While enrolled in a course focused on entrepreneurship, a team of Stanford students set out to create a platform for developing-world healthcare providers that would facilitate improved information sharing about high-impact, affordable solutions in the maternal and infant health space. The result was Impact Review, an online knowledge-base with a user rating system to aid the target audience in making more informed purchasing decisions based on user-generated commentary.
When the team members graduated from Stanford, they had to determine what was next for Impact Review. They considered whether Impact Review could become a sustainable (although socially-minded) business. The primary model they explored was to generate revenue by posting advertisements on the site. However, in order to appeal to advertisers, the site would need to generate a high volume of regular traffic. Attracting and retaining such a large number of visitors during the company’s early stages did not seem feasible. They also contemplated the idea of establishing Impact Review as nonprofit and using donations to underwrite the organization’s ongoing operations. However, because all four teammates had accepted full-time jobs upon graduation, they worried about their ability to raise adequate contributions over the long term. Another option was to find one or more established entities that could benefit from Impact Review’s technology and get them interested in acquiring the technology. Not only would this ensure that the mission of Impact Review was carried forward, but it could help the platform take a giant leap forward if it was acquired by a company with a large established base of users in the target market. This mini-case study describes how the Impact Review team explored its options and the solution it developed to ensure the sustainability of the technology.
This story is part of the Global Health Innovation Insight Series developed at Stanford University to shed light on the challenges that global health innovators face as they seek to develop and implement new products and services that address needs in resource-constrained settings.
Acknowledgements: We would like to thank Nupur Srivastava for her participation. This research was supported by the National Institutes of Health grant 1 RC4 TW008781-01.