A new app designed for couples trying to get pregnant, called Glow, may be one of the first attempts to “crowdfund babies,” as its cofounder puts it.
“Once we have a few hundred thousand data points, we’ll know a lot more about infertility,” Max Levchin, Glow’s co-founder, told The New York Times.
The app itself isn’t too different from other ovulation predictors, but here’s the twist: Glow aims to collect all sorts of data from its users, and donate it to researchers.
“Like if we find that men drinking 10 Mountain Dews a day is the surefire solution,” he joked to Slate. “It would be awesome if we could be partly responsible for finding a cure for infertility.”
The app is free, but for $50 a month, the start-up will ensure that if you’re not pregnant at the end of 10 months, you’ll get the money back — plus more from users who did get pregnant. The founders know that fertility treatments are prohibitively expensive and woefully underfunded by insurers; Levchin contributed $1 million to get the insurance part of the program up and running.
It remains to be seen whether users will be willing to share the amount of data Glow is hoping to get: The founders are hoping users will share everything from whether they had sex (and in what position) to the physical activity of the male partner. Another challenge may be getting couples who don’t have trouble conceiving to use the app, to get a balanced data set. While the potential benefit to health care in general may be great, the individual benefit to someone who gets pregnant easily is minimal.
“Within 18 months or less, we should have a good idea of whether we’re on the right track or not,” Glow CEO Mike Huang told Time. “We want to be the first insurance company that everybody loves.”