Ben Munoz is a student, social entrepreneur, and patient advocate. In 2006, Ben Munoz suffered a life-threatening brain hemorrhage. He created an online support community so that he could connect with other patients. The support he received, and later, gave within that community led to the founding of Ben’s Friends, a network of patient communities dedicated to providing support for patients of rare diseases like himself.
Ben has been involved in ecommerce, software development, and internet entrepreneurship since 1997. Ben has a BA in Economics from Stanford University, an MBA in Marketing from Northwestern University, and is current pursuing a medical degree.
3 Trends that excite you?
1. Health 2.0: the future of healthcare will look very different as patients (and providers) realize how the web can improve the quality of care and life. We want to be on the forefront of that.
2. Biomedical technology: we have several communities of disabled patients and are interested in learning about biomedical advances
3. Genomics: our patient communities provide a population of rare disease patients willing to work for a cure.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Passion: if you’re not fully committed, you’ll never last through the inevitable dips
Persistence: overnight success always takes years, if you’re passionate about something, persistence is more about focusing on just getting the
little things done.
Naivety: it’s best not to think about how hard something is going to be, otherwise you may never start.
What is one mistake that you’ve made that our readers can learn from?
I have so much passion for what I’m doing that I sometimes take on too much. I wish I would have done a better job balancing work and life.
What is one idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Develop a niche online community, then expand to other niches. Keep your costs low, and genuinely care about your members.
What is the ultimate goal of BensFriends.org?
The ultimate goal of BensFriends.org is to provide an individual support community for EACH of the 1000+ rare diseases known to medicine.
Why did you start BensFriends.org?
I originally started the first patient community because I desperately needed to connect with someone who knew what I was going through (recovering from stroke). After I got healthy, I realized patients of other rare diseases deserved the same support. So some friends and I started creating more patient communities.