Using data from genetic tests by 23andMe and Ancestry, LifeDNA can point to a problem area consumers may have in terms of skincare and recommend topical products or nutritional supplements.
“When looking at your DNA, we look at certain markers called SNPs [single-nucleotide polymorphism]... We can tell if you’re predisposed to have certain vitamin deficiencies, and based on that information, we’ll be able to recommend the best products for you,” Moukarzel told NutraIngredients-USA.
The SNP can tell “how your skin might react to oxidative stress, or if it’s more dry or oily, or are you prone to blemishes?” he added. The number of supplement product varieties that can be sent to a consumer is proprietary information, but Moukarzel said that it’s “a pretty big list of supplements that is growing on a monthly basis.”
Because LifeDNA doesn’t administer its own DNA tests, it is currently only servicing customers who have done a DNA test with 23andMe or Ancestry. “You send in the information, we analyze it, and then we ship products based on that information,” he said. The company is working on the ability to analyze data form other DNA companies as well.
The number of people doing DNA testing is ‘getting insane’
Moukarzel co-founded the company together with college friend Jared Kushi, who serves as LifeDNA’s COO, back in May 2017. Kushi was a program director at an accelerator program in Hawaii where he got to know some angel investors in the state. One of these investors, Steve Markowitz, was interested in the concept of combining genetics and nutrition, and came on board as a chairman and the third co-founder.
They’re tapping into the momentum of DNA tests. “Personal genomics is getting easier and growing every single year. DNA testing used to cost thousands of dollars, now you could get it for about $100, the price is getting it cheaper-and-cheaper,” Moukarzel said.
“That means the market is growing really, really fast. The number of people doing DNA testing is getting insane, which makes the market for genetics based products a lot bigger,” he added. Last year, The Guardian reported that the global consumer genetic testing market was worth $70m in 2015, and forecasted to hit $340 million by 2022, citing data from Credence Research.
Beauty and nutrition merging
At the time of conception, the co-founders envisioned the company to be primarily a dietary supplement one. Now it has serums and lotions and cleaners.
It’s part of a growing trend where topical beauty companies are blurring with consumable nutritional ones, such as Zirh, Perricone MD, Burt’s Bees, and most recently Avon launching a dietary supplements line.
“A lot of the impact of certain supplements also impact your skin—you’re skin might be reacting in a certain way because you’re missing certain vitamins. That’s one of the reasons why they go hand-in-hand,” he said.
Moukarzel added that a problem he wants to solve with his company is the guessing game that comes with buying supplements. “You have no idea why you’re taking these supplements sometimes, and every single one of us is different,” he said.
“We want to change the way that people buy wellness products. We’re starting with supplements and skincare but we want to move into diet plans, fitness plans, nutrition programs, and so on.”