Three Companies Innovating For Diabetics

Imagine you’re looking for a new hot job, something you can brag about at parties. Working to build online communities and social networks? Not bad. Developing new smartphone apps backed by Tim Ferriss, author of The 4-Hour Workweek? Even better. Making gourmet chocolate? Ooh, baby. Developing products and services to help those suffering from diabetes? Umm, well, maybe. Probably not something you would come up with on your own. As reported by the American Diabetes Association, almost 26 million people suffer from diabetes, and that’s just in the United States alone. Worldwide the figured is estimated to be as high as 347 million. It is estimated that approximately 80 million people in the U.S. have prediabetes. The World Health Organization (WHO) has labeled the situation an epidemic. It’s a problem that isn’t going away anytime soon. What if you could get a job building the foremost social network for diabetics to help them access valuable information and find comfort and support? What if you could work on a new smartphone app that assists children manage their condition? What if you were involved in manufacturing gourmet chocolates that not only tasted good enough for anyone to eat, but were completely safe for diabetics to eat as well? You’d not only be working with something interesting and perhaps cutting edge, you’d be changing lives and doing good in the world. That’s something to brag about. Here are three companies that are doing just these things. Online Community, Diabetic Connect The online community Diabetic Connect is a social network built for persons diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The website is an initiative of Alliance Health Networks and receives over 1.8 million visitors per month. By providing a forum where diabetics can communicate and share their experiences, it offers comfort to those who have been recently diagnosed with diabetes and may be in something of a state of shock. Often a newly diagnosed patient will leave the doctor’s office, drive home, and jump on the Internet to do research. They’ll find the information they need and want at Diabetic Connect, but they also find support and comfort, which can be just as important. Visitors on the Diabetic Connect site share recipes, experiences, and treatments. Diabetic Connect allows patients to interact anonymously or they can communicate openly, depending on their level of comfort. Diabetic Connect also provides expert level content and provides a Q&A with clinicians from the Joslin Diabetes Center to answer questions that require medical expertise. Site visitors can also access the Diabetic Connect community through Android and iOS apps. Smartphone Apps, MySugr Tim Ferriss sits on the advisory board of MySugr, a startup that has created two apps; MySugr Companion on iOS for adults, and and Android app MySugr Junior for kids. The apps introduce elements of gamification to a process that is normally dreaded by children and adults alike. The data from the Junior app can be automatically shared with parents, prompting more accountability and responsibility on the part of the child, and more peace of mind for the parent.  For adults or children with diabetes, the apps make it easier to stick to a regimen and make adjustments based on data. The company is winning accolades such as being named Best European Startup at last year’s TechCrunch Startup Week. Gourmet Chocolates, Amber Lyn Chocolate? What’s chocolate have to do with diabetes? Almost nothing–that’s the problem. Millions of people who love chocolate are prohibited from consuming it. Being able to eat chocolate might seem like a small thing. But when one is struggling with a chronic disease small comforts can be a big deal. Most diabetic-friendly chocolate products taste awful. You wouldn’t eat them unless it was all you could have. But the chocolates made by sugar-free confectioner Amber Lyn are different. Sweetened with maltitol, a wheat extract, Amber Lyn’s “Belgian dark chocolate” products are not only safe for diabetics (they’re sugar free, gluten free, and contain no trans fats, no cholesterol, no milk products, no preservatives, and no fillers), but they taste amazing. I don’t have diabetes. I can eat whatever I want. But when Jake Cavanaugh, co-owner of the Cacao Group which owns Amber Lyn chocolates (Full Disclosure: Jake is a friend of mine), gave me a 10 oz bag of their dark chocolate covered almonds, it was gone in a day. And as I write this I’m craving another bag. Too bad Amber Lyn doesn’t have distribution in my home base of Hong Kong…yet.

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