Updated: Dec 4, 2020
Six years ago, our father was seriously ill with type-2 diabetes and was about to have his foot amputated. Faced with the real prospect of losing him, my brother and I decided to give up our jobs to see if we could help reverse his condition and help him to live a long life. At the time, he was taking an awful lot of medication and so we wanted to see if changing his diet and lifestyle could help him live a normal life again.
We managed to raise £25k on Kickstarter in return for agreeing to film our journey and then we sent that three minute film to every media outlet we could think of - leading to appearances all over the media. Our mission inspired so many people, with thousands joining our Facebook page to see updates and this led to the BBC commissioning our documentary, “Fixing Dad”.
About two million people watched it and what started as our personal journey evolved into a bit of a movement with people across the UK reaching out to see if we could help them. At the same time, some businesses could see how powerfully we were resonating with people and we started to see some pretty major brands approaching us to see if we could work together.
From family mission to viable business
Pivoting a personal fight to save our dad’s life into a viable business was not an easy road. The challenge we posed ourselves was whether we could take the component of that original documentary and the expertise that inspired so many people and make it something viable. We wanted enterprises, health companies and policymakers to change how they engage with customers and patients, and to empower them in their own health journeys in multiple forms including content, events, technology and devices, and other products and services. .
We have found a way to do this by working with a wide range of companies, charities and policymakers in a way that enables people to engage with their health for free. And although we are still relatively small, we have been profitable since we launched as a business in 2018. We work with organisations including AstraZeneca, Roche, Nestlé Health Science, Ascensia, Novartis, Prudential and London Marathon Events to help them connect with consumers in a meaningful way and help them achieve a range of goals across their businesses. Fixing Dad began life as a content creator but has since evolved again into a multifaceted health engagement company.
The COVID Challenge
COVID and the various lockdown measures have presented a unique challenge and opportunity. Whilst challenging on a number of levels, it has elevated health to a more central role for all people and organisations and forced us to increase the pace of our evolution.
Even before the pandemic, over 75% of all deaths worldwide were as a result of preventable disease. As we learn more about the virus it is clear that underlying health conditions like obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular diseases and cancer increase the risks of fatality and so our ability to inspire people to engage with their health with diet and lifestyle become more relevant and compelling to utilise.
Since then, we have also developed remote filming techniques, virtual events and established new tech services to help people to engage with their health remotely so they can overcome isolation, tackling some mental health issues, and we have already implemented these in partnership with many of our clients.
Connecting with others; even in lockdown
One of the initiatives we are currently working on with our client, Roche, involves creating content to help people to manage their health remotely during the pandemic and also providing remote virtual events, or peer-to-peer forums, that enable people to overcome isolation, get support and to support others.
We devised this together and are finding it is a really good way of supporting the NHS, which is under immense pressure, and to not only help inspire people to engage with their health but also provide a mechanism for them to engage with their health and others for free using content, technology and interaction with others. What we are seeing is that those who engage feel more empowered and often share with others who then engage too and so on, effectively turning inspiration into engagement and then into support for many others.
To be able to deliver this for an organisation or brand can be powerful and to be able to integrate it into their activities, marketing and existing frameworks makes it as flexible and versatile as it needs to be. Indeed, this model is already something that we are now in discussions with replicating on behalf of and in partnership with governments, hospitals and sponsors in a number of countries.
Moving forward, we are planning to launch a number of initiatives across the world as a way to inspire even more people to engage with their health and provide support via our tech services and events for free. And it is our plan to offer brands the opportunity to partner with us to reach and connect with people as part of their health journeys and help make a big difference to millions of lives. What is key for brands and health organisations is to move away from communications that focus on outcomes and end-results, and to embrace the need to help people to engage with their health via authentic journeys that they resonate with, and relate to, them more.
Since we launched the Fixing Us virtual forums in the Summer, we are now in the process of expanding the remit of those forums beyond diabetes and to a wide range of arenas including obesity, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, respiratory illnesses, kidney disease, a range of mental health issues and even mothers of tube-fed children. We have also created a data and CRM infrastructure that will enable us to scale up significantly and find new ways to help people in different regions and regulatory landscapes whilst keeping their data safe and secure.
Being able to help people across these conditions brings people together and makes a real difference to their lives, and so I think that is why some organisations and brands are drawn to be able to play a role in helping this happen. We’ve gone from “fixing dad” to helping brands and partners to “fix us” and hopefully make a difference to millions of people and their loved ones.
Anthony is the CEO and co-founder, FixingDad.com