Back when we wrote about Viome for our DNA-based personalized nutrition report last year, the company primary product was a personalized nutrition plan based on what they had learned from the DNA and RNA of a customer’s microbiome. Viome would then use this information provide nutritional guidance and meal plans for the customer.
While this is valuable and markedly different from traditional nutrition planning, it’s still the largely the same in one significant way: Viome’s nutrition plans still required the user to then go out and assemble a hodge-podge of supplements at the store or through Amazon that would help them take action on the information in the reports.
Naveen Jain, the CEO of Viome, realized that was a problem.
“We will tell you that here are the nutrients that your body needs, and what we found was that there was no way to give people the precision nutrition,” said Jain in a recent interview on Clubhouse. “The problem was they contain 10 other things that went with that. And other nine things were actually harmful to you and only one was beneficial.”
“We couldn’t figure out how to actually tell you what you need, and nothing that you don’t.”
Jain decided that what his company needed to do was provide highly personalized vitamins tailored for each person individually. In order to do that, however, the company would need to solve a massive engineering question: How do you create personalized supplements tailored for a particular person’s biomarkers at scale?
The answer was to build a robotic factory.
“We decided what if we could create completely automated robotics, where every single capsule is made for each individual based on every ingredient that the person needs in the precise dosage.”
Jain emphasized how the precision created by automation was key to assemble tailored supplements with up to 75 different nutrients.
“We literally see ‘take from the bins 17 milligrams’ and ‘take from the bins 13 milligrams’ and we literally make those powder, encapsulate them and ship them on that date. This has never been done.”
Jain believes other companies that claim to offer personalized nutrition supplements today aren’t really personalized nutrition, but more just matching categories of supplements to consumers on a closest-fit basis. To build a truly personalized nutrition consumable product is a massive engineering challenge.
“No one has figured out how to do these things at scale,” said Jain. “And that was our biggest challenge to build this massive robotic form to do it at scale.”
I talked with Jain in The Spoon’s Clubhouse room, FoodTech Live, last week. If you’d like to listen in on these conversations live, make sure to follow us on Clubhouse. And of course, you can listen to this conversation and others on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favorite podcast app.
And, as always, you can just click play below.