What is MedStartr?

MedStartr is a great new way to find and fund healthcare projects, startups, and innovations that improve healthcare and help people live longer, better lives. Whether it is a medical mission to save women from dying in Equatorial Africa or a new device to treat spinal injury, you can find it and fund it here.

From the innovator’s or investor’s perspective, MedStartr is like an Accelerator Platform powered by crowds and designed for healthcare. We started out as just a crowdfunding platform and this was excellent, but we also soon found that in addition to driving pre-sales or donations, we were helping companies get found and funded faster than ever, rivaling the best accelerators out there but without all the co-habitation, time, effort, and lost equity chunks. Why? Because instead of being funded by the accelerator, our companies and projects are funded by a crowd that wants the innovative product or service for loved ones, themselves or their patients – and that makes all the difference.

From our experience we know that:

  • Great healthcare solutions, research projects, devices, or ideas that can improve healthcare can spread around the world very very fast.
  • Engaging all the stakeholders who benefit from care innovations (Patients, Physicians, Partners, and Institutions) creates a community of care around the idea that ensures success.

Is MedStartr All-or-Nothing or Flexible Funding?

MedStartr offers both an All-or-Nothing program where projects must be fully-funded or no money changes hands as well as two new options. In all cases, if you aren’t successful, we aren’t successful and you owe us nothing.

All-or-Nothing campaigns have a specific goal or project they are associated with that will take a certain amount of money to do. The Maker of the project sets the goal and commits to delivering ONLY if he or she gets to that level of funding. If not, all bets are off and all funds are returned to the Backers of the project.

For companies that can deliver on their project without reaching a specific funding level, we also offer a “Keep What You Raise” (KWYR) model where new products or services can be found and adopted by the community that care about the care innovation. This is a great way to bring new products and services to market or for companies looking to grow and offer new services or products. Because there are additional costs, we charge a little more for KWYRs.

We also now offer Partner and Accelerator level options that help you “Crowdfund Optimize” your idea to get it found and funded faster, sometimes in as little as 4 days – but usually around 60 – and innovators don’t need to move to New York or give up 6% of their company as typical accelerators charge. We prototyped this model in our first six months of operations, resulting in the fantastic level of success our projects have experienced where over 68% of the projects have been successful, raising over raised over 10 million dollars, starting 100+ partnerships, and earning thousands of new customers in total. This is better than most incubators or accelerators but we are not an accelerator, merely a platform for acceleration of great ideas in healthcare.  Oddly enough some people think we are an accelerator.  Go figure.

Whatever your stage or funding needs, MedStartr is here to help with just what you need to get found and funded faster. Read more about our service levels here.

What happened to your second “e”?

Initially, we left it off thinking that last “e” stood for “expensive”. Now that we can afford it we have tried to get the person who owns MedStarter.com to call us with no luck (apparently it really stood for “elusive”.) Now we just made a thing of it and leav it off just for fun everywher.

Who is behind MedStartr?

We were initially crowdfunded ourselves, so in a sense, you are behind us if you are reading this. Our team is a skilled group of entrepreneurs, engineers, MBAs, MDs, Ph.D.s, Medical writers, PR folks, and hundreds of mentors who get involved in projects. The founders are Alex FairMike Pence, and Brett Berliner. To see the full team, please visit the Team Page.  The author of most of this chatty FAQ page and most @MedStartr tweets is Alex. Our facebook page and blog is Mostly Jeff and Alex.  Our really cool Pinterest page is largely crowdsourced with some curation from us!

Who can fund their project on MedStartr?

MedStartr is focused on healthcare projects. We are a great way for patients, entrepreneurs, physicians, researchers, non-profits, artists, filmmakers, musicians, designers, writers, performers, and others to drive healthcare forward. A few examples:

  • Medical Devices: If you have a device you have created that helps people live better and longer lives, say a FDA approved in-home dialysis machine you can manufacture for under $500 if you can get orders for over 2,000 units, then get patients, doctors, and your friendly neighborhood kidney foundation as well as kidney disease patient communities to get behind the project and get those lives saved already!
  • Killer Apps for Healthy Living: If you have an iPhone app that is more fun than another piece of cake but need 2,000 $1.99 pledges from potential customers to build it out properly.
  • Create a Practice: You just finished residency and want to open a clinic, offer new patient exams and build your practice with far less risk. Tell people about yourself, why you got into medicine, the kind of care you will give, and if they like what they hear, you will support you and spread the word.
  • Drug Development: If you have a new drug that is in development and needs help making it through to the next major funding round or is looking to create a community around their idea, we are a great way to enable that.  Keep in mind that our average project is raising 20x what they do online, offline, leading to millions in fundng.  Results vary and we can not promise the millions you need for Drug Development, but we can promise you will get Crowd Support and great exposure to your patient base.  Think of this as “Direct to Consumer” marketing for your funding activities.  When you prove crowd support, everything else works better and the term sheets get nicer.
  • Academic Transfer: If you have developed an amazing product in academia and need to get it out to the public, we have special services to chaperon your IP and help you make a great commercial product launch and get customers.
  • Funding Improvements: Your Hospital wants to get a new expensive piece of equipment, explain how your community will benefit and offer some tangible reward like an executive physical using the device and see if they get behind your effort. With reimbursements going down all the time, this may be the only way to get that new DaVinci.
  • Fundraising for Research: You don’t have a specific project but you are a wonderful artist and want to throw a benefit concert or inspire people to donate to a cause like the American Heart Association or Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Check out the way the quite talented Kina did it – simply awesome! By partnering with a charitable organization, you can do some good with whatever your talent is. We know people at many of the, so submit an idea or just create a project based on the assumption that any such organization will review your idea. You provide the inspiration and perspiration and we will provide the connection-ation.

See our current listing of successful projects for inspiration.

Who can’t fund their project on MedStartr?

Projects we will not approve include the funding of personal care, drugs that are not in clinical trials, solutions that are not supported by clinical evidence of efficacy, projects outside healthcare, or anything that remotely looks like a scam. We can’t emphasize enough how important this last one is.

The site is not about getting you funded like a VC or Angel would, or at least not initially. Your MedStartr project needs to be focused on DELIVERING solutions, not just building a company. We think this is better because we challenge you to SHIP Product or PROVIDE service that patients, doctors, pharma, or other healthcare stakeholders truly value. An All or Nothing project is finite with a clear beginning and end. Someone can be held accountable for it— a project was either completed or it wasn’t — and there are definable expectations that everyone can agree to. This is critical for every MedStartr project.  Keep What You Raise campaigns are less dependent on a specific goal, but not all projects fit this profile.

We know there are a lot of great projects that fall outside of our scope, but MedStartr is not a place for soliciting donations to general charity projects, nor is it for general business expenses. All projects are reviewed and facilitated. In many cases we will find a strategic partner and ask them to get involved in ways that are mutually beneficial. Our Mentor program is pretty awesome too, you should ready more about that if you are looking to get involved with startups or some great advisers. In all cases, we will help you craft an offering that will engage your potential customers, partners, and champions.  We call this process “Healthcare Crowdfunding Optimization” and it works amazingly well over 80% of the time.

What is HCO?

HCO or Healthcare Crowdfunding Optimization is the application of our cumulative knowledge about how to make healthcare startups work in crowdfunding and offline.  It starts with targeting your message to all the stakeholders: Patients, providers, Partners, Government leaders, Investors, and others that will find your product or service useful.  This creates a wave of support that usually begins among patients and often ends with serious Angel or VC funding and a few important partnerships.  We are healthcare Entrepreneurs too and we have been through the healthcare startup ringer more times than we care to recall.  MedStartr is our solution to that problem that kills so much Medical innovation.  To learn more about what we do, please read up on the HCO process here.

What is the process for Clinical Review?

We can’t emphasize enough how important it is that your statements regarding clinical efficacy be accurate and true to the best of anyone’s knowledge at this point. Yes, we understand, much is experimental and we enable the listing of works that are still in progress, but you need to be up front and honest about what is true and known. Any hint of stretching the truth or misrepresentation is grounds for failure in clinical review. Little white lies are treated like giant black monsters around here.

The process begins with the information you provide. Then we do literature searches to validate the hypothesis. If needed we will ask world experts on the subject for their opinion and occasionally even call our friends at the FDA for an opinion. Your project is very important to us, but so is our reputation. We are always one snake oil salesman away from a damaging lawsuit, so we take clinical review very seriously.

What other reviews do you do?

After the preliminary clinical review clears we move on the personal credentialing, making sure that the project maker is who they say they are. Next we check out the company or non-profits’ status and finally, if there is a call for it, we will run background checks. Depending on your part of the world and which payment processor you choose, clients are also required to met the processor’s verification process which is also not simple. As noted above, we take our projects very seriously and our reputation is very important to us. The final validation is always the public though. Just like the say in the New York City Subway – If you See Something, Say Something. Call us immediately at 530.633/7827 or email ALERT@MedStartr.com if you believe something is fishy about any of our projects. Thank you!

Why All-or-Nothing funding?

All or Nothing projects must be fully funded before your deadline or no money changes hands. This is a key part of what makes sites like MedStartr work for three reasons:

  • Underfunding is a recipe for disaster. Half a bridge or half an app, both are equally useless. If you only raise 2K and it would take 5K to do what you committed to, no one would be happy with the result and maybe the idea needs work still, refine and try again.
  • Try before your Fly. All or nothing allows people to test concepts or conditionally sell stuff without risk. If you don’t receive the support you want, you don’t have to do the project. This is key if you are considering a production run of a device, planning a study, or thinking about quitting your day job for your dream. No Reward, no Risk and do nothing by halves – that is the MedStartr way.
  • It Motivates Your Believers. You want customers and supporters who are passionate about your vision to do more than send a few bucks your way, you want them activated and spreading the word. By having a threshold amount to be met, you will motivate these key early adopters to spread the word. Empowered patients and dynamic physicians are changing our healthcare system from the bottom up rather than top down. If your project solves a real problem, they will help you engage a much wider community who will make your project happen. Be careful though, if you fail to deliver your name will be mud and hell hath no fury like a patient wronged.

We also have enabled Keep What You Raise (KWYR) campaigns, even though they do not share the same benefits denoted above.  What they do have is the ability to reduce the risk for an innovator and activate tiered campaigns where the innovator will say, “We will do this at this level” and “We will do That at That Level”.  Before we had KWYRs, Fred Trotter had to raise $45,000 in two separate campaigns, and that wasn’t fair, was it?

Why do people support projects?

Three reasons, we find:

  • Hope. We are all touched by the pain of illness either in ourselves or loved ones. If your solution offers a reason to believe that it will reduce pain and suffering, people will support it.
  • Benefits. MedStartrs inspire patients, physicians, and partners to open their wallets by offering smart, fun, and tangible rewards (products, benefits, and experiences) that can improve healthcare, make people healthier, and solve problems. Don’t expect to get enough support with just a t-shirt or an arm band. That will work with the highly motivated, but most people are looking for something that addresses a real need.
  • Great Stories. MedStartr projects are efforts by real people to do something that matters for healthcare. Most healthcare innovators, whether they started as physicians, patients, or scientists, or even HMO execs, got motivated to dedicate their lives to change by a real world experience, a story. Tell your story about why you feel the need to build what you are building or do what you are doing. Be real and tell it like it was or is. Tell it though blog posts, pics, and videos, give updates about them here, and tell the story of how you are solving the problem – turning your lemons to lemonade for all. Take a peek around the site and see what we’re talking about. Stories abound.

And finally the all important 4th reason: You asked them to. Your story and passion should come through in your video or write up, helping others get to know you and your mission. If they believe in what you are doing and you ask for reasonable assistance, people respond. But you have to ask. If you are not comfortable with asking for help, then find someone who is and let them run your MedStartr project.

Fun fact: women seem to be much more successful so far on the site, we think this is related to the male predisposition to drive faster when lost rather than ask for directions.

Why MedStartr instead of sites like Indiegogo or Kickstarter?

Well, Kickstarter does not allow most healthcare projects for starters, so there is that. Secondly, on non-healthcare specific platforms, and even a few other healthcare specific platforms, crowdfunding for healthcare ideas just doesn’t work.  People would rather fund a comic book than a chemotherapy treatment improvement.  But MedSrartr is different in a number of ways:

The Crowd that Cares: Our audience is comprised of patients, doctors, hospital leaders, allied health professionals, and people who work in the healthcare industry – people who are looking for solutions and delivering them.  The backers of our projects have ranged from crowds of patients (and hey, let’s face it, we are all patients) to physicians to CEOs of giant corporations, to members of the press, to leaders in governments around the world.  This is important because when you offer rewards that make sense to them, they will come forward and support your project in really big ways.  That is why the average project doesn’t just get funded but walks away with 2-3 partnerships and a couple news stories.

Full Service:  We think our projects are too important to fail, so we work with the project Makers and help them as only we can.

Partnership Driven: As described above, we make a point of connecting your startup to the right people at the right partners.

Ecosystem: It takes an ecosystem to drive innovation in healthcare and through our Events, Mentors, Social Media presence, Awareness campaigns, Challenges, and Partners, we have an environment that is all about helping you succeed.

This is why so many of our projects are successful and why the MedStartr Model works so well.

Can you tell us some of the institutional relationships and partnerships you have helped start?

The best example is Fred Trotter’s 24 partners for his Docgraph project, but Avado and Jen Dyer did ok too with three new partners each.  The Braggs ladies did fine too with a distributorship or two and a good start in on a contract with the US army.  We have had GE, Aetna, Verizon, Sierra Wireless, HHS, ONC, NCI, AHA, Medical Centers, Hospitals, CEOs of companies like Doximity and Practice Fusion, Accelerators, VCs, hundreds of doctors, and thousands of patients step up and get involved. To explore, please visit our Successful Project gallery and look at the backers.  These are the big names in healthcare and they are finding, funding, and adopting new ideas right from MedStartr.

Does MedStartr take some percentage of ownership or intellectual property of things made through MedStartr?

Absolutely not. We, or one of our board members or mentors, may ask for a meeting or make an offer, but generally no, this is not our model.  The only exception is if you want our full accelerator-level service and we accept you into this.  It works quite well, better than most “official” accelerator programs.  So far our first “Class” of startups raised over 6 Million in Crowd, Angel, VC and Grant funding in their first six months.  Not bad!

To see more about our service levels, please read on here.

How do I start a project?

Click the “Get Startd” or “Submit your Project” link on the Home page or anywhere you see it, Like here: Get Startd. You’ll be asked to review and confirm the MedStartr Guidelines, accept the terms and conditions, and then you can start putting your project together. Once you’re ready to launch, you’ll submit it to us for review, and someone from the MedStartr Staff will look it over, help you tweak it if needed, and get you going.  In addition to the Paypal credentialing process, we will clinically review your project. Due to the high risk of fraud we may ask you to provide additional information or have a face to face meeting. Healthcare has a long history of “Snake Oil” products, so we need to see the clinical efficacy of the product or service, sometimes in real life. Fortunately, our network of trusted Mentors are in every city in the world and we can meet you where you are within a week if needed.

Alternatively, call or email us at (530) MED-STARtr or getstartd@medstartr.com

Once your project is accepted, you’ll be able to launch it whenever you’re ready.

If you have questions please do not hesitate to pick up the phone and call 530.MED.STAR – or 530.633.7827. You will almost always get a Founder and yes, we do answer our phones WHENEVER POSSIBLE!

What does it cost?

There are two basic ways to run campaigns on MedStartr. If you want to do an “All or Nothing” Campaign and only if you meet your goal and raise the capital you need, we charge 5% of the capital raised. If you do not meet your goal it is completely free.

Alternatively, if your campaign is not dependent on a specific level of funding to be able to deliver on your goals, we now offer “Keep What You Raise” campaigns that enable project makers to raise funds with more flexibility. KWYR campaigns cost a little more at 8% but if you just want to sell your product that is ready but new or have a service that needs no fund raising, just your first hundred doctors or patients, it is the lowest cost way to get thousands of people involved in your idea.

Also be advised that our payment processors, WePay or Paypal takes about 2.9% of each contribution PLUS $0.30 per contribution.  With an average contribution size overall of $57.50, this works out to be about 3% on average. So factor this into you project – about 8 – 11% total- and put it in the budget.

I only need to raise a small amount of funding. Is MedStartr for me?

Absolutely! MedStartr is for healthcare-related projects big and small, serious and whimsical, traditional and experimental, clinical or device based, traditional or alternative – if it makes people healthier or helps improve or fix our healthcare system, it belongs here! Small projects that you (or you and a few friends) can do over a weekend are perfect for MedStartr. In fact, the average project on MedStartr has raised $9,055 online and this amount goes up every month. Offline they do far better, but that is a whole different question…

My project will take millions, is MedStartr for me?


Well, the most anyone has raised on a crowd funding platform is $10,266,845 Dollars. Is that enough? That was for a watch that connects to an iPhone, imagine what will happen when we launch an artificial kidney project that will save millions of lives?  Be awesome and give it a shot. With all or nothing funding, you can’t really miss.  Our best project so far only raised $45,011, but they also got 24 partnerships which, if you ask us, is better than raising millions.  Their project is now the defacto standard for physician referral data and this is something that you can do one of two ways traditionally: by paying millions or by being awesome.  Guess which path Fred Trotter took.

We also have some data about what has happened to our projects offline. What we are finding is that a successful MedStartr project makes you the edgiest, most attractive company around. This drives additional investor attention and partnerships like you would not believe! It isn’t just about the funds you raise from the crowd, but also about showing that there is significant demand for your product or project.

Data: Our first 180 days have provided the following results for the first twenty companies:

  • 51 Partnerships Started
  • 6.2 million in funding from outside (offline) resources
  • 2 acquisition offers (1 closed, 1 pending)
  • 1 medical mission to the Dominican Republic and Congo each
  • 1 new Non profit dedicated to rare disease
  • 1 new conference called “Partnership with Patients
  • $150,000+ in funding for startups through the site.
  • 1 New Open Dataset that will change how people select doctors

 

Overall, the average successful company has raised over $300,000 in funding online and off and over 68% of our first 25 projects have been successful.

Not a bad start!

Why are MedStartr Projects so much more successful than healthcare projects on other sites?

Yes, that is a frequently asked question, we didn’t just make it up. Reporters and new clients ask us all the time, but never people who have been clients. Why? Because they have had the MedStartr client experience and often the DIY experience of other sites. When you get six calls or emails or emails from world experts who have reviewed your project, asked hard questions, rewritten your material at a professional level, and reworked your model with you until you came up with one that will SELL, you know why our method works. It is like a tough mudder for your company, your idea, your business model, and even your product. We may not be very nice about it and we may reject your project if it does not make medical sense, but you will emerge with your best shot at crowdfunding possible in our full service model. Kickstarter, IndieGogo, and the rest are all self-service and most healthcare projects on those sites fail or are not allowed unless they went through our process first.  Several successful projects there spent some time with us first before eaith skulking off to list there or going with out blessing.  We also created most of the successful projects that have been cross listed on other “competitor” sites. It turns out that what we have created a hybrid of a crowdfunding platform and an Accelerator or Incubator to create something new we call an “Accelerator Platform”. Powered by crowdfunding and crowdsourcing, it works great!

Accelerator Platform? But most accelerators take a 5% – 10% chunk of equity and give some cash, do you do that?

No and no. We do charge more for the Partnered and Accelerator services but we only take it from what you raise online and off. For the OPTIONAL Partnered Services we charge 10% of what is raised online PLUS 3% of what happens on other platforms for 180 days.  If you really want the full package, we call that “Accelerated” and we require a 2% equity stake in your company. We think this is fair, but if you do not, the full service options are entirely optional and all projects get facilitated at least. To understand our service levels, please visit that page here on about.medstartr.com.  We also are negotiable since for larger companies and larger raises the fee would be disproportionate.

Please do not hesitate to tell us what you think. We look forward to helping in any way we can.

If I don’t do the Accelerated Service, will I still get full service?

Unlike every other crowdfunding platform, we do provide a good level of support for all projects, subject to availability. Our Mentor network, promotions, events, and more basic services are available to all as well. We think healthcare innovations are generally too important to fail and do everything we can to make sure they all work out.

If you have questions please do not hesitate to pick up the phone and call 530.MED.STAR – or 530.633.7827. You will almost always get a Founder and yes, we do answer our phones!

Account Settings

How can I change my profile name?

Make sure you’re logged in to MedStartr and go to your profile page.

Can I change the email address associated with my account?

Make sure you’re logged in to MedStartr and go to your account page.

How do I unsubscribe from or adjust which emails I receive?

Make sure you’re logged in to MedStartr and go to your notifications page.

I forgot my password, how do I log in?

You can request a password reset at the bottom of the login page.

How can I log in using my Facebook account?

You can sign in with Facebook using the Facebook login button on the login page.

How do I disconnect my Facebook account?

Log in to MedStartr through Facebook, then go to your account settings to disconnect from Facebook and set a password on your account page.

How come my Facebook account is showing up as somebody else?

If you are using a computer that is logged in to someone else’s Facebook, connecting your MedStartr account to Facebook will create a link to that other person’s account. Make sure that whichever computer you’re working on is either logged out of Facebook or already logged in as yourself.

Do you recommend connecting with Facebook?

Well, that depends. Your health is a very personal thing and we would never encourage people to overshare anything about their health. This is why we enable privacy controls that de-identifies users. If you are starting a project this is not an option, but those sponsoring projects may do so.

That stated…

…if you want to help get the project(s) you are backing in a big way: facebook, linked in, twitter, blog posts, and other social media connections and communications are awesome and we encourage you connect your MedStartr account to ALL of the above. This helps build a strong community of support that enables projects to succeed.

Oh and it is also a super easy way for anyone to log in to MedStartr.

If you’re a healthcare innovator, scientist, provider, or work for a big healthcare investment firm, it’s a great way to let the innovation community know what you care about and know a little bit more about you. It doesn’t mean you have to accept random friend requests or make your entire profile public, but it’s an easy way to show backers, MedStartrs, and fellow funders you’re a real person. You can also adjust the privacy settings of your Facebook account to better control what new visitors see.

What is Facebook Connect?

Facebook Connect is a way for you to link your Facebook account to MedStartr so you don’t need to create a new account. It’s the same as logging in through Facebook. MedStartr uses the email you use for Facebook, and you don’t have to remember a new password. It’s easy!

If you’re a MedStartr (project creator) and you have turned on Facebook Connect, your Facebook username and friend count will be displayed in your MedStartr bio (at the bottom-right corner of your project page). This helps backers learn more about the people behind the projects they support, and builds trust between the backer and creator.

If having your Facebook profile a click away makes you uncomfortable, you can either adjust your privacy settings on your Facebook profile or disconnect from Facebook through the “About You” section of your Edit Project page or on your account page.

Can I connect my company’s Facebook page to my project?

No, Facebook Connect works for personal Facebook profiles only. If your project is a team collaboration, have one of your team members Facebook Connect to the project.  We do advise that you do insert links in your project to your fb page but more importantly from FB to your project.  Facebook is actually our #2 source of traffic and it is pretty key to achieving liftoff for your campaign.  You should also be posting to our facebook page as it is a community that cares deeply about projects on MedStartr.

What is a vanity URL?

A vanity URL is like a personalized URL. You can set a special URL for your MedStartr profile so that instead of being recognized by a series of numbers (e.g., http://www.MedStartr.com/profile/1234567890), it can be recognized with a name or a word of your choosing (e.g., http://www.MedStartr.com/profile/yourname). If you’d like to create one, you can do so on your profile page.

How do I delete my account?

Your account can be deleted from your account page. Warning: this is not reversible!

Site Basics

Where is MedStartr on the web?

You can find MedStartr on TwitterFacebook and Tumblr. Follow, like us, read us, fund us!

What else can you tell me about the MedStartr team?

Alex Fair, Komal Garewal, Mike Pence, Theresa Merrill, and several more amazing folks.  Please be welcome to visit our Team Page.

We are advised by the leaders of Health 2.0 National (Matt Holt and Indu Subiyan, MD), author of “Are your Fundable” Alan Brody, Gregg Masters, MPD, Dave DeBronkhardt, Regina Holliday, and Steve Greene of SperlingGreene. We partner with Health 2.0 leaders around the world as well as StartupHealth, BluePrint Health, NYeC, Innov8Health, and many more.

Check out our team page!

Where is MedStartr?
Home base is NYC but we have events and projects all over the US planned and projects pouring in from five continents.

How can I contact MedStartr?

Call us at (530) MED-STARtr (530.633.7827) or use the Contact page. We want to hear from you.

Can I download the MedStartr logo?

Of course, just right click it and select save. You can also go to our Media page and download it. If you have a project, please link it straight to your project too! Better yet, embed the project you make or love on your own site!