How I Traded The Stage For Y Combinator

How I Traded the Stage for Y Combinator

If you asked me 10 years ago where I thought my career would take me, I would have answered with one word: “Broadway.” As far as I was concerned, I was on my way to becoming a leading stage actress, dazzling crowds each night with my acting and singing chops.


It turns out that the universe had another path in mind.

Instead, here I am, the CEO and Founder of Eligible, a healthcare technology company with more than 50 employees and a set of products that my parents still don’t fully understand. My company develops healthcare billing APIs that help healthcare providers figure out exactly what their patients owe in a matter of seconds. The truth is, I don’t think I even knew what an API was until maybe six years ago.

So how did a right-brained drama kid become the leader of a company that is 70% engineering and data science talent? I like to think that my story is proof that even the most non-technical person can start, build, and manage highly complex technology businesses, as long they possess grit and the ability to relentlessly learn.

My Dreams Of Acting

Ever since I was a little girl, I dreamed of performing on stage. As I grew into an adult, I tried to make that dream a reality by majoring in Theater in college and doing my best to audition and take on roles in my spare time.

If we’re being honest, I was pretty good. After college I landed the lead in a high-profile production of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew. I played Adelaide in Guys and Dolls. But as any aspiring actress will tell you, the career path as an entertainer is brutal. And the theater industry itself is very much stuck in near century-old habits.

For someone looking to make a real dent in the world, I decided that I needed to pursue another calling. I went through an almost existential crisis where I consumed myself with reading biographies and attempting to figure out where the Ben Franklins and Leonardo da Vincis of my generation were being formed. Fittingly enough, I decided on technology.

My Plunge Into the World of Tech

My first foray into the startup world came after I discovered drchrono, a startup building a product for healthcare records on iPads. I became their first employee as a salesperson and joined the founders in Mountain View as they were building the company at the prestigious Y Combinator accelerator.

It was exhilarating. I finally felt like I was contributing to the world in a real, demonstrable way, and helped the company grow sales by 10% each month.

During this time I met with one of the country’s top oncologists, who informed me that he was waiting on millions of dollars in insurance payments because his practice had filled out paperwork incorrectly. This man was literally curing cancer and saving patients’ lives. It seemed unconscionable to me that he could barely keep his business solvent because of a couple of typos. Thus, the idea for Eligible was born.


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