I Created A $2.4M/Yr Software program That Extends Individuals’s Lives By

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Good day! Who’re you and what enterprise did you begin?

Hello, my title is Joe Cohen and I’m the founder and CEO of SelfDecode. The corporate was born out of the journey I went by way of to decode myself.

In the present day, SelfDecode helps 1000’s of individuals uncover personalised eating regimen, complement, and way of life suggestions primarily based on their DNA and lab checks. We cater on to shoppers and in addition companion with well being practitioners & clinics. We additionally present genomic infrastructure to different companies.

I designed SelfDecode to be an all-in-one well being software program with our flagship characteristic being our DNA Wellness Studies. Our superior AI and machine studying algorithms take your DNA file and analyze and predict 83 million genetic variants. Then, we give you personalised genetic danger scores for all kinds of well being matters from nervousness to blood stress.

We don’t cease there although. In my view, offering individuals with danger scores with out suggestions normally does extra hurt than good. With SelfDecode, you additionally get personalised well being suggestions which can be prioritized primarily based in your distinctive genetic variants. No different firm is at the moment doing this.

Nevertheless, your genes are only one piece of your well being story. That’s why we additionally provide the SelfDecode Lab Analyzer the place you possibly can add or order lab checks and get easy-to-understand evaluation and proposals. Our lab analyzer additionally measures your outcomes utilizing useful lab ranges, as a result of “regular” doesn’t imply optimum in the case of lab checks.

In 2021, we launched a crowdfunding marketing campaign and raised a complete of $8M and have generated about $2.7M in income over the previous 12 months. SelfDecode began with my want to simply get wholesome and now we’re poised to vary the way forward for well being care as we all know it. If that isn’t motivation to go after what you need in life, I don’t know what’s.


What’s your backstory and the way did you give you the concept?

I all the time say that I received the genetic lottery of unhealthy genes.

In the case of constructing a enterprise, a very powerful factor is hiring the precise individuals. If you happen to don’t have staff, your organization won’t ever develop.

Rising up, I suffered from a wide range of well being points that docs may by no means unravel. I suffered from intestine irritation, mind fog, meals sensitivities, and plenty of different random well being issues that left me sick and flunking out of school. Each side of my life was affected by my well being points, from my skill to carry a job to have the ability to keep relationships.

Docs wished to prescribe me dozens of tablets to deal with particular person signs. Nobody was addressing the basis explanation for my issues. Lastly, I made a decision it was time for a change.

I didn’t begin with intentions to construct a multi-million greenback enterprise. I simply wished to be wholesome. And I used to be keen to do something it took to make that occur.

I learn 1000’s of PubMed articles, began studying all the pieces I may about genetics, and commenced experimenting with totally different dietary supplements, diets, and way of life modifications. I began selfhacked.com as a private weblog the place I documented the well being methods I discovered. I had virtually no cash to spend money on the location, however it gained traction organically as a result of, because it seems, there are lots of people on the market with a narrative much like mine: suboptimal well being points that do not have a fast drug repair.

In 2017, I partnered with a couple of scientists and researchers as SelfHacked grew and we began engaged on SelfDecode. I had spent numerous hours researching my genes to search out options that labored and I wished to make that course of simpler for individuals.

Happily, I had grown the natural site visitors on SelfHacked sufficient in order that I used to be ready to make use of the advert and affiliate income from SelfHacked to finance the beginning of SelfDecode.

You shouldn’t restrict your self to individuals who reside in your metropolis. I function a totally distant staff with staff all around the world. Don’t depend them out simply because they will’t come to work in your workplace.

We grew extra slowly than some startups as a result of I used to be dedicated to constructing a product that labored. It needed to be scientifically correct and good R&D isn’t low-cost. However, individuals’s well being relies on our product and I wasn’t keen to sacrifice high quality.

Nonetheless, by 2020, we closed out the 12 months with over $2 million in income and have been capable of develop our science and engineering staff. This allowed us to launch the second model of our platform in 2021 and construct extremely correct genetic evaluation fashions rivaled solely by 23andme.

Through the use of a method referred to as genetic imputation, our system turns the ~500,000 SNPs that the majority genotyping chips cowl into information for over 83 million extra variants, all with an accuracy price of 99.7%.

In the case of figuring out danger scores, in contrast to many firms who depend on info from solely a dozen or so variants, we make the most of polygenic danger scores. Our algorithms mix the data from as much as 1,000,000 genetic variants to find out an individual’s probability of creating a particular trait or situation.

Then, our staff of scientists check and validate the algorithm fashions, and fine-tune their danger calculations for various ethnic teams.

Take us by way of the method of designing your service.

Most individuals check the market earlier than constructing a product. I extremely counsel entrepreneurs do that earlier than investing money and time in product improvement.

However for me, it actually was a “construct it and they’ll come” state of affairs. I constructed SelfDecode for myself, for my well being. As a result of I wanted it to have a life that I loved dwelling.

SelfDecode began as an SNP explorer and signs analyzer so that folks may add their genetic file, see their genetic variants and uncover if they’d danger variants associated to their signs. I spoke with different biohackers, learn by way of Reddit threads, and received suggestions from our early prospects.

Then, we began constructing Wellness Studies to offer individuals a holistic take a look at how a number of genes could possibly be affecting them in a sure well being space, like irritation.

We would have liked to construct a platform that might take the data in a genetic file and show it in a manner that was helpful for individuals and join particular genes to particular well being points.

Nevertheless, the primary model of SelfDecode was constructed with biohackers and science nerds in thoughts. It included a number of detailed scientific info and was constructed for individuals who wished to actually “dig into their genes”. It additionally used the standard DNA report evaluation method at the moment – solely analyzing the preferred 5 – 50 variants associated to a subject.

It was our MVP, however then we began on model 2. We additionally began promoting our DNA kits, as a result of we began attracting extra prospects who didn’t have already got a file.

For this, we needed to discover a lab to companion with. There are lots to select from, however we wished to ensure our labs have been situated within the U.S. or Europe relatively than China the place many different firms secretly do sequencing however do not inform their prospects (the Chinese language authorities has entry to any info they need from labs on their soil).


When constructing the SelfDecode 2.0 platform, we targeted on enhancing the design, consumer expertise and made it extra simply understood and navigated by the final inhabitants. We needed to rent superb UI/UX designers who have been capable of take scientific info and make it straightforward for individuals to navigate.

Most significantly, we superior our scientific fashions. By including 65+ scientists and engineers to our staff, we have been capable of construct a cutting-edge genetic danger predictor for persistent well being points (Polygenic Danger Scores/PRS).

Genomics is a reasonably advanced discipline. The human genome comprises 3 billion base pairs, making correct evaluation a fancy intersection of science and expertise. As a result of we have been coping with well being info, it was additionally crucial to seek the advice of with people well-versed in FDA rules to keep away from any authorized issues.

We use deep studying AI fashions to research 1,000,000+ variants, relatively than simply take a look at a couple of variants for a given subject. It made danger scores and proposals 10X extra correct and significant.

Nevertheless, there have been some challenges with storage and file processing as a result of quantity of information contained inside every genetic file. It required a really expert R&D and engineering staff to beat these challenges.

Moreover, we introduced our Lab Evaluation software program, which was beforehand a separate service, into the SelfDecode platform for a real one-stop-shop for personalised well being suggestions


Describe the method of launching the enterprise.

I constructed a following with SelfHacked. By sharing my biohacking well being journey by way of weblog posts and podcasts, I had managed to construct an electronic mail checklist of followers who have been like me in some ways.

Principally, they wished to realize optimum well being.

I emailed my checklist frequently, I even did some 1:1 well being consultations with purchasers for a short time. So, when it was time to launch SelfDecode, I had an inventory of about 30,000 individuals who have been extraordinarily enthusiastic about this subsequent stage of my well being journey they usually wished to be part of it.

The primary few thousand prospects got here rapidly and simply. They have been all from my electronic mail checklist. I didn’t begin operating paid adverts till 2020; 3 years after I launched my enterprise. I targeted very closely on constructing my checklist by way of natural efforts and nurturing them with value-based content material.

It’s loopy to consider how many individuals have been invested in my well being journey. We launched an fairness crowdfunding marketing campaign in early 2021 and the help from individuals who’ve been round for the reason that very starting of SelfHacked simply blew me away.

We selected fairness crowdfunding as a result of we had many customers by way of the years who have been all for investing, however didn’t have so much to take a position. By launching an fairness crowdfunding marketing campaign, we have been capable of enable our prospects to personal a bit of the software program they have been so enthusiastic about.

In the end, we selected WeFunder as our fairness crowdfunding platform and after submitting the required monetary kinds, we have been capable of launch our marketing campaign with nice success.

Since launch, what has labored to draw and retain prospects?

Throughout the first few years of constructing my firm, I targeted largely on natural advertising efforts corresponding to search engine marketing, podcasts, and electronic mail advertising.

My first web site, selfhacked.com, was attracting 1.5+ million guests per 30 days and I supplied readers free ebooks/eguides in trade for his or her electronic mail tackle.

My electronic mail advertising technique targeted on offering worth, not making gross sales.

I discovered that once I targeted on offering worth when it was time to make a proposal, the gross sales got here. I gained the belief of my readers. They knew I believed in my product and that I had used it to vary my very own life.

Right here’s an instance of certainly one of my emails (you possibly can learn the total electronic mail right here):


SelfHacked turned one of many prime trusted sources for well being info and I appeared on podcasts, spoke at conferences, and partnered with many different leaders in my business to cross-promote merchandise.

I imagine that my give attention to natural efforts throughout the starting levels of my firm is what allowed it to develop and thrive throughout the precision well being business. I constructed a stage of belief and a loyal following that may be tough to realize solely by way of paid promoting efforts.

Nevertheless, in 2019, Google launched some core algorithm modifications that penalized different well being web sites and resulted in a pointy decline in natural site visitors on SelfHacked. Thus, I turned to paid promoting.

I began with Fb adverts. We have been ready to make use of our checklist to construct lookalike audiences and begin gathering extra leads. These new leads went by way of the identical funnels and obtained the identical value-based emails as beforehand obtained natural leads.


Though the brand new leads from paid adverts transformed at a decrease price than the organically generated leads, we noticed vital will increase in conversion numbers when it got here time for large gross sales, like Black Friday.

Just lately, we’ve been working to construct out our associates program and increase our paid promoting efforts throughout quite a few platforms (e.g. Google, Fb, Quora, LinkedIn). Our associates program affords companions excessive fee charges (50%), with an AOV of $200 and typical conversion charges of three% – 10% relying on the companion.

One technique that works properly with associates is giving them a customized touchdown web page with a banner that mentions the affiliate. That manner, followers proceed to really feel related to the influencer, even whereas in your touchdown web page.


When associates hear about our phrases, they get excited, which helps to additional our attain and simply entice new prospects inside our area of interest.

When it comes to retaining prospects, we’re all the time engaged on enhancing our product. We repeatedly add new well being stories to our platform and frequently launch new options. We make use of top-notch customer support representatives and preserve a customer-first mindset in all the pieces we do. That has allowed us to take care of a really low churn price (round 1.5%) and excessive scores on Trustpilot.

How are you doing as we speak and what does the longer term appear like?

We’re quickly to shut out our first spherical of funding from fairness traders, together with over $1+ million in crowdfunding by way of our Wefunder marketing campaign. That is on prime of the $7M we raised in 2021 from household places of work of people that used the product.

We’re worthwhile when excluding R&D, which is by far the largest expense of the corporate. We’re dedicated to creating certain our science is one of the best.


Elevating capital has enabled us to quickly develop our science staff, speed up our product improvement and spend money on buyer acquisition.

I’m enthusiastic about this new part of our progress and humbled by the religion so many individuals have proven by investing in SelfDecode.

In the present day now we have about 80 full-time staff members, a handful of part-time individuals, and over 15,000 energetic subscribers.

One factor I’ve realized is that many individuals are searching for much more help in understanding the actual science behind optimizing their well being.

With that realization, a brand new focus of ours is empowering useful and integrative well being practitioners with much more superior instruments and coaching. So, that certified professionals can higher information individuals on their well being journeys with AI-driven insights primarily based on the individual’s particular genomics and lab markers.

As well as, we understand the highly effective instruments we constructed may also help advance the genomic revolution, and we’re licensing these instruments to different companies.

Via beginning the enterprise, have you ever realized something notably useful or advantageous?

In the case of constructing a enterprise, a very powerful factor is hiring the precise individuals. If you happen to don’t have staff, your organization won’t ever develop, which is why I’ve spent loads of time creating superior hiring software program that enables me to simply accept and kind by way of massive numbers of individuals to search out one of the best.

What platform/instruments do you utilize for what you are promoting?

My favourite device is that hiring platform I discussed that I had customized constructed to make sure that we solely rent the very best individuals. It’s a reasonably superior system that features checks and evaluation of candidates’ scores.

Nevertheless, my software program isn’t accessible to the general public (but!), so listed below are a few of my different go-to instruments:

What have been probably the most influential books, podcasts, or different sources?

One of the best classes I ever realized got here from doing the analysis myself. Once I was fixing my well being points, I learn by way of 1000’s of PubMed articles and did loads of self-experimentation.

I discovered that there are by no means one-size-fits-all options in the case of your well being or what you are promoting. I’ve realized that compiling the analysis from many alternative sources after which making my very own knowledgeable determination primarily based on what I learn about myself, or my enterprise virtually all the time produces one of the best outcomes.

Recommendation for different entrepreneurs who need to get began or are simply beginning out?

Rent properly and encompass your self with staff. I do know I sound like a damaged document right here, however I actually imagine that hiring is the important thing to a profitable enterprise.

One other vital side in the case of hiring is that you simply shouldn’t restrict your self to individuals who reside in your metropolis. I function a totally distant staff with staff all around the world. There are very proficient, and generally extra inexpensive, individuals on the market who would like to work with you. Don’t depend them out simply because they will’t come to work in your workplace.

Are you seeking to rent for sure positions proper now?

We’re all the time searching for proficient individuals to affix our staff. Right here’s our Careers web page the place you possibly can study extra about working with us and see what positions now we have accessible.

The place can we go to study extra?

If in case you have any questions or feedback, drop a remark under!


Joe Cohen
Founding father of SelfDecode

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