WellSet’s founder and CEO, Tegan Bukowski, pursued the 1501 Health cohort in 2020 to solve a business problem in her passion-driven start up: how to get paid.
WellSet, one of 1501 Health’s first cohort participants, delivers live and on-demand content to members in more than 30 wellness and health modalities. “We curate all of our content based on health concerns,” Bukowski said. “If you have anxiety or struggling with managing diabetes, we have content that's all curated just for you.”
The concept of WellSet was born out of Tegan’s repeated hospitalization for an undiagnosed illness that caused her to have internal bleeding. “I would be put on morphine and be told that I could take steroids for my whole life, but no answers,” she said. She ended up on her own path, seeking preventive care and a holistic healing process.
“I realized other people were having this exact same experience,” she said. “They were having different chronic conditions they were having a hard time solving and they needed to find practitioners who were holistically minded and having a really hard time.”
WellSet launched in 2020 with more than 20,000 practitioner applicants for what was conceptually to become a marketplace to find and book providers. “We found that 95% of people coming to the marketplace were unable to pay for a session out of pocket,” she said. Holistic healers are generally expensive and outside of most insurers’ networks.
“So that's actually one of the reasons we applied to be a part of 1501 Health,” she said. “We realized we had this issue where people are wanting to find holistic healers or support, like going to a nutritionist after having been diagnosed with diabetes.”
For Bukowski and her company, 1501 Health represented a logical step towards understanding how her clients could afford holistic health solutions and her company could get paid.
“We wanted to look into maybe getting more modalities covered and simultaneously throughout that whole process, we were running group classes on the side,” she said. “People loved them; they were more affordable; they felt more accessible; they felt more friendly, less of a scary step to take,” she said.
With more than 60,000 sessions booked in group classes in less than a year, WellSet has pivoted its model from a marketplace into a space of “curated wellness classes for humans in progress,” according to its website. WellSet still offers its marketplace directory of one-to-one providers.
“As part of the 1501 Health program, we've been working with the CareFirst [BlueCross BlueShield] wellness team to create our membership go-to-market strategy, which is targeting self-insured accounts first,” she said. “But it's really great to be working with employers to get more people covered.”
“The best thing about it is the insurance world is particularly hard to break into, not just from a sales standpoint or a partnership standpoint, but alsoto completely wrap your brain around how everything works,” she Bukowski said. “It’s been a really amazing to get a glimpse behind the curtain and to understand how things work.”
“Through 1501 Health we've really learned a lot,” she said. “It's been amazing.”
As for the cohort companies and 1501 Health, she values both the business acumen and the drive to fill the voids in today’s healthcare landscape. “They all have such heart-centered companies,” she said. “It’s not just about making money or creating billion-dollar companies; it's actually about moving the needle for wellness or women's health or extending healthcare to disadvantaged populations.”