‘A combo of Nespresso, inkjet printing and vitamins’: Aussie start-up’s electroacupunture approach to personalised nutrition
In what is claimed to be a first-of-its kind approach to personalised nutrition, the firm has opted to use electroacupuncture instead of questionnaires, blood testing, DNA testing to collect data on consumers.
Personalised nutrition is potentially a lucrative sector with CSIRO Futures reporting this market alongside functional foods and supplements to be worth a whopping AU$25bn (US$17bn) by 2030. The interest is so wide that UBS said personalised nutrition could be the next plant-based meat.
MyVi was founded last year by Aydan Zebib, a biotechnology student at University of Technology Sydney (UTS) who first pitched the idea to the school’s entrepreneurship arm, UTS Startups.
Zebib explained to NutraIngredients-Asia that he chose electroacupuncture as it was a less invasive method, compared to blood testing.
“We use electroacupuncture to measure skin resistance through a voltage, and comparing it to our database, we can make enough approximation of an individual’s vitamin levels and make recommendations accordingly.”
It works by consumers placing their fingers on the scanning device and the system will measure the vitamin levels in real-time based on deficiencies and blend a personalised vitamin drink to restore the imbalances.
Citing the vitamin D deficiency in Australia, Zebib said more than half of the population was deficient despite the abundant sunshine.
Having the vitamins in the form of a beverage would be not only an easier way of consuming, but also more readily absorbed compared to pills.
Zebib believes that his firm is the first personalised nutrition company using such technology, “We think the way we are doing it is the best way because we are taking a unique personalised approach.”
Measure and drink
The MyVi system is a machine that includes a dispenser to make the beverage as well as the electroacupuncture measuring device.
Calling it a combination of a Nespresso coffee machine, an inkjet printer and vitamins, Zebib said it takes less than five minutes to assess consumers’ vitamin levels and pour a personalised beverage.
At present, there are about 20 nutrients available such as vitamin B, C, D, E as well as minerals including iron, magnesium and selenium.
All the nutrients come in liquid formats for higher bioavailability. The company said: “Our bodies absorb about 39 to 53% of pills. However, we utilise approximately 98% of liquids.”
Zebib said it was researching other ways to increase nutrient absorption into the body, including the use of nano cell technology for fat-soluble vitamins like vitamin D, however added it was still at a very early stage.
Apart from the nutrients, it also comes in eight different liquid flavours. The beverage aspect is similar to Australia’s Tespo personalised drinks and Nestle’s nesQino superfood beverages.
The MyVi machine is priced at AU$229 (US$160), and he anticipates annual costs including ingredients to go under AU$800 (US$560) per year. He said this was significantly cheaper compared to other similar personalised drink companies in the market with prices going up to one thousand.
The company is primarily focused on targeting people over 50 years, “as people get older, there is more risk of getting deficiencies which can lead to diseases. We want to help them by taking a preventive approach to nutrition and health.”
Zebib hopes to also target females in their 20s and 30s as they are more health conscious than males in general.
Zebib said its ingredients are sourced from US due to the higher costs in Australia.
“However, we will be looking for funding soon, and with that, we hope to look into producing our own vitamins in-house.”
The company is based at UTS Startups, manufacturing its entire MyVi machine there, with materials and labour support.
Zebib said the company is now taking pre-orders for its machine as it looks to launch the products in mid-2021.
“Pre-orders are a good way to measure the demand in the market. As of now, we have served over 100 customers, with 90% in Australia, the rest in US and China.”
Zebib added it aims to focus on building its brand and products in the local market first, and enter Asia and US by its third-year mark.