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The Value of a Championship


As we start our third challenge for the AHA we are looking back on our previous champions and thinking about the Championship Effect.  First, the Champions. The winners of our last three challenges were Dr. Michelle Longmire and her company DermTap, Jen Ohlson of IHT Spirit, and most recently Sarah Doherty of Telehealth Robotics. Each won 15 to 20 thousand dollars and raised another ten to fifteen thousand in their crowdfunding campaigns. More importantly they all got a few new partners that helped them get out to market incredibly fast.

For example, IHT Spirit didn’t just get a deal with a chain of twenty-three rehab centers,  but also is now the hottest new thing to reduce childhood obesity and is in over 700 schools in American. 9 months to the day after winning the 2014 AHA Open Innovation Challenge they signed a deal with Adidas on stage at CES too. This kind of success after winning is no accident. During the contests millions of people in the Healthcare industry hear about the ideas and hundreds of millions read articles in the New York Times,  Washington Post, and even on network news.

Why does this happen?  Why does the world pay so much attention to a $25,000 Challenge? We think of this as the “Championship Effect” whereby people pay more attention to Championships than regular games. I know this is obvious, but to understand the magnitude of the effect, consider the first ever College Football Championship game this year which had over 35 million views, setting the record for the most watched show on cable EVER. It was also about 7 times as many viewers as you average “Bowl Game.”  This huge differential is all about people’s desire to know they are seeing the Best as validated by a reliable and fair system that no algorithm can satisfy.  For over 30 years there has been a debate in college football over whether there should even be a Championship with winners and loses vs a computer / expert based system that selects the best team.  While very learned people argued, billions of dollars in ad revenue was lost and the cost of tuition went up by four times the inflation rate.

The Championship Effect is in full effect, not just for the NCAA, but also for innovation. Contests and challenges help solve big problems. One of the biggest really problems for innovators in medicine is getting connected with the people and partners that need the new ideas, products, and services so badly.  You would think it would be easy,  but the Healthcare industry is very slow to accept new ideas. Gathering a crowd of supporters that gets behind a new idea is a great way to overcome reluctant stakeholders,  which is why crowdfunding works so well in healthcare. Crowdfunding Challenges which result in a champion, are even better thanks to the Championship Effect. The winners not only get millions of views, funding and partners, but the all important glow of being The Best.

As the latest AHA challenge begins we encourage everyone who wants to be our next Champion to apply. Also stay tuned for the playoffs on or register to attend the fimals at the AHA Health Sciences Forum in NYC on April 22nd. See you in the Winners Circle.

As always, thank you for reaching and being part of the crowd that cares about fixing healthcare faster.

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