A Do-It-Yourself Artificial Pancreas System? Open Source Innovation Spotlight

Amazing. That was my reaction, and expect yours will be too, learning about the efforts of Dana Lewis and Scott Leibrand, true independent health innovators, on their closed-loop DIY Artificial Pancreas System (DIYPS). They began work on it in 2013, initially setting out to create a better glucose monitor alarm system–for example, one loud enough to wake someone before blood sugar dropped to dangerous levels. From that foundation, they set out to tackle “state-of-the-art medical technology that was stuck in the last century.”

After a full year of trial data (patient sample size: n=1… Dana herself) and lab-tests, they observed reduced eAG  and A1Cs (tests which show blood glucose levels over the prior 3 months).

what a closed loop #DIYPS artificial pancreas looks like
What a closed loop DIYPS artificial pancreas looks like

The DIYPS includes an insulin pump, and a cloud-connected continuous glucose monitor (with a receiver that auto-uploads).
From the DIYPS.org Blog:

#DIYPS was developed with the goal of solving a well-known problem with an existing FDA-approved medical device. As recounted here (from Scott) and here (from Dana), we set out to figure out a way to augment continuous glucose monitor (CGM) alerts, which aren’t loud enough to wake heavy sleepers, and to alert a loved one if the patient is not responding. We were able to solve those problems and include additional features such as:

  • Real-time processing of blood glucose (BG), insulin on board, and carbohydrate decay
  • Customizable alerts based on CGM data and trends
  • Real-time predictive alerts for future high or low BG states (hours in advance)
  • Continually updated recommendations for required insulin or carbs

…and as of December 2014, we ‘closed the loop’ and have #DIYPS running as a closed loop artificial pancreas.
Dana Lewis DIYPS one year findings data sustainability.

The pair are looking for funding “to develop #DIYPS into a scalable system” to help make managing diabetes easier. FDA approval notwithstanding, it’s hard to imagine how an open-source biomedical technology could meet with anything but excitement by those in need of a solution.

Dana writes: “Scott and I are hoping that we can not only show the world how open source innovation and new regulatory paradigms can deliver safe and effective results… but that we can also change how all successful medical device companies approach interoperability, and how traditional medical researchers do research – possibly in partnership with patient researchers like us.”

This is the kind of creative energy that improves (and even saves) lives. Open Source/DIY technology is one kind of innovation that would be exciting to see at Health Startup Weekend in May. Personal necessity is often the wellspring of innovation.  What will your legacy be?

To join in on the conversation around Dana and Scott’s project, visit #DIYPS  or #WeAreNotWaiting.

Brady Ryan and the WBBA: leading the charge to support healthcare innovation in Washington state

Brady Ryan is a Commercialization Manager at The Washington Biotechnology and Biomedical Association, and also volunteers as an organizer for Startup Weekend Bothell. We wanted to get his insight into Health Startup Weekend and the marriage of the biomedical and biotechnology worlds, how it all works together, and where there’s room for growth.

Image via Washbio.org

SW: You’re in an industry perfectly aligned with Startup Weekend Bothell’s biomedical and biotechnology theme. Were you in attendance at a previous Startup Weekend event? How did you and Brian (Crouch, principal organizer of SWBothell) come to be connected?

BR: We were introduced to Brian through Lynne Gregg, one of the mentors in our entrepreneur mentoring program (Washington Innovation Network for Life Sciences Entrepreneur Mentoring), and WBBA immediately saw the enormous potential for an event like this. I am familiar with Startup Weekend and the success of the model, and I believe that a health-focused event in Washington is well needed and well deserved.

In Washington, we are incredibly fortunate to have a unique and powerful convergence of entrepreneurs, engineers, geeks, healthcare providers, large employers, payers, and institutions. The trick is getting them all around the table, and finding the really good ideas to pursue.

SW: Why do you say we need and deserve a health-focused event?

BR: Washington has all the pieces necessary for health innovation: providers, employers, entrepreneurs, engineers, payers, etc. Events like this catalyze relationships and ideas that can move the needle in healthcare, and our resources here mean that ideas hatched at Startup Weekend have a great chance to turn into real innovations.

SW: Is there not enough attention paid to health sectors around the Pacific Northwest? Does tech take all the attention?

BR: As Chris Rivera (WBBA President and CEO) says, everyone in Washington knows who makes coffee, airplanes and software in our state. But people don’t know who invented ultrasound, opened the first dialysis clinic, or invented the cardiac defibrillator—all in Washington.

As an industry, we can do a better job of telling our stories and making ourselves visible. That said, when local companies like Juno raise $310M in their first year, and Adaptive Biotechnologies raise almost $200M and acquire a competitor, people start to take notice.

WBBA’s Innovative Health Initiative—click picture for link

SW: Would you encourage people to attend Startup Weekend? Why?

BR: I have been telling everyone I see to attend Startup Weekend. It is a fantastic opportunity to try your hand at entrepreneurship without any risk, learn valuable skills, and maybe even get in on the ground floor of the next multi-billion dollar health company! The skillset that you can learn in a few days, and the connections you can make are well worth the price of admission. Also, if we do our job organizing the event, it should be a blast!

SW: How did you get involved in the biomedical and biotechnology industry? How long have you worked in your current position? What’s your background?

BR: I was hired for an eight-week internship with the Washington Biotechnology & Biomedical Association right out of undergrad in 2012. I was fortunate enough to transition to a full time position as Commercialization Associate at the end of the internship, and eventually shifted to the Commercialization Manager role here. My background is in biology, but I would say my passion lies in working with entrepreneurs. Entrepreneurs are the most passionate, driven, and engaging people I’ve found, and everyone at WBBA love to help them however we can!

SW: Where were you born?

BR: I was born in Tacoma, a short, though traffic-ridden drive from Seattle.

SW: What’s your favorite band?

BR: My favorite band is The Weather Machine, [it’s] a friend of mine from college.


SW: What do you think the biomedical / biotechnology industry needs, as far as something a new, upstart startup could provide? To put it another way, what do you see as the best-case scenario coming from this upcoming Bothell Startup Weekend? What pie-in-the-sky thing would you like to see? What’s something immediate you’d like to see?

BR: There are a few things I would love to see come out of this event. First is a team that decides to move their idea forward after the weekend is over—and WBBA will be ready and willing to help them however possible. Second is a bit of press for the industry that brings the collective attention of the larger health community to Washington. Third is a bunch of people who learned about the health sector and how to be entrepreneurs.


A "Crash Course" in Founding a Startup: Meet Surya Jakhotia

Surya Jakhotia, a 9-year Microsoft (Bing) software engineer, now co-founded his own web traffic startup with a group of colleagues. Surya has attended two Startup Weekend events.
We were wondering what he’s been achieving since attending those Startup Weekends, and how he has applied the experience within his current project, Synthetic Traffic.

Q: Which events did you attend, and what teams were you part of?

SJ: I had attended Bellevue Startup Weekend in Oct 2014, where I was part of the team called Create Flow. I also attended the Kirkland Startup Weekend (makers edition) in November and December 2014, where I was part of the team Connected Backpack. We won the second place in this event.”

Surya with SW Kirkland Connected Backpack team
Surya with SW Kirkland Connected Backpack team
Q: I understand you’re working on a startup right now in addition to another career. If your project is not in stealth mode and you are free to talk about it, what is the company/product about?
SJ: Our product is called Synthetic Traffic  (www.synthetictraffic.com). We want to help businesses improve uptime of their public websites/servers/api by a) offering free round the clock monitoring and b) doing capacity analysis. USP of our product is the turnkey solution that we offer so that you are the first to know when your customers are facing issues and more importantly help you plan better to avoid any downtimes.
Q: Was Startup Weekend a big part of the development of your current project, at least in terms of finding partners/co-founders and building relationships?
 Surya with Create Flow team at Startup Weekend Bellevue
SJ: Absolutely. It helped me in two ways. Number one, it was a crash course on critical aspects of setting up a business – idea validation, customer acquisition strategies, team formation, go to market strategy, revenue model, all of which make an effective pitch. Second, it helped me network and forge relationships with mentors, like-minded entrepreneurs, and investors. The connections have already added tremendous value to how we are shaping our business. The series of pivots that we have had so far have each been influenced by key insights that we would have missed otherwise.
Q: Would you recommend Startup Weekend to anyone looking to start a new venture?
SJ: Yes. Anyone who is a first time entrepreneur (like me) or is looking to get involved in another startup would find the 54 hours that you spend here very valuable. You will be able to validate whether you are ready for this and if you do go forward with it, you will be able to take the hands-on learning that you had here into your venture.
Q: What other advice would you give to software professionals like you when looking to get involved in a startup or attending startup weekend?
SJ: The best way to utilize the time on the startup weekend is to A) Build something. During the process of building, force yourself to help with the other roles – marketing, sales, and business development, B) seek out mentors and listen to the key insights that they offer, and C) network with like-minded peers. Go for quality and not quantity where the objective should be to take those relationships beyond the startup weekend.
Q: What made you want to attend Startup Weekend originally?
SJ: We wanted to understand if we can really make a business out of what we were thinking about. This is where Startup Weekend helped a lot. After we attended it, we were like, ‘This sounds exciting.’ It was right after that when we decided to [quit our jobs at Microsoft]. The passion and energy that you see from people there for those 54 hours is incredible. To see something go from a conceptual idea to something that is working is amazing.
What will your legacy be? If Surya’s story inspires you, and you’ve got a dream to impact Health either with an idea of your own, or by joining with a great team, check out Health Startup Weekend or another Startup Weekend in your area.

(PR exec Glenn Smith contributed to this article).

Startup Weekend GIRLS Set To Inspire Seattle’s Entrepreneurs-In-The-Making

Seattle, WA – March 3, 2015 – On May 15, 16, and 17, entrepreneurs and creative minds will be taking over Lake Washington Girls Middle School – Seattle’s first middle school for girls.  – for a Startup Weekend like no other: one specifically designed for fifth through tenth grade GIRLS. Organizers and volunteers of Startup Weekend GIRLS have been working to ensure that this event provides not only inspiration, but also the resources required for building and launching a viable, scalable company. There has never been a Startup Weekend designed specifically for girls; it feels only natural that it happens first here in Seattle, and at a school for girls that was a startup in its own right.

Startup Weekends are about learning through the act of creating. Participants don’t just listen to theory; they present their own ideas, build their own products, and put them to test while collaborating with like-minded, passionate individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds and points of view. On top of that, Startup Weekenders receive invaluable one-on-one time with the movers and shakers within the community, as local tech and startup leaders take part in Startup Weekends as mentors/coaches and judges. Some of the people we have lined up for this year include Rebecca Lovell (Startup Liaison, City of Seattle), Monica Guzman (GeekWire), Casi Schwisow (Girls Who Code), T.A. McCann (RivalIQ), Stacey Kinked (Rivet & Cuff), Bryan Lhuillier (Shiftboard), and Zach Smith (Substantial).

Startup Weekend GIRLS Edition is specially designed for the next generation’s entrepreneurs-in-the-making, fifth through tenth  grade girls. Our team of highly innovative and connected mentors and judges will create an atmosphere of exercises and experiences that will teach girls how to come up with business ideas, conduct market research, prototype, work in teams, and “pitch” their ideas to a room full of people. Our goal is to give girls the confidence to innovate and create they will need to succeed in all aspects of life.

All Startup Weekend events follow the same basic model – which will massaged a little bit to fit the needs of our aspiring entrepreneurs: participants pitch their startup idea and receive feedback from their peers. Teams form around the top ideas (as determined by popular vote), and then it’s a frenzy of business model creation, coding, designing, and market validation. The weekends culminate with presentations in front of local entrepreneurial leaders with another opportunity for critical feedback. Everyone is guaranteed to leave the event better prepared to navigate the chaotic but fun world of startups.

If you’d like to get involved with Startup Weekend GIRLS, let us know here, or at lwgms.org/su-weekend-girls. If you are a girl in fifth through tenth grade and would like to attend, get your tickets soon…we only have 35-40 spots!

We hope to see you there!

For Additional Information Please Contact:
Contact: Shannon Blaisdell
Phone: (206) 709-3800
Email: swgirls@startupweekend.org
Twitter: @StartupWGirls
Website: Startup Weekend Girls
Tickets: Eventbrite

About Startup Weekend
Startup Weekend is a global grassroots movement of active and empowered entrepreneurs who are learning the basics of founding startups and launching successful ventures. It is the largest community of passionate entrepreneurs with over 1800 past events in 120 countries around the world in 2014. The non-profit organization is headquartered in Seattle, Washington, but Startup Weekend organizers and facilitators can be found in over 200 cities around the world. From Mongolia to South Africa to London to Brazil, people around the globe are coming together for weekend long workshops to pitch ideas, form teams, and start companies.


Ship it: Creators depend on creators

The Wright Brothers were never top-ranked pilots. J. Gutenberg, inventor of the printing press, did not become a famous author or journalist. Philo Farnsworth never produced a TV series, though he invented the television. Stradivarius the Luthier did not achieve worldwide fame as a violinist.

Names forever associated with their Art– and they didn’t need to learn to fly loop-de-loops, or play in a concert hall. They are a part of all that was to come.

The shipwrights of HMS Victoria did not travel with Magellan. Surgical tool engineers are not surgeons. Industrial designers of microphones and mixers tend not to have gold records or top ten hits.

So few ever learn the names of the craftsmen, the innovators, yet they too were a part of all that was to come from their efforts.

How much would never have happened, if not for people such as these? It’s unknowable.

And thus what they’ve produced for the world is beyond calculation.

Come join us at Startup Weekend Health.
What will your legacy be?



From Startup Idea to Working Prototype in 40 Hours? Meet Henry Wong

Unless your vehicle is less than 15 years old, it’s unlikely it has a rear-view camera with dashboard display built in. Rear-view / back-up cameras will be required on newly manufactured automobiles starting with the 2018 model-year, which leaves the vast majority of cars, over 200 million in the US alone,  without a camera or backup sensor. 80% of cars don’t have rear cameras or sensors, while 15,000 injuries occur per year due to slow-speed accidents (according to the NHTSA.) It’s worth noting that older-model cars are more likely to be driven by people most in need of reverse-visuals, such as new and inexperienced drivers, or those such as seniors with impaired ability to turn towards the rear of the vehicle while reversing.

In November 2014, 10 people, who’d met for the first time at Startup Weekend Kirkland, teamed up to find a solution for preventing accidents caused by vehicles without rear-display capabilities.

The Fensens Team at Startup Weekend Kirkland during judging final competition
The Fensens Team at Startup Weekend Kirkland

After-market technology is needed to close this gap. The team’s solution was a  wireless device for vehicles, using a universal standard mount on an easily-attached license-plate frame, returning visual, audible and tactile feedback to the driver’s smartphone (using Bluetooth technology.)

During the Startup Weekend over the course of two days, members of the Fensens team surveyed 120 people at local retail shops. They used social media and surveys to gather additional info. Of those surveyed, 82% lacked either a sensor or rear camera in their vehicles and all were willing to pay over $100 for an after-market unit.

I reached out to Henry Wong, who led the team and is also serving as a judge at Health Startup Weekend  in May for this interview:

Q: How are things going for the team and product now, 3 months later? What are your future plans?

A: Things are going well.  We’ve created a Fensens LLC, added marketing personnel, and have a subset of the original team working on improving the product and app as a version 2 minimal viable product.  We are in the process of filing a provisional patent from my original idea back in Oct 2014.  I’ve been invited as a guest speaker by Kirkland Chamber of Commerce in April to talk about the nature of being an entrepreneur and the startup experience.

Q: Competition is a given: what makes your model distinct from other aftermarket backup sensors on the market?

A: Our product and solution is unique because it is a first in class wireless sensor that can be easily installed and used in 5 min, on any vehicle, by consumers, without going through an aftermarket professional installer.

Q: How many jobs do you anticipate this product creating?

A: We’re not sure yet at this moment.  If it takes off, we will definitely need people to help grow and expand the success.  We’re focusing 1 step at a time.

Q: Are you considering a crowdfunding option for development?

A: Yes, the team is planning to do a Kickstarter to further validate the solution with our version 2 minimal viable product.

Q: Would you recommend Startup Weekend to anyone with an idea?

A: Yes, I would highly recommend Startup Weekend to anyone who has an idea or entrepreneur itch.  If you’re a person who watches Shark Tank and say to yourself, “I have an idea,” then Startup Weekend is a great place to start – it is like a mini-Shark Tank.  My original reason for doing the Startup Weekend was just to see and experience what startup is all about from ground zero.  Never in my wildest dreams did I think we were going to win 1st place out of a field full of talented people, especially our first time doing it.

Continue reading “From Startup Idea to Working Prototype in 40 Hours? Meet Henry Wong”

Tech Cocktail's "8 Ways" to Maximize Your Time Investment at Startup Weekend

Orren Prunckun, a veteran of Startup Weekends on three continents, recently wrote an article about how to get the most out of a Startup Weekend. His full post is very much worth a read. In his post he shares the logic undergirding each point below in depth, whereas I’m only posting the overview list here:

  1. Overcome procrastination.
  2. Meet people you can’t normally access.
  3. Network with potential co-founders.
  4. Deliberate team creation
  5. Validate a product
  6. Sell and make money
  7. Build a Minimum Viable Product  
  8. Win prizes 

I know several successful founders who can trace much of their path to success to attending Startup Weekend… the friendships they made, the professional networks, they tapped into. For example, Aviel Ginzburg, one of the founders of Simply Measured. In the video below (filmed at Thinkspace in Fremont) he shares about how many powerful relationships began with attending Startup Weekend when he arrived in Seattle:

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Startup Weekend

Lynne Gregg on the Future of Healthcare: "Telemedicine, 3D Printing, Internet of People, Evolving Models"

Lynne Gregg, a leading health industry Project Manager Consultant in Seattle, shared her predictions for the future of Healthcare in 2015 and beyond:

Technology advances, reform, and changing business models have begun to rock the core of the U.S. healthcare sector and the evolution will continue. I predict four areas will be standouts in 2015:

1. Telemedicine – The rapid adoption of the technology will occur in 2015, delivering cost-effective access to healthcare services, particularly in areas facing critial shortages of primary care physicians.ctor and the evolution will continue. I predict four areas will be standouts in 2015:

2. Medical Applications for 3D Printing – Whether it’s printing medical casts, prostheses, drugs, organs and other body parts, 3D printing (bioprinting) is a very exciting area. During 2014, many promising trials were in progress in leading medical research facilities and within big pharma.

3. Internet of People: There will be continued growth in wearables as tools for both prevention and chronic care monitoring.

4. The Evolving Healthcare Model: The traditional healthcare model is rapidly changing with the growth of ACO’s, employer wellness programs, and retail healthcare.

Each of these promises to improve quality of life and extend high quality services at lower costs than ever before.

Read more in depth and excellent analysis at her blog.

We think innovators in any of these areas would find powerful outcomes attending our startup weekend. Just a couple of months away!

wearables Lynne Gregg

Thank you to Health Startup Weekend sponsors! (part 1)

One of the reasons that Startup Weekend model is so accessible to the community is the generosity of businesses and organizations, ones that see the value in encouraging and fostering a culture of innovation in their areas of operation.

The University of Washington was our first sponsor. Through the efforts of the university’s Assistant Vice Chancellor, Kelly Snyder, we were provided an excellent event venue, including a lecture hall perfect for pitches and final demos, a “Collaboratory” which is ideal for working teams to hammer out ideas, and other rooms, including the Commons. With wi-fi, ample room, and security for teams to leave equipment overnight, this magnanimous arrangement couldn’t have been better for our needs. UW Bothell’s impressive academic programs are breaking new ground in STEM fields among many others. We’re excited to have the involvement of faculty and advisory board members as well.UW Bothell Startup Weekend Health briancrouch

Our first cash sponsor at the Gold level was Product Creation Studios. Located in the bustling south Lake Union area on Westlake and sitting above the space-age TESLA Motors dealership, the creative professional team at PCS engineers and designs products, both for startup entrepreneurs and for large enterprise. Their facility is an inventor’s wonderland, with machine tools and every design capability imaginable. Dave Szakelyhidi took a special interest in Health Startup Weekend and not only arranged for sponsorship, but also joined our team as an organizer, which represents an impressive commitment to our goals. Later, PCS heard about our need for a logo design and moved forward with it, producing an excellent design. Really, I think it’s one of the best logos I’ve seen for a Startup Weekend, and perfectly blends the uniqueness of our event with the worldwide UP Global design:

Health startup weekend logo


Our most recent Silver sponsor was the law firm of Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati. With long-standing roots in Silicon Valley and fourteen offices in technology, business, and regulatory hubs worldwide (including Seattle) WSGR has a national presence with a global reach. They’ve helped many entrepreneurs navigate the legal processes of launching, funding, and growing companies.

Without these sponsors, the organizers and I wouldn’t be able to make this event happen. Thanks again to all of them for their support.

Good ideas lead the way: Meet Daniela Luzi Tudor

Do you think you must have technical knowledge about medical engineering to come to an event like Health Startup Weekend? Or that you have to be involved in the health or biomedical industry in some way? Good news. Everyone is welcome. You only need a tangible idea to solve a problem, and the drive to share it. 

Take for example the story of Daniela Luzi Tudor, who led a team at Startup Weekend Kirkland in Nov. 2014. Daniela, the community development manager for General UI, lived in five countries in Europe before moving to the US west coast. She is passionate about music, technology, startups, art, and traveling. Another one of her ventures, SoundStrokes, brings music or sound into a visual medium: art from emotionally-relevant sounds.

Her pitch to Startup Weekend drew the attention of a team, and they chose the name EsperLINQ. They set out to design a mobile application and a biometrics & recovery-activities-tracking wearable to help the 25 million people in recovery. Her story could be similar to yours. She had a good idea for a long time, as she puts it, “in the back of my mind,” but between work and other ventures, hadn’t had the extra time to pursue it, or a team to work with her on it.  

Daniela says, “I didn’t arrive with technical background on developing apps or engineering sensors, but I knew I had an important problem to solve and I have launched other startups.” She presented her case during the one-minute pitch session at the Google HQ in Kirkland, and attracted a team of 9 others to help with the project:

from L to R: Back Row: Andrea Repka, Ian Lenny, Jacob Kukuk, Martin Ishihara, Dan Tebbs, Jodi Lasky, Michael Doerrie, Jason Jastillana Front Row: Daniela Luzi Tudor, Jen Mallory Not Pictured: Jimmy Taylor
Pictured above from L to R: Back Row: Andrea Repka, Ian Lenny, Jacob Kukuk,
Martin Ishihara, Dan Tebbs, Jodi Lasky, Michael Doerrie, Jason Jastillana
Front Row: Daniela Luzi Tudor, Jen Mallory
Not Pictured: Jimmy Taylor

They spent all of  Saturday and Sunday morning designing the app, the wearable, and even the branding and landing page (now under re-construction). The pressure was on: other teams were building inventions to control drones with hand gestures, drones to collect water samples, new nurse call buttons to save lives and make assisted care centers more efficient, bluetooth car backup camera, and affordable anti-theft car-tracking devices.

How did things turn out? “We won 3rd Place! Now, we are starting 2015 off to create the real world product and app!” She is in talks with venture capital firms, angel investors, planning for crowdfunding options, and continuing with project development for a new release & rebranding later this year.

But the story doesn’t end there. Within a few days of being a finalist at Startup Weekend, Daniela was flying to Necker Island to spend some time with none other than Sir Richard Branson: 

While the back-to-back wins weren’t directly connected, it’s interesting that good things happen when you pursue your dream with all you’ve got. This life isn’t a dress rehearsal.

Daniela with Richard Branson
Daniela with Richard Branson

One of the exciting things about Startup Weekend is a focus on Purpose. Technologies can improve or even save lives, instead of just being another trivial mobile app for a rarified technological elite. Daniela tells us that the EsperLINQ concept would not be where it is if not for taking the plunge that weekend. An event like Bothell Startup Weekend can help you take an idea from something you share with your friends or family over dinner, to something which can become an actual company. Take this opportunity to move your idea from the “sketch on a napkin” to reality. We’d love to help you achieve your dream.

Bothell startup weekend health logo