When New Trump ‘Policies’ Denigrate Your Startup’s Purpose
ProofPilot is an online platform to design, launch and participate in research studies that determine what works to improve human health and wellness. These techniques the randomized controlled trial, longitudinal outcome study, and programmatic evaluation are essential to identify “evidence-based” practices, programs, treatments campaigns. “Evidence-based” means that these initiatives have reasonable and verifiable proof they have the desired impact.
Our entire healthcare and social welfare system is based on evidence. No one wants to pay for programs that don’t work. In fact, over the past ten years, 42 states passed more than 100 laws prioritizing public funding go towards evidence-based initiatives. With health innovation continuing at a breathtaking pace, and the costs of conducting trials and studies to prove their efficacy well into the six figures, ProofPilot’s future looked promising, if not as sexy as a new cryptocurrency.
Then, late Friday, December 15th, the Washington Post reported a story detailing the Trump Administration’s ‘ban’ on seven terms in the upcoming budget proposals. One of those terms, “evidence-base” is the key reason for ProofPilot to exist.
Suddenly the dull world of RCTs and policy measures became a trending topic and front page news. Instead of playing into political rhetoric, we were prepared for it
Most startups form because they see some unmet problem in a sector. For ProofPilot, we saw the cynicism in organizations who couldn’t afford to run trials on their homegrown health and welfare innovations. Instead they were forced to implement “evidence-based” practices developed elsewhere in very different circumstances. Results were poor. Social, cultural, environmental and behavioral components have an outsized impact on our health. Imagine a food and nutrition program created and tested in the Bronx, implemented in rural Maine. No wonder “evidence-based” is a controversial term.
Instead of participating in the rhetoric, we highlighted our key talking points in the context of the administration and press reaction. While “banning” some of the words in that CDC list is reprehensible, we understand the back-story that makes “evidence-based” a controversial term. It inspired what ProofPilot is. We stayed with our message. We hardly made any changes to our website.
Randomized controlled trials and human subjects research aren’t concepts that are easy to generate press around outside of academic journals and some pharma trade publications. Our keywords have relatively low search volume.
Suddenly, journalists are taking our calls, and our organic search results are up significantly. Blog posts that often struggled to get a handful of likes got hundreds of shares.
All this would be cynical, except for the fact, ProofPilot, like many tech startups, is heavily mission driven. We want to change the world and create a substantial business at the same time. We’ve worked hard to create a product that allows our customers to do so. We feel that democratizing these wonky research techniques to support hundreds, even thousands of experiments can help us identify solutions to some of our societies most significant health issues.
With the political whims as they are, ProofPilot is not the first, nor unlikely the last startup that will find it’s mission degraded by poorly thought out knee-jerk reactions from this administration.
Many disruptive technologies and business models have the potential to address issues that existing infrastructure and policies can not. I encourage other startups who find themselves in a similar situation as ProofPilot in the future to stick to their mission, and use these situations to their advantage, and actually solve real issues at the same time.
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