• Jaime Richards

SUGARLESS LEMONADE


When Kyrra Richards was a little girl, she dreamed of dancing on a professional stage. She imagined herself performing in exotic locations, impacting audiences all over the world.

And she did. From Morocco to Paris, Japan to China, Hollywood backlots to the Hollywood Bowl, her dancing dreams came true. Yet, never in her wildest fantasies did she see herself flying around Afghanistan and Pakistan in Blackhawk helicopters, on her way to performances on makeshift stages in crudely built, cave-like “recreation centers.”

But that’s what she did when she toured with Xpose, a dance company hired to entertain our troops. For ten days, she ate k-rations, the boxed, ready-to-eat meals issued to soldiers serving in remote areas.

When Kyrra returned to the states, she felt out of sorts and had lost an unhealthy amount of weight. So, she reported to her doctor who speculated that the carbohydrate-loaded meals had stressed her pancreas to the max. Whatever the cause, at age 25, her masked-by-fitness type 1 diabetes was no longer masked.

Kyrra’s blood sugar level was hovering around 500. (80-130 is normal.) Suddenly, monumentally her life was transformed. For the next two weeks, instead of driving to dance auditions, she drove to doctors’ offices. Her family doctor referred her to a foot doctor, an eye doctor, an endocrinologist (diabetes doctor), a dietician and a psychologist. She spent a lot of time in waiting rooms.

While sitting in one of them, she looked around and didn’t like what she saw. Pretty much all the medical equipment and supplies were sterile, drab and scary. Typical, was a large glass jar filled with fluffy white cotton balls.

A week later she was sitting in her parents’ home, sketching intently. When her father asked her what she was so focused on, she said, “I’m figuring out a way to make millions!”

Kyrra’s sketches were of user friendly, fun and appealing medical equipment and supplies. Instead of a large, glass jar full of cotton balls, she envisioned an unbreakable bunny rabbit whose his tail would dispense cotton balls. Instead of a boring, plain testing case (used to hold a diabetic’s meter, insulin and needles), she imagined a heart-shaped case that, when opened, would transform into a cheerful, smiling butterfly.

A month later, Lauren, one of Kyrra’s Xpose dance company teammates, was enrolled in an entrepreneurship class at UCLA’s Anderson School of Business. She confessed that she was having a tough time coming up with an innovative idea for new business startup.

And that’s how Myabetic was born. In exchange for $50,000 seed money, Kyrra and Lauren traded 30% of their company to Albert and Brendan, fellow UCLA alumni. (Make those contacts!) The company was launched and now it’s Myabetic that’s impacting “audiences” all over the world. Last month it received an order for 50 of its Mystique testing cases from a distribution company in Saudi Arabia.

Myabetic isn’t a Fortune 500 company – yet. Despite its early successes, challenges are ahead. But consider the advice of the esteemed Episcopalian bishop, Ethelbert Talbot (later adopted as part of the Olympic Creed): “The most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle.”

Which is reassuring, because I can’t remember a day that wasn’t a struggle. Can you? What we can learn from Kyrra, as cliché as it may be, is that when life pelts us with lemons, use them. Make lemonade – even if it has to be sugarless.