Luma Health CEO Adnan Iqbal on How to Turn Product-led Growth into Sustainable Revenue
Luma Health is a fast-growing health-tech company that provides a software platform and API tools to enable healthcare providers to dramatically improve the patient experience, truly unifying and automating the entire patient journey — access plus operational, clinical and financial. Luma’s Patient Success Platform makes it easy for people to make appointments, communicate with their doctors, pay bills and navigate their care.
Building a single platform to orchestrate the entire patient journey was no small feat, especially given the scale and fractured nature of the U.S. healthcare system. But today, Luma has over 650 healthcare delivery organization customers, and its platform is used by over 55 million patients to coordinate their care journeys with over 200,000 healthcare providers.
FTV led Luma’s $130 million Series C financing in November 2021 — we saw it was the only company completely reinventing the healthcare experience. Luma’s consumer-focused UX, coupled with its deep integrations into all the backend systems already used by healthcare providers, is unique in the industry.
We recently sat down with Luma Co-founder and CEO Adnan Iqbal to discuss why founders should tackle problems that annoy them and why “casual intensity” creates a cohesive team.
You started Luma Health with your two co-founders, Aditya Bansod and Dr. Tashfeen Ekram, in 2015. What burning problem drove you three to start the company?
When we founded Luma Health, we set out to solve a pain point we had all experienced and probably anyone reading this can identify with: scheduling doctors appointments was a huge pain. Tafsheen and I were undergraduate roommates and then reconnected nine years later at Stanford, where I was finishing my MBA and Tashfeen was completing his medical school fellowship.
When we thought about starting a healthcare company together, we considered many problems worth solving. But we kept coming back to the fact that, for patients, it should be much, much easier to get access to healthcare. On the flip side, the current system wasn’t working for doctors, either. Just consider that about 30 percent of appointments go unfilled. We wanted to fix both sides of the problem: make it easier for doctors to provide care and for patients to get it.
Before starting Luma, you spent five years in management roles at Genentech. What did that industry experience teach you and how did you leverage those learnings as a founder?
My time at Genentech was invaluable. The company’s whole ethos is to put the patient at the center of everything. At Luma, we embrace the same mentality. And Genentech also has a really unique culture that it describes as “casual intensity” — something that, at Luma, we’ve also worked hard to foster.
It was critically important to us founders that we build a team that mirrored the American population. We’re building a product for everyone, so our team needed to represent and reflect everyone. I’m so proud that we’ve done just that. We have an incredibly diverse team; yet as different as we all are, we coalesce around this idea of casual intensity. Everyone is encouraged to show up as themselves, but to take their own individual and company-wide goals very seriously.
What is one of the biggest challenges Luma has faced during its growth journey, whether technical or business-related, and how did you overcome it?
One misstep we made was to go after enterprise customers too soon, and it’s something I see often in the startup world. We were a medium-sized company growing quickly by serving smaller clinics and mid-market healthcare providers, but we saw that healthcare was consolidating into large enterprise health systems. We knew we had to sell to those large players, so we went after them. But after we signed a few such customers we realized we weren’t ready to serve them. We needed to beef up our sales teams, grow our customer success department and introduce training and services.
Thankfully, we quickly got Luma “enterprise-ready” and today have 70 large enterprise customers. But it was a tough learning experience. Don’t go after the big fish until you’ve got structures in place to serve them like they expect – i.e. even if you’re a startup, they expect you to show up like Microsoft or Salesforce.
Your platform is simple to use for consumers, yet, behind the scenes, it’s incredibly complex to integrate with electronic medical records; healthcare IT platforms; and appointment, messaging and billing systems. What’s your technology secret sauce?
Besides the three founders, our first hire was Marcelo Oliveira as our VP of engineering. We’re a product-led company, and development is everything. For example, we knew we had to connect into EMR systems, and there are platforms that promise to do that for you. But we didn’t want to rely on a third party for such an important link. So Marcelo and his early team built that connectivity themselves.
And we did the same thing to connect into CRM, call centers, revenue cycle management platforms, payments and billing systems, insurance providers and telehealth platforms. We needed direct access to all that data to create a personalized and seamless care journey for each patient. We do have many partners, such as DocuSign for e-signature capabilities and Zoom for telehealth, but we’ve built the vast majority of our platform ourselves.
Luma has raised $160 million, including a $130 million Series C round led by FTV in late 2021. How has this funding helped Luma achieve new growth milestones?
For five years, we focused on building, testing and validating our platform. We had huge interest from healthcare providers, so in 2020, we knew it was time to accelerate monetization. We had many interested investors, but we chose FTV because they are experts at scaling technology companies. We want Luma to become an impactful and lasting company of consequence, and FTV is the right partner to help us get there. I feel fortunate that we picked FTV because they challenge us to be better every day. Having the right investor has been critical to our success.
As a founder of a successful company making inroads into a massive and complex industry, what is one piece of advice you’d give founders just starting out in health-tech–or any other sector?
Tackle a problem you have experienced yourself. If you aren’t solving a problem that really annoys you, you won’t have the wherewithal to get through those early days. Then, build a product you’d actually want to use and get it out there. I’m an avid proponent of design thinking – building, breaking, iterating and trying again is the best method to create a viable working product. Ask your early customers for feedback and actually listen! Fix what’s not working with your product and keep going.