Why Kinsa CEO Inder Singh is Inspired to Chase Disease

Inder Singh has intensely studied what it takes for a human to travel to space. In fact, he’s spent a significant portion of his life training for a potential space mission.

However, along the way he learned that his fascination wasn’t necessarily with space, rather the mission. That’s very much what led him to found Kinsa, a company on an ambitious mission to track, treat, and stop the spread of illness. 

We recently sat down to chat with Inder about his path to becoming a CEO and what led him to diverge from his trek to the moon, while remaining intensely mission-driven.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to be an astronaut.

Every single thing I did until I was 20 was dedicated to that dream. I learned to fly planes at 15, became a scuba diver, went to space academy, competed in every science and engineering fair possible, went to the University of Michigan because three astronauts who landed on the moon went to Michigan, worked in the space physics lab...everything. Everything I did was related to becoming an astronaut.

Then I had an experience that changed my life.

I started a small community service organization that supported children going through extensive physical rehabilitation. The look in the eyes of those kids and their families changed me.

I was supposed to go to med school to study aerospace medicine. My essay was all about space medicine. I deferred and eventually declined and went to [Silicon Valley] instead. I wanted to build organizations that impact people’s lives.

That’s why I founded Kinsa.

Where do you find inspiration?

I need to surround myself with people that are equally committed and that’s where I draw inspiration. I can be really, really lazy. Anyone who knows me would never guess that, but I’ve found tricks for keeping me motivated.

One, I have to work in a mission-driven organization. When there’s a bigger opportunity to have an impact, that’s so motivating to me. I love building that shared vision with a team.

Second, I think back. There’s one particular story that I always remember whenever I need to get a little extra motivation. There was a four-year-old girl whose heart stopped beating for 41 seconds. When she was revived, she couldn’t move anything except for her eyes. Over the next four years, she had to re-learn how to speak, re-learn how to walk. And, for those first couple weeks, she literally couldn’t move. I remember her parents on stage telling this story at the first event for my service organization. I remember hearing them and feeling this tug on my pants. I looked down and saw Allison’s 9-year-old, smiling, shining face. That changed my life. And, it’s something that has stayed with me ever since.

The other place I find inspiration is my wife. She has stuck with me through thick and thin. Whenever I get down, I think about how supportive she is.

What would you go back in time and tell yourself?

I have a very high pain tolerance for work. People have told me repeatedly that working 15 hours a day, six days a week for over a decade will take its toll psychologically. So, I would go back in time and tell myself to be healthier.

Stay active, because that’s the biggest challenge for me. I don’t think enough about taking care of myself. I wouldn’t just tell myself to be healthier, I would convince myself.

What’s something you had to learn the hard way?

You have to be careful how aggressive you are in imposing views on others. I learned that only over time. There’s a big difference between knowing and doing it. Seeing the consequences of when you’re accidentally too aggressive in saying, doing or going after something is an important lesson.

There’s a balancing act. You have to be careful about which idea you want to stand up for. That’s something I’ve only recently learned.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

I think the best advice is trust your gut. When you learn to actually trust your gut it will make a huge difference.

Sometimes the analytics are irrelevant. Sometimes the analysis is irrelevant. Go with your gut.

Kinsa is transforming how people care for themselves, their families, and their communities using mobile technologies and products. These same products empower society with tools to track the spread of disease in real-time, and stop it. Kinsa's first product is a low-cost smartphone-connected thermometer. To learn more, visit https://kinsahealth.com/.