth and telemedicine that don’t have access to it today.
Alejandro Cremades: So Let’s say I put you into a time machine and I bring you back in time tie to that moment that you were incubating the thought here maybe 2018 2018 and 19 and let’s say you’re able to give um, let’s say a piece of advice to that younger self. Before launching a business before launching angle Health What would that be and why given what you know now.
Ty Wang: Yeah I would say um I would say that piece of advice would be to especially when it comes to building a company and hiring a team is to really focus on hiring slowly and. And building kind of a thesis around ah the role in the people and and and and the culture that you want to cultivate at the company because um, ultimately those are the people that are that are going to make your company. Ah, successful or not successful. Um, and and ah I mean those those people are your company. So and I I know that especially as a first time founder we we definitely ah, did not always stick to that and most of the time making panic hires are are actually cost you more in the long run than than than what it may feel like in the moment.
Alejandro Cremades: I Hear you I hear you now type for the people that are listening that would want to ah reach out and say hi. What is the best way for them to do so good.
Ty Wang: Yeah, definitely ah feel free to reach out at thai that’s TyAtAnglehealthDotCom
Alejandro Cremades: Amazing, well easy know for hey I thank you so much for being on the deal maker show today. It has been an honor to have you with us today.
Ty Wang: Thanks so much. Alejandro is great being here.
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