Glooko raises $3.5M to connect meters to phones

By Brian Dolan
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glookoGlooko, which offers a simple glucose monitoring logbook app and a cable that connects meters to iPhones, recently raised $3.5 million in its first round of funding, which was led by The Social+Capital Partnership, and included return backers Bill Campbell, Vint Cerf, Judy Estrin and Andy Hertzfeld, Venky Harinarayan, Russell Hirsch and Xtreme Labs, according to various reports. The Social+Capital Partnership's founder and managing partner, Chamath Palihapitiya, has joined Glooko's board of directors, too.

The startup was co-founded by the head of a similar project at Johnson & Johnson's Lifescan division, which demonstrated an iPhone hooked up to a glucose meter via a cable way back in 2009. The prototype demonstrated on-stage at Apple's World Wide Developers Conference that year never actually launched commercially.

Currently, Glooko offers just two simple products: A cable that connects seven of the more popular blood glucose meters to the iPhone and a free, simple companion iPhone logbook app that stores readings. Glooko has solved a simple connectivity problem but is moving slowly toward more regulated products: Developing apps that offered trend analysis or coaching would require FDA clearance and requisite quality assurance work. The company's cable costs about $40 and is available on Amazon.

“Yes, our current paradigm is just a logbook,” Glooko Co-founder Anita Mathew told MobiHealthNews last year. “One differentiated piece is that we don’t have manual entry of blood glucose numbers. Those numbers are sucked out of the meter into [the app] via the cable,” she said. “Why do that and not just do what Glucose Buddy does? It’s a point of difference, for one, but also, if you talk to enough physicians out there, there is some skepticism among that group when a patient brings a hand written log book to them. They wonder, is it accurate enough? Did they forget to write down numbers? Or write 58 instead of 85? Or is it inaccurate because they could potentially make up numbers because they are afraid that their doctor is going to get upset with them?”

Glooko has 1,000 users now, according to statements made by Glooko executives to TechCrunch. Android versions of the app are in the works. The new funds will be used to develop apps and cords for other smartphone platforms. The money will also help the company market its wares to potential users.

Timed with the fundraising news, Glooko published a new version of its logbook app to the AppStore. The new version also includes support for Bayer's glucose meter, the Breeze 2. The app also now includes a food database, a 30-day logbook, and availability in Canada.

FDA-cleared Telcare, a cellular-enabled meter, recently went on sale and Sanofi's iPhone-enabled glucose meter, the iBGStar, which AgaMatrix developed, also recently received FDA clearance.