The Journey of a Startup

By editor on February 20, 2018 — 2 mins read

My dad is in renal failure, he’s in end-stage renal failure. Three times a week, he has to go to the hospital, they drain his blood, they clean his blood, they pump the blood back into his body.

He’s had diabetes for 30 years. He’s 75, so he’s had it since his mid-40s. 10 years of pills, 10 years of insulin, and now 10 years of dialysis. Now he’s at the end of that, there’s no solution for that, so he’s gonna die. Now, I have all this money, I have all this influence, I have all this notoriety… I can’t do anything about my dad. That’s really fucking frustrating. Like, frustrating.

And so, I started a company around diabetes. Very simple idea. There’s been a lot of literature that says, if you can just understand the data, you can actually control how people’s diabetes changes. Now, does anybody here have a relative, or a mother, father… somebody you care about with diabetes? Look how many fuckin’ people’s hands are raised.

This is an epidemic. It has massive socio-economic ramifications beyond the obvious. If you look at like, inner-city development, no fresh food gets into there. There’s no Whole Foods there, there’s just Chick-fil-A and McDonalds. And so, what happens? Diabetes gets worse, and worse, and worse. We’re talking about whole swaths of populations that are held down. Is that right? It’s not fucking right!

So what do you do? What did I do? Okay, let’s just start by getting the goddam data off the glucometer. You get it off the glucometer, you send it into the cloud, you use some simple machine learning, you apply some heuristics, you save people’s lives. And it’s shown to be effective.

So we do that. It takes us three, four, years. It takes us five or six million dollars. So be it. But at the end of it now, that’s a business that has signed contracts in the last eight weeks, to take care of three million patients in the US, at $100 a patient a year. That’s a $300 million dollar revenue overnight. That’s gonna be a $50 billion company. I own half of it.

So then I was like, “Fuck it. I’m gonna do the same thing in asthma and COPD. I’m gonna do the same thing in chronic heart failure.” (33:45)

Posted in: Entrepreneurship

Editor's Note

These are Chamath Palihapitiya's words. They are probably some of the best thoughts on VC, business, and life, but were scattered around the Internet. They live now in this archive.