ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: Hedia, the success story of a personal diabetes assistant

ALUMNI SPOTLIGHT: Hedia, the success story of a personal diabetes assistant

27-Aug-2019

At Startupbootcamp we meet thousands of founders and startups every year. Some of them spark like no other, and when we find these rising stars, we don’t miss the chance to invite them to join one of our accelerators and work together to scale up their business. This has been the case with Peter Lucas and Hedia, a personal diabetes assistant that joined our Digital Health Berlin Accelerator back in 2017. Fast forward to 2019, Hedia is rocking the Digital Health space and just raised €2M to scale up and take their awesome product to the next level.

We met Peter Lucas, CEO and Founder of Hedia, to know more about his success story so that it can inspire many other founders and innovators out there. Enjoy the interview below!

Hello Peter! Tell us something about your professional background and how you started Hedia.
Peter:
Well, it’s no secret that I have diabetes type 1. So the main reason I started Hedia was my personal burning desire to make life with diabetes feel as normal as possible. 
When I was diagnosed with type 1, it came as a complete shock to me. This is something that happens to your neighbour. The guy behind you at the store. Not you.
I remember standing outside the hospital thinking that my life was about to change forever. Nothing would ever be the same again. And that I had absolutely no clue, how to cope with the disease.
For years I tried several tools and apps, that the market had to offer. But I wasn’t very good at taking care of myself and no tool seemed to work for me. So in short – it’s a mind-bender getting diagnosed with diabetes and it can be challenging to navigate in the world of diabetes: having to understand blood sugar levels, carb counting, insulin doses etc.
The most challenging part though is to declutter your mind from a chaotic mess of a thousand daily thoughts. And this is why I started Hedia – a diabetes app, that aims to make life with diabetes a bit easier.
As for my professional background –  I have a bachelor’s degree in innovation and entrepreneurship. So of course my natural interest in entrepreneurship and building something from scratch that is useful to people was a major motivational factor as well.  I have also founded other startups before. I’ve done the famous trial and error – and all of the mistakes I have made in these startups have now been turned into knowledge, that I’ve used to build Hedia.

What pain point are you solving and how?
Peter:
Hedia is, in a nutshell, an advanced bolus calculator that gives the users an insulin dose recommendation based on their current blood glucose level, how many carbs they intake, their physical activity and if they have any active insulin in their blood already.
So the pain points Hedia is solving are my own – and similar paint points that the rest of the approximately 191 million people diagnosed with insulin-dependent diabetes have: 1. difficulties with calculating carbs and 2. a brain in serious overdrive trying to control the disease at all times.
Imagine having to count the carbs of every snack you take and every sip you drink to figure out how much insulin you should take. With Hedia you don’t have to imagine – Hedia will do the work for you.

What markets are you currently targeting and are you planning to expand your business in other markets?
Peter:
Right now we’re approved as a medical software device in Europe. 
When being a health startup you have certain requirements you have to live up to for safety and health reasons. We are currently in the process of getting  FDA approval to enter US, which we are expecting to get no later than Q3 in 2020.
I believe (as cheesy as it may sound), that we’ll really be able to make a difference in the US. After that.. Well, you’ll just have to wait and see!

Any recent progress and achievements?
Peter: We have just closed a 2 million Euro round of funding, which we’re very proud of.
This means that 1) We’ll be able to scale our great team again 2) We have the resources to pursue the approval process of the FDA and 3) We can start new clinical trials testing our advanced machine learning algorithm.
Oh, and then we’re also working on our awesome premium version of Hedia, which we’ll be launching anytime soon.

What are your goals for the next year?
Peter: Definitely getting the FDA approval, getting our clinical trials started to validate our machine learning, and acquisitioning a lot of delighted users to the premium version of Hedia.

Tell us more about your current team.
Peter: Just 15 months ago Hedia’s team consisted of our 3 founders.
Today we are a team of 12. A team that is best described as a micro cosmos of specialized geeks. We have our mobile developers, data scientists, doctors, nurses, marketers, quality assurance specialist and designers.
As a health tech company it’s non-negotiable that we need the absolute best. A successful startup is only as smart as it’s team. That’s why I never introduce someone to the team before I’m as certain as I can be that they fit in with the team spirit and our environment.

How did the SBC Digital Health Accelerator support your growth?
Peter: The SBC kickstarted our journey.
Those three months translated into a year’s worth of development of our company.
We worked intensely for more than 80 hours a week in a basement,  surrounded by mentors who constantly challenged our ways of thinking. We were thrown to the lions at mentor and investment day going from table to table while pitching to highly competent professional experts.
At Startupbootcamp you really learn how to get your ducks in a row – and how to keep the momentum going.  
Last but not least it was networking within the SBC that got us our very first investment.

Final words of wisdom to fellow founders.
Peter: Just keep pushing yourselves and stay focused.
… and drink coffee.