Moving Forward

path towards the horizon

see where the path takes you

It is sad that the Lean Launchpad has been “officially” over for a week now. However, we all know that the class never really ends. The lessons learned, experiences gained, and new relationships formed will be a part of each participating member for as long as they choose.

As for us, we are currently deploying the alpha version of Diabeats to hospitals, the ADA, and diabetes blogs to get as much feedback as quickly as we can. We plan on riding this adventure for as long as we can, and hope to learn a fraction of what the teaching team has acquired from decades of experience.

Any happenings related to Jericho/Diabeats will be continued on one team member’s personal blog, found here.

Thank you again to the entire teaching team, and the rest of the teams, for an unforgettable journey. A friend and classmate summed it up quite nicely:

The Lean Launchpad was worth my tuition at Berkeley alone.



Complete Business Canvas Evolution

Check out how our idea evolved throughout Steve Blank’s Lean Launchpad.

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Business Canvas: Week 8

The theme of this week was Key Partners. Unfortunately, it has proven more time-lagging than we expected to contact these potential partners. However, we have managed to line up a few interviews for this week to speak with them.

The validation we received from diabetics this week was reassuring and has helped us green-ify some of our canvas segments. We added the App Store and Google Play back to Channels, as we always have that option open (using Phonegap). The largest concerns right now are still Key Partners and Revenue Stream.

See below for the changes from week 7 to 8.

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Demo Feedback

We made a short screencast demo for our users to get some feedback. Several enthusiastic users got back to us with some exciting comments. It was nice to have validation for the value proposition of restaurant and food ratings tailored for diabetics. The conversations we have had this week have helped turn some of our “yellows” into “greens”. However, the potential of additional items to the canvas remain tentative. Previous suggestions of highlighting or filtering low carb/low fat options was well received, as well.

Talking with excited users was a reminder of why we are doing all of this in the first place – to help. It is a phenomenal feeling.

Interesting Avenue

While searching for potential competitors, we stumbled across this interesting article. To summarize, the writer is disappointed that there is no “Healthy Yelp”. Yelp offers ratings and information on nearly every aspect of a dining experience (i.e. kid-friendly, parking available, etc.), but not on the respective healthiness of an establishment. Clearly, there exist subjective views when it comes to health. However, the author illustrates some potential ways to standardize how an establishment can be graded on health, in their opinion.

The most interesting takeaway from this piece is the potential expansion of our current value proposition. We are targeting diabetics now. But the prospect of targeting all health-conscious diners in the future is very exciting. The key would be to keep information as objective and trusted as possible.


Contacting Partners

The theme of this week has been to think about Key Partners.

  • What makes a particular partner more valuable than another?
  • What type of relationship do you have (i.e. cooperation, competitor)?
  • Do you need partners in multiple areas of your business?

Perhaps the most difficult aspect thus far has been contacting the partners themselves.  As we are creating a resource for diabetics to gauge their ability to eat safely and healthily at a particular food establishment, we thought a potential partner would be a food chain looking to improve their brand among the health-conscious crowd. Therefore, we have reached out to Jesus Valdez, Director of Brand Marketing at Wendy’s through our mentor, Pete Vlastelica. Despite this incredible connection, we have yet to receive any sort of response from Jesus.

We are attacking alternative avenues in parallel, obviously. However, they are proving to be more difficult than we had hoped. With the onset of the weekend, our chances of actually speaking face-to-face with a partner are becoming bleak. Nonetheless, we will work through the weekend to continue to try and contact partners.

Business Canvas: Week 7

Due to customer feedback and the ability to test the core value of the Yelp for Diabetics idea, we are performing a “focus pivot”. Find the changes in the canvas below:


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Coffee with Eric Davis

We met with Eric Davis, Director of Innovation at Abbott Diabetes Care, this morning at a Starbucks to chat over the progress we had made since our last conversation back in January. As always, it was an absolute delight to talk about the idea, as well as other random tangents, with Eric (very smart and energetic guy).

The key insights he had were:

  • insulin calculation requires FDA clearance (diabetics have been asking for this feature)
    • Abbott has a new glucometer that was rejected because it has this calculation feature
  • FDA monitors transmission and storage mechanisms of data
    • but for some reason EHRs are not regulated
  • non-invasive will have a large barrier to entry because FDA requires any testing method that is not through blood to abide the “Replacement Claim”
    • i.e. CGMs are not covered by most HMO because they measure through interstitial fluid (not blood)
  • On the Yelp idea:
    • important metrics to him are grams of carbs and “uptake factor” (slope of spike, changed by fat content)
    • generate content by finding earlyvangelist diabetics and making them “Qualified Carb Counters” for your program (possibly receive benefits, deals, or free meals to review

He also connected me with some interesting people/companies to talk with:

  • Kelly Close – if anything happens in the world of diabetes, she knows
  • Tim Hennings – closely follows non-invasive startup tech scene and knows limitations
  • – travel guidebook for diabetics (curated by diabetics)

I can ‘t thank Eric enough for spending two hours conversing about ideas on a Saturday morning.

Phone Interview with Lindsay K.

This past Thursday we had a pleasant phone call with Lindsay, veteran Type 1 diabetic (T1D). As usual we gathered some background information on her to get a feel for her user archetype. Then we followed with what her biggest challenges were as a diabetic. Due to her diagnosis at a very early age, she actually said that she doesn’t have much difficulty these days. The largest was simply remembering to refill her pump.

From here, we began asking questions pertaining to the two ideas we had in stock (recommendation engine and Yelp for Diabetics). After digging into it, we were surprised that she said a “robust” reminder system was more valuable to her than a something that recommended foods/activities based on her history (rec engine). She noted that this may be very different for Type 2 diabetics (T2D) because they are more of the “lifestyle diabetics”. As for the Yelp idea, the insight we gained was that the informativeness of a restaurant and confidence a diabetic had eating there were good metrics to rate restaurants by for diabetics. This was helpful as we have been trying to think of a “diabetic-friendly” metric that would actually be useful, and simple. Additionally, as a T1D, the precise number of carbohydrates in foods she eats are very important (and difficult to gauge when eating out).

The good news was that despite her familiarity with diabetes and carb counting, a Yelp/CalorieKing hybrid would still be of use to her. The trend continues, but more data is needed!

Customer Discovery Session: Ted K.

*I forgot to take a picture…but Ted says “Hi!” Jerry.

This morning I met with a Ted K. in Walnut Creek over some coffee. He is in the unique position of being both a physician and diabetic. He was diagnosed with Type 1 at 35 (a rare occasion). Because of these factors, his management system and views on diabetes are quite different than what we have encountered before.

We had a great discussion, and he was able to provide some great comments. For brevity here is a summary:

  • Diabetes can consume your life, especially the more fastidious you are. He lives in his “happy medium” where his glucose levels will spike frequently, but he will counter with fast-acting insulin to always maintain control.
  • Community-generated reviews are only useful if the reviewers are reliable/credible (very hard)
    • retention in the community is entirely based on effectiveness (i.e. someone said scone was awesome and not bad for BGL, and it actually was)
  • Trending/prediction is the biggest “feature” his glucometers are missing (he would like it integrated with his pump or phone).
  • I mentioned the hardware we originally started out with (hijack) but decided to dump due to FDA hurdles. His reaction was, “I would buy that in a second, no nanosecond…damn FDA!”
  • He has been waiting for non-invasive for 20 years. The second it is available, he will try it regardless of price or evidence of accuracy. The offering of trending software with non-invasive would be just swell.

Ted raised some important concerns around the Yelp model that we will need to ruminate on. And again, a big thank you to Jerry for the gracious introduction to Ted.

Thanks for you input and time, Ted!