DNA as a diet guide 

By Anna Lardinois, Startup Storyteller

Is GenoPalate Milwaukee’s next unicorn?

Founder Dr. Sherry Zhang, the molecular biologist at the helm of the Wauwatosa-based company with the global reach, is taking aim at the lofty status.

The company, launched in 2016, analyzes a customer’s DNA, and then offers nutrition guidance based on the analysis, with a focus on combating metabolic syndrome. Conditions related to the syndrome include high blood pressure, obesity, high cholesterol, inflammation and type 2 diabetes.

“Humans share about 99.9% (of DNA),” Zhang said. “But that .1% of difference is very impactful. When we are eating the same foods, the hamburger going into your body versus mine, there are millions of differences. Your body will process (the hamburger differently) and then lead to different outcomes.”

Customers mail in a completed at-home, swab-based DNA test. Then the GenoPalate team searches through hundreds of genetic markers that have been proven to be related to metabolic syndrome conditions in the sample and makes nutritional recommendations based on the findings.

“Individualized health, individualized medicine, and individualized nutrition strategy is very, very important for the person,” Zhang said.

GenoPalate’s focus on individualization continues after the customer receives the genetic report with their genetically identified nutrition recommendations. The relationship between the company and the customer is maintained through the GenoPalate app. Customers can use the tool to access recipes that match their genetic needs, supplement suggestions, and health-related content, all while tracking their progress towards better health through nutrition.

Zhang is glad GenoPalate is located in Milwaukee. As a Marquette University graduate and a former professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin, the CEO finds she has access to “top talent” in the city. With a strong supply of potential employees, and support from WEDC, as well as the connections she made when she completed the gener8tor program in 2017, the company has no plans to relocate.

GenoPalate successfully completed a $4 million Series A funding round in 2020. The company plans to launch another funding round before the close of 2022. The company is looking for a strategic partner who will not only provide capital, but also “align with the mission of driving ‘food as medicine’ with a highly scalable digital solution and platform,” Zhang said.

The company already has 150,000 customers, and that number grows daily. The GenoPalate team plans to use the influx of new capital to reach the milestone of serving one million customers.

Time will tell if GenoPalate will become a Wisconsin unicorn, but with more than 7.7 billion people in the world, all of whom eat, the potential growth opportunities are enormous. And that is exactly what Dr. Zhang is counting on.

To learn more about GenoPalate, click here.

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