DSM's new personalized nutrition guru said effort will benefit customers and end users alike

By Hank Schultz

- Last updated on GMT

©Getty Images - ipopba
©Getty Images - ipopba

Related tags personalized nutrition personalized health

Personalized nutrition pioneer Ian Brady said DSM’s new venture in the space, branded as Hologram, will be a way to better serve both DSM’s brand clients as well as end users.

The new effort follows on from Brady’s previous startup, AVA, which is a digital personalized nutrition platform.  Brady also helped start up a social investing and lending platform called SoFi that now is now valued at more than $4.8 billion.

Service founded out of family health issue

Brady founded AVA after his wife suffered her third bout of gestational diabetes with the birth of the couple’s third child.  According to the Centers for Disease Control it’s a condition that affects 2% to 10% of pregnancies every year.  Even so, Brady said there wasn’t a lot of support at the time he started AVA for expectant mothers suffering through the issue.

“She felt very isolated.  There weren’t a lot of answers out there, and I started to think long term about how to stop this from happening again.  I was surprised by the lack of technology,”​ he said.

DSM acquired AVA for an undisclosed amount in late 2019​.  That acquisition followed a research partnership that DSM concluded in 2018 with testing company Wellmetrix​ to look into testing technologies and platforms as the large ingredient supplier moves steadily into personalized nutrition.

Brady said the goal of Hologram, which has launched with $100 million in funding from DSM, will be to understand in a more fundamental way what end users are concerned about and are trying to achieve with their personal health.  That knowledge can then be used to create brands that connect in a more useful way with the marketplace.

“Hologram is out to address a broad range of health conditions.  Things like how to improve your immune response.  It could also be around some chronic conditions like pre diabetes.  And we’ll also have a life stage focus in addressing things like fertility,” ​Brady said.

Hologram will already be supplied with the broad network of dietitians and other health care providers that Brady built up with AVA. 

“We will have digital feedback and coaching to help with a longer term engagement.  We think about inputs from a number of areas, including diagnostics through blood draws and wearable devices like Apple Health and Fitbit.  And, ultimately, we are going to identify the supplement products that could help you,”​ Brady said.

“We are going to make it as easy as possible,” ​he added.

Building better brands for customers

ian brady
Ian Brady

Brady said the data from consumers that has already been collected via the AVA experience and what will come from Hologram will then be used to develop specific supplement brands. But Brady said the goal is not to become a vertically integrated personalized nutrition company, but rather to create pathways to market for DSM’s customers that already have many of the things in place needed for success.

“Where Hologram sits is at the conceptual level. Our plan is not to go to market to compete with DSM’s customers. The company is committed to its customers through its ingredients.  Those customers may want to license those brands or acquire the brands down the road,”​ Brady said.

DSM already has a large finished products division branded as i-Health. The division has grown to house a wide variety of brands including omega-3s, memory support and menopause symptoms relief products.  Brady said Hologram’s first brand, which will launch this month, will be a vitamin D-based product that will also be paired with a diagnostic test.

Ultimately, Brady said Hologram will be a way to extend the conversation with consumers.

“We try to guide the conversation around not just what you should eat but what are the behavior modifications you should make to achieve long term health,”​ he said.

Secure funding will boost effort

And Brady said the secure funding from DSM means Hologram can more easily navigate the turbulent startup phase that has sunk some other personalized nutrition efforts.  The difficulty in growing the revenue stream fast enough has led some other efforts down the path of finding other ways to make money, such as becoming something more like a big consumer focus group.

“With that $100 million in funding we can do the right thing.  We don’t need to think about having to sell our customers’ data at all.  We are just committed to figuring out what works for consumers’ health,”​ he said.

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