Equal Eats Equalizer: Zak Marks from Kitt Medical

Zak Marks Kitt Medical Equal Eats


Our Equal Eats Equalizers series tells the story behind the incredible people creating a positive impact for the free from community. Today we are thrilled to profile Zak Marks from Kitt Medical. This interview has been transcribed from August, 2022.


Kyle Dine
Hey, everybody, it's Kyle Dine here from Equal Eats and I am really thrilled to be joined today by Zak Marks who is the co-founder of Kitt Medical.

You're doing so many amazing things. And I'm really excited to share with our community everything about Kitt Medical, what you're doing, how people can help, how they can get involved. And just to remind everyone our Equal Eats, Equalizer Profile is for people just like Zak, people that are making a difference in equalizing the playing field for everybody in our free from community. And he's doing it in such an incredible, innovative way through Kitt Medical and first off, maybe you can just explain your own personal connection to food allergy.

Zak Marks
I was actually diagnosed with a severe nut allergy when I was about four years old, after accidentally having like a trace of peanut butter from my friend's toast. I was ill for a few days and found out that I was allergic to pretty much all nuts. Then over time, I've been tested like every three years or so and most people don't know, but your allergies can change over time and some nuts have gone up and some nuts have gone down. I'm now allergic to peas as well. Got one or two intolerances that are a lot easier to manage. I've always carried my auto injectors on me. I also have an inhaler on me wherever I go. I think I manage it pretty well.


Kitt Medical Equal Eats Equalizer

What's your personal connection to food allergy and our community?

Zak Marks
It started with being a teenager and never wanting to carry my adrenaline pens on me. I think everyone can relate, they are bulky, they go out of date so often that you forget to get them again, they can be quite expensive as well depending on where you're getting them from. And often, we're really trying to battle it, but it can be embarrassing to have them on you and depending on how you're carrying them as well. We're really trying to tackle that stigma.

So I'm a designer by trade. And during my final year at university, I did a full year end project where I just looked into addressing the issue and I started out redesigning an EpiPen just like pretty much every designer who cares about allergy has done and then you find out it doesn't solve the issue because it's still something you have to carry and you know all these things. So I ended up on the more service end approach, really looked at defibrillators and thought how can we put something out there that is in the public space, that the allergy sufferer is not burdened with? It's more about increasing the overall awareness, accessibility and medication, and that was the original idea for Kitt, to just have something like a defibrillator, but for allergies, that stores the medication in a public place, runs on a subscription, so you know you've always got a cycling in date medication, reporting of use so that any time anaphylaxis happens you can collect that data and you can replenish the medication and then a full sort of training program that's combined with the subscription. So whether Kitt’s in a school or some other public place like an office that it might be allowed in you've then got fully trained people on hand.

What does Kitt look like?

Kyle Dine
I love that you took the idea of two things with the design of this product, you know that pain point for a lot of people, myself included when I was a teenager, of carrying this around, and then the inspiration of the movement of defibrillators and those becoming more common in public spaces. So maybe you could share what is Kitt Medical? I don't know if you have one with you that you could show everybody, let's put a visual to this of what it is, how it can help people, what settings it goes in.

Kitt Medical Food Allergy Epipen storage

Zak Marks
Here's one I made earlier! I mean, this is the prototype, you know, it very much mimics the defibrillator design language. So you mount it to the wall with screws on the back, and once it's in place in the school cafeteria or front office, somewhere super visible. And it was really important to us to design this like a Dyson or Apple product, that it was meant to look pretty, it's meant to be vivid and striking, it isn't the ugly green lunchbox you're hiding under the drawer, this is on site.

And it says what it is on the front and it says how to open it, really clear instructions. We're giving staff at school these keys, and they can go on lanyards around the neck or break glass in case of emergency boxes near the kit. Again, multiple keys per kit so that there’s always one on hand. All you do is turn the key in the middle and you can release it and get it out. There's a few issues, just by school only having adrenalin, if they do have it, which they normally don't. It's probably out of date. It's probably in a dark cupboard in the middle of the school and someone suffering an allergic reaction is gonna go running for that. And that's the worst thing you can do when you have an allergic reaction. So we've made it very portable. The idea is to take this to the patient. And then all you need to do is lift the latch, open it, and inside is really clearly laid out. Adrenaline pens, two of each dose for all ages of course, 300 micrograms and 150 micrograms. And then also really easy to follow, just 1 2 3 4 step instructions of using adrenalin, treating anaphylaxis and also of course to call an ambulance at the end of the procedure. And all of that will be sort of synced up to the software that we're providing as well. So if they do use it, they'll, you know, send an incident report form to us and we'll replace that medication within a week. So they've always got it in date.

Kitt Medical Stock Epi

Tell us all more about Kitt? What does it do? How can it help?

Kyle Dine
It’s one of those products that you see and you just think instantly, how has this not existed already, because there's such a need out there. And you've done it in such a smart way and it's really put together the way it should be. You can tell that you went through a real design thinking process behind this to make sure it checks all the boxes. So kudos to everything that you've done on this journey so far. I'm curious, there's so much behind this and it's so special in so many ways, and you mentioned the subscription service, which really does go above and beyond, of making this very unique. Maybe you could talk a little bit more about that, how that works, how that helps the school, everything about it!

Zak Marks
Yeah, of course. And it has been a journey. I literally just yesterday updated our team about page on www.kittmedical.com. And that shows a couple photos of the original concept that I made at Uni, and then the developed prototype and then what we did when we did a pilot phase with schools last year. What we learned and iterated and now what we've initially launched and originally there was no subscription, but its made perfect sense with the fact that the medication expires every single year, or it can expire, you know, within six months sometimes. We've actually got a guarantee that our supply will be 12 months minimum, so that will sync up really well with an annual subscription. And also it just means that you know for a school or another public place they pay once and they don't have to worry about it. And they're sort of covered and that means we can provide them with year end cover, whether that's account management, they've always got access to the training, it's not just a one time thing. And it makes really good sense for scaling as a business because if we have dependable subscription, we know we're always getting income and we can build a better product and keep building as a company and reach further places.

Kitt Medical Software

How can our community support Kitt Medical?

Kyle Dine
That's wonderful. And I think just with the expiry date alone, you know I've seen before schools tried to do something like this on their own, but there’s upkeep, it's that annual maintenance that you know schools have a lot on their plate, there's a lot going on. And this is one more thing and to actually have a company that can take care of this for them makes a complete deal of sense. So you’ve really found a need that public places and schools have and I love your model, it's fantastic that you take care of this for them. So you've been on this crazy journey. You're an entrepreneur, a young entrepreneur, solving an incredibly big complex problem that can help save lives. We have a whole giant community of people that I know are rooting for you and want this to be in every school everywhere. How can they help you? How can they support you? What can our community do to help make Kitt Medical everywhere?

Zak Marks
Shout about us, spread the word! You know we are community focussed, community lead. From the get go, when we launched our pilot, we were talking to people on social media asking them what they wanted to see from the developed product. We've engaged with schools from the start. We're working with the major charities to see what we can push in terms of legislation. And we get messages all the time from people saying oh, I'm an allergy mum, and you know, I'm just starting my kid in school and how can I bring this to the school? And we say it's great, you know, we'll send you the pack, you can present on behalf of us. So we want to work with people and the best way they can do that is you know, checking us out on the website, filling out the inquiry form, following us on our social medias! 

Kitt Medical Mayor's Challenge London

Where can people learn more and connect?

Kyle Dine
Wonderful, anybody out there that wants to support in any way, young startups are always looking for that type of support, whether you have connections, whether you have funding, or advice or mentorship. That's fantastic, so what's your website? Where can people actually connect with you? Instagram, where else?

Zak Marks
Yeah, so it's just https://kittmedical.com/ you'll see the full product there, About Page, FAQs and on social media it's @kittmedical on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram.

We've got also, on our website, a live recording from the pitch that we did when we won the London Mayor's Entrepreneur Awards. So you can see us speaking on the problem and actually talking about it. And that can be really helpful if you do want to take us to a school as well to share with them.

Kyle Dine
Wonderful, there's so much momentum going behind you right now and I hope it just carries you forward. Thank you for your time today Zak, it's really an honor to speak with you and you're very inspiring as is this mission that you're taking on with your team so keep it going. We wish you all the best and thank you for being an Equalizer for the whole free from community. We appreciate you.

Zak Marks
I appreciate you Kyle as well. Thank you for having me.


Kitt Medical Team Food Allergy EpiPen

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