Changemaker: Helping Older Americans Navigate Healthcare

After meeting at Admit Weekend, two MBAs found a common passion and started a healthcare business for seniors.

September 09, 2022

| by Kelsey Doyle

It’s not often you meet someone and immediately team up to start a business. But for Sarah Jacobson and Tori Seidenstein, both MBA ’21, their initial meeting at Admit Weekend sparked their venture, FairStreet.

Changemakers

In this ongoing video series, we showcase Stanford GSB alumni who are striving to change lives, organizations, and the world.

“We were at an event and I overheard Sarah say, ‘I’m coming to Stanford because I want to start a healthcare company.’” Seidenstein recalls. “And I ran across the room.” Not only did the women discover a mutual interest in starting a healthcare company to improve the lives of seniors, but their motivation was the same: their grandfathers.

“Our whole family would have liked to spend the last years of my grandfather’s life together as a family and not trying to wade through medical bills and medical decisions,” Seidenstein said.

FairStreet helps seniors enroll in the right health insurance plan. “What we realized after doing a couple hundred interviews with seniors across the country is that the universal pain point is how to navigate the overwhelming nature of Medicare enrollment,” Seidenstein said.

From there, the duo found that older Americans who had a better experience enrolling in Medicare were the ones who’d worked with local independent agents. Jacobson and Seidenstein interviewed hundreds of independent insurance agents and found a key insight: the agents lacked good software to run their businesses.

That’s exactly where we saw an opportunity,” Seidenstein said.

The software that we’ve built is a solution for these amazing independent agents,” Jacobson said. “Our hope is that if we’re successful, every single person turning 65 does not have to worry about their healthcare, that they’re taken care of by FairStreet and by one of the amazing agents that we work with, so that they can have healthcare for the rest of their life.”

Full Transcript

Sarah Jacobson: I am really close with my grandfather. He just turned 85. So when I was thinking about the type of company that I wanted to build and the type of person I wanted to build for, I think about my grandpa.

Tori Seidenstein: I grew up really close with my grandfather from the time that he was in his 90s. And I saw him really struggle to get the care that he needed. That motivated me to dive deep and figure out how can I start a company that makes this better. Sarah and I met at an admitted students event before Stanford even started.

Sarah Jacobson: When we were applying to the GSB independently, each of us wrote our essays about why we wanted to start a company in healthcare.

Tori Seidenstein: We were at a happy hour and Sarah overheard me say…

Sarah Jacobson: “I’m coming to Stanford because I want to start a healthcare company.” And I think I ran across the room.

Tori Seidenstein: We knew pretty quickly that we wanted to start a company together.

Sarah Jacobson: It was very clear to us that we wanted to build an impact-oriented company that made healthcare better for older adults. At FairStreet, we help seniors enroll in the right health insurance plan. And we do that by empowering independent insurance agents with the tools they need to run their business and serve more seniors.

Tori Seidenstein: What we realized after doing a couple hundred interviews with seniors all across the country is that the universal pain point is how to navigate the overwhelming nature of Medicare enrollment. From there we looked at well who had a really good experience enrolling in Medicare and who didn’t and the people who had the best experiences were the ones who worked with these local independent agents.

Sarah Jacobson: So what we did is we went out and we interviewed hundreds of independent insurance agents and figured out that they lack any kind of software to run their business.

Tori Seidenstein: And so that’s exactly where we saw an opportunity.

Sarah Jacobson: The software that we’ve built is a solution for these amazing independent agents, to be able to run their business. The best compliment we’ve ever gotten from a senior is saying that was easy. I feel confident. I know how to use my Medicare plan. I feel like I’m set up for the right healthcare. So Stanford teaches us to dream really big in changing lives, organizations and the world. I think a lot about our role in changing organizations. A big motivator for me personally, in starting a company is to form and create an organization that I would’ve always wanted to work at as an employee. And as two female co-founders ourselves it’s something that we think a lot about is how do we create an inclusive culture, an equitable culture, a culture where everyone can get to show up and do the best work of their lives.

Tori Seidenstein: Before coming to the GSB, I thought that business was very strict and very factual. And at the GSB you learn about how much emotion and feelings play into what goes on in a business. My grandfather would definitely be proud of FairStreet. And I think that the thing he would hope for the most is that other people have a better healthcare experience than he did. Our whole family would have liked to spend the last years of my grandfather’s life together as a family and not trying to wade through medical bills and medical decisions. If he could see other families having that better experience, I’m sure he would be very proud.

Sarah Jacobson: For our ambition to change the world, we’re just getting started. Our hope is that if we’re successful, every single person turning 65 does not have to worry about their healthcare, that they’re taken care of by FairStreet and by one of the amazing agents that we work with so that they can have healthcare for the rest of their life.

My name is Sarah Jacobson. I’m the co-founder and CEO of FairStreet.

Tori Seidenstein: My name is Tori Seidenstein and I’m the co-founder and CTO of FairStreet.

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