In 2009, Mike and his wife learned that their unborn son was missing an organ and their two-year-old daughter had a rare chromosome disorder. Their experience led Mike to launch The Mighty, a platform to help people connect around the globe around countless health conditions. This the story of how The Mighty grew to become the world’s largest health community, with over 3 million users and 200k healthcare pros in over 70 languages.
Mike Porath is the founder and CEO of The Mighty, the world’s largest health community. He was an award-winning journalist and executive at ABC News, NBC News, The New York Times and AOL. Mike is a prominent speaker on patient empowerment and serves on the board of the National Organization of Rare Disorders and Dup15q Alliance, the non-profit that helps people with his daughter’s disease.
The News that Changed it All
In 2009, Mike and his wife learned that their two-year-old daughter had a rare chromosome disorder. He took to the internet, to seek out as much information about the disorder that he could find. He couldn’t find much, nothing that made the feeling of overwhelm go away. Until he stumbled upon a PDF written ten years previous, with six stories from families who had been through similar diagnoses.
Mike found, of course, that there is no network created around a PDF file but that didn’t mean community cannot develop. He believed that healthcare should require stronger networking opportunities. It should be like a dinner table, a chance to talk to people from all corners – patients, mothers, doctors, caregivers, researchers, etc. – and this dinner table should be available for people 24/7.
This is the idea The Mighty was born out of. It’s a network of people sitting around a virtual table talking about their health, sharing information, and discussing other life issues.
They built the network without any marketing. The only way this could work was word of mouth, “Try stuff! Learn from key moments in the community.”
We have built a safe and open place for people to come together and share experiences.
Solutions can be simple and the future of healthcare is in one’s pocket. There are simple solutions that the world of medicine just haven’t done. There is simplicity in a lot of solutions and crowdsourcing it is important.
Question: What is to be said about those people who are doing harmful home remedies or buying in to pseudo-science purely because they believe they won’t find the answer in healthcare?
They grew the community by sharing user generated content. One member wrote a heart-wrenching story “My daughter was alive for 23 minutes and every second was beautiful”. This story was shared far and wide, and was read by over 100,000 people. This story is a rephrasing of something terribly depressing and knowing that it happened changes the way that people interact with one another. The community mindset on The Mighty can change a complete tragedy into a powerful story that moves people forward.
A New Call to Action
The Mighty team turned these stories into a Community Call to Action; Instead of “Submit your own story, become a Mighty contributor,” they asked their members to “write a thank you letter to someone who helped you on your health journey,” and it got about 5 times the amount of impact.
With this change, The Mighty went from 15 stories a day to 100+ because this single article went viral. The power of storytelling creates the reward. Media and advertising was produced organically just from people interacting on the platform and inviting others to join.
We have built the largest database of how people experience health conditions.
Mike and his team conducted surveys to better understand what their members wanted. The number one thing people mentioned was they they want to connect with people from the community in person. While the online community served its purpose, people wanted to build meaningful connections in real life to meet people dealing with the same things. Since they implemented their in person events program, they have hosted close to 1000 events. The platform that hosts the event program is Bevy, and it is powered almost entirely by volunteers.