When Ashley Yesayan set out to launch OneVillage after her own diagnosis with cancer, she found a common trait among potential users she surveyed: Of about 500 patients and caregivers, 92% said they weren’t able to find community support through their cancer journey.
“When we asked them what happened when they didn’t [get support], they said: I was upset, I was stressed, I was lonely,” she told Technical.ly. “Obviously not a great emotional state to be in, trying to heal from a disease.”
Inspired by her own experience, Yesayan decided to found her own tech company to solve this issue. At the time, she was working on the growth investment team at DC firm Revolution, which she said gave her unique access to people in the VC and greater startup community who could provide guidance. Following a 2020 launch, OneVillage is now a free set of tools online for cancer patients, friends and loved ones to connect, communicate updates and find resources.
The goal is to help patients through the process and prevent them from feeling isolated in their journey.
“There’s a number of big problems associated with cancer, but one of them is that there’s no roadmap of what to expect,” said Yesayan, who is also the company’s CEO. “If you don’t know what to expect, you can’t be an advocate for your care.”
The same set of needs is present if you've got a heart condition or diabetes or you recently were diagnosed with Parkinson's — you still need that community.
After signing up online, users will be asked to complete a questionnaire on their condition, when they were diagnosed, if they’re a parent or grandparent and more. OneVillage’s recommendation engine will then monitor how a user interacts with the site and, based on their survey answers, takes them through a “checklist journey” that can help patients and family members know what to expect in their care. It also connect patients with others who might have a similar diagnosis — something that’s difficult for hospitals and treatments centers to do because of privacy laws.
The site, which is largely custom but uses Sanity and Jenga with additional integrations such as Shopify, also has an integrated wishlist and fundraising feature. The wishlist works like a bridal or baby shower registry, allowing patients to request items like medical recliners, Ensure Boost drinks or Airbnb credits for clinical trial stays. The fundraising tool lets them crowdfund for cancer treatments or other related expenses, and there’s even an option to buy Rover credits to help with dog walking.
With these features, Yesayan said, she wants to make it easier for patients to get the help they need: “Providing people with a safe space to realize that they’re not alone is, to me, one of the more impactful things we’re doing.”
OneVillage raised capital in January of last year and participated in Techstars’ NYC accelerator before launching in October, and Yesayan said it’ll start building out the mobile app toward the end of the year. (The founder declined to share specific financial figures or how many users the platform has.) In the meantime, she’s hoping to add a CTO to the team in the near future, as well as partner with a few nonprofits doing similar work.
Eventually, Yesayan also hopes she can extend OneVillage into a number of health conditions where patients could use support.
“The same set of needs is present if you’ve got a heart condition or diabetes or you recently were diagnosed with Parkinson’s — you still need that community, you still need the ability to meet people like yourself and discover resources,” she said. “So, we start with cancer, and then we’ll tackle everything else.”
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