Startup Interview with Ato Kasymov, CEO & Co-founder of Zentist by@zentist

Startup Interview with Ato Kasymov, CEO & Co-founder of Zentist

Zentist HackerNoon profile picture


Zentist uses advanced technology to simplify and automate insurance revenue cycle management (RCM) for dental practices.

HackerNoon Reporter: Please tell us briefly about your background.

I am passionate about using technology to solve hard problems in complex and highly regulated industries. I found the problem of U.S. dental insurance billing to be a perfect candidate for disruption. Currently, I am working as the Co-Founder and CEO at Zentist, where I set the direction and strategy for the company. Prior to founding Zentist, I spent more than 10 years in corporate financing and investments at various large international financial institutions. I served as the Chief Investment Officer of National Investment Corporation, a $100B sovereign wealth fund in Central Asia. Prior to that, I served as the Head of Corporate Finance at Samruk-Kazyna, an $80B sovereign wealth fund focused on regional investments in Central Asia. I graduated with a dual MBA from the London Business School and Columbia Business School.

What's your startup called? And in a sentence or two, what does it do?

Zentist. We are automating the insurance billing process and revenue cycle management for dental practices and dental groups in the US.

What is the origin story?

I co-founded Zentist with Manuchehr Kurbonali and Paulina Song in 2016 with the mission of bringing transparency and affordability to financial transactions in dental care. In the first few years, we discovered that the biggest impact area that serves our mission is insurance claim transactions. We built the Zentist platform with the goal of helping dental practices collect insurance claim reimbursements faster and more accurately by leveraging software and process automation. Prior to Zentist, Manuchehr and I built a large network of primary care and diagnostic centers in Central Asia that serves a population of 5M people across 4 cities.

What do you love about your team, and why are you the ones to solve this problem?

What I love about our team:

  • A very diverse group of people from different walks of life share the same mission, vision, and passion for overhauling how insurance transactions are handled.
  • That we build real and friendly relationships with our customers and the market we serve.

We are the right group of folks to solve this problem because:

  • Many of us - families, and friends - are dentists and folks who have been part of the dental industry for quite a long time. We’re insiders to the problem.
  • As consumers, we would like to have a better experience and significantly fewer headaches when trying to pay for our dental care. We would like to solve this problem for ourselves and everyone else.
  • We’ve brought together a team of world-class software engineers, product managers, designers, and operations experts to share their expertise and experiences in solving the very specific problems found in dental insurance transactions.

If you weren’t building your startup, what would you be doing?

Investing in social impact initiatives that leverage new and emerging technologies to make our lives better.

At the moment, how do you measure success? What are your core metrics?

We align our success with the success of our customers by delivering efficient and effective insurance billing results including:

  • The speed at which we are able to collect insurance revenue compared to industry averages.
  • How accurately claims are processed the first time around so the system does not create excess operational work for our customers’ back-office operations.
  • Whether we are collecting insurance revenue as close as to our estimate of collections, the collection ratios are best in the industry
  • How much back-office work in dental practices we are able to eliminate, so that office staff can primarily focus on patient care and satisfaction.

What’s most exciting about your traction to date?

  • Today, we process more than $250M in insurance billings per year and have grown more than 20x in the past 2 years.
  • Our average collection time cycle is less than 12 days when the industry average is more than 22-24 days.

What technologies are you currently most excited about, and most worried about? And why?

  • We’re excited about the application of AI and RPA to dental insurance transactions - and how they can be leveraged to increase automation of tedious, mundane, back-office tasks.
  • We’re worried about the level of openness of insurance carriers to technology adoption that brings transparency.

What drew you to get published on HackerNoon? What do you like most about our platform?

We are bringing to dental care, which is a highly regulated and sophisticated industry, many technologies that are already in use and leveraged in other parts of our lives – like AI, RPA, automation, and the cloud. However, the problems in healthcare that we’re addressing don’t have the same visibility here as other industries. As such, we would like to get the attention of the great engineers, product builders, and designers that make up the HackerNoon community.

What advice would you give to the 21-year-old version of yourself?

  • Try many things before settling on your professional interests.
  • Don’t forget that you will always have enough time ahead of you, so don’t rush trying to be successful.
  • Have fun while spending your early professional years learning and solving hard problems with great people.

What is something surprising you've learned this year that your contemporaries would benefit from knowing?

Don’t underestimate the potential complexity in seemingly simple problems.

LINK to Startup of the Year City Award Page with your company listed.