Daniel Oppong is the founder of OhanaHealth, a company connecting the best students and recent graduates to high-growth health tech companies aiming to solve major problems in the healthcare industry.
What are you currently creating in Nashville?
I’m the founder of OhanaHealth, a company I started to make it easier for kick-a@! candidates and high-growth, health tech companies to find each other. We connect the best and brightest students and recent graduates with innovative companies solving some of the biggest problems in health and healthcare.
We recently announced the next iteration of our company, which includes a more formalized Fellowship Program for students, as well as the launch of our first tech platform OhanaConnect. This job search platform will help us scale our ability to place candidates for jobs and internships and will make health tech jobs more accessible to students, from Ivy Leagues to HBCU.
What inspired you to create OhanaHealth?
The idea of OhanaHealth came to me after I served as talent director for Jumpstart Foundry, a Nashville-based and health-focused venture capital fund. Students reached out all the time, asking about job and internship opportunities. Through this process, one thing really struck me –these students were eager to make a meaningful impact in healthcare, but they didn’t want to be doctors or nurses. So, in 2017, I founded OhanaHealth, and our first summer internship program saw more than 170 students apply, representing 60 universities. Since then, on average over the last three years, we’ve seen over 1,000 students apply from 120+ universities around the country, which has been pretty exciting growth!
The students we work with at OhanaHealth have a shared interest in health and innovation, and they want to do meaningful work, just not in a clinical setting. This really resonated with me. Healthcare is relevant to every person on the planet, and I truly think it’s one of the most important opportunities of our generation. We’re all experiencing the urgency of that this year as we endure a global pandemic and severe economic challenges, but I’m convinced that these challenging times will provide an opportunity for OhanaHealth to make a meaningful impact this year and beyond, and for that, I’m grateful.
I moved to Nashville in 2015 after finishing my graduate program at Gonzaga University (Go Zags!). Before arriving in Nashville, all I knew of the city was that it was the Country Music Capital of the world. I would quickly find out that Nashville was also home to one of the largest healthcare ecosystems in the nation. Through my job at Jumpstart Foundry, I learned that Nashville’s healthcare industry was actually four times bigger than the music industry, with an annual economic impact of more than $46 billion.
Additionally, I quickly learned that Nashville was a relatively easy place to get connected. Working with the founders of Jumpstart, Vic Gatto and Marcus Whitney, I was really able to leverage their networks and connect with so many different people in the healthcare space, as well as entrepreneurs from all over the country. One of the most meaningful connection was with Jason Moore, the CEO of Stratasan, who went on to be OhanaHealth’s first paying customer. I can’t say I would have predicted it, but five years in, Nashville has been very good to me, in so many ways!
Who or what has been the greatest influence on your latest project?
While there a lot of people that have influenced my path as an entrepreneur, I have to give a lot of credit to my man Marcus Whitney. Marcus was the first Black man I ever saw working in venture capital and entrepreneurship, which made me believe that I could have a seat at the table, too. Before moving to Nashville and getting the job at Jumpstart, I’d never worked in healthcare, never worked in venture capital, and never worked in entrepreneurship, but they (Vic & Marcus) took the chance on me anyway and allowed me to come in and learn the ropes.
Having the support of someone as brilliant and motivated as Marcus – a self-proclaimed “unlikely entrepreneur” who taught himself to code and has gone on to become an investor, part-owner of a professional sports team, and most recently, an author of a book called “Create & Orchestrate,” which is a must-read for any entrepreneur – gave me the confidence that I, too, could learn how to swim in a very unfamiliar stream.
Also, I’d be remiss to not shoutout my incredibly kind and generous immigrant parents who came here from Ghana, West Africa, and made it possible for me to pursue opportunities like the ones I’m going after now.
One favorite Nashville spot a local or newcomer should know?
Nashville has so many gems, which makes it hard to pick… but since I LOVE breakfast food, I’d have to go with Ruby Sunshine, a new-ish New Orleans inspired breakfast/brunch spot in town. If you go, please do yourself a favor and get the cinnamon swirl pancakes or St. Charles Benedict. Trust me. You can thank me later.
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