MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. — Watsi is the first nonprofit ever accepted into Y Combinator. Today at the accelerator’s demo day, founder Chase Adam said his startup is going to change the world and make basic medical care accessible to anyone who needs it.
Watsi is a crowdfunding platform to fund medical treatments for people in need. People all over the world are dying of treatable illness because they don’t have access to basic medical care. Projects include helping a Kenyan woman relieve a gastric outlet obstruction or a Guatelaman widower cure a urinary dysfunction. The cost can be as low as a few hundred dollars and backers can donate as little as $5. One hundred percent of donations directly fund these treatments.
Y Combinator learned about Watsi through a post on Hacker News. YC founder Paul Graham said he had entertained the idea of including a nonprofit before, and this was the perfect fit.
“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,” Graham said in a blog post. “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 never been so excited about anything we’ve funded.”
Unlike other companies at the event, Watsi is not fundraising. Instead, they are accepting donations for treatments and tips to support operating costs. Adam said Watsi is pioneering what it means to be transparent, and this model is working because the platform is growing an average of 30 percent week-over-week. Adam said donors are funding medical treatments faster than they can find patients.
Since participating in YC, Watsi has scaled from working with one small clinic in Nepal to working with 13 of the largest medical organizations in the world. It has gone from funding an average of three patients a week to 17.
“Its blows my mind to think if Watsi didn’t exist, this 12-year-old girl wouldn’t live to see her next birthday,” Adam said about the first child to receive treatment through Watsi.