A Digital Shot in the Arm for Diabetes Management

This story below originally appeared on Inc.com, in partnership with Name.Kitchen.

Badass. Cool. Diabetes. It’s difficult to imagine those three words appearing in close proximity to one another — until Jeff Dachis starts to explain the concept behind his startup, One Drop. “We want you to feel like a diabetes badass versus someone who has a disease,” says the 48-year-old veteran entrepreneur. “We want people to rock their diabetes, using cool gear and a convenient mobile app.”

The free app, available since April of 2015 at www.onedrop.today, is a diabetes-management tool that enables users to monitor their blood glucose levels, food intake, medication, and physical activity. It also provides a platform for app users to crowdsource information about managing the illness, sharing tips and sending each other stickers with positive affirmations. How do you eat burritos without going on a blood glucose roller coaster, for example, or to ask “I’ve just eaten doughnuts, what should I do now?”

“It’s like a Waze for diabetes,” says Dachis, referring to the popular traffic app that allows drivers to post real-time alerts about trouble spots and workarounds.“People can help each other, telling each other where to go and where not to go. You’re at the airport, where should you eat? The community will help you.”

Dachis was diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes two years ago, after experiencing a common first symptom: unexpected (and dramatic) weight loss. His first impulse was to search for an app that would help him manage his condition. When he couldn’t find one, he invented one.

Dachis, who previously co-founded digital media powerhouse Razorfish (a name he plucked from a phonebook, while blindfolded) knew from the start that he wanted One Drop to be a mobile-first company. “The way you do business with us is from an app. Once you download it you never have to go to the web site,” he says.

Given that focus, he says, the best approach to choosing a domain name for the company’s web site was to step outside the usual ‘dot-com’ approach and instead choose “something that would capture” the company’s mission.

In fact, the very act of considering his domain name options actually prompted him to think more carefully about what his company is all about. “I started to focus on, ‘What does ‘One Drop’ stand for?’ he says. “What does it mean?” He considered several domains,including onedr.op andonedrop.io, but decided that the urgency of onedrop.today provides a powerful rallying cry for the company and its customers. “You’re checking your blood one drop at a time, and assessing the reading of that one drop provides a daily opportunity to think about your life and to change your life right now,” he explains.

The onedrop.today app is just the start of his effort to “relentlessly reduce the cost and complexity of dealing with diabetes every day.” He recently raised $8 million from investors, having previously collected $1 million. He’ll use the money, he says, to build an Android version of the app, while adding features and offering related supplies. He envisions creating a subscription service offering users “an extremely high quality, beautifully designed set of gear,” including a glucose meter, as well as building out the company’s Big Data analytics platform. “That platform is the core of the One Drop experience,” Dachis says. “We’re going to empower people with actionable insights based on their own data and that of a community of others like them.”

As far as he is concerned, the practical notifications that pop up should remind users that, “You need to seize the opportunities that life has to offer. Start thinking about the power you have to get to your kids’ college graduations, or to see your grandkids.” As Dachis sees it, even the routine finger prick ought to serve a greater purpose than simply drawing the blood that’s needed to monitor glucose levels. “It’s a sharp reminder to be an awesome person on this planet,” he says.