Khang Vuong is on a mission to change the outlook of affordable healthcare through the tech platform he's been building.Khang Vuong
Vuong in 2019 founded Mira, a health-tech company that manages an online platform connecting underinsured or uninsured individuals with medical care. He was inspired to launch the company after working in the healthcare industry, and noticing a gap in medical coverage among many poor and middle-class individuals.
When looking for a solution, Vuong knew incorporating technology would be the best way to reach people.
Through Mira's platform, users can find the closest primary care, urgent care, lab, and pharmacy near them to meet their medical needs at an affordable price. The platform is membership-based, and is targeting its marketing toward young professionals, like freelancers and independent contractors.
"I wanted to find something and serve people who are middle class, but stuck with one of those pain points like healthcare," Vuong told Ach5 in a video interview.
Name: Khang Vuong
Random delight: He's releasing a book in 2024
Key quote or motto he lives by: “I attack everyday like it's my last day.”
How Building an App Came About
Vuong moved to the United States when he was a teenager after attending a summer camp in Atlanta. He went to the University of Tennessee for undergrad and eventually made his way to Washington, DC for graduate school at George Washington University.
Vuong grew up in a poor family, he said, so he struggled financially when he first moved to the US. To make matters worse, he often was told by his professors in college that he didn't belong there. Despite the doubters, Vuong stayed optimistic and focused.
Though his schooling focused on healthcare, Vuong said he always had an interest in tech and gadgets—something he pulled from when conceptualizing his company. Ultimately, it was his own struggle with health costs that drove him to become an entrepreneur.Khang Vuong
"I was uninsured for about nine years because I came here without my parents, so I had nobody with a plan I could get under," he said.
When asked how Mira differs from other similar platforms like Zocdoc, Vuong said his app simply does more for users than its competitors.
One aspect that sets Mira apart is that it partners with healthcare providers, allowing users to see and pay the costs of their appointments beforehand to avoid being blindsided with outrageous bills.
"If you think about the experience of someone who is not insured, this is life changing, and it could be even if you have insurance," he said. "Firstly, because you know where to go and you know how much it will cost."
Since its inception two years ago, Mira has grown its network to include 125 healthcare partners spanning areas from Washington, DC to New York.
How Vuong Plans to Scale Mira
Mira began with just Vuong, a marketing representative, and an engineer, before eventually expanding to a team of 15 after securing venture capital funding. Vuong first raised $160,000 from angel investors around the time of Mira's launch, then, more recently, closed a $3 million seed round last fall.
"Around October of last year, at a point, we said okay, let's get more serious about this. It's working well," he said.
"The future of work comes with the future of benefits, or lack thereof. But nobody is talking about that."
Even though the funding has helped Mira grow tremendously, Vuong said securing it did not come easily. When pitching to investors, Vuong said he struggled with the fact that they didn't seem to empathize with the population he is trying to serve.
He said they often would tell him they didn't know any uninsured people. But he was adamant about telling them those people were out there, which he said was even more difficult as an Asian founder.
"What I found was the hard truth that I'm a solo founder and I'm not American at the end of the day," he said. "A lot of that background creates an uphill battle when it comes to raising VC."
Mira has come a long way since its inception. Vuong said the company first launched its platform with a simple form on Wix before building out a more robust platform that launched a year ago.
Now, Mira's more user-friendly app simply asks users what they need, directs them to the nearest facility, schedules an appointment, and takes their payment.
While Vuong is excited about his company's growth, he's not exactly enthusiastic about more people needing to use Mira's platform, especially during the pandemic. In the past year, he said a lot of users have joined Mira as a gap solution during these hard times.
"Unfortunately, we're in healthcare, and if we're growing, that means more people are getting sick," he said.
"I never pray to God to give me more bookings, but because of the pandemic, we're seeing a lot of people getting laid off from their jobs, and more people are losing their healthcare benefits and so they come to us."
Since last March, Vuong said Mira's membership retention rate has been over 80%. Looking ahead, he's hoping to expand Mira to more markets this year.
Above all, Vuong said he's working to improve Mira as a long-term solution for the healthcare industry. He's not just thinking about how Mira can help now, he's thinking about how it could be more useful as people continue to work from home and move into the gig economy.
"The future of work comes with the future of benefits, or lack thereof," he said. "But nobody is talking about that."