He Left SpaceX, Raised $50M for His Diabetes Start-Up

Levels pairs a continuous glucose monitor with an app
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted May 1, 2022 8:32 AM CDT
This Start-Up Thinks It Can Keep You From Getting Diabetes
Stock photo of a continuous glucose monitor on an arm.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – That diabetes is a big problem for America comes as no surprise. As Ruth Reader writes in a lengthy piece for Fast Company, one out of every four dollars we spend on health care is spent treating patients with it—which makes effectively preventing it something of a medical white whale. It's one Josh Clemente is going after. The former SpaceX engineer, along with CEO Sam Corcos, is the force behind Levels, a startup that has raised $50 million thus far and hopes to exit beta in June. The company pairs a continuous glucose monitor (CGM)—something you could historically only have prescribed for you if you were already diabetic—with an app that helps you track when your blood sugar spikes and correlates that with what you've eaten. It's not the only CGM-minded start-up, but it "appears to have the most momentum," writes Reader.

While 10% of Americans are diabetic, a third of Americans are prediabetic. "Constant blood sugar monitoring via a CGM is at the forefront of diabetes care, showing patients how the way they eat can lead to elevated levels of sugar in their system," writes Reader. She tried it out for herself, and explains that for one, using Levels entails a lot of work and inputting. It clued her in to the fact that her overall blood glucose rate was pretty low at 75 to 85 mg/DL. But when she tried steak tacos with avocado and chipotle sauce on corn tortillas, her blood sugar surged about 50%. She tested variations of the meal before determining the honey in the chipotle sauce was the culprit. She gained a number of insights over her four weeks using Levels, and lost a few pounds, but she also wasn't sure whether the high-fat diet she ended up eating was healthy. (Read the full story, which explains Clemente's personal experience with the device and the company's business model.)

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