Skip navigation

Josef Korbel School of International Studies

mountains

Newsroom

Global Health Affairs Welcomes Chase Adam, Co-Founder of Watsi

DENVER—Mar. 26, 2014—Chase Adam visited the Josef Korbel School to speak to students about his experience as co-founder of Watsi, a successful global crowdfunding platform for healthcare.

Adam describes Watsi as "Kickstarter for medical treatments." The nonprofit's website enables anyone to donate any amount to directly fund medical care for people in need.

Watsi is widely held as a successful nonprofit and has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, TechCrunch, Wired, NPR and The New York Times. However, Adam explained to audience of 40 students that the path to success wasn't simple and took determination.

The idea for Watsi came to Adam while serving as a Peace Corps Volunteer.  Read the story on the Watsi website.  During the years that followed, Adam says that he obsessed over starting the nonprofit.  On August 23, 2012, Watsi officially launched its website https://watsi.org/.  At first donations trickled in from the families and friends of the founders. Then . . . nothing.  So, Adam decided to take a risk and posted the website on Hacker News, a site widely read in the tech community.  Watsi.org quickly became a popular story on the site and essentially became a viral sensation on social media and across the web.  Soon, all of the patients on watsi.org were fully funded.  Adam then decided to take on Watsi full time and quit his day job.

Despite Watsi's success, one major problem existed.  100% of the donations made to patients go toward their healthcare.  Therefore, the nonprofit itself did not have operating funds.  After months of struggling to find a solution to this problem and failed attempts at fundraising, Adam and his colleagues were contacted by Paul Graham, co-founder of a tech company incubator program called Y Combinator.  Graham invited Watsi to be the first nonprofit to take part in the program.  Through this, Adam and his colleagues had the ability to focus solely on fundraising and set a goal of raising the needed money in 3 months.  During this 3 months Adam learned to communicate Watsi's vision to potential donors.  Eventually, the nonprofit began to raise the much-needed operating funds.