A crowd of around 120 gathered at Google Headquarters in Chelsea on Sept. 30 to kick off [email protected]’s Startup Week with a keynote speech from Joshua Kushner, the founder and managing partner of Thrive Capital.
Kushner, 28, provided insight into today’s technological and entrepreneurial climate, as well as explained his latest venture called Oscar, a company he founded that is seeking to revolutionize the health care system in America.
“The ambition of the business is to take technology and data and humanize the experience,” Kushner said. “[The relationship between you and your health insurance] is arguably the most important relationship any individual has outside of rent, from the human perspective in that its your health and the financial perspective.”
Speaking on the eve of the launch of the Affordable Care Act, health insurance and the deficiencies in the industry resonated with the crowd of predominantly college students.
“I just graduated, and I don’t have health insurance,” NYU alumna Jennifer Kim, 21, said. “Twenty-two and 23-year-olds don’t visit the doctor all that often, but the demographic that does need a service like Oscar won’t necessarily take advantage of it.”
Oscar seeks to offer what Kushner said other health insurance companies do not — service to the consumer. He said the company would provide customers with the easiest, cheapest and quickest way to get the medical care they need based on their symptoms.
“Slow and steady wins the race,” Kushner said. “We’re trying to build a fantastic team that is trying to continuously innovate. We’ve got our work cut out for us, but people really don’t like their insurance companies throughout America.”
Stern senior and president of [email protected] Emanuel Hahn explained that Kushner was a fitting speaker for the group’s Startup Week because he applied technology to tackle a real-world problem that millions of Americans, including NYU students, are facing.
“We wanted someone fresh, and Josh fit the bill,” Hahn said. “He’s young, ambitious and successful, but he’s also really humble.”
The Startup Week’s theme this year is Startup School, and events are geared toward examining how technology affects media, fashion, music, investments and other areas. The rest of the week features guests who speak on these topics.
“We wanted to focus on fashion and music and all those topics that are really interesting to people,” Hahn said. “We wanted to target as many students as possible because we wanted to show that technology affects every industry that students care about.”