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Crowdfunding in healthcare isn’t easy – Health Tech Hatch turns to Indiegogo to make it work

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Health Tech Hatch, a site launched last fall as a crowdfunding site specifically for health startups, is joining forces with one of the biggest crowdfunding platforms on the web, Indiegogo.

From the beginning, the company planned to help health startups both crowdfund and beta test their products with patients and physicians. But now, founder and CEO Patricia Salber said Health Tech Hatch plans to focus more closely on the beta testing side, while working on the crowdfunding piece through Indiegogo.

“We quickly learned that it’s really, really hard to raise much money if you’re trying to raise for a startup company [that isn’t] any of the companies that have a cool device,” she said.

Startups like Misfit Wearables, which is developing a wearable activity tracker, and Scanadu, which recently set an Indiegogo record for its tricorder-like device, succeed in crowdfunding because they’re essentially offering a pre-sale through their campaigns, she said. But for startups focused on software, general crowdfunding can be tricky, because funders don’t get anything tangible for their contribution and they may want equity in return for their early support. Companies can raise from $5,000 to $20,000, but it’s often not worth the administrative effort and time they have to put in, Salber added.

By working with Indiegogo, Health Tech Hatch can give companies an opportunity to reach a wider community of interested funders. Once the partner page is live on Indiegogo (Salber said that while the deal is done, the page isn’t live quite yet), health startups can sign up to create campaigns supported by both companies.

Startups could obviously launch a campaign outside of the Health Tech Hatch Indiegogo page. But the company will carefully vet campaigns and its hope is that health entrepreneurs will want the added benefit of its “seal approval” — given the sea of campaigns on Indiegogo, extra support from Health Tech Hatch could make potential funders more willing to shell out some cash. Salber said her company will share the revenues from each campaign with Indiegogo and will also charge for optional administrative and campaign management services.

Salber’s larger focus is encouraging collaboration in health care – among health care innovators, as well as patients and doctors. The site enables startups to get usability feedback on ideas and prototypes from patients and doctors, a process it calls “codesign.” This week, for example, it launched a project with the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology to solicit patient ideas how to use data accessed through the government’s Blue Button initiative.

It’s worth noting that while Health Tech Hatch is teaming up Indiegogo for crowdfunding, other startups are continuing to go it alone. MedStartr enables new startups to raise small amounts of funding (few campaigns ask for more than $30,000 and most appear to ask for far less) and Healthfundr and VentureHealth are bringing different approaches to equity crowdfunding to healthcare.

6 Responses to “Crowdfunding in healthcare isn’t easy – Health Tech Hatch turns to Indiegogo to make it work”

  1. darrylmitt

    Start A Cure is the fundraising project for cancer research created by Malecare. Founded in 1998, Malecare has grown to become America’s largest men’s cancer support and advocacy national nonprofit corporation. Listening to our large cancer survivor community, we learned about the large untapped pool of potential donors who want more control over where their money goes. Right or wrong, these potential donors are cynical about the way research projects are selected by government agencies and foundations for funding. They would rather choose specific projects to fund and have the opportunity to connect directly with the scientists guiding those projects. Many are also unhappy about the small percentage of donated dollars that researchers receive from government and charitable foundations.

    Malecare and our all-volunteer cancer survivor leadership decided to act. We saw the emergence of crowdfunding websites, like Kickstarter and Indiegogo and pro bono finance sites such as Kiva. We took the best of both of these worlds and created something new…a platform that both informs and empowers cancer patients and their families, friends and allies, towards directing their funding dollars towards research that can have meaning in their lives. We created Start A Cure, which we believe is the world’s first patient focused research funding platform to be entirely directed at cancer.

    Start A Cure launched on March 25, 2013 with a call to action to a small portion of our cancer researcher contacts to upload projects for funding. We were overwhelmed. We had expected only a handful of projects to take a chance on this new venture. But, we got dozens. And, most all were from leading institutions and academic centers like Harvard, John’s Hopkins, UCLA and MD Anderson.

    Start A Cure clearly resonates in the cancer researcher community. We believe that our cancer survivor community will reply in kind.

    How This Works.

    By posting descriptions of individual researchers and their current projects, Start A Cure raises both funds and awareness for cancer research. Donors will be able to search and browse through a menu of current research projects and choose to donate funds to projects that resonate in their own lives. By creating an efficient web based distribution system, Start A Cure is able to distribute 92% of funds raised directly to researchers.

    Start A Cure also helps inspire students and provides hope to our cancer survivor community, by highlighting the people working night and day to develop better treatments and cures; helping us all live happier and longer lives. Projects include those that have already received foundation, government and other grants, along with projects seeking proof of concept funding.

    Start A Cure will quickly become the fundraising platform for all tumor types. Start A Cure is entirely complementary and supportive of the existing fundraising foundations and modalities and will only grow our cancer research capacities, worldwide.

  2. Raising funds via crowdfunding is hard work. It requires a marketing/promotion campaign to create the “buzz.” Running a crowdfunding platform is even harder and requires scale to be successful. Undoubtedly, more partnering and consolidation will occur in the industry.

    Health Tech Hatch, MedStartr and others have laudable goals and are bringing needed dollars to the healthcare space. Crowdfunding also can be a great vehicle for market feedback.

    The anticipated equity-based crowdfunding described in the JOBS Act is fraught with problems. The “devil is in the details” and these details have a lot of devils that will create difficulties for both entrepreneurs and investors.

    I look forward to seeing a successful partnership between HealTech Hatch and Indiegogo.
    Don Ross
    HealthTech Capital

  3. MedStartr

    I don’t think you can compare the results for a site that had three successful projects (two of which were written by our team and first launched on our site) and a site with over 30 successful projects that raised over 250,000 online and over 9 million off including several acquisition offers. We also will launch a partner page on Indiegogo, but that is for a different audience. It is important that true healthcare projects, ones that are not just a gadget that anyone can use, have a specialized site.

    We also runhealthcare challenges, and this is an example of what a specialized site can do. Our First Major Challenge brought 30 new ideas for Cancer Care out of nowhere and into development. They have raised over $18,000 in just a few days for Cancer Care Planning tools and are highly engaged with their audience, a crowd that cares about healthcare innovation. See more at

    I concur that crowdfunding is not easy. It is not a DIY activity for most and a “set it and forget it” attitude generally does not work. Our traffic is only a tenth of Indiegogo’s, but it is the right traffic and building nicely.

    And here’s the thing in healthcare crowdfunding: Our clients went to Med School and Grad School, not B School or Design School, so they need a little more help doing the strategy from entrepreneurs and an ecosystem that will help. This is why we do events, have a mentor network, give full service options, set up a MedStartr School, and guide our projects to over a 65% success rate. Understandably, Dr. Salber, having been a great ER Doctor and then Kaiser Executive, could not offer the same level of assistance. This wasn’t her 7th startup and 25th healthcare business unit she developed. No Offense, Pat is my friend, it is just a different skills set than doing an emergency Trach or figuring out how to keep populations healthier for less cost.

    We know from experience that it takes an ecosystem to develop a healthcare idea. You need Patients, Partners, Physicians, Nurses, engineers, data folks, interoperability experts, and investors. MedStartr actually grew out of my Health 2.0 NYC Meetup group of over 3000 healthcare folks. This is what it takes to succeed in healthcare and why we have not only helped companies raise crowd funding, but also get angel and VC investors, dozens of partners, great publicity, and thousands of customers.

    Full disclosure here, Pat Salber, the Founder of HealthTechHatch is my friend and Partner in We compared notes since before she started development. Her new Crowdsourcing of ideas/ Challenge platform is quite nice and we wish her the best of luck, but please do not consider the pivot of HealthTechHatch to be reflective of the industry as a whole.

    Thank You,
    Alex Fair
    Founder & CEO – Crowdfunding the Healthcare Revolution!

  4. Consano is also crowdfunding in the health space, but is nonprofit and the campaigns are for more basic research philanthropy. So while it’s not a part of the equity crowdfunding discussion, it is another way to participate in supporting medical research that matters to you.