Data Design Diabetes: An Interview with Innovation Challenge Winners Ginger.io
As part of Sanofi US’s World Diabetes Day activities on November 14th, we announced the winner of the Data Design Diabetes Innovation Challenge: Ginger.io. The goal of the Challenge was to foster innovation of new products and services for people living with diabetes through data and design. After three rounds of competition, the judges awarded Ginger.io with the grand prize of $100,000 and up to one month at the new Rock Health incubator in San Francisco.
Sanofi’s Michele Polz had a chance to catch up with Anmol Madan, Ph.D., Ginger.io’s CEO and Karan Singh, head of marketing and sales, to learn more about their product and what they thought about the Challenge experience.
|Anmol Madan, Ph.D. and Karan Singh of Ginger.io were named winners of the
Data Design Diabetes Challenge on World Diabetes Day
Michele: I’d love to learn a little bit more about Ginger.io, but before we start, can you tell us how you came up with the name?
Karan Singh: Sure. So, the origin for Ginger.io is that, when we were younger our mom used to feed us ginger and honey before we got sick. So, it’s a nod to prevention and wellness. And the “io” is a geeky reference – we both come from MIT – to input and output. So, using the data, making sense of the data and providing some value. It was actually a placeholder and it just kind of stuck.
Michele: Now that we know a little bit more about the background on the name, can you tell us about the application itself?
Anmol Madan: Absolutely. So the idea behind Ginger.io is using passive data from your phone – movement, communication – and building models of a person’s behavior and tying them to health outcomes. So trying to understand what happens when a patient is experiencing symptoms, how that can be used to provide early alerts and help them manage their condition using social support by reaching out to their friends or family members with the patient’s permission.
Michele: The judges all noted the importance of passive data collection in your service offering. Can you tell us a little bit more about this critical component?
Karan Singh: Absolutely. I think it’s very much a key part of how we approach the problem, which is to integrate into a patient’s life. Not having to change behavior to collect data in order to then try to change their behavior. So the way that the app works is that it runs passively in the background and collects statistics about behavior without a user actually having to self-report that information. And then we look at that data in the background and start to make sense of it and draw some inferences about your mental state.
Michele: And also, this challenge included a mentorship component to champion your team’s growth. How did this aspect of the challenge actually help your team?
Karan Singh: It helped tremendously. We got access to a fantastic group of mentors. And then just through the broader ecosystem of people reaching out to us, I think, as a result of this challenge. We got a lot of great feedback from the community, both people living with diabetes, clinicians that work with patients and just from family members that we know and that some of our teammates know that have given us very direct feedback around how the application could be used.
Michele: And the semi-finalist stage was short to encourage the rapid prototyping. Can you tell us a little bit more about how this shaped your prototype itself?
Anmol Madan: Absolutely. So I think we’re a very strong technical team, even though we were much smaller during the competition – now we’re starting to grow. And our biggest asset is being able to take an idea and create a prototype, deploy, and test with users in a matter of weeks. And I think the short period of iteration really worked for us, going from a single idea or a mock-up to a working version of our system.
Karan Singh: And one thing to add, I think it also forced us to simplify. To be able to choose one thing and do that right. And I think when we started we were a bit overwhelmed with the vastness of the problem and the different solutions that are out there.
|Michele Polz congratulates the Ginger.io team on their success in winning the Data Design Diabetes Challenge|
Michele: So, now that you have the check in your hand, what’s next for Ginger.io?
Anmol Madan: I think it really is scaling up and making this real. Going from a project that’s been validated with a few users and that’s functional to something that’s broadly validated in terms of the savings it can have for the systems and improvements it can have for the patients and using the resources to which we now have access to pursue that. That’s really our target for the next few months.
Michele: And you’re off to Rock Health as well?
Karan Singh: Yeah, we’re excited. Should be great.
Michele: Great. Well, thank you again.
For more information about Ginger.io check out their website at http://ginger.io.
Disclosure: Karan Singh and Anmol Madan received no compensation for this post. All opinions contained in this post reflect those of the interviewees, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies or affiliates.