MySugr is a diabetes management company from Austria that develops apps destined to change the perception of diabetes therapy and improve it, by helping individuals with type 1 diabetes to manage their condition by engaging in a motivational game. With mySugr Companion app, users gain points for every logbook entry with their blood glucose levels, aiming to tame a diabetes monster. There is also mySugr Junior app, that focuses not only in educating children how to deal with diabetes in a playful way, but also allows parents to keep track on their child’s progress from a distance using a smartphone.
We interviewed Fredrik Debong, Co-Founder and Community Relations Lead from mySugr.
How did you come with the idea of mySugr Companion? What about the Junior app?
As a diabetic type 1 patient for almost 30 years, there were moments when I wasn’t motivated enough to manage my glucose levels and I’d spend long periods of time not taking care of myself properly in that aspect. In 2010 an acquaintance and I sat down for a drink, and he took a blood glucose-testing device out of his pocket – I had not clue he also had diabetes! We set up a competition, where the highest value had to pay for the next round. That’s when it dawned on me, that this is something I and my fellow people with diabetes need: a positive way of thinking about our therapy. Something to make diabetes suck less. I wanted to go away from the basic tools and shuffle to a motivational and fun way to deal with it on a daily basis.
With that in mind the Junior app idea came along, as we wanted to take away the negative stigma of diabetes management and educate children in a fun way, while their parents could support them from a distance.
How much it was the initial investment? Have you reached break-even?
We initially received €150,000 to start our company, and just recently we welcomed our new investors XLHealth and the Püspök investment group on board – who decided to invest over $1 million. Although we already have 100,000 app users all over the world, mySugr still is a medical device, so it will take some time to reach break-even.
Do you think mySugr filled a gap on modern diabetes 1 treatment management?
Yes, I believe that in many developed regions people do no longer struggle with treatment, but with motivation. The constant necessity of managing glucose levels and insulin intake is simpler with a smartphone that’s always in your pocket. With the app it is fast and easy to enter the information and it also enables users to take pictures of the food as well as record mood and physical activity, all the while they are taming the diabetes monster by gaming. Soon blood glucose testing devices will be integrated with the app, and blood glucose levels can be sent straight to a smartphone.
What are your main marketing strategies?
We reach a very wide audience by working with organizations such as the JDRF in the UK and also by being easily accessible for doctors, practitioners and diabetes nurses. Us being an FDA registered and CE marked medical device also helps because practitioners can trust us. Also, in the last few months we have been communicating a lot using facebook and twitter too, which has proven to be very viable ways of getting to know people and offer them to joins us.
Basically, our main goal is to change the philosophy of Diabetes treatment. For that, we rely on a team with specialists from various fields that help us develop the funniest and easiest way to manage the disease.
Are there any plans to launch mySugr in Latin America?
Yes, definitely. The app is already available in 50 countries and the FDA and the equivalent European authorities already approve it as a medical device. But before reaching other countries, we have the challenge to offer the same level of service and quality, not to mention the approval of local authorities as well.
Do you have some tips for health entrepreneurs?
Find something you believe in, either to create or to invest in. It takes time and patience, but it’s rewarding because what you work on change lives of people. It is amazing to be part of a company since the beginning, in the front line. I have grown to hearing directly from our customers, who can reach me at email@example.com. It requires patience, takes time and I think you’d go crazy if it was just a job. Yet this is more than a business opportunity, it is a life-changing experience.