Episode 6 - Confessions of a Serial Entrepreneur with Mario Schlosser, CEO and co-founder of Oscar

Redefiners Podcast
Hosted By:
November 02, 2021 | 34 min
Mario Schlosser
CEO and co-founder of Oscar

“Technology doesn't replace the human interaction in healthcare, but it can just make it easier and happen more often. And that will end up feeling more human and more natural to you as a patient.”

Mario Schlosser, CEO, and co-founder of Oscar Health helped redefine the health insurance category by using data to give members better customer experiences and thus improved patient outcomes. He dared to use emerging technologies in a heretofore technologically timid industry – an approach that was disruptive, transforming, and highly successful.

Like many of our guests, Mario’s path to Oscar Health wasn’t a direct one. A lot of success in a lot of disparate industries. But what didn’t make it on Mario’s resume—yet had a valuable impact on his leadership and entrepreneurial approach—are the startups Mario founded that failed. Because it’s how he’s learned to avoid mistakes – by actually giving himself permission to make them. See what works, see what doesn’t; and learn from it all. In this episode, Mario elaborates on this and other insights relating to his success as a leader, including the importance of people matters, the reality of luck, and why paying attention to little nudges along the way can take you in new, totally amazing directions.

For Oscar Health CEO and co-founder Mario Schlosser, the path to redefining the health insurance industry wasn’t a straight and narrow one. In fact, he started out as a computer scientist, spent time at McKinsey, and co-founded a gaming startup in Latin America before arriving at the idea of Oscar: a company that would use data and user experience to transform a technologically timid industry.

In fact, it’s what didn’t make it onto his resume that defined his ultimate success. We’ll hear Mario share his philosophy on failure, as well as the shift towards individualization in healthcare and the power of data to deliver better patient outcomes.

Here’s a taste of what you’ll hear from Mario in this episode (edited for length and clarity):

Mario’s Redefiner Moment: From games to On the realization that led him to start Oscar Health
I would say that the common thread throughout my journey is the creative use of data. In the gaming company my co-founder Josh and I started, the types of games we were making generated a lot of data insights in real time. They let us study how you can use financial incentives and different ways of representing something on the screen to really influence how people act.

Gaming is a very cyclical business, and I essentially got fired from my own company. I was back in New York and my wife was pregnant, so I was interacting with the medical system a lot. Josh said, "You know what? Let's do something real and serious and impactful for once."

I thought that the biggest, most thorniest problem in the US economy is the cost and complexity of healthcare. The US spends more than any other country in the world on healthcare, yet it's got some of the worst outcomes among the rich countries. So that was the thinking behind Oscar: data-driven generation of incentives to get people on the right path on their own healthcare journey and keep them there.

On the future of healthcare
I think that in a few years, we're not going to talk anymore about which insurer is the right one; it's going to be much more of a blend of providers. Your favorite doctor can sell you with his or her insurance directly, or your favorite hospital, or local physician group. That will be much more of the relationship you have, as opposed to somebody who's name is on an ID card and you don't even know when they're going to be important in your life.

On his advice to other entrepreneurs
People matters can most easily bring you down. Are you really in tune with your co-founders? Are you communicating in the right way? Do you have the right people in the company? That is what fells a lot of first-time entrepreneurs, in my view. There's almost no startup I know of that's successful today that hasn't had big falling-outs with investors or co-founders or early employees at various times. And I don't think that's necessarily what you think of as a first-time entrepreneur.

Then there’s the amount of luck that's involved. There often isn't fair compensation for your efforts. The journey is part of the end goal there. It's a truism, but it's really true.



Mario Schlosser
CEO and co-founder of Oscar

Mario Schlosser is the CEO and co-founder of Oscar, a leading insurer built to make health care easy. Under his leadership, Oscar develops seamless technology and provides personalized support to help more than 540,000 members navigate their health care. Oscar has been recognized as one of Fast Company’s most innovative companies in Health, one of CNBC’s top 50 disruptors, and one of TIME’s most influential in health care.

Previously, he co-founded the largest social gaming company in Latin America, where he led the company's analytics and game design practices. Prior to that, Mario was a Senior Investment Associate at Bridgewater Associates and worked as a consultant for McKinsey & Company in Europe, the U.S., and Brazil.

Mario also spent time as a visiting scholar at Stanford University, where he wrote and co-authored 10 computer science publications, including one of the most-cited computer science papers published in the past decade, in which he developed the EigenTrust Algorithm to securely compute trust in randomized networks. In May 2019, Mario and his co-authors, Sepandar D. Kamvar (Mosaic Building Group Inc) and Héctor Garcia-Molina (Celo), received the prestigious Seoul Test of Time Award from the International World Wide Web Conference Committee (IW3C2) for this work.

Mario holds a degree in computer science with highest distinction from the University of Hannover in Germany and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

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If you like this episode, you may also enjoy our conversation with Aldi Haryopratomo, CEO and co-founder of Goodwall.


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