Even though my cofounder Max and I did not feel ready, our gBETA Accelerator director Linda Janes and entrepreneur-in-residence Mark Lambert pushed us to get a “Minimum Viable Product” of our mobile app published. So we (well, Max really) pulled out the stops and crafted a stoplight-style app that communicates via BlueTooth with the rock-solid Aranet4 sensor, and calculates your risk of infection by COVID-19 based on peer-reviewed science from University of Colorado Boulder. Green means go, red means no. Good, solid work.
And Apple said “Nope.”
Why? Well, bottom line, because we mentioned COVID-19. They told us any app that has anything to do with COVID-19 had to come “from recognized entities such as government organizations, health-focused NGOs, companies deeply credentialed in health issues, and medical or educational institutions.” They later clarified that when they say companies deeply credentialed in health issues they mean insurance companies. (As a prostate cancer survivor, I’ve got a story about that, but must Stay On Target.)
Now, that seems reasonable on the face of it. You would not want a bunch Ivermectin junkies pushing COVID treatment apps, right? But when you consider that we’re in a pandemic, and large organizations typically move on the timescale of years, is it reasonable? Shouldn’t there be some sort of exception process? There probably is one, based on who you know in Cupertino, but as Credence Clearwater famously said, “I ain’t no fortunate son.”
Well, it is certainly educational. I had not really considered the gatekeeper role that organizations like Apple play. Also, from a startup perspective, Linda and Mark were 100% right to push us, because we simply had NO IDEA we would hit this kind of roadblock.
Off to think about how to move forward…