Q&A: Rootine founder talks commitment to scaling precision nutrition
Founded in 2018 by Rachel Sanders and Daniel Wallerstorfer, the Nashville-based company packages at-home lab tests with personalized microbead nutrient sachets, assisted by advanced data and technology that searches for the root cause of individual health conditions. Membership tracks include subscriptions to a Smart Multivitamin formulated with up to 20 custom-dosed nutrients and a second stress management routine that responds to spikes on cortisol tests.
NutraIngredients-USA caught up with Sanders, who spoke about the need for an alternative to one-size-fits-all wellness and what has gone into building Rootine's data-driven approach to feeding unique nutrient needs.
NutraIngredients-USA (NIU): What motivated you to launch Rootine?
RS: My background lies in finance, product, and strategy at the intersection of health and technology. Dr. Daniel Wallerstorfer, PhD, brings expertise in biotechnology and building personalized health solutions. We were introduced through a mutual mentor and discovered our shared mission of making personalized, preventative care more accessible. Witnessing the shortcomings of medication-first approaches and generic solutions in the consumer health industry, we knew there was a need for better, more personalized options. So, we joined forces to build Rootine!
NIU: What went into building the brand?
RS: Rootine was built upon a commitment to precision health and everyday wellness, employing a three-fold strategy of content creation, brand ambassador engagement, and product innovation. Our content aims to demystify complex health concepts, while our ambassadors provide a personal touch, broadening our reach and creating a strong connection with our community.
The crux of our brand lies in continuous product innovation, staying ahead in the rapidly evolving precision health industry. Our path to market, a blend of digital marketing, strategic partnerships, and a customer-centric approach, has allowed us to establish Rootine as a trusted leader in precision health.
NIU: Could you tell us a bit more about your ambassadors?
RS: We work with ambassadors that are at the top of their field, constantly looking to level up in multiple aspects of their lives. We have 20+ ambassadors that span professional, Olympic and CrossFit athletes to chefs, nutritionists, and performance coaches. Our ambassadors are multi-faceted – running businesses, building communities, and excelling on the field. They are excited by Rootine's approach to support their bodies in the smartest way possible. Some of the athletes we have worked with include Lauren Sesselmann (Olympic medalist and former NWSL athlete), Matt Brown (UFC welterweight), Lucas Foster (US Olympic snowboarder), Miranda Maverick (UFC flyweight), and Brian Burns (NFL - Carolina Panthers).
NIU: With many companies focused on the gut and other microbiomes as a gateway to precision nutrition, what is Rootine's approach to testing and supplementation? Any plans to incorporate RNA testing?
RS: At Rootine, we adopt a comprehensive approach to understanding our members' unique health profiles, analyzing over 100 health data points that range from vitamin and mineral levels to hormones, DNA, lifestyle, and dietary patterns. This extensive analysis allows us to provide a highly personalized plans and nutrient formulas that align with each member's specific health goals.
As for the future, we are always exploring and open to incorporating new technologies and testing methods that could further refine our personalization process. As the field of precision health evolves, we continually evaluate the feasibility and relevance of emerging tools to enhance our solutions, aiming to stay at the forefront of the precision health industry.
NIU: Could you tell us more about your microbead delivery format?
RS: Our choice of the microbead format for our supplements was driven by the challenge of delivering precise nutrient dosages tailored to each individual's unique needs. Microbeads offer several advantages: they enable precision dosing, are engineered for optimal nutrient absorption, and allow us to release nutrients gradually throughout the day. We use the highest quality, bioavailable raw nutrients, pharmaceutical-grade cellulose, and a sustainably farmed beeswax coating to create these nutrient powerhouses.
NIU: How has Rootine evolved and how is it performing? What has your strategy been for expanding distribution?
RS: Rootine has made significant strides over the past few years, delivering more than 150,000 health insights and over a million Smart Multivitamin packs to our growing membership base, while also building a loyal brand community. Financially, we've successfully raised funds through three rounds, with the most recent being our Series A in the summer of 2022. This funding has enabled us to invest in further innovation and expand our reach.
Initially, our distribution strategy was focused on DTC, though we have since transitioned into an omnichannel model to widen our reach and accessibility.
NIU: What trends are you seeing in consumer needs?
RS: Based on our data, we're observing a holistic trend in consumer health needs, where physical and mental well-being are viewed as interconnected. Our members are increasingly prioritizing whole-body care, with stress management, sleep optimization, and daily health support emerging as key health goals. This underscores a shift towards a more comprehensive approach to wellness, emphasizing balance and overall health.
NIU: What are the latest additions to the product line? What's next?
RS: Our most recent addition to the product line is our at-home Stress Test + Improvement Plan, accompanied by three targeted stress supplements designed to address unique symptoms experienced by our members. This test makes our Smart Multivitamin even smarter by incorporating hormone data into the precision formula. As we continue to evolve, our focus remains on identifying and addressing our members' core health needs, with plans to develop more personalized solutions in the areas that matter most to them.
NIU: How important is it to supplement for stress?
RS: Given the increasing stressors in our modern lives—from work pressures to relationship dynamics and environmental factors—coupled with a decline in food quality due to the prevalence of processed foods and soil degradation, the importance of high-quality nutrition and supplementation cannot be overstated.
These factors play a crucial role in managing stress, maintaining mental health, and balancing hormones. However, it's essential to remember that our experiences with stress and our biological responses are uniquely individual. Thus, understanding your specific stress type is key, and supporting your body with targeted supplements based on your unique biology and wellness goals.
NIU: What advice would you offer other startups in the space?
RS: Consumer mindset is changing rapidly, and the demand is increasing for convenient, personalized health solutions with clear indicators of effectiveness. My advice to other startups in this space is to deeply understand your target customers and build your products or services specifically for them. Listen to their needs, pain points, and aspirations, and create solutions that truly resonate. Additionally, stay agile, adaptable, and always keep the customer at the center of your innovation.