Diabetes is a disease that affects thousands of people worldwide every year. At present, statistics related to diabetes are quite shocking – more than 1.5 million people die due to diabetes every year. Diabetes problem is seen in 9 percent of the youth worldwide. Most of these people suffer from type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes. Since many people are not fully aware of diabetes, this disease is increasing day by day. The glucose level monitoring before and after meals makes diabetics’ lives crucial and it is hectic to check the glucose level frequently through traditional methods. Many times those methods provide false values that might affect the patients’ health.
In this context, to empower diabetics and make their lives easier, Alertgy provides a non-invasive wearable continuous glucose monitor and alert system to measure true blood glucose. Mr. Marc Rippen, CEO of Alertgy, and his team of experts at Alertgy are revolutionizing the health sector with their innovation and cutting-edge offerings.
In a conversation with Mr. Marc, he shared his views on the current industry scenario and what Alertgy is all about.
- Brief us about the company.
Alertgy provides the first non-invasive wearable continuous glucose monitor and alert system to measure the true blood glucose. It sets diabetics free from having to think about taking glucose measurements by allowing for fully automated, continuous monitoring with pre-set alerts for low or high glucose levels, as set by the user. The medical device and diagnostic industry are constantly growing and changing, with new technologies being introduced to the market all the time. We are entering a new era of medicine that will be significantly impacted by the incredible growth and breakthroughs in wearables, cloud-based IoT sensor systems, application of AI 10, and digital health. Our vision is to provide a product and service to save and improve the quality of life for diabetics and help those that are borderline diabetics from becoming diabetic.
- What were the initial challenges you faced?
Throughout the initial three years of development, there have been a few challenges we have faced and had to overcome. Initially, we had to determine the correct placement of our device to maximize our accuracy and reliability over a long-term period. After this was established, we have focused on sensor development to get the highest quality data and stability within our device. This is an ever-evolving process inside our research and development team, and we will continue to improve our device so we can deliver the highest quality product to our customers when we begin manufacturing.
- Which was that point that triggered the growth of the company?
The foundation of Alertgy was due to a tragedy, I found my wife nearly slipping into a diabetic coma and became unresponsive due to being in a prolonged low blood sugar state. After I was able to rehabilitate her, I took a stronghold of the situation and started Alertgy.
- How have the company graphs changed since the foundation? Can you share a few statistics?
In addition to having grown to 12 full time and 6-part time employees, the company was also able to move into a dedicated building within the incubator complex and obtain 3D printers and valuable analytical equipment. In August 2020 we secured our first US utility patent and are now applying for patents in Europe and Asia. We won a valuable contract from the US Army Research Labs (ARL) SEMI program to build 12 biometric units for troop health monitoring and just delivered the devices to the Army. This is the first commercial grade product for Alertgy, called DeepGluco. Using this wristband platform, we also added the glucometer sensor, which we are entering into clinical trials later this year.
- What is the reason behind your company’s long-standing success?
There are many reasons, including desire/readiness to shoot for the stars, entrepreneurial spirit, believing in the science behind our device, trust in our people to do their utmost, and providing a compelling story to our investors and prospects.
- What are the products the company focuses on?
Alertgy is a pioneer in 100% non-invasive continuous blood glucose monitoring technology. Through the use of its patented radiofrequency sensor Alertgy’s DeepGluco wearable device can accurately measure blood glucose in real-time, up to 3 times per minute. Most importantly, using our proprietary AI algorithm, DeepGluco can provide invaluable, up to the minute life-saving alerts to the users and their designated HCPs. Unlike other CGMs, we eliminate interstitial lag as well as painful and uncomfortable side effects of patches, needles, and implants associated with. The final DeepGluco form factor will be similar to modern smartwatches, available to consumers following FDA approval.
- How do you decide to take the company a step further in terms of your products?
We base the next steps based on documented scientific research before we delve into possibilities of investing and building additional products and services.
- Is there any new addition to the list of products/services? Anything exciting you would like to share?
Yes, we are currently funding research to determine the feasibility of using our patented sensor technology to detect virions like Covid-19 and others through the respiratory build-up.
- Can you please brief us about your professional experience?
I was a former army officer, and most recently the director of Engineering for the Marine and Space Technology Division of Stanford Research Institute (SRI) International. I hold degrees in microbiology, analytical chemistry, and aeronautics. I have always been involved in the development of technology to solve critical problems starting as a material engineer at Pratt & Whitney where I managed advanced research and development programs that supported the development of advanced materials for jet and rocket engines.
I then transitioned to become a field engineer for leading atomic and molecular spectroscopy companies where I provided turnkey solutions to materials analysis for a broad variety of industries from agriculture to environmental to manufacturing to advanced research and development in leading research institutions. From there I became the director of the FIU College of Engineering NASA tech transfer center where I helped companies utilize NASA technologies in the commercial arena. In this role, I helped small businesses raise venture capital and pursue SBIR and STTR programs to fund the commercialization of their technologies. From there I co-founded an Internet Start-up company and raised 1 million dollars and eventually was able to take the company public in an acquisition. The combination of my education and experience allowed me the means to launch Alertgy and bring it to where it is today.
- What are the key achievements of your entrepreneurial journey?
Alertgy currently employs 12 full-time and 6 part-time employees in a family-friendly, growth-focused environment. The management strives to provide a stimulating, entrepreneurial environment where employees are rewarded and enticed by a combination of competitive salaries, stock options, and benefits. The company has grown to 12 full-time and 6 part-time employees, hiring leading experts and talent from electrical, mechanical, and AI engineering along the way. We’ve won numerous health tech awards, Medtech accelerator challenges, obtained our first US patent, and completed two proof-of-concept studies. We are in the process of raising $10M Series A funding for our first set of clinical trials.
- How do you look after your employees? What makes your team unique?
Being a tech start-up we understand that our people and their skills are the key ingredients on our journey and our future success. As such, we have a fairly informal set of corporate guidelines and encourage employees to share their ideas, thoughts, and input, no matter how trivial. We are lucky to have some of the best minds in the industry working at the company and pride ourselves on what we’ve been able to achieve in a short amount of time with our team. A cohesive team that moves as one is paramount to success. All our employees are incentivized with stock options/stock, as well as regular compensation.
- Is there any special experience with your clients you would like to highlight?
We are still in the pre-clinical / pre-revenue stage so at this time we don’t have special experiences.
- One person who you admire the most?
I have always enjoyed helping people overcome technical problems, where I could apply my out-of-the-box thinking skills to creatively solve their challenges. I admire my father who inspired me to become an entrepreneur by successfully establishing a start-up in his late 50’s. However, due to traumatic personal experiences—my father’s demise due to diabetes and my wife’s transition from gestational diabetes to Type2—ultimately pushed me towards the medical device industry. Consequently, to develop a non-intrusive blood sugar monitoring system to help diabetics, I established Alertgy in 2016.
- Whose business story do you find the most inspiring?
Richard Branson’s and Werner von Braun’s
- Constant vigilance- a need or a strategy? Please share your views.
It’s a combination of both and they have to complement each other along the way. Without a well- thought out and developed strategy, constant vigilance is useless, and vice versa. Fail to plan, plan to fail.
- It’s a rat race out there. How do you cope with that?
We commit ourselves to work hard and playing hard. Having a balance, especially in a start-up with young staff, is important in keeping everyone committed yet relaxed and engaged to accomplish their respective tasks.
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