What I learned from Mango Health

As I wrap up the summer before my last quarter of school, I wanted to take the opportunity to reflect my first summer in San Francisco as a KPCB Fellow at Mango Health.

When I decided to join Mango this summer, I intentionally decided to join a smaller team to take more responsibility and deliver more impact on the company and the users that ultimately used our product.

What I did

To give an overview of the work I did at Mango:

  1. A redesign + reimplementation of Mango's core search feature to add new medications (the first action a user takes after downloading the app) that ultimately increased the success of finding complicated medication names by 12%.
  2. Worked closely with two other iOS engineers to implement an end-to-end feature for building healthy habits and refactored a large part of the existing code base to support the advent of both habits and medications.
  3. Spearheaded Mango's foray into an entire set of product features that would support new enterprise partnerships and lay the foundation for a deeper and fuller user experience.
  4. Generated market research and literature reviews to assess Mango's aptitude to move into two new adjacent spaces to complement the core user experience.
  5. Contributed to the re-architected 2.0 version of Mango's Android app by redesigning data model hierarchies and fleshing out a good chunk of UI elements following consistent Android paradigms.
  6. Conducted user interviews and fielded calls with clinical partners to build context for potential partnerships.
  7. Pushed forward a potential enterprise relationship that I'll continue to work on over the course of my fall quarter.

Responsibilities and Impact

Looking back, I deeply appreciate the flexibility and freedom the team offered in filling the responsibilities of a role that didn't really exist when I joined. The feedback and guidance I received from the leadership in crafting and approaching new product features and partnership proposals provided the right balance between pointing me in the right direction and leaving me to figure out how to get there for myself. On the engineering side, working with an incredible Mobile! team at Khan Academy, set me up well for a smooth and natural integration into the iOS (and later the Android) team. I remember pushing production code by the end of my first day and contributing to feature development by Day Two.

More than anything else, the most inspiring part of working at Mango Health was being able to see the impact that my work had on actual patients. Sitting in on user interviews and hearing personal anecdotes of how our work was changing the very livelihoods and health of the people who use our product were invaluable parts of my time at Mango.


What I'm taking away from the internship experience as a whole is a fuller understanding of the spectrum of skills that a product-oriented role at a company needs to have. Being able to actively work at the intersection of product + engineering was a unique opportunity that I had the responsibility of defining for myself in ways that added value to the company while giving me the chance to grow into unexplored areas of product management and product strategy.

Specifically at a company that has both consumer + enterprise angles, there's a myriad of internal and external pressures that drive the feature development and a product roadmap. In healthcare it's not always a straightforward process to align enterprise incentives with patient/user value. Conversations with enterprise partners requires a firm understanding of how Mango would fit into the ecosystem of patient care and ultimately meet the enterprise partner's core competencies and resources to create value for users.

For a user-centered technology company that scales through enterprise relationships, like Mango, product features that move forward need to answer the following questions:

  1. Is it aligned with the overall company strategy?
  2. Does it lead to enterprise partnerships down the road? (This is perhaps a subset of #1, but this answer should touch on the potential for scaling to further enterprise relationships and the nature of those relationships.)
  3. Does it add value to users?
  4. How does it fit into the existing user experience and paradigms of user behavior?
  5. What does it take to build it? (Answering this question should also consider whether features should necessarily be built in-house vs. in partnership with another team)

Perhaps the most important lesson, however, is one I'm still learning: how to ask for more ownership + responsibility in areas where opportunity for growth may not be clearly defined. Especially in a smaller organization where bandwidth for mentorship may be limited, I found that I had to often create opportunities to explore directions that Mango was interested in but not currently working on. This involved:

  1. finding an intersection of personal and company interest
  2. defining a role that developed skillsets and areas of personal growth and
  3. outlining a course of action that indicated momentum while being open and ready for course adjustment. Ultimately, the set of responsibilities and tasks that I came to were refined over iterations of feedback and additional context of the space that Mango was working in. However, this self-driven process kicked off the most multi-faceted learning experience I've had to date outside of school itself, honing an ability to learn quickly in a broad and deep manner.

KPCB Fellows Program

I have the KPCB Fellows program to thank for opening up the opportunity to work and learn at Mango Health this summer. I would have no idea of Mango's existence if I hadn't applied to the program intentionally seeking a smaller team to work on. But the program was much more than an internship - it provided a network of equally driven and inspiring peers, opportunities + access to leaders in the industry, but most importantly, a community. Over our bus rides to South Bay, circuitous sailing around Angel Island, spontaneous hangouts, and planned programming, cursory conversations around work and school turned into discussions that defined what impact personally meant to each one of us. These conversations made me sure that my fellow Fellows will be the founders, leaders, and visionaries behind mission-oriented organizations of the future. Though the fellowship has ended, I’ve joined a family that is driven to make a meaningful difference on the world and feel simultaneously fortunate and responsible to be part of building and growing this shared vision.

A huge thank you goes out to the folks at Mango and Natalie/Justin/Andy for running the KPCB Fellows program - I'm excited to be returning back to Mango for a part-time basis in the fall and playing a part in growing the KPCB family for the next generation of fellows.
Big thanks to Jonah, Alex, and Caitlin for reading over drafts of this blog post!