Jonathan brings a plethora of experience from companies at all stages of the start-up lifecycle, and I was lucky to sit with him to discuss the future of Salvo Health.
Jonathan Hastings-Segovia was one of Salvo Health’s first recruits. He recalls the moment when he was first contacted, “One of the Salvo Health investors sent me an email out of the blue, about Salvo Health, and wrote, “There are these three guys, with impressive backgrounds, and they’re starting a company. I think you should talk to them.”
Now, as Head of Product, Jonathan Hastings-Segovia, is leading the charge as we scale our app from its first version, Alpha, to its second version, Beta, now equipped for more members and delivering better healthcare.
Jonathan brings a plethora of experience from companies at all stages of the start-up lifecycle, and I was lucky to sit with him to discuss the future of Salvo Health, why our virtual care is different from other digital healthcare companies, and how we prioritize members with every new feature we add to our app.
I started my career in finance, and then very quickly learned that I hated it. I then fell into what was then an early stage startup called Jet.com, into a product role and had been working on product teams ever since.
I joined Squarespace when they were trying to accelerate growth and drive product-led growth. They already had product market fit, but there was a bit of a pivot and they wanted to figure out who new customers might be, what their needs were, and how they were going to expand their services ahead of going public. So, we were doing a lot of experimentation. We were trying to go beyond the people who were already serving, and figure out what the next step was for the company.
Then one of the Salvo Health investors sent me an email out of the blue, about Salvo Health, and wrote, “There are these three guys, with impressive backgrounds, and they’re starting a company. I think you should talk to them.”
And I wasn’t looking to join a very early stage start-up, but thought “This could be a really fun lunch.”
In my conversations with Jeff, Avi, and Jason, I was really excited by their leadership, plus the possibilities for the product. I don't think a telehealth business like this would have been possible four years ago, but now, the timing felt right for something truly innovative: An app that can connect a patient directly to a doctor who is delivering unique and custom care for a chronic condition. It really does affect lives.
I’ve had the great fortune to work for companies that weren’t ill-intentioned, but I haven’t yet, until Salvo Health, been able to work somewhere that is actively improving the daily lives of users in the way a virtual healthcare app like ours could.
So when I was at Jet.com, we were kind of starting from scratch. I joined right as we were launching , and we pivoted the business many times. We were trying to figure out what would work, what didn't work, what users wanted, how we would be different from Amazon.
Then I joined the team at Rent the Runway, where we had product market fit, but the primary offering was an a la carte rental service. We were debuting a new type of service that would over time become most of the company’s revenue. That was a similar theme at Squarespace. They were a billion dollar company, but getting ready to go public and needed some strategies to accelerate their growth.
So I think I've been fortunate to see various stages of company maturity and product lifecycle.
At Salvo Health, we're trying to find an initial product market fit for GI conditions, but our ambition is to go beyond gastroenterology eventually, to treating other chronic conditions. So what we do on a product level has to be universal, expandable, and yet helpful to the current audience.
There are two things that are special about the way we approach product, here at Salvo Health. The first is that we're in the healthcare industry, as we're actually treating people and connecting them to doctors. We don't quite have the luxury of playing fast and loose with people's health outcomes. There is more thought and intentionality that needs to go into things. On the other hand, the world's best product teams are the ones that are being deliberate in what assumptions about the user data they're making, forming hypotheses around the assumptions, and finding the fastest, easiest, best ways to validate those hypotheses before they move into actual development.
And I think that's what we do.
Our team requires intellectual rigor as we try to understand what’s true about users and our market to motivate the decisions we’re making and what we should build, how we ought to build it, how we scale it, and how that scale will impact users. We're very driven by user research.
The first hire for our Product Team was Sarah Lidgus, Salvo Health’s Head of Design and UX. The reason for that was Sarah’s experience would enable us to conduct deep user research, as she has a unique competence and commitment to user-first design. She was vital to being able to build an empathetic app experience, and doing the research to figure out how best to do that. This is a user base that has been ignored or left unsatisfied a lot of times with alternatives, so we really needed to understand their needs deeply to get this business right.
I’d say that traditional healthcare start-ups, and a lot of digital healthcare apps, start with a provider perspective. They tend to ask themselves, “What would an insurance company want to see in a healthcare app?” or “How do we make billing easier for health insurance, for doctors or hospital systems?” And while that’s important, what’s missing is what the patients need. We’re trying to figure out what problems those patients have and build an app that solves those problems first.
And we’re trying to do that with agility and gathering data quickly. There are a ton of unknowns about what patients really need—what's broken in the current healthcare system is the lack of concrete data—and what the right solutions for their problems are. We have a really rapid feedback cycle between our ideas, getting out new ideas for developments in front of people, and then incorporating them into our product. That’s what agility looks like.
And then I think we’re particularly creative in trying to accomplish these goals, with a lot of freedom from the top down. Founder-led startups usually have a lot of prescriptive direction, but we have a lot of inherent trust in our teams, giving us the autonomy to act, to figure out what users want, and for product, design, and engineering to create the product that they need.
I think it goes back to what we were talking about earlier with challenging our assumptions and being deliberate about our hypotheses. The thing that was kind of the riskiest part of the idea for Salvo Health, beyond whether the market existed, which we had done some validation on, but rather trying to figure out what the demand was for asynchronous, messaging-based care.
Most people, when you go to the doctor's office, you go once a month, or once every six weeks to see your specialist and, you know, you sit in the waiting room, and then you go talk to them for eight to 10 minutes. And that's the end of the interaction.
It's very novel that you have this kind of never-ending visit, this ongoing conversation. So it was really important that we figure out whether that model works really well. So the Alpha was meant to help us test assumptions about what our users wanted from asynchronous care delivery. And it's actually helped us inform a ton of the roadmap going into Beta; what areas we need to build features and how we need to take what works about a face-to-face interaction into the app.
The main difference with Beta is that we pulled out delivery of care into its own part of the app, into the “Care Plan” tab. And what I mean by that is, you're no longer relying on just the messages back and forth with your care team to know what you should do. You've got a section for dedicated resources in the app, including your daily tasks vs. what your whole care plan looks like at a bird’s eye view. Because it's hard on a daily basis to know what you’re supposed to do on your Care Plan, kind of like reminding someone to take their medication.
The focus right now is on launching and establishing product market fit. We’re going to try to understand how users interact with the product and what they’re doing in terms of daily interaction.
So much of good GI care comes with some behavior modification, and we’re helping people figure out what parts of their lifestyle are and aren't working for their gut. And that relies on a certain kind of engagement mode. It’s going be a lot of rapid experimentation to make sure that what we're providing for users works for them on their schedule, on their timeline. We’re going to be laser-focused on retention and re-engagement now that Beta is launched. That’s what’s up for the next quarter at least.
Salvo Health is becoming more widely available as our product, design, and engineering teams continue to make the app experience better, and more beautiful, every day. Interested in applying to Salvo Health? See available roles right here.