What is your connection to the cancer community?
Our connection to the cancer community links through four people who have encouraged us to embrace a vision for our company – Restwise – that we would have never imagined:
o Chad Ward, a two-time cancer survivor and passionate triathlete. Chad, through his coach at the Boise Idaho YMCA, was the first person to suggest that Restwise might work for cancer survivors just as well as it works for elite athletes. That question is the genesis of this project.
o Mary Biddle, Director of Disease Prevention & Management at the Treasure Valley YMCA in Boise. Her inspiring stories of cancer survivors fighting to become strong and fit – some for the first time in their lives – and relentless optimism about the potential for Restwise to help her clients convinced us to raise the money to fund the research effort that has led us to this point.
o Dr. Anna Schwartz, one of the world’s leading experts in the field of exercise for cancer survivors. Dr. Schwartz, a former national-class athlete herself, was the first medical professional who immediately saw the link between fatigue awareness for athletes and fatigue management for cancer survivors. By doing so, she gave us the confidence and credibility to commit precious company resources to this project.
o Peter Wachtell, a successful investor, passionate start-up advocate and relentless proponent for the positive potential for disruptive, innovative technology to improve healthcare outcomes. Peter was the investor who first saw the scope of the work we could do and enthusiastically underwrote the research we completed with LIVESTRONG and the YMCA.
How did you come up with your project idea?
Chad Ward came to us with a provocative question: Did we think that Restwise would work as effectively for cancer survivors as it does for elite athletes? After a fair amount of amateur research and asking a lot of questions, we decided that it was likely to do so. A year-long research project among participants of the LIVESTRONG at the YMCA program produced exciting results and after consultation with our investors, we decided to develop an initial version of Restwise that is geared toward cancer survivors. We’ve even set up an IndieGoGo funding page so that we can provide scholarships to survivors so they can use our services for free.
What made you decide to participate in this particular competition?
Although our exciting and encouraging research was based on a version of Restwise that is optimized for athletes, feedback from study participants convinced us that a version optimized for cancer survivors would be even better. We want to get direct feedback from a large group of survivors to inform further customization of the user interface and content. We hope our participation in The Big C Competition will help us quickly get this user base and ultimately some of the required funding to build and promote the new version. But more to the point, a LIVESTRONG employee told us that our project is PERFECT for the competition! From the potential product development capital to the PR to the possibility of generating more traffic for our crowdfunding campaign…. how could we say no??
How important are competitions like this to furthering innovation?
History provides the answer. From the prize to determine longitude – which made open-ocean navigation safe and spurred time-piece innovations that would otherwise likely have taken centuries to develop – to the Space-X prize – which will likely lead to private satellite and space launches, saving the taxpayer hundreds of millions of dollars – prize-driven innovation is an important part of the innovation eco-system. Will they replace conventional pure research-catalyzed innovation, or the hot-house atmosphere of Silicon Valley’s promised wealth? Of course not. But are they a critical component of the culture of innovation that has made America a creative, dynamic, bold economy? Without a doubt. We’ve even set up an IndieGoGo funding page so that we can provide Restwise scholarships to cancer survivors
What would winning The Big C mean to you?
Winning The Big C would mean five things to us:
First, it would put a stamp of credibility on our efforts that would help cancer survivors embrace a proven but unfamiliar technology.
Second, it would give us a PR lift just as we are beginning a national roll-out of Restwise through the LIVESTRONG at the YMCA participating facilities and as we are raising Restwise scholarship funds through a crowdfunding campaign.
Third, it would provide an important slice of the funds necessary to further customize Restwise for the cancer survivor market and to launch an awareness/PR campaign around that customization.
Fourth, it would provide access to people with expertise to help us guide our evolution into a health care company. We are very experienced technology entrepreneurs, but we have little specific health care industry experience.
And fifth, it would be the most meaningful single event in the history of our small company – the moment we stopped just being a company that helped athletes win competitive events and became a company that helped cancer survivors return to a vibrant, strong, fit life.
In other words, winning The Big C would be a transformative event in our company’s life.