Interview Series: Amin Zayani, LBNN 2017 Winner

We are excited to share our interview with our Patient Entrepreneur and 2017 Lyfebulb Novo Nordisk Summit winner, Amin Zayani. As a T1D since 2006, a solar energy engineer by training, and hardware expert by trade, Amin is revolutionizing pharmaceutical care through his creation of Med Angel.

Hi Amin! Tell us a little about yourself.

I was born and raised in Tunisia, and then moved to Germany for studies. I graduated as a solar energy engineer, and then worked in Berlin for several start-ups. I was lucky to work closely with the founding teams, both in engineering and business roles. I was diagnosed with T1D in 2006, but my diagnosis was not a big deal to me, because my brother has had T1D since age three. Since his diagnosis in 1994, our family had a special relation with carb-counting, insulin, and everything that comes with it.

What drove you to start MedAngel?

I woke up one morning in August 2013 with high blood glucose. And despite injecting many corrections from several insulin pens, it wouldn’t go down. I ended up in ER that day (luckily without major complications).

 I went home with a fresh batch of insulin after a couple of hours, but I was frustrated and determined to understand the cause of the problem.

I traced the cause to my malfunctioning refrigerator, which froze my entire stock of insulin overnight, and then defrosted it again. Unfortunately, the damage was irreversible. I was aware of insulin’s vulnerability to heat, but I never suspected it to be at risk when stored as instructed in my refrigerator. I hacked a simple solution using some electronics I had lying around (a microcontroller, a thermometer and a buzzer) and I showed it around at local meet-ups. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive, I quickly understood that this is an overlooked problem that affects millions of people and that there was also a market opportunity. I quit my job, invested all my savings and a loan from the bank, and joined Rockstart Digital Health Accelerator in the Netherlands. MedAngel was born as an easy to use, reliable and affordable solution in early 2017. The solution consists of a wireless Bluetooth temperature sensor that is kept with insulin and communicates with an App on the phone. The App supports all types of insulin on the market in the USA and EU (plus a couple of hundred hormones and biologics), and knows the safe ranges for stored or opened meds and alerts you only when there is a real danger.

Why should people buy MedAngel?

Our mission at MedAngel is to eliminate the uncertainty about insulin’s potency. We believe that no one should ever have an insulin pen in their hand and not know if it is still good to use or not. Many of our users have one sensor with their stock in the refrigerator, and one with the insulin they carry on the go. Many of them started using it for their travels, and we noticed that a majority of users place them in cool bags or Frio pouches in summer (to make sure that the protection works well). To summarise I would say that our solution achieves the following:

1. Bringing peace of mind and reducing some the burden of living with diabetes

2. Ensuring optimal therapeutic outcomes of insulin and other drugs

3. Avoiding financial waste by giving early alarms before it is too late, or avoiding discarding medication because of doubt.

How do you feel about winning the LBNN17 award?Our team is honoured and proud to win this award, especially after competing with such high-level start-ups! We worked very hard to do the pitch, and we wanted to stand out with a unique proposition and story. I have not felt happier in my life! For me personally it feels like a well-deserved recognition after 3 years of non-stop hard work. For us as a team, it is proof that we are doing things right, and that we work well together.

What does this award mean for you and your company?

It is a major milestone for our company! It feels like everything we were doing, everything that was on hold is falling in place! Business leads, investments, projects. We were overwhelmed with the number of emails, calls and inquiries that we received in the next few days: all major pharma companies got in touch with us, people sent us their CVs because they want to work with us, VC funds from Europe and the USA. The validation, exposure and visibility that came with winning the award are priceless. Thanks again to your team and to Novo Nordisk for making it happen.

What is next for MedAngel?

Great things! Big and ambitious plans! We need first to close our fundraising round (which I hope we will announce soon), then we will focus on growing the business and scaling up. We plan on reaching more users worldwide, and keep our high user satisfaction.We are also concentrating on working with a select number of pharmaceutical companies to make their digital transformation happen, and together bring a nicer, richer user experience to all people living with chronic conditions.

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