Voting with Their Dollars
Q: Is crowdsourcing for funding medical device development a viable alternative to the traditional venture capital model?
At KEM STUDIO, we’ve successfully funded an industrial design project, called “Skate Bench No. 1,” through Kickstarter in 2011. This skateboard-inspired bench was noticed by professional skateboarders Mike V (Vallely) and Tony Hawk, who used it to raise funds and awareness for skateboarding through the Tony Hawk Foundation. We’ve also recently crowdfunded a playground revitalization project through Neighbor.ly.
Since then, we’ve helped educate the community and share KEM STUDIO’s experiences with crowdfunding through presentations at the Industrial Designers Society of America (IDSA) and the International Housewares Association (IHA).
Although we haven’t yet used crowdfunding for a medical device product, we have developed products in this space, such as the Cool Stretch night splint developed for BrownMed for the treatment of plantar fasciitis. I think that the crowdsourcing model would work exceptionally well for this type of product because consumers are always looking for a better way to take care of their medical issues. Products such as the night splint consider both the user and the context of use, which makes the design more approachable and useable. Given the opportunity, I think consumers would vote with their dollars through crowdfunding for better-designed medical devices that lead to better living.