Roche Ventures, iSeed Fund invest $4.8M in diabetes app company mySugr

By Brian Dolan
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mySugr Importer ScanAustria-based diabetes app company mySugr has raised $4.8 million from Roche Ventures and iSeed Ventures. Existing investor XLHealth also contributed to the round, which will help mySugr scale up its user base in the US and other other countries. iSeed Ventures is a new fund that has only made a half dozen investments so far, and it is led by former iHealth Lab head Adam Lin.

MySugr offers a handful of apps, but its flagship is called Diabetes Logbook, which is designed for people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes and includes logging, graphing, analysis, "exciting challenges", "smile-inducing feedback", and Apple Health integration. If users sign up for a month-to-month or annual subscription, pro features include additional challenges, automatic blood glucose logging from connected devices, reminders, and more report formats. Its Logbook app is registered as a class 1 device with the FDA and has similar status in Europe.

The company's CEO Frank Westermann told MobiHealthNews in an interview that his company is focused on serving people with diabetes, which is why the business is predominantly direct-to-consumer. While mySugr does have some licensing deals with others in the industry, like Sanofi, those deals only serve to make mySugr accessible to more people with diabetes. The Sanofi deal, for example, connects that company's iBGStar device to smartphones. The pioneering meter was the first meter to connect to an iPhone, but it only offers a legacy iPhone connector that does not work with current models of Apple's devices or mobiles made by other companies.

Westermann also noted that his company's btob partners aren't just pharmacos: A health insurance company in Austria called SVA covers the cost of mySugr for its 2 million members. 

There are currently more than 200,000 registered mySugr users around the world, Westermann said, up from 100,000 around this time last year. About half of them reside in the US, and its next biggest market is Germany. It also had a sizable user base in the UK. The involvement of iSeed Ventures, which is based in San Francisco and China, might indicate mySugr's future plans to move into China, but Westermann said the company's focus is on growing its US footprint.

“MySugr is the first investment outside of our core markets of USA and China where diabetes is a challenge for society as a whole," iSeed's Lin said in a statement. "We are convinced that mySugr has great worldwide potential.”

Simon Meier, the investment director for Roche Ventures stated: “The passion and unique composition of mySugr impressed us right away. Nearly half of the company lives with diabetes which drives an environment of unmatched understanding, precise problem solving, and beautiful solutions through the entire organization. We’ve seen nothing like mySugr before and are thrilled to back them.”

Westermann confirmed for MobiHealthNews that half of his team is personally affected by diabetes. Westermann himself has diabetes, which is why mySugr has a "strict patient-centric" mission that keeps it focused on motivating people with diabetes and less so on the data itself.

That said, mySugr is offering a few interesting data-related features, which undoubtedly make life a little bit easier for those managing diabetes. Just last week it launched a new app, called mySugr Importer. It's an app that uses optical character recognition (OCR) software to use the smartphone's camera to read the glucose reading number off the display screen of an unconnected blood glucose meter and save it to mySugr.