According to the privately held Boston-based company, the latest investment came from Spectrum Health Ventures, bringing Orig3n’s total capital raise since its 2014 inception to more than $30 million. The capital infusion also came with the addition of Byron Smith to Orig3n’s board of directors. Smith has had a long career in the wireless and tech industries before transitioning into managing investments in the health services sector.
“Orig3n is an increasingly consumer-facing startup that is growing at an exponential rate, and Byron's experience across a diverse range of industries will help facilitate and propel Orig3n's development and expansion,”said Orig3n CEO Robin Y. Smith.
Kits based on cheek-swab tests
Orig3n offers a wide variety of tailored DNA testing kits, all of which use cheek-swab technology. The kits include ones that focus on skin health, fitness potential, nutritional differences, child development and so forth. Prices at the moment range from $29 for a six-gene test to $149 for more complete packages that look at 24 genes.
Personalized health is the cresting wave in the health and nutrition sphere. Julian Mellentin, director of a consulting firm called New Nutrition Business, identified it as one of the key trends this year.
“Personalization is about consumers ‘taking back control’,” said Mellentin, who put out a report earlier this year titled '10 Key Trends in Food, Nutrition and Health 2017.'
“They want to feel more empowered and confident to create their own healthy eating patterns. It goes hand-in-hand with growing awareness that diet is a personal matter –and it’s another stage in the long slow death of ‘one size fits all’dietary recommendations.”
Companies crowd into space
Last year saw the launch of numerous personalized nutrition start-ups, from DayTwo, which looks at stool samples to tailor diets based on a users’ gut microbes, to STYR Labs, which tracks a user’s exercise activity to not only recommend, but also create and send packets of personalized supplements based on the user’s athletic behavior, which the user can subscribe to.
Orig3n appears to be well placed to benefit from this trend, if its investment backing is any measure. In addition to Spectrum Health Ventures, which is a new $100 million fund targeting consumer health, the company also has backing from Hatteras Venture Partners IV and Syno Venture Capital LLC, which manages consumer health care investments in the US and in China.