Our Journey with Startup Life – An Interview with the Folks at BetterDoctor

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In November 2011, two former Nokia colleagues relocated in San Francisco, Ari Tulla and Tapio Tolvanen, founded BetterDoctor – a startup that helps consumers find the right doctor. “We make hidden doctor quality metrics transparent to consumers. We want to help every American make better health decisions by selecting the right doctor,” Co-Founder Ari Tulla explains.
In the same year, the very first Startup Lifers in history embarked on their internships in Silicon Valley. “We heard about Startup Life very early from the first participants who came to SF, and me and my co founder Tapio Tolvanen just loved the idea. We immediately hired the first Startup Life interns from the next batch,” Ari says.
The first Startup Life interns at BetterDoctor were Anders and Tele, both originating from Aalto University, and both skilled in Computer Science. “We didn’t know what to expect when we hired the first interns, but they quickly became integral part of the company, and are still with us over 3 years later,” Ari says, and continues: “Startup Life interns have made BetterDoctor a stronger company by bringing us their hungry talent and can-do-attitude.”
Anders and Tele are pretty happy with their internships-turned-to-full-time-employment, too. “The best part is really about being able to be part of such an awesome journey and learning from all the other teammates,” says Tele, who has started to shift to more architectural design work from his former engineering role. Anders agrees with him: “The internship was great. I got to build a lot of cool stuff and work with smart people.” How about now? “I still get to build cool stuff and work with smart people. That’s pretty much it.”
The partnership between BetterDoctor and Startup Life has been blossoming ever since. Four years later, BetterDoctor hired their eighth Startup Life intern – Jussi – from the Spring Batch of 2015. Jussi moved to San Francisco just before Vappu, and is currently working as a Software Developer at BetterDoctor’s headquarters in SoMA.
A lot has changed since BetterDoctor hired Anders and Tele. When Anders started his internship, the company had just hired its first full-time employee, and a lot of things had to be built from scratch. Now, BetterDoctor is at about 30 employees at the SoMA office, and has 70 employees altogether in satellite offices around the world.
Something has stayed the same, though. The flexibility of the roles and the amount of responsibility given to the interns are still high.
“I was surprised about how flexible and flat the company is. I have been able to participate in product planning and decision making,” Jussi comments on the first months of his internship. “After the first months I got more responsibility and started implementing a complete product with Iiro (another Startup Life intern). Currently we are responsible for all phases of the product’s lifecycle and we feel really excited about it!”
Iiro started working at BetterDoctor about six months before Jussi, making him the company’s second-newest Startup Lifer. He tells the same story about the diverse possibilities that BetterDoctor has offered him: “I’m technically still in my internship period but my responsibilities at the moment are different from when I started. Having started working on a new product, I have branched out from design to do more holistic product development than before.”
Where is BetterDoctor aiming next, then? Ari Tulla shares his company’s future plans: “We have helped over 20 million Americans find a better doctor. Now our focus is on building this into a real revenue generating business and at the same time help the next 100 million people. We want to become the default data provider for doctor search application, not only on BetterDoctor, but also on hundreds of other applications and services.”
Sounds pretty great! Startup Life wishes BetterDoctor the best of luck with its future endeavours, and of course, hopes to help them achieve their goals by allowing new talented and enthusiastic interns join their team!

BetterDoctor open positions: https://betterdoctor.com/careers
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