Life-Impacting Disease Creates Business Opportunity
Passion is not something in short supply for those on their journey to being successful small business owners who come through SNAP’s doorway. But the journey is not always a personal as Kris Maynard’s has been with his business venture; his invention has saved his own life.
Kris has been a firefighter and EMT for 20 years, always active and an avid runner and cyclist. He has been on the front lines of reviving people and saving lives. He has also had his own life saved. Kris has been living with Type I Diabetes for over 20 years, and the illness has resulted in his termination from the military, waking up to an ambulance crew, and learning that his 16-year-old son will likely contract the disease within the next five years. So, yes, finding a way to live an active lifestyle while staying safe is personal for Kris. Sharing that with others to help them is icing on the cake.
Diabetics need to be constantly aware of their blood sugar levels; too high blood sugar can result in long-term issues like heart disease, stroke, amputation and blindness; too low blood sugar leads to hypoglycemia, when the individual may lose cognizance or consciousness. Maintaining a low-sugar lifestyle is healthier in the long-term, but can be detrimental if the blood sugar dips and the individual doesn’t have access, or the wherewithal, to get a dose of sugar fast. Hence Kris waking up to an ambulance crew reviving him, like he has done to many an emergency caller while on duty. In fact, more people go to the ER to be treated for low blood sugar than methamphetamine overdoses, and approximately 30,000 Spokane residents are living with diabetes.
Quick-acting products are available to help diabetics, but Kris set out to make one that was easy to administer and not cost prohibitive, so he could maintain his active lifestyle and not have to carry pills or administer injections. He tested prototypes on himself – straws filled with glucose gel that could be taken on a bike or run. He never intended to start a business, but his endocrinologist pointed out how many people this could help, and it ballooned from there. Thus was born Glucose Revival and the Thrive Pro Necklaces. Designed to be worn around the neck and displaying the international sign for Diabetes, glucose gel is available inside the necklace tube and can be squeezed between the cheek and gums to revive a patient experiencing low blood sugar.
While Kris has enjoyed the obstacles of starting his own business, financing the project was one he grappled with. Mike Ebinger of WSU has been supporting Kris in developing his business and suggested he connect with Gary Anderson at SNAP Financial Access, which can provide loans up to $150k for small business development. SNAP latched on to the idea, and another piece of the puzzle fell into place for Kris.
With his wife, Paula, on his team and by his side, they are now set to receive their shipment and have a soft launch this month. Plans are for manufacturing to be moved to Spokane Valley, creating local jobs, and SNAP hopes to acquire its own funding to allow these products to be part of the Spokane Ride to Health programs, for clients living with diabetes. Since 75% of EMTs are not allowed to perform more traditional revival techniques that involve glucose injections, the Glucose Revival products could prove very effective for emergency services as well. As Gary sees it, “This product is a win for the Spokane community and beyond. A local entrepreneur living with Type I Diabetes has created a solution that not only serves him, but could be life-saving for countless others, while at the same time supporting the local economy by creating jobs. These are the kind of loans we are excited to support at SNAP.”