It has been seen that true innovations are mostly born out of self-life experiences. Marc Rippen saw his wife nearly slipping into a diabetic coma and became unresponsive due to being in a prolonged low blood sugar state. After he was able to rehabilitate her, he found out that no technology existed anywhere that would alert him for similar events in the future, so he decided to do something about it and started Alertgy.
Marc is the founder and CEO of Alertgy. He says that the company’s name is in itself a definition where “Alert means to alert me, ‘g’ for glucose, and ‘y’ because we need it.”
Alertgy is a pioneer in 100% non-invasive continuous blood glucose monitoring technology.
Through the use of its patented radiofrequency sensor Alertgy’s DeepGluco wearable device is able to accurately measure blood glucose in real-time, up to 3 times per minute. Most importantly, using its proprietary AI algorithm, DeepGluco can provide invaluable, up to the minute life-saving alerts to the users and their designated HCPs. Unlike other CGMs, the company eliminates interstitial lag as well as painful and uncomfortable side effects of patches, needles, and implants associated with. The present DeepGluco wristband can be readily integrated into an existing smartwatch form factor, and future versions can be further reduced in size. These will become available to consumers following FDA approval.
An Accomplished Multirole Proficient
Before Alertgy, Marc served as an army officer and most recently the director of Engineering for the Marine and Space Technology Division of Stanford Research Institute (SRI) International. He holds degrees in microbiology, analytical chemistry, and aeronautics. He has always been involved in the development of technology to solve critical problems. He started as a material engineer at Pratt & Whitney where he managed advanced research and development programs that supported the development of advanced materials for jet and rocket engines.
After that, he transitioned to become a field engineer for leading atomic and molecular spectroscopy companies where he provided turnkey solutions to materials analysis for a broad variety of industries from agriculture to environmental to manufacturing to advanced research and development in leading research institutions. He mentions, “From there I became the director of the FIU College of Engineering NASA tech transfer center where I helped companies utilize NASA technologies in the commercial arena. In this role, I helped small businesses raise venture capital and pursue SBIR and STTR programs to fund the commercialization of their technologies. From there I co-founded an Internet Start-up company and raised 1 million dollars and eventually was able to take the company public in an acquisition. The combination of my education and experience allowed me the means to launch Alertgy and bring it to where it is today.”
Serving to Help Others
“People are important, and solving highly technical problems for others and providing them with the best solution is what I enjoy doing,” says Marc. His driving force has always been to help others. Before Marc became an officer in the Army, for instance, he was a volunteer for the “Amegos De Las America’s” medical aid program in Central America, where he did a tour in the Highlands of Guatemala in 1974, vaccinating thousands of children in dozens of small villages, towns, and plantations.
Marc’s other driving force has been the desire to always learn new things and teach others so they can better their lives. He asserts, “In the Amegos De Las Americas program we were trained by veteran Peace Corps Volunteers prior to going on our assignments. I remember one tell us this: Give a man a fish, and he will eat today, teach a man to fish, and he can feed his family from now on.”
Marc has also been an adjunct professor of an ERAU for over 30 years and enjoys teaching by telling stories. This way of teaching enforces the main concepts he teaches by practical application of knowledge to again solve a problem.
Evolving with Every Challenge
Throughout the beginning stages of development, there have been a few roadblocks that the team Alertgy has faced and had to overcome. Initially, the team had to determine the correct placement of its device to maximize the accuracy and reliability over a long-term period. Marc mentions, “We have focused on sensor development to get the highest quality data and stability within our device. This is an ever-evolving process inside our research and development team, and we will continue to improve our device so we can deliver the highest quality product to our customers when we begin manufacturing.”
Responsibilities towards the Company and People
As a CEO, Marc’s job is to make deep glucose available to the billions of people affected by diabetes globally today. He is talking with companies and researchers around the world at all times of day to do this. He works with his technical teams daily to provide them with direction as needed and works to ensure that every team member has the opportunity to succeed at what they do. He says, “My responsibility is to lead my team and enable each team member to provide their best effort. I am responsible for finding the strengths of each person, helping them to achieve their professional and personal goals, and providing the vision that is needed to move the company in the best direction.”
He considers that as a leader, he is responsible towards the investors as well, so they get a reasonable return on their investment and to provide the hundreds of millions of diabetics a system that will greatly enhance their quality of life and reduce the worry for their loved ones.
Leading by Example while Keeping Work-life Balance
Marc assures spending quality time with his family every day whenever he can. On a typical day, he usually prepares a crockpot meal before going to work. He says, “I go to work and get done what needs to be done and then come home to serve dinner to my wife and my handicapped youngest daughter and then go to bed and get up and do it again. On good weather days, I may drive my slingshot motorcycle to work to enjoy the benefits of living in Florida. I stay in contact and visit with our other three children and my 3 grandchildren as well as my mother.”
At work, Marc motivates people by leading by example, by understanding what is important to them, and by giving them an opportunity to meeting their needs through their work assignments.
Heading to Become a Premier Leader in Diagnostic Technology
Marc asserts, “We improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes with automated alerts if their glucose levels are too high or low. We provide them with an effortless means to measure their blood glucose continuously without the need for invasive and expensive systems.” According to Marc, the company will be pursuing an alert and surveillance application approval for this from the FDA. Given that 1/3 of the world’s entire population is borderline diabetics and it can help them better manage their lifestyles to keep them from becoming diabetic.
The company states, “In the future, there is no limit to what our technology can provide in the way of monitoring and diagnostics. Published research indicates that our technology has the potential to track other metabolites and cellular markers within the body for other diseases that could pave the way for Alertgy to be a premier leader in diagnostic technology.”
An Advice for New Leaders
Marc’s advice to aspiring business leaders is to have humility, honesty, empathy, open-mindedness, honor, passion, the ability to listen, caring for people whom they are working with, and always be open to learning. He further suggests “be willing to fail and learn from the mistakes, be forgiving, and never give up on something that is important.”