Innovation Challenge Blog

Follow The Data, and Your Heart

This week, finalist explains how they use big data and passive monitoring to support people living with diabetes.

Guest post written by Karan Singh and Anmol Madan,,

At (pronounced “ginger-eye-oh”), we’re all about big data and better health. We are strong believers in passively harnessing digital traces of behavior to develop meaningful insights into your health. For people living with diabetes, our goal is to provide an automated “check engine light,” activating a social support network that can help individuals stay on track.

We’re still early in our development and are traveling up a steep learning curve. Here are some of the lessons we’ve learned so far.

Find Your Passion
We found ours. We have family and friends that deal with diabetes on a daily basis. Early detection and proper treatment are critical in addressing this national public health crisis. As the prevalence of diabetes grows, it has become clear to us that there are few issues which are more important to the health of our country and the world. This passion and frustration with the current state of affairs helps us power through the sleepless nights and inevitable setbacks and push forward to create a better product.

The issue deserves our creative energy. We intend to help people cope with their condition as well as help them care. We believe information equals advantage, and with the right information people can take control of their health.

Follow the data. And your heart.

Join (or Build) a Movement
Healthcare in the U.S. is broken. There has to be a better way to treat those that are ill and keep the rest healthy. Fortunately, many in this country share the sentiment and the movement is growing. We know innovation occurs at the intersection of disciplines and the juncture between healthcare and technology is no exception. More and more people are “hacking medicine”. As recent MIT graduates, it’s in our DNA. By leveraging technology and an interactive approach, we can help drive down costs while improving access to quality care. Through partnership with others who share that vision, we can move the community forward.

Worry less about competition. This is a big space. Focus on solving one problem really well and the rest will flow.

Find Mentors Early
We’ve experienced the importance of great advice in guiding our product development. Fortunately, the Innovation Challenge connected us with some fantastic advisers, including Jeff Gothelf () and Richard Banfield (). They helped us hone in on two key re-design goals from our early concepts, personalization and simplicity. While healthcare has traditionally moved slowly, there is hope. We found champions here in Cambridge, MA and across the country who want to help.

Find early adopters that can get you off the ground quickly, learn from them, and enable them to help champion your cause with others.

Get Outside
As Steve Blank reminds us, “no facts exist inside the building, only opinions.” Real, uncut feedback is both daunting and rewarding. And thanks to your support, we’re getting a whole lot of it. For example, as finalists of the DDD challenge, we get a chance to gather feedback from the community in a month-long community uptake exercise. Get involved in your target community and take a walk in their shoes, just like we did when, inspired by the MIT Age Lab, we walked around with pins and needles in our shoes to simulate diabetic neuropathy.

Develop experiments, test your hypotheses, and remind yourself that this is about people.

Aim High
Do something meaningful. We see big opportunities to make an impact at scale through health tech entrepreneurship. Our ability to harness mobile data has applications beyond health, but ultimately we are about understanding our communities and the people living in them. We see implications for massive, passive behavior data to improve public health delivery, from marshaling medical resources to identifying epidemics. And we see a chance to advance the state of clinical research and understanding for how we develop new, more personalized treatments. This mission has helped us recruit new teammates and new resources to accelerate our momentum.

There’s a lot to fix. Do your part. You may be surprised at who’s willing to join you for the ride.

Thanks, Team DDD!
Regardless of your business model, being patient centered should be your true north. The DDD team has given us a fantastic opportunity to maintain this cardinal direction. A big thank you for giving us a chance to take this journey. We’re honored to be part of these early efforts, and have taken big strides in the past few months. Look out for exciting new developments as we continue on our journey.

About The Authors
Karan Singh and Anmol Madan are Co-Founders at

Karan recently earned an MBA from MIT Sloan as part of the Harvard-MIT Health Science & Technology (HST) program, and a fellowship through the MIT Legatum Center for development through entrepreneurship. He is currently taking time off from Harvard to run with He has worked in healthcare informatics, management consulting, and mobile venture investments. Follow him on Twitter .

Anmol Madan is a recent Ph.D. from the MIT Media Lab where he modeled large-scale human behavior data using statistical and pattern recognition methods, and was part of the team that won the DARPA Red Balloon challenge. Previously, he worked at Microsoft as a Technical Program Manager focused on mobile development. Anmol’s research has been featured in several academic publications and in the popular media. Learn more at