Three years ago I was introduced to a small group of Peace Corps volunteers who were working on a brilliant idea. I was immediately hooked. Their idea was simple: use crowdfunding to connect donors with patients in need of low cost, high impact healthcare. Crowdfunding was all the rage, yet no one had taken the leap to match it up with healthcare like Chase Adam, the passionate leader of what would become Watsi.
I came on board as the technical co-founder, the one responsible for building out the actual platform. Back then Watsi was just a passion project: Google Hangouts once a week, emails and phone calls about our dream for what Watsi would become, etc. We decided we’d be successful if we could fund ten treatments. After our friends and family beta, where we raised about half of what was needed for the three patients on the site, Chase posted to Hacker News and we blew up. The reception was amazing, and the rush was something I had never felt before. It wasn’t the validation of what I had built, but that I was part of something that connected people in a way that could only be good.
The only possible outcome of Watsi is Good.
A few months later we caught Paul Graham’s attention and everything changed. We had wanted to focus on Watsi full time but finding the funds for overhead proved difficult. pg/Y Combinator gave us the funding, advice, and time to focus that we needed to see where Watsi could go.
And so began the roller coaster ride. Watsi is the hardest thing I’ve done so far. I had set out to find a work-life balance when I left my full time job back in the summer of 2009, but once Watsi took off there was no looking back. There’s not much room for the life part of the work-life balance as the founder of a startup, which wasn’t obvious to me at first.
Over time I realized that the setting of intention was paramount to how I wanted to live. While I loved all the things about Watsi, deep down I knew that I had not intended to do it, and that that was contradictory to how I wanted to live. I rode the roller coaster until May 6, 2014, when I decided it was time for me to part ways.
I am supremely lucky to have been a part of Watsi. Chase, Grace and the rest of the team are friends, first and foremost, and ultimately the right people to be leading the charge for a new model of healthcare. They are the most driven and altruistic people I’ve ever met, and they pushed me to develop parts of myself I didn’t know I could. I’m proud of the work we did and excited for what they will continue to deliver to the world.
It’s time for me to set my intentions again. Fortunately I had some travel planned, which will give me time and perspective on what I might want to do next. I’m excited for what lies ahead. I’ll always be supportive of Watsi, and I encourage you to do the same.- Jesse