Jeff Dachis Tells His Exploratory Journey and the Ins and Outs of Starting Up

Has no background in healthcare, Dachis successfully found One Drop. This story is a proof of how adversity is always the opening for upcoming amazing journey.
Jeff Dachis speak at a Frontier health tech conference
Courtesy: Jeff Dachis
By | 11 min read

“There was some soul-searching, learning from my mistakes and understanding what matters. This allowed me to enter One Drop with the right mindset. Getting diagnosed with diabetes was probably the best thing in my life.”

So, Jeff Dachis’s idea was simple – to bring food, medication, glucose and fitness information together in one place, allowing people to feel empowered. “Because the person who is empowered with data and information can make choices. If you can make choices, then you can manage this data-driven condition.” That was the genesis of One Drop.

After 25 years in the digital marketing world with his company Razorfish, Dachis dove headfirst into healthcare and founded One Drop in October of 2014. Less than a year later, the company launched its first product.

One Drop’ Founding Story: Unfortunate Events are, in Fact, the First Steps of Your Journey

At age 47 after a break from his previous company Razorfish, Jeff Dachis found himself diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes. It was not that shock till he got involved in the current healthcare offered to treat the disease. “All I got was a pat on the back and a prescription and sent on my way. I was mad,” Dachis recalled. “I didn’t feel like I was being cared for.”

A few days later, the founder got blackout in his apartment’s elevator for taking a run after 3 units of insulin. Experienced mere death. Dachis decided to take this seriously and go online for more diabetes data.

The tech founder turned to his smartphone for answers. “I was Googling to find some cool gear or an app that would improve the situation,” Dachis said. But he came up short on something that handled the four key components he felt were vital to diabetes management: glucose testing, insulin medication, food and activity logging.

To Dachis when you are dealing with a huge amount of data, a service that provides the right information at the right time is everything you need for making not only yours but everybody’s life easier.

OneDrop CEO present the mobile app
Source: Frank Rivalovski

And that’s how One Drop came into being. Diabetes was not something that happened to him – a negative effect of aging, but rather something that empowers Dachis, something that he makes happen, says the founder. Unfortunate events should always remind you of your power to choose – the power you have, literally at your fingertips.

What Makes His Business Stand Out?

Along with other arenas in healthcare, giant players in diabetes are reevaluated the delivery model through which they interact with and treat patients. Join this wave, One Drop’s approach to offer their products through a subscription model, which its founder said was an intentional choice to move away from a healthcare system that he classified as broken.

 “The process of making those drugs and bringing them to market or making those devices and bringing them to market or delivering that service through the healthcare system today, that entire system is so broken and so extensive and bureaucratic and inaccessible and unavailable and opaque to most people,” Dachis said.

Won “Best Design” at the LAUNCH 2015 Festival, in general, One Drop is a mobile application for managing diabetes and chronic health conditions. The company also has its own device to aid user called the One Drop Chrome meter kit. It’s Bluetooth-enabled and automatically feeds BG data to the app in order to save users the untold hours of manually entering blood sugar readings. Equally important is the fact that the meter is powered by the highly accurate AgaMatrix test strips of Presto, Jazz, and BGStar fame. This device alone has been selected to be associated with an iPhone app that integrates with Apple’s Health app, as well as a separate Apple Watch app. It’s the only diabetes product that Apple is currently selling in its physical stores.

Customers with One Drop product at Apple store
Courtesy: Precision Med US

One Drop is not covered by insurance, and the meter kit will set you about a hundred dollar. It’s platform subscription-based cost about $40 a month. The plan includes unlimited access to a CDE (certified diabetes educator) – who the company claims users will always get the same person so they can learn about patients and patients­ can get comfortable with them – and unlimited test strips.

They also grant users access to 24/7, 365 days per year health coaching. It’s a complete diabetes management experience delivered through your phone.

How Does One Drop Work – the Data Flow That Claim to Best Aid User?

Noticing something is wrong with the care procedure is one thing, but to innovate a more sufficient engine is another story.

As diabetes is such a data driven disease and yet all the data you need to manage the disease, sits in all these different places. You have got your medication and your insulin data somewhere else. You have got your physical activity, which is a huge driver for blood glucose, tracked or not tracked somewhere else and then of course you have got your blood glucose readings.

As a patient of diabetes himself, Dachis was frustrated trying to learn and manage his affair with this sickness. He wanted all those things from glucose, medication, activity, and food all in one place.

So, with this app, it is designed to automatically track users blood glucose if they are using one of the connected meters. Or while users select a meal in its enormous international food library and it will count the carbs for them. Have all activities tracked right there, the app does analysis on all that data so it could provide insights for users to make better choices day in and day out.

As Dachis puts, it’s about educating yourself to have better self-care management behaviors. And turns out that is what people has longed for, not something that just help but also educate them, especially on healthcare.

Entrepreneur to Entrepreneur: How I Kicked off My Entrepreneurship?

Beside One Drop, Jeff Dachis is also known as Razorfish’s founder, serial investor, and mentor. Familiarly, in working with creative people and help transforming ideas, Dachis shares his 20 years journey of making mistakes and learning.

“As a founder, there are enormous challenges each and every day. I am grateful for the opportunities that we have been given to do interesting work. Everyday waking up, even the business already has its stand in the market, still it is in my head – the mission to bring up a business from the ground.” shares Jeff Dachis, on a 33-Voices interview.

20 Years of Exploration: Where I Am Today?

Prior to One Drop, the founder was running his marketing agency, through which journey Dachis had had himself indulged in many aspects of life from DJ to Ballet, from art to marketing, and now healthcare. How all of those exploratory things gone, and where he is today?

OneDrop founder as guest speaker at an online webinar
Source: Jessica DaMassa

20 years ago, at which points he recalls the US was experiencing its first dot com bust while the media and entertainment landscape was highly fragmented. And that theme just set in him a special interest, of which the founder said to be a foundation that has helped he gets where he is today.

 It is the expression, production, distribution, and monetization of ideas. So, he found himself in the theaters, studying classical ballet and being a DJ or even on the literary arts magazine and all these different forms of expression. At the end, Dachis admits, even though he was suck in all of them, what he gained through the process of exploring those matters.

Dachis started to find himself excel in understanding the mode of communication, understanding how to work with ideas, and especially with creatives people and how to distribute ideas, monetize them, and turn them into something bigger than just an idea. It was not until now, Dachis noticed that was how leaders – entrepreneurs kick off their story.

And as the internet started to emerge, it became a thread that glue all those skills together and enable him to be a better version of a creative – one that could bring ideas into real life.

The internet was the beginning of his career, having done a lot of trial and error to figure out what he was good at, what he was not. Even though he was not good at anything at all, but it was sort of a path that enabled Dachis to unify all those talents and ended up building a business off of it. Decades later, it’s still how he is doing.

“Technology emerged not just unify production, distribution and monetization ideas but then began to empower every one of us with this democratize tool and enable us to share our information with anybody for free,” Dachis shares thoughts.

This democratization of the self-expressing tool is truly revolutionizing the way entrepreneurship and the way people take control of their lives from what was highly fragmented of an old way of doing business structures.

What he is doing at One Drop is sort of that notion. Strive along the wave, enabling people to share their everyday lives, exploiting the big data on the back to help make better choices.

For Leaders: What Does Making Impact Mean?

Jeff Dachis share story at a health tech conference
Source: Elisheva Marcus

As a founder himself, Dachis is more than willing to share vision. Once made a statement on making impact – “you should burn yourself into the mind of people you meet”, the founder tells what those it means for leader on making impact?

Dachis remembers, it came from by the way he was mentoring at this organization for startup founders called The Founders Institute. He once talked on a topic of things start-up entrepreneurs need to do to market themselves better and so that was the context for that advice.

Dachis mentions, beside other considerations, making sure when you meet people that you are memorable to them is how you end up standing out as a founder. There’s lots of noise in the system and there’s lots of people that can help you and would be happy to help you, but apparently, there are other people who are just be frank – “hey I don’t have time for you”.

So, how do you make sure that they remember you, aware of your presence?

All that takes effort.

You are not going to get in people’s radar or be able to stand out in a highly competitive and highly crowded field without making the effort to burn yourself into other’s psyches in some manner ways, shapes, or forms.

Of course, this does not mean doing wild stunts ­– which it does mean is to come prepared with your A-game knowing what you’re saying and being very crisp and articular and about it. Let them know where you are standing, what your vision is, and what are you trying to accomplish.

OneDrop Founder present the data and stat
Source: Olga Glasso

Be assertive in the communication of your thoughts and ideas, just with that people will notice. And that is really what you want people to notice – an exceptional of who you are and where you go.

My Version of “Talk like You Have Already Won”

Dachis confesses on a Fast Company article how it is always challenging for an entrepreneur to stay true to himself. “The things that keep me up at night are when I sense that it’s possible that I may be drifting. A lot of people ask, ‘Jeff, what’s your exit strategy?’ And I say I’m not trying to exit. I want to win this one.”

The founder mentions his second principle on playing to win not to exit and talk like you have already won.

As a start-up founder, you are in it only for the exit – which is a financial win, if lucky you’ll get there with a certain amount of money, but that is the end of it. Dachis claims great companies are not created from founders who desired financial exits as their primary mode ­– instead great companies are built from people who know their thinking is a win and insist to see that thinking prevail in marketplace.

In this case, to talk as if you have already won can be translated in to talking with passion about how you and your team are trying best to manifest a great outcome. Talk about the interesting employees who are joining you and helping you, about customers who keep coming back and is introducing you to their friends.

Let them know how grateful and how rich not in materials, but in experience you are – that is talking as winning!

The Bottom Lines

Founded in 2015, and by the end of 2020, it has closed on a $34.7 million Series C financing led by Bayer. One Drop is another living proof for how exploiting valued data could benefit many ends. However, the question is what data and how should it be used, as Jeff Dachis found his answer – he made it halfway there!

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