Personalization mostly a matter of statistical analysis for Styr Labs founder

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Dietary supplement

Personalization mostly a matter of statistical analysis for Styr Labs founder
The application of statistical techniques to personalized nutrition has allowed Sergio Radovcic, founder of supplement marketer Styr Labs, to take the concept to new levels of sophistication.

Radovcic came from a tech background and approached innovation in the dietary supplement space from this angle. In his previous business endeavors, Radovcic, who is also a highly accomplished ultra endurance athlete as well being an entrepreneur, worked in the delivery of health care via online platforms. For him, finding a better way of delivering supplementation was basically a question of manipulating existing stores of data and mining new streams coming from consumers themselves. 

Radovcic participated in an online forum hosted by Nutraingredients-USA that was titled Innovation in Dietary Supplements​. The forum was broadcast on January 30, and can be heard on demand by clicking here​. Radovcic was joined by Tim Avila, longtime industry consultant who has shepherded many new ingredients to market, and Paul Jarrett, co founder and CEO of BuluBox, a company that offers a more focused way for supplement companies to offer samples via monthly subscription boxes to consumers.

Badwater epiphany

Radovcic says he has completed more marathons than he can remember and graduated to one of the most extreme endurance sports challenges out there: the Badwater 150, a footrace through Death Valley, one of the most inhospitable landscapes on the planet. After gaining the requisite level of fitness, participating in endurance events basically comes down to an eating and drinking contest. Participants who can stay fueled and hydrated prosper.  Those who can’t, don’t.

While participating in the Badwater, Radovcic said he had an epiphany of sorts. 

“A lot of my fellow competitors were telling me their secret trick was nutrition,​ Radovcic said. “But none of them were the same. One would say, ‘I’m purely vegan. For another, it was paleo, for another a ketogenic diet. They all followed these very specific regimes that worked for them.

Putting statistics around supplements

Radovcic said he realized that if the data points that surrounded each individual consumer’s daily lifestyle could be gathered and collated, the underpinnings of these personalized regimes could be elucidated. And further, a personalized supplementation regime that was supported by valid statistical techniques could be created.

The first task was to see what was available in the dietary supplement realm, and what was supported by the evidence. Radovcic said he and his team assembled all of the data they could come up with about dietary supplements and their effects. Cross referencing these data points yielded a heat map of sorts showing the most common and best supported sources from which personalized supplements could cost effectively be offered.

“We looked at this as a data problem. We collated more than 250,000 research studies, papers and articles. We ranked this information, with one being an article in something like Runner’s World up to a five being a published, peer reviewed study. We cross referenced by ingredient and purpose,​ he said.

“We came up with 27 to 29 ingredients that appeared across most supplements. Then there were an additional eight to 10 that appeared in a lot of them,​ Radovcic said.

Consumer data platform

With that underpinning in place, the next task was to build a framework around data that could be collected from consumers. Styr Labs markets its own movement trackers and also offers a branded digital scale that collects not just weight but measures of body fat and bone density. There is also an interactive platform where users can log their nutritional intake. All told, Radovcic said his company collects more than 800 data points on each consumer.

“If a consumer tells us, ‘I had a hamburger for lunch, we can capture where that hamburger was eaten. That then becomes part of the decision tree ​(about what to recommend for that consumer). As time progresses we fill up a data picture of you,​ Radovcic said.

Using the company’s proprietary platform, Radovcic said Styr Labs can tell with a fairly high degree of precision where consumers stand in their personal micronutrient status. So formulas can be customized to take into account what consumers are taking in and how much they are exerting themselves based on their personal data cloud as opposed to what they say they do by responding to a questionnaire.

“So one week you might get a six gram formula, and the next week you might get seven grams,​ Radovcic said.

Applying the rigor of a seasoned statistician, Radovcic said it’s still early days in assessing the overall effectiveness of his company’s approach. But he did say that almost all of the consumers participating thus far have mentioned losing weight as one of their goals. Using the company’s platform, Radovcic said that more than half have lost a point on their BMI measurement and have maintained that for more than 12 weeks.

The innovation forum can be heard on demand by clicking here​.

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