Why We Started Lively
4 min read •
30 sec brief
Hello, my name is Alex Cyriac and I’m the other cofounder of Lively. 6 months ago, I quit my last job without knowing if we would actually be able to start Lively. We didn’t have any investors committed, Shobin was living in Boston, and we didn’t have any engineers ready to start building the product. But, what I did know was that I believed in the reason we wanted to start this company enough to take a risk and give it a chance.
Lively Founding Story
Before I get into why we started Lively, let me start off by telling you a little about myself. I’ve spent the majority of my life in California having grown up in Southern California and then moved to the Bay right after college. Outside of starting Lively in 2016, I also got married last year to my wife, Jenita. Jenita is a pediatric ICU nurse and I constantly find myself thinking how important nurses are in this world whenever I talk to her about her day. The love, compassion, and sheer amount of how much nurses care about their patients is truly inspiring.
Shobin and I grew up knowing each other — our parents have known each other since before we were born. Although we lived across country from each other, we would see each other at various events, weddings, mutual friends’ birthdays, etc. Shobin used to ‘pick on’ me a lot in a friendly “you’re not good at sports but look how awesome I am” kind of way but despite this, I knew I liked the guy and couldn’t be more thrilled to be going on this journey with him.
A little over a year ago, my mom and I were talking and she casually mentioned that she stopped taking one of the medications she needed because the insurance company increased the copay by a significant amount and she felt it was too much for us to be able to afford. After I managed to convince her to start taking it again, I started to do some research. Basically, I wanted to see besides the obvious of just having more money, what could we have done to prepare for that better. And by “that” I mean my parents out of pocket healthcare expenses. It just seemed like we were spending $150 here, $200 there, etc. even though they were on Medicare (in retrospect, I naively assumed Medicare was all you needed). I was alarmed to discover that the average couple, between retirement and life expectancy, will spend about $250,000 on out of pocket medical expenses. I was shocked by that because I know we aren’t prepared for it and in talking to a lot of friends and family, no one else was either.
That’s when I called Shobin. Shobin comes from a finance background and I’ve always thought of him as one of the smartest people I knew so I wanted to see how him and his family were thinking about this. In talking, we realized that these out of pocket expenses weren’t limited to our parents. Shobin and his wife had a 4-month-old son and they were also incurring out-of-pocket medical expenses more and more frequently. And then as we started talking to other friends, it became apparent that out-of-pocket medical expenses were getting out of control for most people.
As we spent more time thinking about this problem, we stumbled on the Health Savings Account (HSA) and quickly discovered how powerful of a utility it was to not only save on healthcare costs today, but really to plan for the costs of tomorrow. When we looked at current HSA providers, we saw significant problems and knew that we could help people utilize their HSA more effectively and from that, Lively was born. We don’t want people, like my mom, to sacrifice their personal health due to their financial health. Our mission is to help people optimize their healthcare spending, maximize their savings, and better their livelihood.
6 months ago, I went from quitting my job without any idea of whether we could do this to where we are today — backed by great investors, an amazing team building the product, Shobin and his family living in the Bay, and being laser focused on making the best HSA platform out there today so we can truly help people. It’s been an amazing journey so far and I couldn’t be more excited about what we are doing.
About the author
Alex Cyriac is the do-founder and CEO of Lively. Prior to Lively, Alex was the Head of Operations at Justworks Inc., a payroll, benefits, and compliance company in New York City (over $90M raised in venture capital). Prior to Justworks, Alex was the VP of Business Development North America at Worldpay (NYSE:WP). Alex holds a degree in Computer Science from the University of California, Santa Barbara.
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