Where did you get the idea for Choose Health?
The concept for the original Choose Health business was developed while we were building our last company, a dietary supplement brand and distribution business called Lifes2good. We spent a lot of money running clinical trials on our products to both substantiate them legally and to prove to the medical community and our customers that they worked. There was a lot of frustration watching other supplement marketers make unsubstantiated claims on nutritional products that didn’t work. There is really no onus on the part of early-stage supplement marketers to substantiate their product claims. As a result, the customer is victim to over-hyped and under substantiated nutritional products.
The original thesis was to use at home diagnostic testing to help users learn more about how their diet and nutrition products were impacting their key internal markers of health with affordable, at-home, before and after testing. We subsequently discovered that there was no simple, affordable and engaging way for people to track the key markers of health from the comfort of their homes. This has evolved into the product as it exists today. We want to continue to focus on helping people get a better insight into key questions they might have about their health, and become more health literate.
This isn’t your first time starting a company. What are some skills you find essential to building a business?
One of the most consistently important skills is recruiting. You have to continually focus on recruiting people into your mission and vision- that are experts in key areas within the business. Building an empowering and winning culture over time requires a lot of effort and planning. Some other important skills include developing mental resilience and managing emotions. The early stage journey has many ups and downs and keeping the monkey brain in check is important.
Have you had any surprises along the way ?
I have been very surprised to learn how early we still are in the adoption of using diagnostic testing to make better lifestyle decisions. Our Chief Medical Officer's core thesis to begin with was that there are certain markers of health, such as cholesterol, inflammation, insulin resistance, etc, that should be monitored on a more regular basis to observe trends over time. A change in diet, a new dietary supplement regimen, stress, alcohol consumption or acute injuries can all affect these markers on a weekly or monthly interval.
The quantified self movement has created more awareness around tracking sleep, weight, heart rate and other biomarkers. However, tracking internal health is not as common or accessible. With the growth of functional or root cause medicine, the awareness of the importance of internal biomarkers has been growing over the past few years but it is still at the early adopter phase.
How do you handle risk and competition?
The direct to consumer diagnostics industry is still in its infancy. Although at home testing technology has been around for many years, the culmination of conventional medicine not addressing consumer needs and individuals taking a more active role in their health is causing the market to grow at 50%+ CAGR over the past few years.
We actively monitor competitive offerings and plagiarism threats, but feel that there is a lot of space to build into over the coming years.
What’s been the #1 (or two) top challenges you’ve faced while launching your company?
Understanding and managing the regulatory environment within the healthcare industry is a challenge for all businesses but especially for an early stage company with limited resources. We have internal expertise and external resource support in this area, but it is a constant learning curve.
What’s your team culture like?
We are a small scrappy team with a diverse base of experience. The common culture traits among the team are humility, persistence and accountability. We continually work toward shipping products using an agile testing methodology. It has been difficult to maintain and grow the culture through the recent shift to a remote working environment, but we’re getting by like everyone else!
What is your superpower?
I’m not sure I have a superpower, but being competitive and inquisitive definitely helps!
What’s your kryptonite?
Unfocused meetings and analysis paralysis.
Do you have any unusual routines or habits?
I like to lie on my spike mat (plastic bed of nails) before bed. It has been especially helpful during the pandemic!
Do you have any other hobbies/things you like to do in your spare time?
I spend most of my time outside of the business with family and playing sports. I’m still trying to keep up with the college kids on the soccer pitch and raising two aspiring young athletes.
Are there any apps or gadgets that you can’t live without?
I have become slightly dependent on my Chili bed cooling mat this year, but other than that I try not to rely on gadgets or devices.
If you could give yourself one piece of advice 5 years ago, what would it be?
Don’t take yourself too seriously!
There is a thin line between being obsessed with creating value and staying sane when growing a business.