95% of the medical campaigns have used the Story Builder tool on Impact Guru platform

In Interviews

ImpactGuru, India’s largest crowdfunding platform for medical expenses, personal causes and nonprofits, has received immense success on account of its one-of-a-kind in-built storybuilder tool on its platform.

The concern was however that medical patients or families of patients have no time to sit and make campaign fundraising  stories. They sometimes don’t even have the time to think what to write and end up providing the bare minimum details or just a plea for donations like “Please help us” or “We need money urgently.”

The result – AI Storybuilder Tool by Impactguru

The storybuilder records important details like the medical condition, the required treatment, the amount needed etc. but is also designed to add emotions. Especially for medical fundraisers, it is the emotions that convince the donor, the details are only to prove its authenticity. Without the emotions of a campaigner, the story would fall flat and so the various question formats used, also include open ended questions where the campaigner can add whatever they want. The open-ended questions help add the campaigner’s raw feelings and evoke emotions. This makes the writing process easier as the campaigner doesn’t have to think about the story as a whole but only provide responses to the questions asked. In a way, it breaks down the complex process of storytelling into simpler bits, where the campaigner focuses on one detail at a time and the AI helps build these details into a larger, more comprehensive story. Majority of users spend between 5-8 minutes on the AI tool.

 The results have already validated the success of the tool 

Earlier around 70% fundraisers on ImpactGuru didn’t have a story but within a week of its launch there was a decrease to 30%.

Team IncubateIND recently spoke with Piyush Jain, CEO & Co-Founder, ImpactGuru on the storybuilder tool and the impact of Artificial Intelligence on Crowdfunding as a industry.

Tell us something about your idea and what market size are you looking at?

Crowdfunding is an internet-enabled philanthropic process. The Indian crowdfunding industry has tremendous potential for growth, not only because at this time per capita disposable income is rising, but also a culture of giving is slowly evolving into place. Without intending to, ImpactGuru.com has emerged as a predominantly medical crowdfunding body and is India’s largest platform for medical expenses, personal causes and non-profits.

In India, about 80% of the total population is not covered under any medical insurance scheme according to the National Sample Survey. Out-of-pocket health expenses drove 55 million Indians–more than the population of South Korea, Spain or Kenya–into poverty in 2017, and of these, 38 million (69%) were impoverished by expenditure on medicines alone, according to Public Health Foundation of India. Insurance doesn’t cover majority of the costs in critical cases like cancer, organ transplants or heart surgeries. Most patients are unable to get treatment due to lack of funds or bear financial debt due to a medical emergency; crowdfunding is an emerging option that comes with no payback. However, most patients aren’t aware that such an option exists.

We have faith in the power of the ‘crowd’ that rises to the occasion to respond to the urgent needs of others. com is on a mission to make healthcare accessible to all and save more lives. We aim to raise crowdfunding awareness among hospitals, doctors, medical practitioners and build partnerships with healthcare start-ups from Mumbai, Delhi, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad. This community can thereby empower thousands of patients with the funds they need.

What made you come up with this idea and how has the entrepreneurial journey been so far?

While at Harvard University, I was exposed to crowdfunding and social impact bonds. Intrigued and influenced by the course of study there, I decided to present a paper on crowdfunding and how it can solve developmental problems in India. I felt crowdfunding and fintech could be tweaked for a social cause.

When decisions had to be taken on business ideation, it had to be something that would club my knowledge of finance and technology with my wife Khushboo’s brand and communications skillsets. We were keen on a business model that would let us add value and meaning to the community. Setting up a crowdfunding platform catered to all our interests and agendas.

Hence we co-founded ImpactGuru.com with a mission to help India’s people find crowdfunding solutions for healthcare, social change, personal and creative projects.

The journey so far has been full of learnings. Till we reached a point where we had an operational team, everything from preparation, research and brainstorming had to be initiated and completed by us. At the end of the day, we go back home with a sense of fulfilment of having saved or at least having impacted many lives.

How blockchain will evolve crowdfunding in the future?

There is immense potential for Blockchain in the crowdfunding space in the future. One of the basic things it does is brings in complete transparency in crowdfunding. In the sense, people will be able to track the donation amount right till its utilization. Blockchain will also be used to reduce transaction cost. At the moment, payment gateways take a big bite (3% of each transaction) out of donations. Lastly, Blockchain could be used to facilitate faster disbursement of funds, which will enable people to receive their funds within several minutes. Today, this can take upto several days to get transferred between banks.

What are the latest technology trends that are shaping the future of crowdfunding?

As more and more sectors are adopting technology to scale up, they are getting massive access to digital data. This data is the base of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning innovations. The insights from the past data can be used to create AI rules and automate processes. ML can be used to continuously train the rules, while in AI, new patterns of use-case can be detected.

The biggest use cases of AI and ML in ImpactGuru.com have been the Story Builder bot and internal Fraud Detection mechanisms for Transactions on the platform.

The Story Builder is an intelligent tool that helps campaigners create beautifully formatted stories with all the relevant information with just clicks of a few buttons. 95% of the medical campaigns have used the Story Builder tool.

Our current integrations of AI / ML are still maturing over time and we will benefit by greater efficiencies achieved soon.

What are some key features of ImpactGuru.com and the traction till date?

To keep up with technical innovations, we started leveraging artificial intelligence to create chatbots to interact with customers round the clock. Also, we built an AI-supported storybuilder for medical fundraisers, with a template for all campaigners to develop their own standardized campaign stories. Our goal was to free the campaigner of the added responsibility of creating a story when they are already managing their own/a loved one’s sickness. We are the only crowdfunding platform to have their own storybuilder to help customers write great stories as it’s a major pain point in the industry today.

Next, we are also the first crowdfunding player in India to launch a smartphone app for customers with the Android app already available for download. The Android app presents the user with a quick view of their fundraiser, thus enabling them to keep track of the progress of the campaign, get real-time donation notifications, and post updates.

Due to our strategic partnership and technology integration with GlobalGiving.org, the world’s largest nonprofit crowdfunding platform based in US and UK, we are the only crowdfunding platform in the world that can offer Indian, US, and UK tax benefits to Indian and international donors.

Apollo Hospitals Group, India’s largest hospital chain recently invested in ImpactGuru.com and has created a strategic partnership making us the preferred crowdfunding platform for Apollo patients nationwide.

So far, ImpactGuru.com has helped mobilize more than Rs 130 crores across 15 countries directly or indirectly and impacted 13 lakh lives. During that process, it helped train more than 1,000 non-profits to crowdfund, saved thousands of lives in danger due to medical illnesses, provided critical emergency relief during Chennai floods, and many such causes. The real impact of its work is often missed in these large numbers. But for one specific individual Puja Bhatnagar, ImpactGuru.com helped raise Rs 25 lakhs in just 14 days for a lifesaving liver transplant.

Any specific advice for the new entrants in this space?

Take the plunge. You will either sink or swim. So prepare hard, brainstorm, research, explore, ideate on a plan B, and then take the plunge, and you find that nine times out of ten, you will swim.

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