Catherine Flatley, a Notre Dame alum from 2013, is founder and CEO of Develop Link, a platform that: (1) allows medical missions and public hospitals to collaborate; (2) helps donors to better match donations with the needs of providers on the ground; (3) and helps doctors refer patients to specialists or to providers for follow-up care. The social enterprise is driven by data from local communities, and is executing a pilot program with over 100 listings of providers (medical missions & public hospitals). Irish Impact recently caught up with Catherine in between trips to Atlanta and Guatemala and asked some questions about the founding of Develop Link and Notre Dame’s role in helping bring her bring it to market. Develop Link is in the midst of a crowdfunding campaign, which can be found at the Indiegogo link here.
Irish Impact: How did you come up with the idea for you social enterprise?
Catherine: When I was a senior at Notre Dame, I was exposed to statistics surrounding the lack of collaboration between medical aid and local healthcare infrastructure. I was blown away by these statistics, particularly the fact that there are over 600+ medical missions in Guatemala each year and that annually nearly $17 billion is spent on global health which is in addition to the budgets of the local healthcare marketplaces. I began calling medical aid groups and asking them if they encountered any issues with collaboration. I was amazed by these organizations’ need for a platform to help them collaborate and their willingness to help make this a reality. In NYC, I teamed up with my friend, Isabel Franco, who grew up in Chile and worked for the UN’s Guatemalan Mission and after a few pivots, set out to make this a reality!
Irish Impact: What are your biggest challenges?
Catherine: Right now, our biggest challenge is raising growth capital and expanding our team so that we can continue to scale quickly!
Irish Impact: Have you had to compromise the social value of your project to succeed in the market?
Catherine: Our customers, ranging from medical aid groups to governments, are all critical players in the development of local healthcare infrastructure. We are committed to supporting these organizations and ensuring that we do so such that the end beneficiaries – patients – receive the maximum benefit.
Irish Impact: How will you measure success and know you have succeeded?
Catherine: We want to extend the reach of the resources already allocated towards global health. For providers (doctors) this means helping them to treat more patients, for example, and by providing them with the data they need to refer patients for follow-up care. For corporations and governments, this means providing them with data to allocate government resources or focus sales on where there are needs.
Irish Impact: What is your favorite story or memory about starting your organization?
Catherine: My favorite memories of starting Develop Link are of hearing the stories of individuals committed to building healthcare programs in Guatemala. It is incredibly inspiring to work with so many leaders who are building clinics in their local communities or sending resources to help a community. I’m also inspired by how many people are dedicated to global health and am so lucky to serve as a liaison to build connections between these talented individuals.
Irish Impact: What role did Notre Dame play in bringing about your social enterprise?
Catherine: Notre Dame has played various roles in Develop Link’s growth. Ranging from the guidance of FISH (Fellow Irish Social Hub – social enterprise incubator) advisors to professors who made connections for customers to the general support of the Alumni network, Notre Dame has been instrumental to helping us grow. In particular, we have been blown away by the support of the ND network in Develop Link’s pilot country of Guatemala. Notre Dame is really unique in that you can go to nearly any city in the world and have a support network of alumni and friends who are ready to support you.