David Washer T'17

“Tuck provided me with a supportive community that encouraged me to take entrepreneurial risks.”

Read My Story

A DUAL-DEGREE WITH DARTMOUTH

Prior to Tuck, I had done some public health casework, strengthening social safety net health care systems. Of all my casework, it was the most confusing. That was when I got a better sense of how complicated the U.S. health care system is. It made me think more about pursuing a master’s of public health degree, especially at Dartmouth which is focused on health care systems and unwarranted variation across them.

A lot of the tools used in public health, like biostatistics, epidemiology, being able to critically evaluate research papers and clinical trials—that type of toolkit is very applicable to almost anything in the social sector. I wanted to be able to dedicate academic time to developing those skills and take them back to the social sector in my work for Bridgespan.

Because I was working on a dual-degree, that helped direct me toward ClearPay and health care as a place to think about a startup. I have been very fortunate that faculty in both programs have been very supportive.

EXPLORING ENTREPRENEURSHIP

I knew getting my MBA would be a great time to try launch something or explore something entrepreneurial. Tuck has a lot of great experiential learning opportunities where you can actually work on your venture for credit and have support, rather than study people who have tried to start ventures. I was looking for an opportunity where I could do some direct work.

In my Entrepreneurial Thinking course, we learned about this notion of lean canvases or creating a quick business model on a page. If an idea comes to mind, just put it down, flesh it out, and see if it has legs. I have a college friend who also wanted to start a business, so I introduced him to this canvas concept and we started sketching out ideas.

DEVELOPING CLEARPAY

We are developing an app that helps patients avoid surprise medical bills by enabling them to search for providers or health care services on the basis of price and quality. They’ll also be able to book appointments. In the long term, the team aims to lock in the price up front and even facilitate payment.

Like many people, I’ve received a few surprise medical bills where I thought my insurance was going to cover a procedure or lab test. Health care seemed like a good place to intervene in a positive way that would benefit all players involved—patients, providers, and insurers.

I pitched the idea in my Building Entrepreneurial Ventures course in the fall with professor Steve Kahl D’91 and Daniella Reichstetter T’07. We started building out the business plan on paper, and some of the financial modeling—but the really cool thing about this class was moving beyond that. We interacted with potential customers and conducted interviews with patients, payers, and providers. All of this culminated into the pitch we delivered at the end of the term. We entered the Dartmouth pitch competition called “The Pitch” which is hosted by the Dartmouth Entrepreneurship Network and the Dartmouth Digital Arts, Leadership, & Innovation Lab (DALI). We won the People’s Choice Award out of roughly 20 participating teams and received a small grant as well as a term’s worth of tech support from DALI.

THE E-SHIP TAKEAWAY

Working on ClearPay has been a huge learning experience for me, just to be exposed to the world of product development and product management. To have the opportunity to manage a team of twelve and get that type of management experience while at business school is really valuable—it’s not just classroom learning.

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