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by Thomas MacMillan | Oct 22, 2013 2:55 pm
Posted to: Business/ Economic Development, Health
After two years of effort, John Fitzpatrick enjoyed the sweet taste of success Tuesday, launching the app he invented to help people keep track of their sugar levels.
Fitzpatrick (at center), a 46-year-old entrepreneur from the West River neighborhood, officially opened his new company for business. Called ShugaTrak, the venture offers a way for parents to monitor the blood sugar levels of teens with diabetes. The app allows parents to receive text message updates when their son or daughter checks his or her insulin level.
Fitzpatrick was joined Tuesday by city officials for a launch ceremony at the Grove co-working space on Chapel Street. Mayor John DeStefano hailed ShugaTrak as an example of New Haven’s new manufacturing industry.
There was a time when New Haven made rifles and rubber products, DeStefano said. “Today we’re still a manufacturing center,” only now New Haven is making high-tech products, he said.
DeStefano said Yale’s new president, Peter Salovey, picked up on this idea in his recent inauguration speech, in which he spoke of building New Haven’s “idea capital.” The university needs to support that kind of growth, DeStefano said. “That’s what will build this city.”
Fitzpatrick explained how ShugaTrak works. He held up an insulin meter, the kind that he said almost everyone with Type 1 diabetes uses. Then he held up a bluetooth adapter that can send information from the meter to your smartphone. When someone check’s her blood sugar, the adapter communicates with the phone, which automatically sends out a text message to a loved one, letting them know what the level is and when it was checked.
ShugaTrak is designed for the parents of teenagers with diabetes, parents who might otherwise fret about their child’s sugar levels. They pay $24.95 per month for the service, and $99.95 for the adapter.
Fitzpatrick got the idea because his wife has Type 1 diabetes. Two years ago, he took the idea to a “Startup Weekend” event in New Haven, a kind of intensive weekend workshop for entrepreneurs. Fitzpatrick met his co-founder there and has been working on the idea ever since.
Along the way, Fitzpatrick has received a lot of support from the state. He got advice and funding through programs like TechStart, the Small Business Incubator Program, CTNEXT Innovation Vouchers, and Small Business Express.
As of Tuesday, customers can sign up for ShugaTrak at the company’s website.
After the press conference, state Rep. Pat Dillon said she’d like to find a way to subsidize ShugaTrak for people who can’t afford the service. She said diabetes is a larger problem among African-American and Latino communities. For teenagers with the disease it’s not cool to adhere to treatment, she said.
“I want to see if there’s a strategy we can plug into what we’re doing on health reform,” Dillon said.
Tags: John Fitzpatrick, ShugTrak, diabetes
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Congratulations, John. A lot of time, courage, and creativity went into this. I wish you…and your customers…all the best in this important venture.
Atta boy, John!!! Next Startup Weekend New Haven is November 15-17. Bring your ideas and let’s launch your business. For more info check out http://newhaven.startupweekend.org/ or stop by The Grove at 760 Chapel and see what’s happening.
Congratulations, John. I wish you, Sandra and the family all the best from your focus, diligence and sheer hard work!
posted by: Semi Semi-Dikoko on October 23, 2013 10:19am
Well done! At a time when New Haven is losing home incubated companies to (apparently), greener pastures out west, it is refreshing to see a New Haven family, supportive community, and others, (of course), pull it together. Congratulations to John & Sandra + 1 1/2 baby(ies) and, (yes a big and), the crew at the Grove & the Startup Weekend.
Great accomplishment, great vision and a superb mission!