Diabetics need continual medication, which is very sensitive to extreme temperatures. If temperatures become too extreme, health can be compromised. Angel Insulin tackles this problem by monitoring temperatures with smart sensors. Here our interview with Amin Zayani, co-founder of our CODE_n finalist.
Where did your idea for the company come from?
Amin Zayani (Insulin Angel): I myself am a diabetic, and my little brother too. We depend on insulin to stay alive and well. Coming from a hot country, we know how sensitive insulin is to hot and cold temperatures. Still it just sometimes happens that either these temperatures are exceeded and our health is compromised, or we are not sure about the storage conditions of our medication, so we throw it away. The other challenge is to never lose it or forget it (or the blood-sugar meter). So knowing what’s possible with technology, I decided to tackle the problem and developed Insulin Angel, to help solve these two challenges.
For which kind of audience is your product or service intended and what problem is it solving?
Amin Zayani (Insulin Angel): Initially we only had people with diabetes in mind, because it directly affects us and the idea was born from a problem that we had. But actually after a couple of user feedback rounds we realized that our solution is useful to any person with a medical condition who relies on a critical, temperature-sensitive medication or medical device, so we extended support to more than just insulin, for example some rheumatism and asthma medications.
Interestingly, one medical company we are in talks with regarding distribution will use our solution to track their shipments of temperature-sensitive continuous glucose monitoring sensors.
Tell us a bit about the company’s founders like their professional or industry background and the origins of the founding idea.
Amin Zayani (Insulin Angel): I am the inventor of the product, I’m from Tunisia and I’m a solar energy expert by training. I am a tinkerer and maker by trade. Ex-COO at Fritzing.org and Maker-in-Residence at relayr.io, I feel comfortable at the intersection between technology, design and tinkering about with ideas. I was trying to solve the above-mentioned challenges with an arduino-based solution, until I discovered the WunderBar platform from relayr and decided to go for a device and an app solution, rather than a purely hardware-based solution.
Steve is the business guy, he comes from England, and has a long career in leading well-known IT companies. He worked as a VP at Oracle, Macromedia and Nuance, and he is known for his ability to build solid value propositions and marketing strategies. Steve got involved in the project initially because of his personal connection to diabetes, as he is the father of 11-year-old diabetic called Johnny.
Marc is the industrial designer of the product. He is CEO and co-founder of Pilotfish.eu, an award-winning design agency with offices in Berlin, Munich, Amsterdam and Taipei. He has good experience in both product design and manufacturing. Marc also has a personal link to the project as he is the father of 14-year-old diabetic called Linus.
You are active in a very complex and sensitive type of business. How do you ensure that the data, i.e., the insulin’s functional capability, that your customers believe in and depend on is actually reliable?
Amin Zayani (Insulin Angel): It is correct that everything that touches health care is critical, for very good reasons. No one will use products or services that may compromise health or well-being. This is why we very explicitly state that what is measured is the ambient temperature of the medication/equipment. We do not make any claims regarding the medication’s effectiveness. Insulin Angel gives the users reliable information, but no instructions on further use or throwing away the medication. That is the user’s decision. And when people live with a chronic medical condition they are usually well informed, and can take the right decision for themselves if the information or measurement is reliable.
We strive to deliver the best possible solution, because we are designing this product to be used by ourselves and our loved ones in the first place. So we made no compromises in terms of the quality of the components. We chose a highly accurate and reliable temperature sensor and we are even considering exchanging the hardware on a regular basis to make sure that users always have a reliable, calibrated, up-to-date device.
See Insulin Angel live on the CODE_n Stage on Tuesday, 17.03.2015.