Monthly Archives: January 2012

Phone and Survey Interviews: Round 1

The majority of our interviews this week were conducted via phone and survey. We hope to sway this towards more in-person interviews in the near future. Marlene, an endocrinology expert at UCSF, is a contact that we have had for a few months that we wanted to bring up to speed (given changes in our service). As someone in the medical field, she has consistently reminded us that one of her main priorities is to educate diabetics, especially newly-diagnosed. In her experience, she has seen a significant correlation between knowledge of the disease and the ability to control it. Therefore, we have been thinking of ways to incorporate educational aspects into the app, without detracting from the natural workflow of the app’s main purpose.

The survey we conducted was through Rocky Vista University, in Parker CO, to diabetic patients that attended their clinic. Aside from demographics and technical prowess, we asked about interest in mobile solutions and willingness to pay for them. Fortunately, there was demand for a mobile solution to assist in diabetes management and they currently did not use any product for this. Unfortunately, the willingness to pay was not overwhelming. Moving forward this will be something that will have to remain ever-present in our minds.

As a team, we are very satisfied with the amount of knowledge we have gained from some of our in-person interviews. Hopefully, this pushes us to conduct more field interviews in the upcoming week.


Interview with Rahul

Back on Friday, we also conducted an interview with a former VC of Bessemer, Rahul. Due to multiple idea tracks running through our teams minds, we thought it was best to seek advice from someone who had seen thousands of business proposals. In the beginning of our conversation, we spoke about “apps” as businesses. Rahul’s opinion on this subject has changed over the last year and has seen an increase in “upstream growth” in this category, where the end-users are initially targeted with their employers/insurance providers in mind. This methodology would skip the partnership aspect.

Furthermore, it was interesting to hear the numerous points that Rahul agreed on with Gabe Zichermann (with no awareness). Some of the key ones that stuck out were:

  • Focus – start small on a very targeted category, but keep adjacent markets in mind for expansion
  • Personal benefits/happiness is much more important/valuable than material incentives (in our case)
  • Gamification (i.e. supporting users and making glucose management fun) and peer pressure are best features
In addition, he advised us to look at what Airy Labs has done in the educational space to increase user engagement.
We would all like to thank Rahul very much for his time and advice!

In his living room (sorry for the glare...)


Interview with Nagesh

Within our immediate reach was Rohan’s father. He has been living with Type 2 Diabetes (T2D) for over a decade and has developed a system that allows him to keep it under control without medication. In addition, he is a technologist at heart with immense product and marketing experience that we found very valuable.

To initiate our conversation, we asked him what he considered to be the main pain points associated with T2D. He listed the following questions as the key things to hit when trying to truly control diabetes.

  • Do I know my body and how it is affected by things I do?
  • What changes do I need to make (with respect to diet & exercise)?
  • How can I do these in real-time (i.e. go for a walk after every meal)?
  • Am I diligent in my monitoring practices (in most cases, no)?
  • Am I learning from my past, and other people, and applying it to my future?
  • Am I communicating with my managed network (i.e. endocrinologist, family, close friends)?

In addition to the insight he provided to how he thinks about diabetes, we gained a lot from his overarching advice on how to approach marketing, provided his immense experience. He pushed the importance of viewing the “whole product”, which meant all the ancillary tangents that affect what you are creating/offering.

Finally, he agreed to be an alpha tester!

Picture with Nagesh after the interview. Thank you again!

Interview with Gabe Zichermann

Yesterday, we had the pleasure of speaking with Gabe Zichermann, of the Gamification Summit. The main purpose was to gain some insight into the mechanics that are involved in behavioral alterations, especially related to diabetics. Below is a summary of the key points he suggested to us:


  • Focus: start narrow, then branch out
    • more likely to solve narrow issue
    • easier to design UX around a single facet
    • can reuse tech and design patterns for branching out
  • Design experience around ____ (i.e. happiness)
    • Choose brand image and stick to hard
    • Create metric to show validation
      • Happiness Indicator
  • Progress/Feedback Mechanics
    • financial incentives don’t alter behavior (only temporarily)
    • use quests/journeys to promote continued progress toward happier lifestyle
      • happily living with diabetes (removing the stigma)

A huge thank you to Gabe for speaking with us on such short notice!

Market Sizing Exercise

Last night, we met at Skydeck to discuss our plan for this week. We ended up doing an exercise to determine the market opportunity for diabetics looking for a mobile solution. We realized the mistake of narrowing the scope too much in the end. We plan on redoing the exercise again before the next lecture.


Market Size Exercise for Diabetics with Smartphones

Hello world!

We are Jericho. For the next 8-10 weeks, we will be chronicling (fancy blogging) about our frequent failures and occasional successes (measured by validated learning). We have the honor and privilege of having the guidance of Steve Blank and his spectacular team.

Let the journey begin!