A big name on everybody’s lips at the moment is Kickstarter. For those of you who don’t know, Kickstarter is a crowd funding platform, allowing users to pledge money against a set target for projects that they are interested in and would like to see made a reality. So far, tech start-ups have enjoyed a great deal of success through the platform – an array of snazzy watches, cheap and clever games consoles and virtual reality peripherals have been, or are currently being, developed. In the sense that it’s allowing people to take control of what they are being sold, it’s utterly revolutionary, and one of the most important commercial ventures of this, or any, century.
However, an area that Kickstarter does not serve is health. This certainly isn’t down to nobody innovating in the healthcare space – Kickstarter just don’t do it. This includes any kind of fitness, baby, beauty or personal care product.
And, realistically, this is understandable. Erring on the side of caution, Kickstarter are unlikely to want to get behind a project that, at the time of fundraising, will likely not have obtained proper certification from strict healthcare authorities. Unfortunately, health is the area that needs it most. In a previous post, I talked about those little health gadgets that can make such an important difference to people’s lives. You may have noticed, reading that, that many of these were at a concept stage, awaiting a sympathetic ear for funding. This is, unfortunately the death of so many of these neat ideas. Kickstarter, however, gives products outside of the health space room to grow – people see it, like it, and pledge. Some projects have reached $10 million in funding. Now, I like a Bluetooth-enabled watch as much as the next guy, but let’s face it – no one really needs one. Imagine what $10 million could do to bring true healthcare innovation into the home?
Thankfully, I’m not the only one who thinks we need to get behind some of these projects. A recent project, Medstartr, aims to fill the health-shaped gap in the Kickstarter plan by offering crowd sourced funding to health apps. However, projects so far are topping out at around $45,000 of funding, with many asking only for a couple of thousand here and there. With any luck, these numbers will grow as the project grows, allowing room to accommodate larger products and services.
Sadly, I have doubts. The allure of a small pledge to create a gadget you can buy cheaply is huge, but most people will only pledge money to a Medstartr project if and when it directly affects them. Many of the concepts, like the amazing PiOna injection device, could be built, tested, manufactured and distributed for the money that people pledge to a games console on Kickstarter, yet Medstartr will likely never reach those heights. At Frontera, we live by a mantra of the consumer taking control of their health. Let’s hope Medstartr will be the way forward.