Parenting is already an extremely hard job, let alone the myriad issues tired parents find in trying to track down the best local babysitter and daycare services, schools, and more. Meanwhile, the brain-melting technology that we see employed every day focuses mainly on photo sharing, friend finding, and money managing, but parents are often left holding the short end of the stick. This is according to Dr. Carol Peebles, a co-founder of WeSprout, a graduate of the first batch of startups from healthtech-focused accelerator, Rock Health.
Dr. Peebles, a neuroscientist in pediatrics at UCSF, spends much of her residency coaching parents through the different phases of their children’s development and has found that, while doctors are always eager to help, it’s parents themselves that are often the best coaches for other parents. So, in founding WeSprout, Dr. Peebles wanted to ensure that parents have their child’s medical history whenever they need it, can use that information to find the answers they need, both medical and non-medical — and the current services aren’t solving the issues surrounding this need.
The co-founder says that parenting sites today are, for the most part, noisy, cluttered, and hard to use. Combining her medical expertise with the product experience of her co-founder (and fiancee) M. Jackson Wilkinson (formerly the head of UX at Posterous) as well as Keith Muth, who worked with Jackson at Viget Labs, WeSprout has been incubating and iterating at Rock Health, and is emerging into the public sphere this week.
WeSprout’s goal, beyond giving parents the tools to make better choices for their children, is to find the sweet spot between personal health records and community; in other words, a service that provides a reason to keep your children’s health records up to date, and a community that becomes a multi-purpose tool by leveraging those records.
WeSprout wants to make it easy for parents to track their children’s health by way of easy recording of health information, be it medical issues, immunization records, developmental milestones, height, weight, and so on.
While those familiar with the space may see some similarities with venture-backed (and TechCrunch Disrupt alumni) like MotherKnows, or another Disrupt alumni like Avado, or AboutOne, Wilkinson tell us that these sites can all be complementary, catering to different parts of the space.
And even so, he says, relevance in parenting communities is sorely lacking, and there’s no real reason to keep a stand-alone health record up to date, so that bridge between the two — community and health records — is the secret sauce. WeSprout wants to be a community that takes privacy seriously, while helping parents actually find information that they’ll find useful. No more aimless sifting through the endless content sources on the interwebs for relevant parenting data.
It’s not about experts, Wilkinson says, it’s about facilitating parent-to-parent communication, providing advice from the people who are going through the same thing as you. Thus, for WeSprout, it’s about bridging the gap not only between community and health records, but between people and data. When I asked the co-founder about the so-called “health graph,” he said that it’s going to be a big part of where the startup goes next, and the WeSprout team wants to be involved in that data exchange — in pediatrics — going forward.
The most relevant Q&A networks provide multiple perspectives from peers and people who are going through the same experiences as you, thus lending the network a P2P credibility and relevancy, which makes them sustainable. WeSprout aims to be both crowdsourced and datasourced in an effort to make its parent-to-parent network more credible and relevant, with parents being a big part of it, and the information shared about their children being the other.
Most EMR platforms focus on adults and parents, who clearly have different needs than their children, so WeSprout is focusing not only on the pediatric context, but also on making record-keeping and data entry as simple as possible. Having a strong UX background, the team is trying to reduce the clutter in what is traditionally a friction-saturated activity.
And best of all? It’s free. Which means that, in terms of monetizing, WeSprout will launch a premium offering in several weeks that will enable its users to go beyond tracking and simply community, and extend into sharing records, with loved ones, doctors, create groups, and even take advantage of some scrapbooking. (This is where we may see WeSprout begin to move into AboutOne’s territory.)
For those TechCrunch readers looking to get early access to WeSprout, head over to the landing page here, where you can get access to the invite-only launch. Just sign in. Once inside the product, readers can invite as many people as they’d like. The team will open all doors by the end of the week.