The Legend of Bigfoot
Are we ever going to sleep again?
This was the simple question that started Bryan Mazlish on the path to his revolutionary diabetes technology development. Though Bryan’s wife had lived with T1D for many years, it wasn’t until their son Sam’s diagnosis at age 5 that Bryan truly understood the complexity of managing T1D. He was handling their son’s nighttime care and waking every three hours to monitor Sam’s blood glucose levels. The amount of work was staggering, and no matter how focused he was, he carried a heavy weight of worry.
From his career in finance and automated stock trading, Bryan had learned that, in the right circumstances, a machine can by and large make better decisions than humans if given the appropriate information and direction. The machines never tire, never get distracted. With this mindset, Bryan began teaching himself about insulin and carb absorption and applied his experience with quantitative trading algorithms to create models to predict future blood sugar trends. He set about creating remote monitoring tools similar to, but pre-dating, the Nightscout CGM in the Cloud movement, using the Dexcom SEVEN® PLUS system available at the time. He studied the academic research on artificial pancreas development. With his wife Sarah, a medical doctor, right there to provide instant feedback after each development cycle, his speed of iteration was incredible.
A Better Solution
Bryan had asked Sarah what he could do to make her life with T1D easier. What she told him was clear and powerful, and it guided his development process:
“If I could wake up every morning with a perfect blood sugar, life would be so much better.” Bryan’s system achieved that for both Sarah and Sam, and it also reduced blood sugar spikes and dips throughout their daily lives. “I was immediately and unequivocally sold,” Sarah recalls. “The system gave me back mind space by taking over the micromanagement of my blood sugar.”
After speaking with FDA about how to bring their technology to a broader audience, Bryan was determined to find a commercial partner. For two years, he shopped his technology to all the potential suitors.
“I was essentially willing to give it away,” he says, but conversations moved slowly.
There seemed to be a basic misunderstanding within the industry about what automated insulin delivery really is - not a feature to be added to an existing pump, but a complete change to the paradigm of care.
Bigfoot is Born
In 2014, Bryan Mazlish resolved to start his own company. Finding a bold, like-minded partner in former JDRF CEO Jeffrey Brewer, the path before him was clear. In November 2014, they founded SmartLoop Labs and were soon joined by former Medtronic Chief Engineer Lane Desborough, one of the co-creators of Nightscout. That next month, Wired Magazine published a piece detailing the legendary story of someone who’d successfully hacked their own automated system, dubbing him “Bigfoot” - a mysterious, cloaked person living in NYC who had created his own artificial pancreas for his family. The name stuck and the trio loved it, renaming the company Bigfoot Biomedical, Inc. in February of 2015. They were joined soon thereafter by Jon Brilliant, former CFO and founding Board Member of WellDoc, who like his fellow co-founders is first and foremost a father of a child with T1D.