A year and a half ago, Lorenna Feliz Santos’s life changed dramatically when her youngest son was diagnosed with type one diabetes. She is the mother of three boys, aged 10 to 15 – the oldest of which also has type one diabetes.
“It was very traumatic and very difficult,” Feliz Santos told Refresh Miami. “It’s scary. As a parent, I was afraid something would happen to my kids at night – that they could have low blood sugar and die.”
Immediately, it became clear to this three-time founder that there were not many digital tools for diabetes management. One doctor advised her to log information on a piece of paper, and then scan and email it to them to look for trends. When she bought a new device for her son, another doctor suggested that she look for a YouTube tutorial to set it up. She reiterated the exasperation she felt in that moment: “I was in shock. YouTube? Really?!”
Feliz Santos tried to see what other diabetes management tools are out there. “I decided to do a bit of research with my team, and we found this massive opportunity to build something very different from what’s out there in the market,” Feliz Santos said. “We wanted to build something that really empowers people, supports them in their journey, and builds community.”
The result is DiaM, a startup that is developing a personalized diabetes care and management platform. “Our end goal is to bring all of the elements that a person with diabetes needs into a single unified system, so that they don’t have to go to five different places,” asserted Feliz Santos.
At the core of the platform is its community, which resembles a social media network with features including user profiles, groups, and news feeds with hashtags. Going forward, Feliz Santos plans to roll out the ability for users to track their day-to-day tasks related to managing diabetes.
While other platforms exist, many are only available through employers or insurance plans. Feliz Santos takes pride in the accessibility of her platform, which is free to users: “I want to make sure that everyone gets that same quality of care, no matter who you are. We have a huge focus especially on underrepresented communities.” This inclusivity is critical, since Feliz Santos reports that caring for a child with diabetes can cost upwards of $1,500 a month.
DiaM is currently in a private beta, but the startup is planning to launch publicly in November, aligning with National Diabetes Month. Feliz Santos has already teamed up with 50 influencers, and DiaM is also currently in talks with potential partner organizations with more than 500,000 combined members.
There is a globally dispersed group of eight full-time employees working alongside Feliz Santos, on top of a handful of interns the team has sourced by being part of FAU Tech Runway’s accelerator cohort. The link with FAU also provided DiaM with access to National Science Foundation funding, which enabled them to do user interviews with 50 medical providers over the last five weeks. “It’s been absolutely amazing,” Feliz Santos said of the accelerator program. “FAU Tech Runway has given me more than I even expected.”
Readers can join DiaM’s community by visiting their website.
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