The Silicon Review
With our free app you’ll always have secure access to your test results, so you can make the choices that best fit your unique genes: Robin Smith
Breakthroughs in science have made it possible for you to discover the genetic traits that set you apart. Orig3n Inc. brings this technology straight to you, so you can get new insight into your mind and body.
Orig3n exists at the intersection of biological science and emerging technology on a mission to revolutionize the future of medicine. As part of its mission to democratize access to genetic information, Orig3n provides consumers direct, affordable access to information about their lifestyle-related genes, thereby empowering people to make educated, proactive and personalized lifestyle choices that may impact their well-being. Orig3n also invests in breakthrough cell therapy programs by utilizing cutting-edge cellular science to develop personalized therapies for repairing tissue damage and treating disease.
Since its inception in 2014, Orig3n has built the largest suite of direct-to-consumer genetic tests on the market, and the world’s most comprehensive cell bank for commercial regenerative medicine applications.
Orig3n Inc. was incorporated in 2014 and is headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts.
Robin Smith, Orig3n Inc., CEO/Co-founder, spoke exclusively to The Silicon Review. Below is an excerpt.
Rewind: Taking Flight
Robin strongly believes that access to personalized healthcare should be available to all and was his motivation for founding Orig3n Inc. The company is focused on the future of medicine with a goal of democratizing access to treatments and ending trial-and-error medicine Through private and venture capital funding (Orig3n recently completed its Series B round, raising $50MM in funding since its inception), the company has successfully crowdsourced a regenerative cell bank, the world’s largest for regenerative medicine research, 90 percent HLA matched to the population and is focused on developing cell therapies. Orig3n’s cell therapy is based on the Nobel Prize research on induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs), the transformation of skin or blood cells into embryonic stem cell state which can then be turned into almost any cell type in the body, such as heart, liver, or blood cells, and even neurons. Orig3n’s cell therapies have progressed to pre-clinical trials with an initial focus on Osteo-Arthritis indication announced at the HLTH conference in May 2018.
In 2016, inspired by cell bank donors who were interested in learning more about their personal genetics, Orig3n launched a direct-to-consumer DNA test kit business which empowers consumers to understand how their genetics may impact their fitness, diet and wellness. Today, Orig3n has the largest suite of direct-to-consumer lifestyle DNA tests on the market.
Challenges: Taking the Bull by the Horns
Like every entrepreneurial start-up, Orig3n had its growing pains and had to overcome obstacles for growth. For example, as Orig3n was focused on R&D for regenerative medicine, the company had a challenge sourcing cells for its research. It decided to take an unconventional approach to this problem and started to crowdsource cells through blood donations at events where its consumer target, health and wellness engaged individuals were in attendance. “We attended hundreds of events to promote our company and mission, engaging consumers to take part in helping to advance the future of medicine.” It has been a huge success and Orig3n has successfully crowdsourced the world’s largest cell bank for regenerative medicine research! “We learned from this experience that every challenge has a solution and don’t be afraid to be creative and do things differently to achieve your goals.”
Serious Commitment to Privacy: Guarding Consumer Interests In a Highly Volatile Market
Orig3n recognizes that the world is changing quickly and even more so the industry – as scientific progress and breakthroughs happen every day. One of Orig3n’s cultural pillars is the need to be nimble, such that its team of scientists and researchers is flexible and quick-moving. “We stay on the cutting edge of developments in science and technology to remain relevant to consumers of today and tomorrow.”
Orig3n Inc: Standing Out From the Competition
Given the sensitive and personalized nature of Orig3n’s business as the custodians of genetic information, “maintaining our consumers’ trust and loyalty is imperative.” Privacy is of utmost importance and thus for its DNA test kit business, one of Orig3n’s key investments and differentiators versus competition is owning and operating its own laboratory vs. outsourcing processing to third parties. Having its own lab enables Orig3n to ensure consumer data is protected and “we have a strict policy of never sharing or selling consumer genetic data without prior consent.”
Overview: Products to be Launched
Orig3n is continuously developing new products to ensure it addresses the needs of its consumers. For example, in May 2018, Orig3n launched the Run DNA test kit which was designed for runners seeking to improve their performance and covers critical performance driver such as Nutrition, Endurance and Recovery. And in July 2018, Orig3n collaborated with Amazon to launch an exclusive Mind & Body DNA test which includes categories such as Nutrition, Fitness and Behavior.
Future Arrangements: Sky’s the Limit
Orig3n is focused on accelerating growth. With a recent investment from Haitong International and a partnership in China with Zhong An, Orig3n is poised for international expansion to broaden consumer access to its products. “We will also continue efforts on cell therapy development and would aim to have progressed to successful clinical trials – to be able to commercialize treatments.”
Robin Smith: A Brief Background
Robin Smith is a seasoned executive and entrepreneur with over 20 years of experience in the Life Sciences industry. Robin has an accomplished track record of leadership in addition to his previous role with PerkinElmer leading Global R&D. He has also built and successfully exited three businesses during his career. Mr. Smith is passionate about growing businesses and has returned over 78 percent IRR for Venture and Private Equity for his last three private companies.
“Recent scientific breakthroughs are revolutionizing the way we think about DNA and health. Orig3n is on a mission to turn these discoveries into practical solutions and make them available to you.”