Dan Zavorotny is an entrepreneur and former healthcare management consultant with experience in streamlining finance and operations for healthcare institutions, medical device manufacturers, and pharmaceutical companies. He is the co-founder and COO of NutriSense, a growing healthcare start-up that offers a data-driven approach to nutrition by leveraging continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) and machine learning. Dan is based in Chicago, IL.
Q: What advice do you have for entrepreneurs interested in starting their own digital health company?
Dan Zavorotny: One of the biggest mistakes I see with early stage startups is focusing on an easy problem that has very few barriers. Starting a company is difficult in general, choosing to tackle a hard problem counterintuitively improves your chances of success due to fewer competitors entering the space. The less competition you have to worry about, the more focused you can be on making a great product that serves customer needs and improves health outcomes. Not only do these types of problems have the most impact on the world, but they are also the most interesting to solve.
Q: What small lifestyle change has made a difference for you?
DZ: I’ve recently become more interested in Time Restricted Eating (TRE). I’ve started limiting my daily eating time from noon to 8pm. I used to wake up at 6am, eat breakfast right away, and then continue eating until midnight. What I've learned is that by limiting the amount of time you spend eating per day, your body is able to better focus on other functions like recuperating, building muscle, and other metabolic functions. Even though you consume the same amount of calories on a daily basis, the limited eating time frame aspect improves general health. The hardest part is figuring out what time window works best for your body. Some people need breakfast. Some people can skip breakfast and wait until noon to eat like I do. You should always listen to your body and consult with a health expert before making any drastic lifestyle changes. I started this practice about 6 months ago and it has dramatically improved my energy levels, my quality of sleep, and helped me maintain my weight.
Q: Who inspires you and why?
DZ: This might be a name you’ve heard before in response to this question, but I have to say Elon Musk. Many entrepreneurs retire to the life of luxury after finding success; however, after Elon found success at a young age with PayPal he shifted his focus on larger, more complicated problems instead of retiring. He has launched four new ventures: SpaceX, Solar City, Tesla and the Boring Company. All the industries he chose are high risk, but have a great impact on our world. It’s impressive enough to start a single company, but starting four is a tremendous feat that shows grit, determination, and a passion for making an impact.
Q: What are your guilty pleasures?
DZ: My guilty pleasure is taking a midday nap when I have free time. There is always work to be done and we put pressure on ourselves to do more, but sometimes just taking a few hours to lay out in a hammock in the sun is a great feeling. I lived in France for a bit and I initially struggled with taking a long lunch break with my boss. I would constantly worry about getting back to work, even when my boss reassured me that I didn’t need to worry. It took me a while to realize the importance of a healthy work-life balance. It is vital to give our bodies and minds a chance to reset and rejuvenate. Sleep, nutrition, exercise and stress all have a strong impact on our performance at work and on our health.
Q: How has medicine shaped you as a person?
DZ: My sister was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was 1 years old, so I’ve seen her struggle with this disease for her entire life. With the advancement of continuous glucose monitors and insulin pumps, her life has dramatically improved. It’s easier to be a diabetic today than it was 20 years ago. Insulin pumps can now communicate directly with continuous glucose monitors, basically creating an artificial pancreas. This technology has helped make the disease more manageable. It’s still a very terrible disease and I hope scientists can one day find a cure, but recent medical innovations have pushed us to the next level of disease management. At NutriSense, we take a preventative medicine approach by using continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) and machine learning to get ahead of health problems before they arise. Diabetes (Type 1 and Type 2) is an epidemic in the world right now and I would love to play a small part in helping solve this problem.
The American Medical Association thanks Mr. Dan Zavorotny for his continued engagement with the Physician Innovation Network (PIN).
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