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Financing Medical Education Startup

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  •  ChaseD702 
    Participant
    Status: Student
    Posts: 14
    Joined: 03/01/2018

    Hey WCI Community,

    Although I’ve read the book, listened to all of the current podcasts, and even shared a few emails with Dr. Dahle I’ve been hesitant to get lost in the enormous amount of information on this forum. I also didn’t feel I had anything to contribute. However, I had one question today that I wasn’t sure where to post, so hopefully this is alright.

    Though only a fourth year medical student, I’ve been working on a side project for nearly my entire medical academic career. It was originally a simple aggregation of medical information out there that students could use in a semi-organized manner to supplement their education. I’d planned on making original content for some time, but wasn’t confident in my knowledge and abilities to do so until more recently (and still spend more time double checking facts and spelling than I’d like to admit).

    Anyway, ultimately I would like to take this “organization” I have started (with a few classmates posed to assist here and there) and begin turning this into a future business. Not only have I understood the importance of investment versatility with owning a personal business through WCI, but I actually enjoy this project more than rotations at the moment. I’m not sure if that will change, and I do enjoy both, but I think taking this concept and making it the foundation for future business growth is a great idea (and keeps me sane in the meantime).

    Though nearly all of the web design, course creation, animation, and content creation has thus far been done by me (yikes!), I know to bring this to the next level will require bringing on more specialized help: not a student that plays around with these technologies in his spare time. This will require funding that a student cannot manage. I’d really like to get the groundwork set before residency next year then concentrate on slowly adding more content when time allows.

    Beside potentially being crazy for even considering this right before residency, I’d love to hear some advice from all of you. Using a Kickstarter campaign is one consideration, but as we don’t yet have enough material to give away to donors this would have to wait. I’d want more specialized and skilled individuals for a website redesign and Kickstarter video anyway, so kind of a CATCH 22. Ultimately, the platform will consist of educational materials (which I know there are a ton of out there), with a few specialized gimmicks (which I’d rather not give away specifics just yet) to make this unique and enjoyable to both medical learners and educators. I’m hoping this will be medical education 2.0, but will never go anywhere if I’m taking on the bulk of the work in my spare time.

    What are other forums for gaining startup funding for medical, non-device advancements? I know there are medical Angel investment groups, but are there smaller organizations/funds that may be solicited? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    #106721 Reply
    q-school q-school 
    Participant
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 2051
    Joined: 05/07/2017

    how are you going to keep people from stealing your information and republishing/telling their friends?  how are you going to keep it uptodate?

     

    #106794 Reply
     ChaseD702 
    Participant
    Status: Student
    Posts: 14
    Joined: 03/01/2018

    In this day and age there is ABSOLUTELY no realistic way in which to protect these forms of online educational lectures and material. With screen capture software and torrents, most of the third party educational material is already out there somewhere. That’s why the lecture content is not a concern to protect, and will be given out freely. In fact, we will be encouraging others to use our templates and pre-created materials, but I’d rather not get into those specifics quite yet. The business model of delivering free lectures is something that many other educational medical businesses are currently following, and it allows the name recognition and word-of-mouth advertisement to advance the other product lines as all students have access to the basic content. For instance, nearly all US students have heard of (and used) Online Med Ed lecture videos for Step 2 studies which are available for free (though they do make some profit from video ads).

    Currently, many of these platforms offer Q-banks (repositories of board-style questions), lecture notes, and other products which they offer only to members for a nominal fee. However, they all have their limitations. We have several business ideas that, once there is notoriety, would make this product very unique. Hopefully, these will be desirable to a wider range of learners as well, which do not feel satisfied with some of the other platforms currently out there. A longer-term goal is being considered to use these materials (and their future, more advanced progeny) to enter the academic world as opposed to being a third-party in medical education.

    #106811 Reply
    MPMD MPMD 
    Participant
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 1734
    Joined: 05/01/2017

    I think you’re going to have a really hard time finding seed money or investors.

    This is a crowded space and full of free content. Your target audience by definition has almost no discretionary spending money. I am fairly familiar with one of the leaders in this space and they are a VERY unique product with, how would I say this, almost a gimmick that hit big? That is not to disparage the product at all, it’s just sui generis.

    I am also familiar with some extremely high quality content that combines great info with professional level design that has yet to break into revenue-generating turf. The creator of this has put hundreds of hours of sweat equity into creating an impressive product that just hasn’t taken off.

    Not trying to be overly discouraging, it’s just a tough space.

    #106874 Reply
     pedsneuro 
    Participant
    Status: Resident
    Posts: 16
    Joined: 10/30/2016

    My husband and I are actually running into a similar situation. He has a bit of an entrepreneurial bug and has been working on a couple of projects (different from yours in concept but also requiring tech skills) throughout residency. We are basically at the point where they need funding, so we’ve decided we are OK spending $2K this year to try to get one of them to the point where you could even do a kickstarter campaign. For the other project he actually got a tech company to agree to do some work for him for a certain percentage of equity in the company, if it ever makes any money. He does not code so he also has a friend in his residency who majored in computer engineering who helps out but is in the same boat as you in terms of not being able to take it to the next level. I don’t know if anything will ever come of the projects, but they have been a great outlet for him throughout residency and he has really enjoyed thinking about them. He has also learned a lot about the business world (so he says). In my mind the $2K is gone forever, lol, but we are also saving a percentage of our income toward retirement that I am comfortable with, and he doesn’t spend his money on stupid things like video games or on other expensive hobbies.

    Sorry I don’t have the answers for you, but I guess my point is that while it’s tough to get something like this off the ground, if you enjoy it stick with it. You’ll have some money soon when you start residency and you can decide if you are OK spending a small amount of your own money on the project, or look around for creative ways to get the work done cheaper. Just make sure you are also doing ?smarter things with your money like saving and handling your student loans in a reasonable way (if applicable). Even if it never amounts to anything, you are sure to learn and maybe come up with other ideas that are more doable/lucrative in the future.

    #106878 Reply
     ChaseD702 
    Participant
    Status: Student
    Posts: 14
    Joined: 03/01/2018

    Thank you all for the insights. I agree, it is a competitive avenue right now and it will not be easy. I do think that some of the proposed future designs will really set this concepts away from the competition…if it ever gets that far. If not, I do enjoy working on it and I hope the open-source content we create will be used for good in the future as well. I suppose only time will tell right now.

    Though maybe optimistic, we are shooting  to have our first course available this summer sometime. That will display our content in an open-source platform and hopefully draw in academic attention. If some support can be gained through this first project/course, then it may be easier to implement some of the more complex and unique aspects by next year. I’ll try to update this thread when closer to that time.

    #106891 Reply
     ChaseD702 
    Participant
    Status: Student
    Posts: 14
    Joined: 03/01/2018

    Well, the concept has gone through many new renditions. Still struggling to find time for all of the technical aspects of the Micro course to be released soon. I believe the link will be https://learn.canvas.net/courses/2215 for those interested this winter, though it is not open yet. I’ve decided to release just a 10 module section of it for now to see what happens. My biggest concern is that I have had very little feedback so far. Fingers crossed!

    #149343 Reply
    The White Coat Investor The White Coat Investor 
    Keymaster
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 3798
    Joined: 05/13/2011

    Hey WCI Community,

    Although I’ve read the book, listened to all of the current podcasts, and even shared a few emails with Dr. Dahle I’ve been hesitant to get lost in the enormous amount of information on this forum. I also didn’t feel I had anything to contribute. However, I had one question today that I wasn’t sure where to post, so hopefully this is alright.

    Though only a fourth year medical student, I’ve been working on a side project for nearly my entire medical academic career. It was originally a simple aggregation of medical information out there that students could use in a semi-organized manner to supplement their education. I’d planned on making original content for some time, but wasn’t confident in my knowledge and abilities to do so until more recently (and still spend more time double checking facts and spelling than I’d like to admit).

    Anyway, ultimately I would like to take this “organization” I have started (with a few classmates posed to assist here and there) and begin turning this into a future business. Not only have I understood the importance of investment versatility with owning a personal business through WCI, but I actually enjoy this project more than rotations at the moment. I’m not sure if that will change, and I do enjoy both, but I think taking this concept and making it the foundation for future business growth is a great idea (and keeps me sane in the meantime).

    Though nearly all of the web design, course creation, animation, and content creation has thus far been done by me (yikes!), I know to bring this to the next level will require bringing on more specialized help: not a student that plays around with these technologies in his spare time. This will require funding that a student cannot manage. I’d really like to get the groundwork set before residency next year then concentrate on slowly adding more content when time allows.

    Beside potentially being crazy for even considering this right before residency, I’d love to hear some advice from all of you. Using a Kickstarter campaign is one consideration, but as we don’t yet have enough material to give away to donors this would have to wait. I’d want more specialized and skilled individuals for a website redesign and Kickstarter video anyway, so kind of a CATCH 22. Ultimately, the platform will consist of educational materials (which I know there are a ton of out there), with a few specialized gimmicks (which I’d rather not give away specifics just yet) to make this unique and enjoyable to both medical learners and educators. I’m hoping this will be medical education 2.0, but will never go anywhere if I’m taking on the bulk of the work in my spare time.

    What are other forums for gaining startup funding for medical, non-device advancements? I know there are medical Angel investment groups, but are there smaller organizations/funds that may be solicited? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    Click to expand…

    Do you have a business plan? How will the business make money? Sell ads? Sell some sort of product? Subscriptions?

    How will you market it? Why is it better than everyone else doing similar stuff?

    Solve those two problems and coming up with the money will be easy. Shoot, solve those two problems and I’ll fund it in exchange for equity.

    Site/Forum Owner, Emergency Physician, Blogger, and author of The White Coat Investor: A Doctor's Guide to Personal Finance and Investing
    Helping Those Who Wear The White Coat Get A "Fair Shake" on Wall Street since 2011

    #149377 Reply
    Liked by MPMD
     ChaseD702 
    Participant
    Status: Student
    Posts: 14
    Joined: 03/01/2018

    Indeed, I do have a business plan. Actually, I have a sort of “adaptive” business plan depending on the reception of the first course, and feedback received. I’d rather not put out too many specifics out there, but it involves content creation, recruitment of of other creators/mentors/tutors, and eventually the building of a specialized on-demand services app.

    I’d be happy to share more specifics in a non-public forum, but until I have a more completed I don’t want to give away too many of the details I feel are unique to this concept over what is currently on the market.

    #149411 Reply
     wideopenspaces 
    Participant
    Status: Physician
    Posts: 833
    Joined: 01/12/2016
    Splash Refinancing Bonus

    When I was in med school, we had a guy come and do board prep for us. He was a prior graduate from our institution and the course was called “what you need to know” or something like that. It was a month long, $500 a person and pretty much all 200 students took it each year. He also had a weekly email and study guide. I think he’s done well with it and our board scores were higher than average so it was a win win. I think he may have ultimately left medicine for this business but I’m not sure. The point of this being, see if you can get an “in” with your school, a discounted rate for students and see if you can get things going that way. Good luck!

    #149453 Reply
     ChaseD702 
    Participant
    Status: Student
    Posts: 14
    Joined: 03/01/2018

    I probably should have updated this in November when I released the first course, Medical Micro. Still trying to figure out a lot of the inner workings of the Learning Management System and add more content before thinking of charging for future courses. Or not charging for courses themselves, but for mentoring. Lot’s to consider!

    #180212 Reply

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