Q&A with mySugr’s “Monster Pack”

A few weeks earlier, Healthy America Group wrote a blog post about this revolutionary mobile app available on Android and Apple devices called the Companion. mySugr Companion helps diabetic people track their blood sugar right on their phone. For each entry, users get rewarded points to help “tame the monster”. We recently got in touch with the “Monster Pack” of mySugr who just hit the 60,000 users milestone. They were able to give us a meaningful insight on how the company came together and what we should expect from them in a near future.

 

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HAG: How did Frank, Fredrik, Gerald and Michael come together for mySugr? On the mySugr blog, Fredrik mentions how his own struggle to fight his diabetes is one of the motivations behind the company. What was the trigger for them to join forces for a better good?

mySugr: The way we joined forces initially was quite natural, since it came out of our own needs and wishes – Frank wished to have an easy way to make sense of his diabetes therapy. Fredrik’s wish was to make this tedious and boring task a bit more fun. Michael and Gerald wanted to build products that really make a difference in people’s lives.  Together, the founding team decided it was time to act, driven by the experiences of two very different people with diabetes!

While we started out building our product mainly for us, things grew very quickly.  We soon reached a level where it was not just about designing an app which makes therapy and data more fun and useful.  It became about changing the philosophy of diabetes therapy on a deeper level by identifying the needs of the greater diabetes community..  As this change happened in our minds, we decided to take on a much bigger task.  Now joined by people like Kyle Rose, Scott Johnson and Ilka Gdanietz, and their many followers, our passion and outreach only grows.

Quote: Kyle Rose, managing director of mySugr’s US affiliate, said the following “When I met the mySugr team, you could tell something was different.  This wasn’t just a 9-5 job for any of them, but rather a mission to impact the lives of people with diabetes. Their passion is inspiring and I am honored to be a part of what they are doing!”

 

HAG: mySugr started 2 years ago and mySugr Companion is now one of the top apps in the Medical category in the App Store. In 2011, you earned the TechCrunch Europe Award for Best European Startup.  In 2012, you won the award for Best EMEA Startup at the WebIT Expo. What you guys have accomplished in that time is incredible. How long did it take to develop the app?

mySugr: Thank you.  We are fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with so many talented people.  We truly respect the mySugr user community and thank them for having helped us adapt our products to their daily routines.

Our path has been challenging and unpredictable but we have learned a lot along the way.  What you are actually seeing is the third iteration of the Companion App as it took more than 18 months to build and release the first version. Being a registered medical device itself, the app must comply with these regulations in every country where we launch whether it’s FDA registration, a CE mark, or otherwise.  This required us to establish rigid internal company protocols and procedures during development.  It was an intense process to do so and we are proud to be one of the few medical app companies worldwide with this in place.

 

HAG: What was the biggest obstacle for mySugr to overcome in the process of creating my Companion? What was the greatest moment in the creation process?

mySugr: There were a few big ones! The first one was to step away from our own needs so as to learn from others with diabetes.  It would have been easy to try and design the perfect product for just two of us.  However, we didn’t want to make the mistake of building an app for only two people when we knew that people treat their diabetes in different manners, even within the same city, let alone in different countries around the world.  So we reached out to the international diabetes community and soon we had feedback from tens of thousands of people.

After that came the challenge of building one of the first FDA-approved medical apps in the world. The regulatory landscape is not well defined for mobile apps in the healthcare space, so we had to go above and beyond in order to set a new standard. In hindsight, we feel we are now well positioned and that the time and effort we invested early on will pay off as this area of regulation matures.

The greatest moment was our first release, combining all what we learned and then making it slick, beautiful and fun.  We strive for everything that we do to have an element of unusual beauty, which we hope is apparent immediately when you see mySugr: from user experience to picture quality to diabetes sensitivity.

 

HAG: What are the best 3 words to describe what mySugr Companion is to people trying to tame their monster and explain why they are.

mySugr: Fun, useful and easy! Diabetes can often be a drag, the diabetes logbook we are supposed to be keeping is not that useful in day to day life as many of you have told us.  There is so much more to be gained by making it all easier to complete, track, and understand!

FUN – we see diabetes therapy as constant companion.  At first it’s a monster but it can become a less intrusive one if we manage it with the right mindset! By rewarding the steps we need to take and seeing the progress we wish to make as challenges, we turn things around and make diabetes therapy something we can even… enjoy!

USEFUL – the numbers we enter into mySugr are made useful in daily life, not just for reviewing with our doctors. Maybe you are about to eat a new meal or one that you just don’t quite know how to manage in regards to your diabetes medication, insulin or otherwise.  Plug it into mySugr and the next time you enjoy that “wiener schnitzel” at the same restaurant will only take a few seconds to see how you reacted to it the last time! You can also export your data into a convenient and useful PDF report to share with your doctor or anyone else.

EASY – it only takes seconds to add an entry in the Companion, and believe it or not, you may smile after seeing how your monster reacts to what you enter! Snap a pic of your meal for future reference and use your photo diary to see how your habits evolve.

 

HAG: After the release of my Companion in the U.S. App Store, many bloggers such as Kerri Sparling (sixuntilme.com) and Scott Johnson (scottsdiabetes.com) wrote blog articles about reviews of the app. A lot of them are wondering if there will be a reminder feature (“Hey, you haven’t put your BG in mySugr in a while…”), sharing features, etc. What’s next for my Companion?

mySugr: To say that we have been pleased by the overwhelming response in the U.S is a major understatement, with over 30,000 registered users shortly after our launch.  This allows us to adapt more quickly due to all of the great feedback.  We’re already working on many improvements based on what we’ve heard.  We’re also excited that Scott Johnson has joined the mySugr U.S team as Community Relations and Communications Lead. We are aware that Scott’s services are in great demand so we feel very lucky that he has joined our team.

As for sharing and reminders? They are right around the corner! The features have already been added to our beta version and are going through testing as we speak.

 

HAG: Anything in particular that the team is working on?

mySugr: We have been hard at work on the Android version of mySugr Companion and are actively recruiting beta testers.  There have been many requests for this platform, and we’re very excited to say that we should have something ready this Fall. In addition to that, we have a long list of new features that we are working on which we look forward to sharing with you soon, especially with our challenges and location features. mySugr Junior has been another major development, an app that focuses on communication between children with diabetes and their caregivers.  For all of the rest, please follow us on twitter (@mysugr), connect with us on Facebook, or subscribe to our newsletter (mySugr.com) to hear the latest!