Our Children have Type 1 Diabetes
See the Reality
"Sometimes it's hard and not fair. I just don't like diabetes." — Elise Cunha, type 1 diabetes since age one
Elise had just celebrated her first birthday when she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. In 2014, Elise participated in a clinical trial testing the bionic pancreas. It automatically gave her insulin to prevent her blood sugar from going too high and glucagon to prevent it from going too low, so Elise didn't have to worry about it. Instead, she could do what six-year-olds do best: have fun.
Type 1 Diabetes is a 24/7 Battle
"You have to think about the amount of glucose in your blood day in and day out, hour after hour after hour. It's an absurd and impossible task." — Ed Damiano, CEO Beta Bionics
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Problem: Current Tools Aren't Good Enough
- People with type 1 diabetes are responsible for making dozens of decisions every day matching insulin dosing to carbohydrate consumption, exercise, activity, stress, etc.
- Type 1 diabetes management is a relentless 24/7 tightrope act of trying to keep blood sugar levels low, but not too low.
- Over $3 billion every year can be attributed to hospitalizations for acute complications of type 1 diabetes.
- Long-term complications are even more costly.
Solution: The Bionic Pancreas
- Automatically reduces mean blood sugar levels in everyone to levels that would likely eradicate long-term complications of type 1 diabetes.
- Automatically curtails low blood sugar levels in everyone to levels that would likely eliminate severe hypoglycemia in people with type 1 diabetes.
- Automates blood sugar control for everyone, thus unburdening people with type 1 diabetes of the relentless need to comply with therapy.
- Unburdens people with type 1 diabetes and their families of the constant fear of hypoglycemia, and of the worry and dread of long-term complications.
Freeing Kids from Diabetes
"If I'm out playing at school, my levels tend to go low. But if I have the bionic pancreas, it'll treat me so I can keep playing." — Mikayla Cappabianca, Clara Barton Camp
Letter from Ed Damiano to Potential Investors
"We are calling all like-minded individuals – people with “skin in the game” as we like to say – to join our cause and invest in the future of Beta Bionics. The amount of your investment is immaterial; the conviction of it is everything." — Ed Damiano, CEO Beta Bionics
May 15, 2016
As I write this letter to you, I am reminded that on this very weekend, 16 years ago, my wife, Toby – then a practicing pediatrician for only a year – diagnosed our infant son, David, with type 1 diabetes. David will turn 17 years old this week; and in about a year from now, he will head off to college and venture into the world as a young adult. As he makes that transition, and takes on all that goes along with it, the full burden of type 1 diabetes will also fall squarely on his shoulders. It was with this singular occasion in mind – a moment that has weighed heavily on me for the past 16 years – that I resolved to build technology that would step in and do for David what Toby and I will no longer be able to do for him after he leaves our care: to manage his diabetes, day and night, and keep him safe from the far-reaching harms, the immediate dangers, the emotional burden, and the fear that type 1 diabetes carries with it for everyone it targets.
We have not set out to cure type 1 diabetes; we are not the ones to do that great work. Instead, we have set upon a course to build a bridge to a cure – a sturdy and irrevocable bridge to the ever-elusive cure. With the recent incorporation of Beta Bionics, and this public offering, we have reached a watershed moment in the very long and extraordinary path we have forged to bring the bionic pancreas to my son, and to as many people as we can, with type 1 diabetes. From our early animal studies, to our inpatient and outpatient studies with our clinical collaborators at home and at summer camp, to the creation of the iLet – every mile of this journey, every facet of this endeavor, has been unconventional. And so too has been our approach to the very business model that we have prescribed for Beta Bionics. As a public benefit corporation – perhaps the first of its kind in the medical device industry – we have built an organization around the uncommon principle that our company is, first and foremost, dedicated to acting in the best possible interest of the T1D community. This means that every board decision, and every management action, is made with this commitment as our guiding principle. As a benefit corporation, we are obliged to do this, and we are protected under Massachusetts law to execute our business model to meet that obligation – even if those decisions and those actions sometimes supersede opportunities to return equity to shareholders. Of course we believe that such a commitment, coupled with effective execution, will necessarily and naturally lead to the best medical technology platform that the modern world can offer – to a technology that everyone covets, and to an inherently sustainable business model.
A traditional C corporation simply cannot act in this way, as it is predicated on the notion that it must maximize return of investment to shareholders to the exclusion of all other considerations. With very few exceptions, nearly every medical technology company has adopted the C corporation model. As such, officers and directors of these companies often find it necessary to make business decisions out of expediency, rather than out of a commitment to making a lasting and meaningful impact. At the risk of upsetting the status quo, we as a community need not be beholden to the medical device industry any longer. We are a diverse enough, skilled enough, talented enough, and resourceful enough community, of many millions strong, to be the creators and custodians of our own technology, and to protect our enduring right to access it for as long as it should be necessary to do so.
Flipping Beta Bionics to a big med-tech company would likely undermine and unravel everything we have worked so hard to achieve for these many years. Our concern is that such a transfer of control would inevitably compromise our technology, would lead it down a conservative path that minimizes risk, reduces impact, and embraces incrementalism. In short, there is a tendency to degenerate to the mean after such transactions occur, and this is something we simply cannot accept. But as a benefit corporation, we do not have to compromise our core values, and if we never return monetary gains on stock to shareholders, but deliver on our mission, we will have achieved our objective and fulfilled our promise; and our shareholders would have participated directly in that success.
We are calling all like-minded individuals – people with “skin in the game” as we like to say – to join our cause and invest in the future of Beta Bionics. The amount of your investment is immaterial; the conviction of it is everything. The overriding purpose of this public offering is to give the T1D community an opportunity to take a direct ownership stake in Beta Bionics and a sense of commitment to it – to literally own a piece of what we have been building all of these years. If it were not for the new SEC Regulation Crowdfunding rules under the JOBS Act, Beta Bionics simply could not be offered up as a privately held company to the T1D community in this way. This is our opportunity to bring Beta Bionics to the T1D community, and to bring the T1D community into Beta Bionics.
It is with a sense of great hope and cautious optimism that I look to the future of Beta Bionics – that I might see it flourish unabated and without compromise – that I might see our experiment succeed. When all is said and done, our amalgamation of a medical technology company and a public benefit corporation is an experiment in the making; but that is, after all, how we have come this far in the first place: one experiment at a time.
~ Ed Damiano