Engage with people and talk about your idea/ business to people… Listen carefully for their questions – as that is a key towards making your pitch understandable in the first few seconds.”
Sally Poblete has been a leader and innovator in the health insurance industry for over 20 years. As a broker and former industry executive herself, she founded Wellthie out of a deep passion for making health insurance more simple and approachable for consumers and small businesses. She had a successful career leading product development at Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield, one of the nation’s largest health insurance companies.
Sally received her B.S. in Management magna cum laude from New York University and received her MBA from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, specializing in Health Care Management. Since founding the company, Wellthie has received numerous recognitions as an innovator in the healthcare industry, including “Forbes 10 Healthcare Tech Disruptors to Watch,” “30 Health Tech Startups with the Potential to Change the World,” and “Top 40 Health Care Transformers.” Most recently, Sally was recognized as one of New York Business Journal’s Women of Influence.
Sally has presented at numerous conferences nationwide, including InsureTech Connect, the AHIP Institute & Expo, and the HITLab Innovator’s Summit. She has been featured in such notable publications as Forbes, Inc., The Huffington Post, and BuzzFeed.
Where did the idea for Wellthie come from?
After decades of experience in one of the largest insurance carriers in the country, I developed a deeper understanding and appreciation of the challenges and opportunities in the industry. Unfortunately, when people think about all the things they shop for, insurance is probably one of the most stressful that comes up to their mind- yet it is one of the most important. The retail experiences we all have are being defined by companies such as Amazon, Uber and Airbnb — they are setting a new standard for transparency, simplicity and convenience in health insurance. I think it was very obvious to me that the high expectations of users were not being met by the industry — and given my background, I had the opportunity to make an impact on this. It was the right moment for me to pursue my lifelong dream of being an entrepreneur and start a company that creates transformation in the process of buying and selling insurance, which I think is where the beginning of a user’s insurance journey is.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
No two days are alike. I start my day (very) early to give myself the quiet time to think, usually before my family gets up in the morning. We all get ready for work and school — and I head straight to the office for time with my team or customers.
How do you bring ideas to life?
I think the answer is two-part: The first is having a long-term vision for the company. The long-term vision evolves over time but it is incredibly important to have grand plans for the company’s future beyond the quarter that keeps the team motivated towards a shared goal. On a day to day basis, working with an amazing team – creative, smart and passionate people everyday to figure out how to back-engineer the long-term vision into daily actions to execute upon. Finally, I think multiple and rapid iterations of ideas is a key to bringing ideas to fruition.
What’s one trend that really excites you?
I am very passionate about the power of data analytics in healthcare and insurance. Bringing together disparate data sets and finding patterns to help PEOPLE make better decisions is still in its nascent stage in our industry.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I wake up very early in the morning. It is the best and most productive time of the day for me when I can allocate my attention to thinking about our most challenging issues. Too many emails, urgent tasks or conversations happen throughout the workday that are not conducive to deep and creative thinking.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I used to be a perfectionist and often wanted to make sure I am 100% ready or correct before taking an initiative. This is an area I have been working on since being an entrepreneur — and while we still care deeply about details and getting things right — I’ve evolved my mindset towards making faster decisions with imperfect information and iterating towards perfection as we go.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
In the tech scene, everyone loves “complete disruption”. Even though I love innovative solutions to inefficient problems, I believe there is great value in collaborating with incumbents, leveraging their experience and growing alongside them whilst also increasing customer experience overall. I do not believe in disruption for the sake of disruption, I believe there is tremendous opportunity in innovation that is focused on empowering our industry.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
As an entrepreneur you never stop pitching. Even though it is repetitive, I love talking about Wellthie with anyone and anywhere. Engage with people and talk about your idea/ business to people even though they may not be a potential customer, partner, investor or new hire. Listen carefully for their questions – as that is a key towards making your pitch understandable in the first few seconds.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
The founder/ market fit- My expertise and strong background in the insurance industry has sped up our company’s evolution and opened many doors for Wellthie. Since this industry is so complex, we have had an advantage on getting product details right the first time, rather than wasting time and money on wrong assumptions. From a business development perspective, I have cultivated a network of mentors, potential team members, customers and investors over decades of being in the industry.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
A deal fell through with a potential early seed investor. At the time, I was very concerned about it as we needed to raise capital urgently. As an entrepreneur, it’s not easy to come to terms with rejection, but you also have to understand that once you strike a deal with an investor, you are entering into a marriage. It is important to consider the mutual fit, alignment and trust with an investor. That early experience helped me become more attuned to items outside financial terms of an investment — and I’m really grateful for the investors we are working with today.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I am personally interested in more “Warby Parker” ideas in health related products — take an expensive health care related product (i.e. eye glasses) that now costs a fortune. Add great design, a customer friendly experience, and a reasonable price point. Voila! Consumer-loved brand!
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Amazon Prime membership at $99/year is my best spent $100 and pays dividends in ease, convenience, time savings and has gotten me out of many tight jams. As a mom of two kids and working professional, this is how I shop.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Slack! I am always travelling, or meeting clients and cannot always be present in the office with the team. Slack has been amazing not just in terms of productivity and constant connectivity, but also in terms of team building and bonding by sharing special, and funny moments.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
I love books about startups and I am reading multiple books at any given time. One book I read recently that really stuck with me is Option B by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant. While it is a book centered around Sheryl’s personal story and grief during the passing of her husband, the lessons about resilience rang true for me as an entrepreneur.
What is your favorite quote?
This is a really hard question! I’ve been enjoying and listening to the Hamilton soundtrack written by Lin Manuel Miranda. The story and lyrics are energizing.
- Excellence through iteration
- Resilience is key
- Just do it
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