Despite having 10-12 hypos per month, Scott Bissinger had a problem remembering to carry fast-acting glucose with him. The reason? Lack of what he calls "the portability of glucose." He knew there had to be a better way, and his proposed solution to the problem won him second place (and $10,000!) in a business venture competition at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he was a senior majoring in Business Administration with a concentration in Entrepreneurship.

Scott's original award-winning idea was "flat glucose," ultra-thin wafers of fast-acting glucose housed in a credit-card sized case that could be carried in a wallet. Looking farther down the road, he envisioned pump cases designed to hold his thin glucose wafers. Then cell phone cases...

In early 2012, Scott founded a startup, Everyday Glucose, which is his full-time gig now that he's graduated — but the goals have shifted a bit. Join us in getting to know this 22-year old from New Jersey (now living in NC) who was diagnosed at age 20 while a junior in college, in the latest edition of our ongoing "Small But Mighty" series covering firms formed and run by passionate PWDs:

 

DM) Scott, what happened to your winning idea for ultra-thin glucose tabs?

SB) Since the Carolina Challenge, I have had multiple discussions with type 1 diabetics and sought the advice of experts in numerous disciplines, including the confectionery field, pharmaceutical industry, and entrepreneurs. They helped me sort out the practicality of creating a glucose product. Our conclusion was that it was an ambitious project, it would take a couple years to come to fruition, and it doesn't make sense to be the initial product from a business standpoint.

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So what is the mission of your company "Everyday Glucose"?

There is a need for better ways to transport the existing glucose products. From that epiphany, I have focused my energy on developing a case for existing glucose tablets and other glucose products that will be easy for all diabetics to carry. The case will fit in a wallet! We also plan to make our own glucose tabs in new and exiting flavors.

How on Earth do you plan to get today's glucose tabs, which are pretty dern thick, into a wallet case just four credit cards thick?

Well, it will have to be a little thicker than that. Most glucose tabs are seven and a half millimeters thick, so the case will need to be eight millimeters or a little thicker (nearly a third of an inch). I've tried prototypes in eight or nine wallets and they go right in with no difficulty.

{Note to readers from WilD: my entire wallet is only ¾ of an inch thick!}

In your Carolina Challenge presentation, you mentioned that most glucose products taste bad. How do you plan to make your glucose product taste better than the competition?

I have to admit I was being a little harsh on the glucose tablets in that presentation. Regardless, I am a perfectionist and will make sure the glucose is tasty.

What flavors are you planning? Will Piña Colada or Jack & Coke be among them? Or chocolate malt?

It's another strategic decision we have yet to make. I am worried a Jack & Coke flavor might not be the best while having a hypo, but Piña Colada and chocolate malt would be delicious. I want to create a flavor that diabetics want, and my non-diabetic friends will enjoy eating as well.

Wait a sec, do you really think it's a good idea for PWDs to carry glucose that their non-D friends would enjoy eating?

Ummmm... Interesting point. I was thinking more of side potential. If it tastes good, it might develop a non-diabetic following and increase sales.

In your Challenge "elevator speech," you stated that we type 1s collectively have 300 million hypo episodes annually. You quoted 400 million in the finals. Where do these statistics come from?

For the Carolina Challenge, I did a survey of 100 type 1s. My results concluded that the average type 1 has 10 hypos a month, which equals 120 a year. I used the basis that there are 3 million type 1's in America, which provides this rough estimate.  So the real number was 360 million a year.

{Author note: hypo rates are notoriously hard to pin down, but this seems an overly high estimate to me.}

I understand you had a "little" trouble with the TSA while traveling a while back. You were detained by airport security for an hour and a half and the bomb squad was called in. All of this because of the prototype glucose card you had duct-taped onto your OmniPod. Does duct tape now cause PTSD for you?

Evidently, it was a bad combo of organic and inorganic materials according to the TSA. I still use duct tape with caution.

As part of your original competition pitch, you said you'd dedicate a portion of your company's proceeds to the JDRF, starting with the contest winnings. Did you follow through on that, and how was your donation received by JDRF?

I donated $750 dollars. I did it online, so it was received as any other donation.

Where are you with the development of the case at this time? Is it just a design, a mockup, or an actual prototype?

We have numerous case designs and mockups under review.  We'd like to make some modifications based upon the feedback we are receiving before choosing the best design to produce.

Tell us about starting your company. How many employees? And how did you get it off the ground?

I am the lone employee right now. Everyday Glucose was incorporated in North Carolina, since I moved here for college and have stayed around. The research triangle park community here is great and has a very startup-friendly atmosphere.

So when will we see the first Everyday Glucose case?

I'm anticipating launching my first product in early 2013.

What will it look like?

I need to do more market research to decide. My first thought was Tar Heels blue, but I'm not sure how big a market there would be for that. There might be a market for something cute and pretty for girls.

You talked about both phone and pump cases that hold glucose. Which will be first on the agenda after the basic case?

The pump case will be next. I am hoping to partner with one of the pump companies to create an awesome case. I think it would be a great addition to the OmniPod case or the new t:Slim wallet.

  

Good luck, Scott! I for one believe we can't have too many ways to make carrying glucose easier, and I look forward to trying out your case myself. But I still want four credit card-flat Jack & Coke glucose in my wallet. And might I also suggest, that in terms of looks and colors of a new case... you might go with something that's blue for diabetes... Either way, looking forward to seeing how your product evolves!

  
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