Disclosure: The Slush event organizers paid my way to Finland. Our coverage remains objective.
HELSINKI — Marcus Westermark learned about the logistical and life-threatening difficulties of being a diabetic when he was diagnosed with the disease in 1998. He learned how monitor his blood-sugar levels and found it was a big hassle. He wanted to be ableto do something about it, and in 2012, he was able to join a startup called Mendor.
A group of diabetes and tech experts formed Mendor in 2006, and they’re about to ship Discreet, an all-in-one blood glucose meter that contains everything you need to monitor your blood glucose levels while on the run. It fits in your purse or pocket, and it has a protective plastic case that keeps it clean.
More than 347 million people worldwide have diabetes, says the World Health Organization, and the cost of dealing with the disease runs more than €400 billion euros, or $538 billion, each year. The patients need to take both long-acting insulin and fast-acting insulin to keep their blood sugar levels stable, and they need to strictly control their diets and measure the carbs they eat. If you don’t do that, you face a lot of complications that become expensive to treat.
The Mendor kit helps lower the costs of doing all that, Westermark said in a presentation before the Slush tech conference in Helsinki this week.
“You have to have a meter, test strips, a control solution, and lancers,” said Westermark, the research project manager at Mendor. “What if you put all of that in one magic box?”
The company is now testing the device with 1,000 diabetics in Finland and expects to ship it across Europe, selling it for about €30, or $40. They’ve also created Mendor Balance, a cloud-based software platform for both patients and doctors. The cloud service helps patients keep their blood sugar in balance.
“I can measure and upload my results in almost real-time,” said Westermark, who was an early user of Mendor and is now the company’s information technology manager.
The company’s founders include CEO Kristian Ranta, Tuomas Planman, Jukka Planmn, Juho Konsti, and Henry Andell. They created a new portable meter to help people like Westermark, who is a Type 1 diabetic. They received funding from Tekes, the Finnish government’s funding agency. The other investors include Teollisuussijoitus, a government institution; Aloitusrahasto Vera, a Finnish government-backed venture capital firm; Risto Siilasmaa, founder of F-Secure and Nokia chairman and CEO; the Ilmarinen, the Finnish pension firm; Dutch VC Life Science Partners; and other angels.
To date, they have raised €15 million, and they’re forecasting first-year revenue at €4 million.