Meet the Nava Team: John Capecelatro
Each week, Nava will introduce you to a different member of our team who'll share their thoughts on Nava, the industry, and the mission ahead. Read on to learn more about what brought me to Nava:
Tell us a bit about yourself
Well, if we're starting all the way at the beginning, I was born and raised in a small town in upstate New York called Utica. As a freshman attending Babson College, I initially convinced myself that I would work on Wall Street until I "saw the light of day" and pivoted into tech. During a gap year, that interest moved into practice by teaching myself how to code. I then used that skillset to PillPack as a software engineer and its 13th employee. During my five years there, I worked across engineering, operations, analytics, and customer success as that small start-up scaled to serve thousands of customers and was ultimately acquired by Amazon in 2018. Following the acquisition I left, traveled, and tried to build my own company (and failed). It all happened for a reason — I was introduced to Brandon and Donald and joined Nava as its Director of Operations and first employee, excited to work on another part of our wonky and complex healthcare system. Outside of work, I love cooking (most recently infatuated with bbq smoking), skiing, and playing music.
Why healthcare? And why Nava?
Healthcare is personal to me, in the same way it is for the millions of people managing a chronic condition in this country. I have a deep empathy and understanding of the space as a patient myself, spending the last 20 years in and out of doctors' offices, interfacing with all parts of the system. My early career at PillPack cemented my belief that private businesses — when at scale — have a significant ability to drive broad, systemic change in the healthcare ecosystem.
What attracted me to Nava is the core insight that the benefits broker sits at the intersection of how the vast majority of people receive and engage with their benefits. If you look into the benefits brokerage sector, there's a massive opportunity to elevate that experience and leverage it as the de facto go-to-market channel to help innovative digital health solutions achieve scale.
Honest question: Did you know about the benefit brokerage industry before joining Nava?
Yes, I did. I had experience with it first-hand when PillPack evaluated and switched brokers and benefits strategies during our high-growth years. What was most striking to me was the reach of benefits brokers. It's an area of the industry that operates somewhat under the radar, yet directly influences how more than half of Americans experience and benefit from healthcare; we're talking about 160 million Americans! Brokers have unbelievable leverage... and with that, responsibility. Lay that against the backdrop of how the traditional brokerage space operates: a lack of modern tools and technology, semi-opaque pricing, and incentives aligned with carriers versus employers. There's a massive opportunity to drive better outcomes for employers by equipping brokers with the tech, processes, and cross-functional expertise needed to be as effective as possible for their clients.
What's one aspect of employer benefits that you are most excited to reinvent?
If I had to pick one, it would be transparency. Like most of healthcare, how people think about making the best decision — financial or otherwise — for their individual care needs feels impossible because costs are opaque. And, if costs do exist, they're hard to contextualize. "Am I getting a good deal? Could I be saving more money? Am I going to get the best possible outcome going this route?" The list of doubts and second-guessing can feel endless. Transparency — and context — is a key way we can achieve better outcomes for both employers and their employees. For employers, we help them understand the ROI of their investment — often one of the biggest checks an organization will write each year — and for employees, we help them decide how they're going to apply their resources to get the care they need, when they need it. Why can't shopping for healthcare feel similar to the ease, efficiency, and transparency of how we shop online?
Before working at Nava, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve ever had?
My most interesting job (and also, my first job) was playing jazz piano at a local restaurant in the Adirondacks, where I grew up spending summers. This establishment had a new owner and, capitalizing on his desire to spruce up the dining experience, I convinced him that 1) I was capable enough to play jazz piano at a mere 14 years of age and 2) that he should pay me. Well, it worked and I spent the next two summers playing every Friday and Saturday night, providing me with an unexpectedly lucrative — and entertaining — professional experience.
What do you hope to accomplish with Nava over the next year? The next five years?
Over the next year, I hope we have built the teams, tools, and processes to effectively scale our unique offering in the market while preserving an incredible team culture with diversity and inclusion at its core. There's an inherent tension in both building quickly and building something we're proud of — I see achieving that balance as our ultimate near-term success.
Thinking ahead, I would love to see that Nava has not only been able to scale rapidly into the benefits brokerage market, but we've also realized a vision where we've developed a better go-to-market channel for innovative health solutions that we can measure the impact of.