When Jeffrey Dachis lost 20 pounds in eight weeks over a summer, he knew something was wrong.
A visit to the doctor determined what was going on: He had Type 1 diabetes.
“It was a bit shocking in that I’m a marathon runner and I eat great,” said Dachis, a veteran Austin entrepreneur.
He also wasn’t expecting how quickly the medical appointment would end.
“Here I am diagnosed with this disease, and I get about 12 minutes with a nurse practitioner and a pat on the back,” he said. “I was handed a pamphlet, an insulin pen and a prescription and I was out the door. I was a little taken aback by the experience. I wanted data, something I could use to make sense of this.”
An Internet search didn’t turn up what he was seeking, either.
“Since this seemed to be a relatively data-intense disease, there had to be a place where all the data was, but there wasn’t,” Dachis said. “It turns out that all the data I need to make decisions as a person with diabetes is locked in mono-line data silos. Device makers and doctors get access, but the person needing to make day to day decisions is left trying to make sense of pieces of the puzzle without a complete picture.”
So Dachis, who co-founded digital services pioneer Razorfish Inc. in 1994 and social media analytics company Dachis Group in 2008, decided to build what he was looking for.
The result is One Drop, a software platform that includes a mobile app that lets people with Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes share information with each other and use it to better manage their disease.
The app lets users keep a running log of their personal insulin levels, the effectiveness of their medication, what they recently ate and what types of activities affect their blood sugar on a daily basis. The app starts to track how the body responds to the different data, which can be used to formulate treatment plans.
One Drop’s community section lets users view other profiles to compare how they are doing with other diabetic patients.
While there are a number of diabetes tracking apps on the market, Dachis says the size of the market provides plenty of room for multiple offerings. Diabetes affects 30 million people in the U.S., or nearly 10 percent of the population, according to statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
What sets One Drop apart, Dachis says, is its ability to use data analytics to let users share information and learn from others’ experiences.
“My doctor spends less than an hour a year with my diabetes,” he said. “Who is the best able to help me along with the day-to-day stuff — me and my data and the people with diabetes and their data, or my doctor?”
The app launched in Apple’s App Store in April, where it is available for free, and the company is working on an Android app. The company’s plans include adding new features, which could include test strips and a Bluetooth-enabled glucose monitoring device.
One Drop intends to generate revenue through a monthly subscription service that would likely cost $400 to $600 a year for insurers or employers.
One Drop’s expansion plans got a major boost this month when the company closed on $8 million in funding from investors including RRE Ventures, BoxGroup, Launch Fund and Capital Factory.
Steve Schlafman of RRE Ventures said his firm is betting on Dachis’ background in building data analytics companies and his personal tie to diabetes. Razorfish, which was an early leader in providing new media services, and was sold to Microsoft in 2007 and is now a unit of Publicis Group.
Dachis Group, which operated a data analytics platform to monitor social media activity for corporate customers including Estee Lauder, Heineken, Nestle and Philips, was acquired last year by Sprinklr, a New York-based social media management firm. Terms of the purchase weren’t disclosed.
“Not only does Jeff have pretty significant operating experience from his days at Razorfish and Dachis Group, but he has lived this problem,” Schlafman said. “He went through the experience of coming down with diabetes and here’s someone that wants to be a solution to the problem and really build a movement.”
Schlafman says One Drop, which has 10 employees and is hiring data scientists and mobile developers, will need time to evolve.
“Like any early stage company, often times you don’t nail it right out the gate because these things take time to build,” he said. “What we’re hearing from their first set of customers is that it’s incredibly liberating to have a place that makes them feel like they’re connected. Most patients feel as if they’re in it alone.”
Doug Ulman, former CEO of the Livestrong cancer charity and a One Drop adviser, said he believes Dachis can create an online forum for people with diabetes in the same way that Livestrong has done for cancer patients.
“Like cancer, diabetes is something that you never really think about until you’re afflicted. And then all of a sudden you realize you actually don’t know that much about it, and it’s going to change your entire way of life,” Ulman said. “So just having other people that have been down the path and can share their experiences and share their data, everyone benefits from that community.”