On this week’s Spøtlight, we jump into the world of digital health with Luca Schnettler, Founder of HealthyHealth, a startup harnessing medical data to help insurers calculate risk on 800 medical conditions and assist at-risk patients with personal prevention plans.
Founded in April 2017, the venture, whose prevention plans claim to reduce a person’s risk percentage by 9%, recently closed another seed round, bringing their total funding to over £500k.
Hi Luca, could you tell us a little bit about yourself and what HealthyHealth does?
Of course: I was born and raised in Frankfurt, Germany and I originally moved to the UK to study. After a while, I decided that I wanted to change and do something entrepreneurial – I always had a passion to create and wanted to seek a challenge. That’s how I started HealthyHealth in September 2017.
HealthyHealth sells two products to our clients. The first, “HH One Click”, takes digital data to create an individual’s risk profile including probabilities of diagnosis for 800+ medical conditions and extra mortality values. This is mainly used in insurance underwriting to reduce the amount of questions asked and cost incurred.
The second, “HH Prevent” is a mobile app which prevents the detected risks. What’s unique is that, instead of providing the user with generic information on how to be healthy, it individualises it on the risks that one actually has. This works particularly well as we know your risks for more than 800 conditions.
Where did the idea for the startup come from and what makes it unique?
You see, I don’t think that most entrepreneurs have a lightbulb moment and build a successful business from that. It takes a lot of changes before you arrive at something that can be mass-produced. And even then, I believe that nothing is ever finished.
On the other hand, every entrepreneur should know from the start what makes his/her company unique. For us, it is the large dataset we hold, which allows us to calculate precise risks for hundreds rather than tens of conditions, as well as our team and great clients.
What do you see as the most important qualities in a company’s team?
I think that honesty is incredibly important. It’s needed to deliver quality. For example, when something’s going wrong, the team needs to know the truth in order to find a solution. Now if there’s a fearful, dishonest environment, you are doomed to fail because you’ll never get to the bottom of what’s going wrong.
Is there a particular new venture within the insurance ecosystem who inspires you?
There are some really cool ventures. Boughtbymany comes to mind. Their model is brilliant, and Steven has helped me a lot to become a better leader and move HealthyHealth to success.
Another one is Sentiance. It’s not directly insurance related, but I still love the idea of being able to know exactly what I do in a day down to the minute. It enables you to know exactly what you spent your time on and, if needed, how to adjust it. I guess it appeals to the German in me.
Do you have plans for another funding round soon? And, if so, what would you look to do with the money you raise?
We’ve just closed another round of £530k. This will enable us to scale with our existing clients and target other demographic regions. Having said this, we are starting the procedure of a larger round to scale with new clients in Europe.
You decided to press pause on your degree to set up HealthyHealth. Do you think you’ll return to Queen Mary’s to complete it or are you committing your efforts to growing the business for the foreseeable future?
Well, ultimately, I’m all about learning new things. If that’s via the university route or the practical route will change depending on what goals I want to achieve. In regards to building a business, I don’t think university can teach you a whole lot. Having said that, when it comes to topics where the, as I like to call it, “fail and adapt principle” does not apply, a university education is required. Medicine is a good example here.
Down the road I’d love to get involved in politics, and for that I’d like to get more knowledge via the university route. But let’s scale the business first and then worry about the next stages in my life.
How do you see the healthcare industry developing over the next couple of years?
Personally, I strongly believe that both prevention and automatisation will be key to delivering higher quality healthcare services to the population. Instead of focusing on what to do when a condition has occurred, I believe the market will shift towards prevention – and tech is a key component to enable this change.
I also believe that the role of a doctor will slowly be replaced by machines. They can diagnose conditions better (see Google Deep Mind), they can be more accurate in surgery, etc.
The only area of medicine which, in my opinion, is not in danger of machine replacement is anything in regards to emotional health. As soon as emotional interaction is needed, humans are required. Mainly because I believe that, at least in the near future, machines won’t be able to replace our emotional intelligence. And, even if they could, wouldn’t they then be humans themselves?
If you had to give one piece of advice for aspiring startups looking to disrupt the insurance industry, what would it be?
Try to do something truly unique. I see a lot of repetitive ventures popping up.
More generally, listen to people, but, ultimately, make up your own mind. If that’s based upon your own opinions or the opinions of others doesn’t matter so long as you objectively look at the facts. I guess what I’m trying to say is that you should believe in yourself and be confident. But be aware that true confidence is only achieved if you accept (and admit) that you’re not always correct.
Finally, we in the office love your startup name – what made you call the business HealthyHealth?
Honestly, I needed a name and it was the first one I could think of – no good story here I’m afraid. I once heard however that the name was so bad it sticks in your head – I’d agree with that. In the end it matters what’s behind the name. After all we want to be recognised for changing healthcare for the better, not coming up with the trendiest start-up name.