The Start of our Journey and Learnings Made Along the Way

In this first blog post about our journey, we will dive into the early workings of SNAQ and how it all began. Read on to find out, where we came from and how we got to where we are today. How we went from just analysing foods you eat to importing and incorporating your blood sugar levels.

We started SNAQ after the partner of one of our founders got diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. This made us experience many of the everyday challenges. Today we support people with diabetes and also without diabetes to take the guesswork out of mealtime decisions*.

Our app helps to count carbs, protein, and fat content of meals by snapping a photo and provides insights on what keeps glucose levels in range after meals. But how did we get here?

The Early Days

We started with our own money and lots of passion. Within a couple of months we had a first prototype in our hands and the chance to showcase SNAQ at an industry conference:

International Conference on Advanced Technologies & Treatments for Diabetes (ATTD) — 2018
International Conference on Advanced Technologies & Treatments for Diabetes (ATTD) — 2018

During conferences and many problem interviews with doctors, dieticians, diabetes educators, industry experts, and people living with diabetes the feedbacks made one thing very clear: Counting carbohydrates and mealtime bolus dosing was one of the biggest challenges for people with type 1 or type 2 diabetes. In those interviews and talks our solution to take an image and get carbs was considered very helpful to address that problem. That’s why we built SNAQ: because we knew how advanced tech, like machine learning, could unlock a whole new level of ease for people with diabetes.

Pre-Clinical Studies

From a technical perspective we knew that it would take time to scale our prototype to make it usable for many people. Back then SNAQ was only working on 30 different foods and drinks. But given that the problem was validated, it made sense to invest more of our time into it. Soon after, we had the chance to validate the technology in two pre-clinical studies.

The studies evaluated how well the SNAQ app was able to estimate portion sizes and calculate the resulting nutritional values. The results were remarkable and the accuracy is still globally leading up to this day:

Publication
Read full publication at https://mhealth.jmir.org/2020/3/e15294/)

We were at a point where we had to make a decision. Either, continue conducting further clinical studies and pursue regulatory clearance for bolus insulin dosing, or releasing to market in a first step as a lifestyle carb counting app (not requiring clearance and further studies). Back then, less than a few hundred people had used the SNAQ app. We decided on getting the app into more people’s hands as quickly as possible to get real market feedback.

Developing a Successful App

We were — and still are — convinced that in the long-term the market (people using the product everyday) will decide on success or failure. Most of everyday users care little about study results or regulatory aspects. People care about having their problems solved rather sooner than later.

A great example of this within the diabetes community comes from the #WeAreNotWaiting movement and the strong community behind DIY projects like Nightscout, Tidepool, Spike, xDrip etc. Many of them don’t have clinical studies nor regulatory clearance. Yet they provide huge value to people living with diabetes and are perceived as safe.


*The diabetes application is currently limited to people living in the United States due to more favourable regulatory environment compared to Europe.