Serena Oppenheim: On Founding Now Cure Me

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Nowadays, people use the internet to research their health concerns. More than a third of adults in the United States regularly use the internet to self diagnose or seek cures, with websites like WebMD reporting well over 100 million unique visitors per month – off the back of the modern ‘just Google it’ culture.

But how satisfied are we with those recommended cures, do they even work, and is there a way to aggregate the results in any meaningful way?

Until now, it has been impossible to track and share feedback on the tips and treatments that actually work for common ailments or emotional issues; to banish flu symptoms, provide hangover relief, sooth an aching body part or help ease stress.

Fresh from Columbia Business School, Serena Oppenheim, founder of NowCure.Me, decided to build a solution.

“What’s different about NowCure.Me is that with each and every cure the user is able to review and rate it. Because of this function we will ultimately be able to compile a top ten list of cures for common issues based on what the majority of people think,” says Oppenheim.

The site, which went live last month, operates in the same way as successful review websites Tripadvisor and Yelp. Users, which will include health experts, are able to submit cures, but are also encouraged to leave comments and rate each cure – no matter how unconventional they may be.

“Some of the cures are totally insane, but people want to know and understand all of the options out there. Of course the user should not be implementing anything found on the site without consulting their health practitioner first, but it’s a great way for people to research small changes they can make to their day-to-day lives.”

Although some of the tips being recommended are controversial, serious medical issues such as Cancer and HIV are off-limits says Oppenheim, who is keen to avoid any legal implications or user backlash surrounding the lack of trained practitioners involved. Instead, members of the growing NowCure.Me community are encouraged to discuss topics such as sore sinuses, how to quit smoking or hangover cures.

“I’m not a doctor and I’m not pretending to know everything, but I have, for example, suffered from migraines, so I might be able to come up with some suggestions about how to cope with it. And that’s really what the platform is all about,” explains Oppenheim.

“For such a long time doctors have been considered Gods, which is fantastic – they have devoted their lives to helping people and they have studied incredibly hard, but at the same time  there are a number of basic issues we can all relate to and we can offer our own take on them – it’s all about curating knowledge.”

Tapping into growing changes in consumer attitudes, in which more people are taking the time to educate themselves and make informed decisions when it comes to their health and wellbeing.

The NowCure.Me site also features a series of articles and health tips written by a team of different health experts and bloggers – a component Oppenheim feels very strongly about providing.

“More and more people are looking to bloggers for knowledge and the popularity of these bloggers is down to the fact they have taken control of their own health. They’ve got knowledge to share and people are interested in it.”

And when it comes to incorporating more wellness into their lives, Oppenheim explains that it’s not just the consumers who are looking for ways to do so – investors are also standing up and taking notice.

“What’s interesting is that although NowCure.Me is a part of the wellness industry — it’s positioned itself as a bridge between content and tech, so the investors I am talking to are a mixture of people who are not necessarily all in wellness.

“These people see that wellness is a growing trend and they want to tap into it. They are excited about wellness and understand the business potential for the industry. They know there is something big here. Health and wellness is no longer a ‘fluffy’ demographic, which is why NowCure.Me is trying to reach everyone.”

According to Oppenheim, not only do her website’s users come from a wide range of geographical locations, the site has also proven popular with the older generation who are just as interested in finding answers online as millennials are. And this far reaching consumer base is something Oppenheim believes is essential for the success of the business model, which she says is about bringing everyone together and forming a interactive community.

“There are so many features we want to add to NowCure.Me which will help users and experts interact better, but to do that, we are going to need to raise some money. I hope to raise money from both the US and the UK and then continue to build up the team and the product.”

“People are looking online every minute of the day for solutions to common ailments, and there are millions of people who have real cures to share. That’s where NowCure.Me comes in.”

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