When I headed to google yesterday afternoon and started typing, I was a little surprised at how quickly google figured out what I wanted to know.
Yep, of course google knew, and it turns out that’s because lots of other people turn to google in desperation after hearing the same words I’d just heard from the CEO of Cure Forward. I was curious how many startups fail, and from just a glance at the first page of results, the number looks to be between 80-95%.
So, we’re in good company. The bummer thing is, I thought Cure Forward really was a good company before it was forced to make the hard decision to cease operations. I knew startups are a risky business, and since I remember thinking that I really hoped this one would be successful, I suppose I knew that this was a possibility. I really do believe, with time, it could have been profitable, but sadly not in time to meet goals. There is such a gap between patients desperate for trials, doctors who are desperate to help their patients, and trial sponsors who are desperate for participants. The need is there, and I thought Cure Forward could stand in the gap to effectively meet the needs of all the stakeholders.
Now, of course, I’m disappointed that my last paycheck will be coming in a few days, though I know there are those who had more substantial roles with the company who are left searching for a job because they need one. And it is devastating for all of us with an emotional investment in our desire to see this model work. But really, my heart is shattered for all the patients who were in the process of looking for a trial and found hope in the clinical trial navigators of Cure Forward, patients who are now left on their own with a heartfelt “I’m sorry.”
What makes this so hard is that I really believe this crew could have been a powerhouse in getting patients to the right trials. I know that the people at the top have really good hearts– Martin, Alicia, and Frank really wanted to help patients. Sure, they each had jobs to do as they built the company, but their intent was to improve outcomes for cancer patients, and they weren’t willing to compromise that for a single cent. What makes them so unique to me, though, was how they were willing to really engage and empower patients. Our little crew of Precision Medicine Advocates was not only compensated (many assume an advocate is willing to do tons of work for no money because of their emotional attachment, and frankly, take advantage of the situation) but we were actually encouraged to represent the company. Our content was prominently featured on the website, our opinions sought, and our contributions made up the bulk of the company’s social media presence. I went to policy and scientific meetings and even set up a meeting with my local cancer center as a Cure Forward Advocate. I genuinely believed Cure Forward would make a difference for patients, and I felt like my contributions would be able to help make that happen. Of all the projects where I’ve been involved, the PMA Team at Cure Forward is among the few where I felt not only welcome, but sought after. I felt like I brought value to the team. Being part of the PMA team has allowed me to meet a few new advocates and get to know others better. We are not only resources for each other, but we are friends. We are committed to continue to write and tweet and engage, and to figure out creative ways to fund our little band of advocates. I’m sad that Cure Forward will be shutting its doors and closing down the site. Sure, even really successful people fail a lot of times before they succeed, so we’re in good company. It’s just that I already was in a good company, and I’m sad to see it end.
Perhaps it will just have to be the beginning of something else. #AlwaysForward