Always talk to your customers and get feedback. Do not be afraid to try something new. Get feedback, fail early, and pivot accordingly.
Name: HealPal Inc.
Location: Austin TX, Dallas TX, and Sunnyvale CA
Product / Service Offering: Secure online platform that helps cancer patients find the right cancer expert and clinical trials through matched peers
Co-founder Interviewed: Sunit Sebastian, MD
Other Key Management Team Members: Babu Balasubramanian, CTO
This article is part of our Business Startup Spotlight series featuring entrepreneurs and their companies. We hope that these founders’ interviews will inspire and motivate you as you undertake your own entrepreneurial journey.
Tell us a little about yourself with a focus on what motivates you?
I have been a cancer radiologist for over 10 years. I have personally experienced both sides of cancer, as a physician for my patients and as a family member who has lost loved ones to cancer. Cancer care is chaotic, especially in our complex healthcare system. I am very passionate about empowering cancer patients by helping them understand their disease better and finding the right cancer expert and treatment to give them a fighting chance in their cancer journey.
When did you establish your company and where did the idea originate?
We established the company about 14 months ago. The idea actually came from an insightful conversation with one of my cancer patients.
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What need or needs does your company seek to fill for its customers?
We help cancer patients find the right cancer expert and clinical trial through matched peers.
What is the one thing that sets your company apart from its competitors?
Our cancer niche, simplified cancer content and unique patient matching algorithm sets us apart from our competitors.
What was the biggest challenge you faced while getting your company up and running, and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge was to tailor HealPal to the specific needs of cancer patients. We conducted pilot studies initially and received valuable feedback from our patients. We implemented all the proposed changes to improve the patient experience for HealPal. We still continue to learn from our patients on a daily basis.
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Are there resources you have utilized that other founders might find compelling or useful.
Always talk to your customers and get feedback. Do not be afraid to try something new. Get feedback, fail early, and pivot accordingly. Above all never give up and keep the faith!
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What steps have you taken to secure funding for your company and what, if anything, would you do differently if you had to start over?
We have secured funding from two reputed accelerator programs, one in Silicon Valley and the Health Wildcatters program in Dallas. One thing I would do differently would be to go to market earlier than we did.
Have there been any questions you have had as an entrepreneur of a fledgling startup that you had a particularly hard time finding the answers to?
How to go to market was something we grappled with initially; however, our initial setbacks and guidance by mentors led us to the answers.
What challenges, if any, are you grappling with?
We are focusing on scaling the product and our customer. This is difficult given the limited resources of a startup, but therein lays the challenge and the opportunity.
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What is the most helpful tip or “hack” you’ve ever learned, stumbled across, or been given?
Never assume anything and be open to change. Things can go in a direction that you would never imagine. Be prepared to pivot!
Is there anything else you would like to share about your company?
We are having a great impact on the lives of cancer patients. Please spread the word if you know someone or a family touched by cancer.
Are you familiar with other Business Startups you would like to see spotlighted? If so, we would like to hear from you. Tell us about them, sharing your comments below!