MedStartr Offers Crowdfunding for Health IT Firms, Including Itself

7/11/12Follow @arleneweintraub

A couple years ago, when Alex Fair was tossing around ideas on how to raise money for his new healthcare marketplace, FairCareMD, he knew that putting the startup on the uber-popular crowdfunding platform Kickstarter would be out of the question. Kickstarter has collected $250 million for 24,000 projects since it was founded three years ago, but virtually none of that has gone to health-related companies. “I said, ‘Hey, there’s an opportunity here,’” Fair says. “No one’s really doing health care crowdfunding.”

Enter MedStartr, Fair’s New York-based site that’s making its debut today. MedStartr allows entrepreneurs to find backers for healthcare technologies and services. The site, which Fair says ran a brief alpha test starting in April, is launching with six projects, including MedStartr itself. During that early project, which was designed to test the concept, Fair was surprised to find MedStartr was able to raise enough capital to run the company. “Of the 71 people we invited to view the alpha, six invested,” he says. It’s a sign, he believes, that “crowdfunding has hit the public consciousness.”

The other projects on MedStartr include a Web portal for physicians and their patients and a smartphone app developed by a Johns Hopkins graduate student for tracking and reporting sexually transmitted diseases.

One of the most popular MedStartr companies, Fair says, is Duet Health Partnership, run by pediatric endocrinologist Jennifer Shine Dyer of Columbus, OH, who developed an app to help teens and adults with diabetes manage their disease. Dyer, who calls the app EndoGoddess, hopes to raise $25,000 to run a clinical trial testing whether people who use the app to track their blood sugar have fewer complications related to their disease.

Dyer initially went to Kickstarter, but was turned down. “They told me it wasn’t within their project guidelines because it has a medical focus,” she says. During the alpha test on MedStartr, 12 people pledged a total of $500 to the EndoGoddess trial, raising Dyer’s hopes that she may get close to hitting her funding goal, especially after the site opens itself up to the public and she’s able to spread the word about it on diabetes websites and social networks. “I think it proves that people want to part of financing this research.”

MedStartr plans to bring in revenues by taking a 5 percent cut of funds raised via the platform. The company will also offer video packages and other services to help MedStartrs bring attention to their projects. Fair and his small staff carefully … Next Page »

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  • http://twitter.com/AfternoonNapper Afternoon Napper

    My very own FMD Chat is on MedStartr representing the ePatient movement. Improving healthcare goes beyond implementing technology—we must remember to care for the people who are patients. FMD Chat does that by helping rare disease patients connect with one another around the world.