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Earlier this year, I started writing about the medical industry and how the US healthcare system cries out for change, more here. Alyssa Yun, a 22-year-old engineer and founder of MiY reached out to me with her story. She dropped out of college to work on MiY full-time after her husband lost sleep due to an outrageous medical bill.
MiY is a medical debt settlement startup based out of Silicon Valley that started just about three months ago and launched in March. Since then, they have helped over 20 customers negotiate medical debt with collectors.
Mary Juetten: What problem are you solving?
Alyssa Yun: One in six Americans have medical debt, yet debt settlement is an expensive service and the industry hasn’t fundamentally changed in years.
We want to reinvent the process and make it more affordable, using software and artificial intelligence.
Juetten: Who are your customers and how do you find them?
Yun: Everyday Americans who, due to a series of unfortunate events, find themselves drowning in medical debt.
We have gotten most of our customers by direct messaging on social media. We really strive to build a personal relationship with our first customers – they usually belong to communities with others who have similar medical debt issues. For example, one of our customers offered to refer five of his friends.
Juetten: How did past projects and/or experience help with this new project?
Yun: First, to expand on how I started MiY, my husband found himself with an outrageous medical bill. We spent over a thousand hours researching everything about the industry to help ourselves. Long story short, the debt industry is terribly flawed (John Oliver knows best!).
Our experience has helped us acquire customers within the first month of launching, since we know exactly where to find them and can relate to their situation on a personal level.
Juetten: Who is on your team?
Yun: Me and my husband.
Juetten: Did you raise money?
Yun: We are entirely bootstrapped. We are both engineers and can implement a large set of features by ourselves. We already have paying customers to keep us afloat. We want to look into raising money, once we are overloaded with customers.
Juetten: Startups are an adventure — what’s your favorite startup story?
Yun: Good founders are humble even at a billion dollar valuation – my husband fondly remembers playing Xbox with Brian Armstrong of Coinbase, back when it was a smaller company.
Juetten: How do you measure success and what is your favorite success story?
Yun: The way I see it, success is resilience – the ability to keep going no matter what life throws at you.
I look up to people who persevere against all odds. Personally, I have no doubt that my husband is my inspiration. He has been living on his own since 18, worked at 6 different companies to support himself through college, and has dealt with his share of medical issues. I know how stressful medical bills and debts can be, especially when they are unexpected. People who struggle financially but manage to lead a fulfilling life have all my respect.
Company-wise, we measure success through our customer’s likelihood to recommend us to his/her network. As a business who rely heavily on trust, customer relation, and word-of-mouth growth, we set feedback loops with our customers through all stage of our process to ensure their satisfaction.
Juetten: Any tips to add for early-stage founders?
Yun: Take the time to personally talk to your customers for as long as you can! More often than not, they give you valuable feedback and insights to grow your business. We have set up feedback funnel where customers can reach us at all time through SMS.
Juetten: And of course, any IP horror stories to share (they can be anonymous)?
Yun: Founder IP deadlock is super common – it’s happened to me once and resulted in working on a new idea. (Juetten – deadlock means that each founder feels that they own the IP and there is no agreement in place).
Juetten: What’s the long-term vision for your company?
Yun: We want to reinvent debt settlement. Make the service affordable, transparent and put the customer first.
Kudos to Alyssa. Our healthcare system is fundamentally broken. If you are working on solving problems around the medical system, reach on twitter @maryjuetten. #onwards.
May 23, 2019 at 09:06AM
Forbes – Entrepreneurs