Imagine that every human had enough personalized health information to efficiently manage nutrition, fitness, stress, disease propensity, and sleep. That’s Ali Mostashari’s enormous goal; he is working to position his precision health company, LifeNome, as “the personalization engine of the planet.”
The idea behind precision health is that every individual has different health needs, based on biology, heredity, lifestyle, behavior, and many other factors. Through DNA analysis, microbiome testing, and data gathered from health records and wearable devices, LifeNome can make hyper-personalized recommendations on what to eat, how to exercise, and what measures should be taken to control existing health issues. Mostashari estimates that his company provides eight to ten times as much health information as mainstream companies such as 23andMe. And unlike other genetic testing companies, LifeNome can make specific recommendations on food, supplements, and skin and hair care products by looking at how ingredients are absorbed and processed.
Mostashari founded LifeNome five years ago with two co-founders, Raya Khanin and Mario Storga. All three are PhDs with expertise in artificial intelligence, complexity science, and computational biology. “Each of us is in the top 20 cited scholars in our respective fields in the world,” says Mostashari. “We're academics and researchers, not marketers, and we've come together to bring very rigorous science to the area of personalized health and well-being.”
LifeNome’s first customer was a company in Asia that wanted to offer genomics insights to its customers. “We actually started collaborating with that company in 11 countries in Southeast Asia, providing their customers with insights on their nutrition, their fitness, their allergies, and other areas of well-being,” Mostashari says. Those sales were based not on marketing efforts, but on “scientific credibility and the validity of our engine.” The company has always been cash-flow positive, he says, and only recently accepted outside investment to help finance growth.
When people from different backgrounds share ideas, Mostashari says, “there's a lot of synergy in creating some additional thoughts that may not have existed if they hadn't come together. That creates an additional value proposition and additional growth.”
LifeNome is largely a B2B company that works with enterprise clients in the nutrition, beauty, insurance, and pharmaceutical industries. “We white label our service for them so that they can provide personalization to their end-users,” says Mostashari. He stresses that individuals have sole control of their data, which is stored in a digital vault, and that there is always a firewall between the individual’s information and the company that is offering LifeNome’s services. “Our engine facilitates looking at that company's product catalog or assortments, looking at your DNA data and your precision profile, and then allowing you to get highly personalized recommendations for which products from what manufacturer, what brand, are best for your health,” says Mostashari.
When COVID-19 hit, many of the company’s potential customers put the brakes on adopting innovative programs, and sales cycles became very long. “We actually pivoted and repositioned ourselves, and I think we came out much stronger than before,” says Mostashari. The co-founders decided to turn directly to consumers, who were in a better position to make buying decisions quickly. In June 2021, LifeNome will launch a direct-to-consumer precision nutrition platform for pregnant women and their babies, offering guidance from conception to 24 months for mothers and babies. “The nutrition is focused both on the health of the mom, and also giving the child the best possible start,” says Mostashari. “We're doing pre-sales with an Indiegogo campaign to create interest.”
Prior to co-founding LifeNome, Mostashari worked for the United Nations Development Program in sub-Saharan Africa, where he oversaw a $1.2 billion development portfolio. “I fell in love with Africa and committed myself to lifelong support of the continent with regard to its development agenda,” he says. In 2019, he co-founded Science for Africa, a nonprofit that connects European and African academics and researchers who share knowledge and grant opportunities connected to food safety, conservation, and infectious disease.
As a member of Newsweek Expert Forum, Mostashari values the diverse community. “I've gotten a lot of insights into perspectives from individuals in other sectors of the economy. I’ve found that to be very, very powerful,” he says. When people from different backgrounds share ideas, “there's a lot of synergy in creating some additional thoughts that may not have existed if they hadn't come together,” he says. “That creates an additional value proposition and additional growth.” Mostashari plans to contribute content pertaining to health and well-being, and will share his thoughts on the changing work environment precipitated by the pandemic.