Compact, quick, easy to use, discreet. These are just some of the words diabetes patients typically use to describe the glucose meter produced by Finnish company Mendor. Gone are the days of carrying a bag of separate components to check blood sugar level.
Mendor was founded in 2006 by five individuals from different universities in Helsinki. After participating in a national business plan competition, the team started product development.
One of the founders was a type 1 diabetic, adding an extra incentive to come up with a new type of discreet and portable meter.
The result was the Mendor Discreet, an all-in-one design with meter, the lancing device and a cartridge of 25 test strips all part of one small box, about the size of an iphone.
“It’s about 20 seconds from pocket to pocket,” says co-founder Tuomas Planman. “And it’s not just the speed but the convenience and comfort when you need to test yourself on the move.”
The software, which accompanies the device, is another important feature. The Mendor Balance puts all your glucose measurements in the cloud, allowing easy sharing of data with doctors.
The Mendor Discreet meter was launched at the start of 2011. The company, which now employs 27 people and had sales of 4.3 million euros in 2013, has sold over 150,000 devices.
Although the company is now on a successful trajectory, the ride was not always smooth. In October 2010, in particular, bankruptcy loomed.
The founders recall a few sleepless nights before they managed to convince existing investors and new ones to keep them going.
The result has been three financing rounds since then of 8.1 million euros in the summer of 2011, 4.7 million euros in January 2014 and a further 6.5 million euros last July.
The company has just launched a 3G enabled meter, Mendor Smart, and expanded rapidly in European markets and China with the US market on the cards.
“We imagined that once we had developed a prototype and got the first patent application, that we were almost done,” recalls Planman.
“In fact, once you reach those goals, you have to move up a division and actually make the product. The challenge is that you have very limited resources at the beginning to make the device and build up the company.”