Y-Combinator Funds First Non-Profit Startup: A Crowdfunding Platform for Medical Aid

Written by Priti Ambani

Jan 30, 2013

Watsi is a crowdfunding platform that connects you with patients in serious need of low-cost medical care and enables you to fund high-impact treatments.

The dynamic team from Watsi has a simple enough goal: to help people dying of treatable illnesses because they can’t afford basic medical care. Simple but interesting enough that Y-Combinator chose Watsi, to become the first non-profit startup it supports.

Watsi’s crowdfunding for a cause platform allows you to help a person in need of medical care. The name is borrowed from a town in the Indigenous Territory of Costa Rica, through which co-founder Chase was traveling in 2010.  A woman boarded the bus, Chase was in and asked the passengers for donations to pay for her son’s medical treatment. This incident touched Chase and Watsi was born. Watsi is committed to using 100% of donations to fund medical treatments, so they rely on donation and support from programs like Y-Combinator to run their operations.

The team says that “Creative Altruism” are words that perfectly describe what “excites” them. Three members of the team, (ChaseJesse, and Grace) quit their jobs to work on Watsi full-time.

“We’ve taken over a house in Silicon Valley and dubbed it the Watsi HQ. We’re waking up at 6am to Skype with hospitals in Kenya and going to sleep at 2am dreaming of funding medical treatments for millions of patients in need.

We’re putting every ounce of energy we have into this organization because we believe that every person in the world deserves access to basic medical care. We’ve already funded medical treatments for 60 people around the world, and we won’t stop until we reach a million.”

In his blog post revealing Y-Combinator’s support for Watsi, founder Paul Graham has high praise for the startup and its peer-to-peer crowdfunding model,

After about 30 seconds of looking at the site, I realized I was looking at one of the more revolutionary things I’d seen the Internet used for. Technology can now put a face on need. The people who need help around the world are individuals, not news photos, and when you see them as individuals it’s hard to ignore them.

I’ve seen what happens—at Airbnb for example—when the Internet’s ability to connect people peer to peer enters a domain that had previously been dominated by narrow channels. Historians will probably identify this as one of the most powerful forces at work in our time. And Watsi is this force applied to a big lever.

I’ve never been so excited about anything we’ve funded. Try donating and you’ll see why.

Famous last words.

(Reposted from Ecopreneurist)


About Author

About Author

Priti Ambani

Priti Ambani is the Global Media Director at Crowdsourcing Week, a thought leader and prominent writer on social and environmental enterprises, start-ups and Web 2.0 businesses. As the Director and Managing Editor of Ecopreneurist, Priti has been instrumental in growing the site into a notable social business resource. Specializing in her ability to work with impact organizations from the ground up, Priti has developed successful business and communications strategies for fledgling start-ups, social and environmental enterprises. She also serves as a sustainability consultant at GreenDen consultancy and advises on CSR and the triple bottom line. Priti is a Professional Engineer and holds a Master’s degree in Biological Resources Engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park.

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