• How likely are you to become bald?
• Are you likely to become a sprinter or a average runner?
• How likely are you to get diabetes?
• What kind of drugs/medicines will suit you.
• Are you allergic to all kinds of medicine or do you have the ability to metabolize some?
• Are you a carrier for Thalassemia?
A startup based in India called mapmygenome can help you with the above answers and much more. Anu acharya founded Mapmygenome in 2012. We met Anu last week at the Women In Stem conference.
mapmygenome is company that offers a range of services to paint a picture of one’s genetic makeup and suggest ways to lead a better and healthier life. It is a molecular diagnostic company for people who are proactive about their health. The company offers products that provide insights into the genetic basis about a person that include traits, drug responses, inherited conditions and diseases.
How Did Mapmygenome come to life?
This is Anu’s 2nd startup. The entrepreneurial journey of Anu Acharya started in 2000 when she decided to move back to Hyderabad from Chicago. She founded a company, called Ocimum Bio Solutions, which helps scientist do their research. Over a period of 14 years, they continued growing the company and offering B2B services. Anu wanted the people to get direct benefits of genomics.
Genomics is a discipline in genetics that applies recombinant DNA, DNA sequencing methods, and bioinformatics to sequence, assemble, and analyze the function and structure of genomes (the complete set of DNA within a single cell of an organism) – via Wikipedia.
“What bothered me the most was people were not aware of what genomics could do. It could change the lifestyle of people; the way they live. I thought of starting a consumer division in my existing company but the idea was not entertained at the board level. Therefore I thought of incubating this idea as a startup in my existing company.“ said Anu
“We started working on algorithm and database which took us 3 years. Once we were ready by Dec 2012, I met one of my advisers and told them that I wanted to create a brand, take on something more challenging.”
By Jan 2013 I moved out of the board of my existing company to focus completely on mapmygenome and did a soft launch by April 2013.
Did the startup get funded?
Initially Anu invested personal funds which were used to create the database and the intellectual property for the startup.
“We started with one product call Genompatri. Genomepatri is a once in a lifetime checkup where we correlate your health history with your genetic predisposition to give you some actionable steps to follow after a genetic counseling session by our trained counselors.Sample processing and analysis takes 6-8 weeks.”
We have further broken down Genompatri to different by-products.
Cardiomap evaluates if you are at risk to heart diseases or diabetes based on your genetics.
Webneuro is a web-based 30 minute test that assesses “the cognitive strengths and weaknesses of individual.”
Anu said, “Our TB products are meant to appeal to the masses.”
How can you test for mapymygenome products?
They ask you very detailed questions about your family history, parents, yourself etc. Filling up will take 10/20 minute if you already have all the information. Your current medical report will also be required.
You can also order a product online they courier you a DIY swab kit which you can send it back once the test is taken. They then do the analysis and then produce the reports. The startup also will counsel you if there is need to change your life style, food habits etc.
“We have started creating apps to further penetrate the market which is expected to launch soon.” said Anu. The mobile apps would help the startup expand its reach and the reports are visually more appealing.
Are the tests accurate?
The startups uses the illumina technology to do tests. Illumina is a leading developer, manufacturer, and marketer of life science tools and integrated systems for large-scale analysis of genetic variation and function. It is a predictive test and not a diagnostic. It answers ‘What is the probability that you are likely to get it.’ As illumina guarantees 99.9% accuracy none of the genetic predictive analysis are going to be 100% accurate.
If you are getting married and the startup can help you do analysis on your spouse and let you know if you both carry the genes of thalassemia and how likely are you going to pass on to your off spring.
“The real value is when mapmygenome gives the test taker a recommendation on how to change their diet, lifestyle people. People in India consider this product to be an investment to help them live a healthy lifestyle. We also get a lot of parents wanting to do the tests for their children.” said Anu.
Anu is currently exploring possibility of entering the Middle East region and seeking partners.