Interview with Molly Lindquist, Founder of Consano.org
Molly Lindquist is the founder of Consano.org, a medical research crowdfunding platform. In the midst of gearing up for the launch of the site, Molly was kind enough to answer some of our questions about Consano and discuss her personal journey as a breast cancer survivor and social innovator.
Impact Entrepreneurs: How would you describe Consano in a single tweet?
Molly Lindquist: Nonprofit crowdfunding platform that enables anyone to donate to a specific medical research project that means something to them.
What’s unique about the Consano model?
The Consano platform creates an easy way for people to direct donations of any amount to specific medical research that is important to them. Each project specifies exactly how the funds raised via Consano will be used, providing transparency to the value of each donation. Consano is one of the only crowdfunding sites that is nonprofit, and we do not take any percentage of a project donation to fund our overhead. We fund this separately via corporate sponsorships, foundation grants and individual donations. Donors receive ongoing updates from the researcher, providing a unique connection. Transparent, Directed, Connected.
What inspired you to create Consano?
I was diagnosed with breast cancer at the age of 32. After enduring a bilateral mastectomy and chemotherapy, I wanted to fund medical research that might impact my 4 and 6-year-old daughters, who are now more likely to face breast cancer as a result of my diagnosis. When I couldn’t find an easy way to donate to specific projects that might help my girls, and given the popularity of crowdfunding in other areas, I decided to create a new platform that would give everyone the ability to donate to a specific project in a health category that matters to them. I felt very powerless during my cancer diagnosis and treatment, and I found it so empowering to feel involved in advancing medical progress by connecting with research that was important to me. It felt like I took my power back, and I hope Consano helps other people feel that way, too.
How will you select the research projects featured on the site?
We work closely with the development and research administration offices at academic and research institutions to source research projects that fall into one of the following areas:
1. Well-funded, well-published researchers with a compelling new project.
2. Intra-university seed money competition winners (peer reviewed projects). These researchers might be newer on the scene, just beginning their careers and have come up with a novel, ingenious idea to explore.
3. Ongoing or previously funded projects with additional financial needs (bridge funding).
4. Unfunded but promising projects that fell just below the National Institute of Health (NIH) pay-line (peer reviewed). The NIH has very rigorous standards, but the number of projects that are funded continues to shrink. As of 2011, only 19% of projects submitted to the NIH were funded (down from 33% in 1997). We believe there are a lot of good ideas on the cusp of receiving funding that deserve a chance.
What research project do you most look forward to funding once the site goes live, and why?
Personally, I’m most excited about the breast cancer projects given my own medical history. Given the feedback we’ve received from other patients and people touched by illness, I’m also excited to provide a platform where underfunded health categories or areas with less public visibility will have the opportunity to secure additional research funding.
What’s next for Consano?
Our launch! We are really excited to share www.consano.org with the world, and we’re in the home stretch of our website development process.
What single thing can someone reading this do to support Consano?
Spread the word! Crowdfunding is impossible to accomplish without a crowd, so letting people know about this new way of donating will be key to the success of our mission to advance medical progress. While we are launching with a handful of projects in several health categories, we also want to know what other health issues people would like to see on the site in the future.
Is there a question we didn’t ask that you’d like to answer?
It has been so rewarding for me to leverage my previous work experience in finance along with my experience as a patient, and channel that into creating this new platform to advance medical progress. I never would have guessed that my cancer diagnosis would lead me to my professional passion, but I’m so grateful that it did. It’s all about making lemonade out of a couple of bad lemons!