Jeff Dachis is a really smart guy. He’s the co-founder and former CEO of Razorfish, the world’s leading global digital marketing solutions company, and a “serial entrepreneur” who advises investors on a number of companies that wield technology to disrupt traditional industries.

Now, he’s also one of us — diagnosed with type 1 LADA diabetes about 18 months ago. Not surprisingly, he almost immediately went to work on a Big Idea to disrupt diabetes care and the system supporting it.

That idea is known as OneDrop, his newest startup company based in New York that hopes to remake the glucose meter into something “cool and badass,” while creating a simple, affordable subscription service for diabetes supplies, plus a mobile management platform that will make our data more meaningful for us AND allow shared learnings from all the collected data on blood sugar trends in real life.

“We hope to radically simplify (PWD’s) lives in the process,” Dachis says.

Watch OneDrop’s debut video from the super-techy San Francisco-based LAUNCH Festival event March 4, 2015:

Cue chuckle: Right, new guy with big tech background thinks he has it all figured out…

I spent over an hour with Dachis on the phone last week, learning about his approach. He’s certainly passionate, and also humble enough to say, “Look, I’m a newbie. I’m not pretending to have all the answers… But we are gonna make a hard run at making the lives of people with diabetes much better.”

You can’t argue with the goal, at least…

Here’s what I learned about the OneDrop concept:


Badass-ing the Meter

Speaking our language in terms of diabetes design, Dachis says he wants to overhaul the design of traditional glucose meters, to address the emotional component of being dependent on a medical device, and give people some of that “cool gear” buzz.

“Right now the design (of most meters) is crappy and depressing. It doesn’t make you feel good about what you’re doing. We want to make the data capture experience almost joyful or empowering. As in, life is to be lived!” he says.

Their initial prototype, shown in the launch video, is a stick-style meter with color screen and a slick sleeve-case that appears to be hard plastic or even leather. Dachis says this is not the final design, but it exemplifies the direction they’re headed: diabetes badass.  

The meter connects to a phone app with big, bright, color-coded circles for easy logging of food, meds, and exercise alongside glucose values. The app is also set up for users to snap photos of their meals, to help keep track of portions and learn from previous dosing decisions.


Big Data Ambitions

The big idea is to make this all open and shareable – including location information so the community can see who’s doing what nearby (reminiscent of the HelpAround app).  Dachis envisions a community in which people can view and comment on each others’ results, and more importantly, all of these thousands of data points on people’s real-life D-experiences can finally be compiled and analyzed.

Dachis cites his experience working with enormous sums of Big Data and algorithms that allow us to put pieces together in ways that were impossible until now:

“Until recently, you didn’t have a ton of data on how people were actually living their day-to-day lives with diabetes, or any other aspect of their lives for that matter — you didn’t have a Waze platform that gives us the ability to transmit traffic data in real-time to enable people to safely, effectively, and efficiently get on their journey to the airport or wherever they’re going.

“Now collectively we have the ability to share that data about how we live our lives, how we get to the airport, or how we test our glucose or what kind of food we eat with each other in near real-time.

“When I was diagnosed I thought, there has to be somebody who’s cracked this code already – there has to be the cool gear, the stuff that’s going to combine Internet of Things, Quantified Self-ers, Mobile Computing and Big Data into something that would be useful for people to learn from each other.

“Maybe there is, but I didn’t have it readily available to me, and I wasn’t clear on where that stuff was in the marketplace. So I started thinking about the problem and OneDrop is really the result of that.”

This is what Dachis and his “ragtag team” of 10, located in New York and Austin, TX (where Dachis’ family resides), are working on now.  They’re agnostic as to where the data comes from, meaning they hope to eventually integrate with CGMs, Tidepool and any other diabetes data platforms or sources, and are beginning to explore those partnerships now.


Telling Stories

Everything users log in the OneDrop app will be automatically and anonymously shared with the community — eventually allowing us to capture and compare multitudes of “stories” for collective learning.

He defines a story as “all of the activity that happens between two good glucose readings.” Data patterns in fitness, food, insulin and glucose will emerge from these stories, he says. “Those are the patterns we’re deriving insights from.” Users will be also be able to anonymously follow specific other users, whose patterns may particularly interest them.

Dachis is convinced that “being more mindful by logging and then sharing and learning from it will yield a new kind of information that hasn’t been present in the diabetes community to date. For example, I could see: How do other people handle weddings or birthdays? Or eat burritos? How do they go about their daily lives with diabetes?”


Disrupting Healthcare

OneDrop’s other big ambition is to disrupt the legacy healthcare system in this country that’s focused on treating illness rather than keeping people healthy. He’ll do this not only by putting the power of information into patients’ hands, but also slashing the cost of supplies by doing what Dollar Shave or Harry’s Razors have done for the world of shaving supplies – introducing a low-cost subscription model that cuts out the middle men.

The details on pricing and insurance reimbursement strategy are a bit fuzzy here, but Dachis claims they can navigate the market despite the hurdles.

He says that in markets where people can afford their sleek new meter and strips, patients will pay out of pocket, and that through successful use, they’ll gradually show the efficacy and then insurance companies will want to cover it. {Oooh, how we hope it’s that easy!}

Other companies making a similar play include Livongo, but the difference there is that the Livongo InTouch meter is connected to a Call Center for live access to healthcare professionals, which presumably is an incentive for Payers to get on board. “But you only have access to your own data, you’re not really sharing it with anybody else” whereas OneDrop is focused on sharing and learning, Dachis points out.  

Whether he can pull off disruption or not, we couldn’t agree more with his assessment of the critical need:

“The existing incentives for doctors, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies are so perverted. Doctors and hospitals are paid by procedure, and the more expensive the better. And pharma gets paid by the more you use drugs, the better… The system isn’t designed to keep you well and using less drugs.”


OneDrop App (and AppleWatch)

Let’s be clear that this is very early days for OneDrop; their presentation at Jason Calacanis‘ startup conference LAUNCH was by invitation of the organizer himself – who loves to have the absolute most cutting-edge stuff presented, even if it’s still mostly in idea phase.

The Bluetooth-enabled OneDrop meter isn’t yet fully designed, but they’re hoping to bring it to market by the end of 2015, or early 2016.

Meanwhile the app, which “is all manual right now” is in beta, scheduled to launch in mid-April. It will be free and initially available for iPhone only, with Android coming later. An Apple Watch version will launch simultaneously.

“It allows logging, sharing, and invites users to follow people. The logging function is similar to other apps, except a little more intuitive to use. And it has photo capturing for meals. The idea is simplified logging in all one place, and eventually the relationships, patterns and stories emerging will enable people to make better choices,” Dachis says. Note that the phone itself will function as an accelerometer, automatically capturing movement like walking (other workouts will need to be manually logged).

Dachis is happy to be included in the Apple Watch, but also realistic about its constraints. “It’ll be a relatively limited place to get notifications, and glance at how your day is progressing with the health data you’ve entered manually on the phone,” he says. Like OneDrop itself, the Watch’s primary use will be to make measurement super-easy so people can be continuously mindful of their health parameters.

In short, OneDrop’s aim is to reduce complexity and help people manage what they measure, Dachis says.

“When I was diagnosed, I got 12 minutes with a nurse practitioner – I didn’t even get to see the endo. They gave me a pamphlet, an insulin pen, and a prescription and sent me on my way. I was really angry! I thought, ‘this is healthcare?’ 

“Now for the first time, with the Internet of Things, the Quantified Self movement, Mobile Computing and Big Data maturing, the beginnings of real data-driven healthcare are coming to fruition. I’m hoping we can provide tools tapping our own data that we can use to keep each other well.”

We’re definitely anxious to see where OneDrop lands.