Saturday, November 14, 2015

Australia’s youngest entrepreneur takes on world with diabetes invention

Will with Muffin Break brand manager John Macphail, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at 18.
WILLIAM Grame says he’s your “typical Aussie CEO”, with a big idea, determination and a sense of fun. There’s just one big difference: he’s 11 years old.
The schoolboy from Canberra, who has type 1 diabetes, has invented the world’s first test strip disposal unit, and it’s impressed some of the greatest business minds on the planet.
Will designed the groundbreaking product when he was 10, in just three days, using a 3D printer at school. The revolutionary idea has won him a trip to NASA Space Centre in the US and he’s one of 12 finalists of 850 entries in line for a government innovation grant.
He hopes to one day run a Google-style office complete with a shark tank, ping pong table, slide between floors and PlayStation 4 room — “a place kids can come and invent stuff”.
With his first million, he intends to buy a Lamborghini and hire a chauffeur, because he’s too young to drive.
Will’s deceptively simple invention is compact enough to fit in a diabetes testing kit and means his teachers and classmates don’t have to worry about accidentally touching strips with blood on them.
The simple but effective invention costs $7 per unit.
The simple but effective invention costs $7 per unit.
Will wins first prize at the Little Big Ideas Awards — a trip to NASA.
Will wins first prize at the Little Big Ideas Awards — a trip to NASA.
“I always get in trouble for leaving my test strips everywhere and I wanted something to keep them together,” he said. “You put the strip in, pull it back and roll it in. I want to sell my product to every diabetic in the world. It’s really exciting for me.”
Will says he’s tested his blood 15,000 times since he was diagnosed with diabetes aged five, injecting insulin ten times a day, often between midnight and 3am. He has to keep close track of how many carbs he’s eating, how much exercise he’s done and whether he’s been at altitude. If he doesn’t, he may start feeling sick, experiencing blurry vision and becoming confused.
He admits it has been “a big challenge” keeping his sugar levels stable, and that it often makes him feel “sad” and “tired”. But that’s made him even more driven to succeed.
Will has appointed his brother and mother co-CEOs of his company, Diabetes Domination, and made his sister head of spending and social media. This weekend, he will appear on Sunrise and he’s running a stall in Canberra for World Diabetes Day. Muffin Break has awarded him a year-long internship and agreed to donate 50c of every lower carb muffin sale from now until the end of the year to his company.
ill came up with his prototype after attending a HACT event, where kids were encouraged to develop their skills in technology and entrepreneurship. That led to him entering the “Little Big Idea” competition, winning his trip to NASA in the US.
“He can tell you about patents, injection moulding, pricing a product,” says his mother, Liz.
“We try to keep a good balance and make it a bit of fun. He’s good at switching on and off.”
In his spare time, Will has a few more diabetes-related product ideas in development, and he says the opportunity to build on his ideas has been “really cool”.
Each test strip disposal unit costs $7, with $2 going to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and can be ordered through the Diabetes Domination Facebook page.
Australians have been responsible for some of the biggest breakthroughs in diabetes treatment. In 1979, Stanley Clark from Sydney developed the first portable battery-operated blood glucose monitor, allowing diabetics to monitor their sugar levels rather than having to go to hospital.
Will hopes to follow in his footsteps and help all young people with diabetes to “dominate” their condition, just like him.

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