The Fund Founder Spotlight Interview: Eric Alvarez of Grapefruit Health
Eric Alvarez is the Founder and CEO of Grapefruit Health, a startup addressing healthcare's workforce shortage by utilizing clinical students for cost-effective patient engagement.
Welcome to The Founder Spotlight where we highlight the incredible people behind the companies we’ve backed at The Fund. The Fund is a founder collective and early stage firm, by founders for founders.
There’s a massive healthcare worker shortage in the United States and many of the current solutions are expensive and inefficient. Grapefruit Health is addressing the deficit in a novel way by creating the first and only national workforce that’s composed completely of clinical students in fields such as medicine, nursing, physical therapy, social work, and pharmacy. They recruit, train, and manage students to perform work on the behalf of healthcare organizations remotely through their proprietary software. Not only is this saving healthcare organizations billions, it’s also incorporating these students into the workforce, who are essential for the future.
Eric Alvarez is the founder and CEO of Grapefruit Health. He has a master’s in Health Systems Management from Rush University, where he also serves as adjunct faculty. The idea for Grapefruit Health stems from working with students and realizing their challenges in finding relevant work that pays enough. That, along with his experience as a hospital administrator and his role as the COO of an acquired SaaS enterprise healthcare solutions company, was the motivation to build Grapefruit Health. Eric is also a veteran, having served in the United States Air Force as an Aviation Electrical and Environmental Systems Specialist on C-5 Aircraft.
Grapefruits, like the healthcare system, are messy, segmented, require cutting or peeling open to see what’s inside, and usually take a tool (spoon) to consume. Not to mention, you won’t know if it’s sweet or sour until you take a bite.
What sets Grapefruit Health apart?
We’re the only company addressing the healthcare worker shortage by utilizing clinical students. We’re hyper attentive, quick to respond, provide really strong clean data and analytics and results back on success. We also address socioeconomic status by not charging the patients anything and all of our work is scripted at a fourth grade level for better communication with all. We match students to patients based on language, culture, and proximity so we can have these really high-fidelity, high-trust conversations. We are not robots; we're not robocalling; we're not auto texting; we're not artificial intelligence. We are human beings, because we strongly believe that healthcare is human. And that's what sets us apart.
How does Grapefruit Health inspire “customer love”?
It’s a complex business because we have our actual direct customers who are healthcare organizations, payers and providers who naturally love us because we take so much work off their plate and for less money. We also have clinical students gaining experience and getting paid to work in their field of study and patients receiving the care they need. It’s a win-win-win for everyone.
Tell us about some recent milestones for Grapefruit Health.
We closed our first client just six months into the business, which was really exciting to move that fast.
We received a $100,000 grant from Google.
We were selected as one of just a small handful of companies internationally to participate in the Amazon Web Services (AWS) Healthcare Accelerator: Global Cohort for Workforce.
What drives you into startup battle?
I really like solving weird, complex, hard problems. I’m motivated by the opportunity to fix what’s difficult and broken. Even my hobbies consist of rebuilding destroyed things. I’ll admit when I was younger I was more driven by money - return on investment- but now I’m definitely impact driven. They say wisdom comes with age.
Any favorite startup focused book?
I recently read The Gap and The Gain: The High Achievers' Guide to Happiness, Confidence, and Success by Dan Sullivan and Dr. Benjamin Hardy. A lot of us founders are chasing this ideal we want to have. “I want to have 100,000 students,” or “I want to raise this much money.” That's your ideal and where you are is here, so if you measure yourself on that you're measuring the gap. That's bad. If instead you say, “Well, I started at zero and now I have 100 students” or “we’re doing a few grand in revenue,” then wow. That’s the gain, and if you measure yourself on the gain, you'll be much more satisfied and happy. The book goes through different exercises to keep you in that gain mindset and not feeling like you’re chasing this ideal that is constantly moving. Thomas Jefferson didn’t say, “life, liberty and happiness.” It's the pursuit, and if you're always pursuing happiness, you'll never reach it.
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