Healthcare Rebel Alliance: Q&A with Shannon Goggin, Noyo

Healthcare Rebel Alliance
Health insurance 101
Healthcare industry

Nick Soman, Decent: Why did you start a company in the employee benefits space? Why this one?

Shannon Goggin, Noyo: Benefits are really important in people’s lives. They govern people's access to healthcare, retirement savings, family planning, and other essential financial tools. At the same time, benefits are complicated, confusing, and expensive. There’s so much technical debt in the industry at large - it’s an industry that developed before the internet, and the systems haven’t caught up. Noyo is a benefits data company - essentially, we put software infrastructure in place behind the scenes to make it easy for anyone building benefits software to get access to the data they need from a whole bunch of different systems.

Before starting Noyo, I’d been working as a product manager building HR software for small businesses at Zenefits. We had all these great ideas about really useful features we could offer to our users – helping people choose between insurance plans based on important factors in their life, providing transparent visibility into their enrollment status, digital insurance cards, etc. Our users loved it. But it was exceptionally difficult to get access to any of the data needed to power those experiences because the insurance companies had no way to provide it. Forget about APIs, in many cases, they were solely interacting with us on fax and phone calls.

We started Noyo because there’s a huge need for something that matters a great deal, and a huge opportunity to build a transformative company by making it possible to get the right data in the right place at the right time.

Nick Soman, Decent: You worked on climate change way before it was cool/scary. When you look at your career, what common threads can you see between your experiences?

Shannon Goggin, Noyo: I try to follow what’s interesting to me at any given time, and not worry too much about what it means for setting up for some life-long trajectory. That’s made it easier to try things and learn from it what I will. I tried an internship at a non-profit – turns out it really wasn’t for me! But I learned a lot about myself and what drives me from that experience. I got a job at a student-run coffee shop in college to earn a little spending money, and I ended up loving it – learning about how purchasing works so we didn’t run out of milk, organizing the shop so the 7am opening shift would be as quick and painless as possible, and figuring out what to do with 500 fresh bagels when the coffee shop was closed due to a snowstorm. I had a ton of fun building and experimenting with different ways to do things to put together something I was proud of with a small group of collaborators.

There have been times where I have over-thought whether to do something if it seems too much like the “obvious” path. I didn’t want to just follow the crowd… but sometimes there’s a crowd at places for good reason.

Nick Soman, Decent: What are the best and worst things about your job?

Shannon Goggin, Noyo: We’ve been at this for nearly seven years now, and we have come a long way from the kitchen table. It’s really satisfying when we make the big breakthroughs and see our partners feel a dramatic improvement from the way they’d been able to do things previously. There’s still so much to do, but I’m really proud of what we have accomplished so far. There’s nothing like the feeling of making something happen that most people thought was impossible.

Tough parts: it’s a privilege leading this company, and a responsibility I take seriously. We’ve had to make some tough decisions, and I take it personally anytime we can’t fully deliver on something we set out to do, or someone has a bad experience. We work hard to avoid these situations to begin with and make it right if they do happen.

Nick Soman, Decent: You work with a lot of insurance companies. What misconceptions about insurance companies would you like to clear up?

Shannon, Noyo: There’s a misconception that no one cares to make change and that hasn’t been my experience. We work every day with motivated, dedicated people at these insurance companies who are working every day to make positive change in the benefits industry. When we can offer them some support to move their ideas forward and back it up with results they can share around their organization, that’s the best kind of partnership.

Nick Soman, Decent: Who else in healthcare inspires you, and why?

Shannon Goggin, Noyo: I’m inspired by people who are using technology to advance disease research and improve patient outcomes. It’s not an area I’m an expert in, but it’s incredibly important and impactful work.

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