Convention be darned: How DNAFit Broke the Mould when Growing The Business and Succeeded
Thursday 11th January
How do you take a niche service and scale it to the point of commodity? DNAFit Co-Founder & Head of Product Development, Andrew Steele is adamant that the answer, at least for DNAFit, lies in doing the opposite of what everybody told them to.
DNAFit is revolutionising how we think about fitness and nutrition. Through genetic testing and data analytics, it offers its customers the chance to unlock valuable insights and to take advantage of ultra-personalised recommendations to their fitness, diets and wellbeing based on what is best for their DNA profile. When it first launched in 2013, DNAFit envisioned itself as a niche sport and fitness product. But as it gained traction its far greater potential became apparent and the team put their focus towards developing the tech side of the business. This soon gave rise to their biggest challenges of turning customers into repeat users and scaling for growth.
The challenges primarily stemmed from the fact that DNA data is completely static (your genetic makeup is the same for life), so a user need only purchase the test once to obtain their DNA results. This meant that once DNAFit had generated sales revenue from selling them the genetic testing product, it was significantly harder to turn them into users to acquire recurring revenue.
DNAFit found the solution in engaging the users’ genetic data on a regular basis through its educational portal. The educational portal provides insights and recommendations linked to the user’s DNA data for the purpose of helping the user understand how to curate an environment and lifestyle that is optimal for their well-being.
Through smart product and pricing strategies and an educational marketing approach with its customers, DNAFit has since managed to achieve the remarkable. The team have reached profitability without the need to raise money and a large majority of their customers purchase the most expensive tier kit at £249! But instead of simply acquiring customers, DNAFit has focused on gaining a steady following of highly engaged repeat customers, which has enabled it to expand and scale at the rate it has enjoyed. Here are some honest takeaways from Andrew Steele, Co-founder and Head of Product Development at DNAFit, on the company’s incredible—albeit unconventional—growth journey.
Scatter your focus!
One of the most fiercely regarded tenets of startupdom is to have laser focus on your product and unique selling proposition. However because DNAFit weren’t externally funded and therefore needed to find profitable avenues for their product, they actually benefited from doing the exact opposite. By taking a scattergun approach to their product offering, they were able to get the word out on their product much more quickly through various industries, which subsequently helped them stay ahead of the game and scale. The initial work that DNAFit did in the professional sports industry opened doors for them into other related industries like wellness, health and fitness.
Had they assumed the average business convention and limited their focus as a new technology, they might not have achieved the scale and awareness they enjoy today. However, just like focusing on your product, taking a scattergun approach might not work for all businesses either. It is important to understand and determine what needs to be done to help your business achieve scale. Do not follow the conventions of the average business, think outside the box!
Know which distribution channel suits your business objectives
From the very beginning, DNAFit eschewed a hard-sell approach. They knew that they needed to take on a purely conservative and educational approach. This was because they recognised that a lot of people do not realise that there is a genetic factor to your dietary and fitness predispositions. By recognising the importance of educating the public, they decided to take on an aggressive PR and media strategy in order to spread awareness for their product and service. This ultimately helped open doors to different acquisition channels and opportunities for DNAFit.
One such opportunity came about through their work with professional sportspeople, which piqued the interest of the Wellness Coordinator at LinkedIn Global and opened up Workplace Wellness Schemes as a new channel for the company. Workplace Wellness Schemes provide a nice and easy way to reach a customer because the employer does the due diligence for the end consumer and also allows its employees to access the service via salary deductions or a discount link. This avenue has been very profitable for DNAFit and they’re expanding into lots of other corporates.
In 2016, DNAFit also partnered with Unilever to launch an independent year-long study to determine whether you are genetically hardwired to love or hate Marmite. Not only did they discover thirteen previously undiscovered new genes relating to taste perception, but their collaboration also raised the profile of the DNAFit brand through its association with Unilever and its largest ever Marmite marketing campaign to date.
Ten years ago, it used to cost thousands of pounds to get your DNA tested. Today, as genetic testing evolves into a commodity, prices of this service are going down dramatically. In the long term DNAFit wants to move away from the genetic testing side of the business and focus more on how they can get people to engage with their personal data and the service they provide. Through product innovation and better data, the team want to improve their understanding of genomic types in order to provide better information and lifestyle recommendations to their users, and engage them even more. They want to grow to become the go-to home of personalised solutions rather than merely focusing on customer acquisition through sales of their DNA test kits—in order to become more entrenched in their users’ lifestyles and day-to-day activities.
If you’re looking to get some insights into your own DNA and kickstart your health and fitness regime, you can save 30% on DNAFit’s Fitness Diet Pro using code DNAYFOOD until 30 April 2018. Find out more about DNAFit here.
Andrew shared insights at our YFood Tech Wednesdays in November 2017. YFood Tech Wednesdays is our free monthly meetup held every last Wednesday of the month. We get founders, startups, futurepreneurs and larger brands coming together over their interest and passion for Food Tech and we’re always welcoming fresh and familiar faces. Be sure to join us next time for another exciting instalment!
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