Diabeto : Diabetes meets Hardware innovation

The version one of Diabeto was made from hacked pcb and was more of a square box with a hanging cable than what we see today. But it worked and validated their belief that the idea was executable, whereupon they now worked upon testing the compatibility of the product with various glucometers.

Hardware startups are just as the name puts “hard”. Yet Diabeto is a combination of improbable in the country with a nascent (hardware) startup culture. Diabeto is providing a modern day solution to keep a track of the blood sugar level. In the land of diabetes ( India has the world’s largest diabetic population ), Diabeto is first in the new phase of home grown personalized healthcare devices.

You might think that Diabeto is a glucometer (the device used for measuring the blood sugar), but Diabeto is a hardware device which plugs into the existing glucometers used by the people and transfers all the data (blood sugar readings) via Bluetooth to an Android device running the Diabeto app.

Diabeto Device
Diabeto Devices

Also, thinking that Diabeto is just a device might be an understatement. The innovativeness of the service lies in the bundling of hardware and the software. The app allows users to first select their glucometer so that their reading is calibrated, after which all the data that is collected can be easily shared with a doctor within the apps. Data is a powerful tool and a lot of interesting things are being tried out  by the team at Diabeto, ranging from a visual representation of the data to setting up of triggers within the app when a blood sugar reaches a particular level wherein it would directly forward the details to a listed contact.

Apart from that the app has a lot of configurable options to get the best sense of the time when the test was done. With options like when was the test taken, the time gap between the last meal and the report and if exercise was done. Basically all questions a doctor asks after a test a test is done. This meta-data adds a lot of added functionality to the app.

As far as the funding part is concerneed, the team is self funded as this point, with all the three founders (Amir Shaikh, Shreekant Pawar and Hemanshu Jain) contributing $25,000 each. Along with that the team would be receiving a funding of $40,000 as a part of their being selected for this edition of Startup Chile.

Diabeto is already in talks with health app developers in Europe to make their app compatible with Diabeto and they are currently testing out of their product with a leading corporate for their employee health planning system.

Challenges of Hardware startup
There is a reason why hardware startups are tough (forum discussion: Do you think there will be hardware startups in 2012 ?). Unlike software based startups, where a goof-up means that there is a software update pushed to the users’ device and the bugs are resolved. In the case of the hardware the problem could be far-reaching and costly.

Co-founder Hemanshu was delighted to tell the product story for Diabeto. They began the R&D for Diabeto by hacking glucometers and it was a simple rectangular PCB which was in a small white box. Whereupon they came up with the idea of designing it in a shape of a bird.

With a help of an industrial designer they got a clay model in the shape of a blue bird. Here the problem arrived when the bird shaped PCB did not fit because they forgot to consider the battery
volume.  After working around that problem they had what closely resembles what we see right now, a bird shaped Diabeto with the PCB snugly present inside. The blue colour is the color for diabetes and the bird was symbolic of happiness and wellbeing. Later they decided to have a pink colour as an alternative choice.

Diabeto - V1
Diabeto - V1

Manufacturing and Retail
At this stage the team is looking at manufacturing in India, and selling it in the western market ( US and Europe ) Simply because they are advanced in their use of personalized health care devices, with products from brands like Nike and Fitbit for calorie and sleep tracking.

Tie-ups with retail sectors in the western market are being worked out to ensure the availability of the product. The team is looking at an early 2013 launch for the product with the prices being in the band of Rs.2,500-3,500.

Revenue Channels and Future
Diabeto is looking at three major verticals for their product
1. Direct selling of the hardware product
2. APIs for third party healthcare management systems for use in hospitals, corporates and app developers
3. Cloud Storage for app users to access their data from across devices and web

Along with the Android app, the team would be extending support to other mobile ecosystems and have a desktop app in place. With this the next work would be on expanding the device’s compatibility to encompass other healthcare devices.

Watch this intro video

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