The journey so far – our challenge
When Isabella came to me four years ago looking for a partner to set up a business that would help people take insulin, I was all ears. I knew nothing about diabetes or insulin, but I was moved by the magnitude of the need and the challenge, and I had worked with Isabella for 8 years, so I also knew the magnitude of her heart and her mind.
How we started
Initially we set up shop at the British Library, always queuing up before opening hours to guarantee access to a power socket, and often wearing multiple layers to weather the strangely rapid indoor climate change. In the colder months, we moved on to the coffee shop at Friends House on Euston Road, where we were allowed to sit and hug a radiator from 8am-8pm, buying just enough coffee to assuage our squatters guilt.
We are grateful to both of these institutions for the shelter they provided us for the first two years of our life. Without them, we could never have afforded to spend so much time developing and testing ideas and prototypes with our customers (and throwing so many of them away!)
Once we’d learned enough about what our customers need in an insulin management tool and figured out how to get it cleared as a medical device, it was time to put a permanent roof over our head and a hire a team to build it. As you can imagine, closing our first round of funding was a major hurdle and a proud milestone. We hired our first teammate, got our new office above a chicken shop in Finsbury Park (now a posh noodle shop), and then proceeded to hire more awesome teammates, raise a second round, win a government grant, hire more gifted people, and more recently give the company a proper name and a brand that both we and our customers can be proud of.
People often ask me: what has been the biggest challenge so far, and what are the biggest challenges to come? Most people assume it’s either something to do with machine learning or regulatory hurdles. Some assume it’s raising money and hiring engineers in London’s heated tech market. None of these have been easy, but none of them win the top slot as our biggest challenge. That is, was, and will always be diabetes.
Taking insulin to manage diabetes several times a day requires you to quickly become an expert in your condition. You must develop knowledge, intuition and wisdom far beyond what any healthcare professional can provide. Your experience is almost entirely unique to you and your condition, and it’s likely to be different every day.
Four years on
And now we’re saying we want to make a tool to help you manage taking insulin. Time to listen up, get focused, shut out the noise, and get settled in for the long haul. That’s what we were doing 4 years ago in the British Library, and it’s what we’re doing still. And if I write this post again in 4 years, I’m guessing that’s exactly what we’ll doing then too.