Bioepic: Dominic Wood
The food and tech business which aims to go beyond marketing jargon and provide people with real insight into their health
Name: Dominic Wood
Company: Bioepic Ltd.
Business Location: Hereford, UK
Date launched: Spring 2016
Number of employees: 12
Tell us what your business does:
Bioepic is the world’s first company to combine a natural food supplement with an app. This means that, for the first time, people can use technology to see exactly what affect a food or drink supplement is having on their health.
Our first product is EPIC Sport, a natural supplement aimed at athletes and fitness enthusiasts to help them improve their performance, endurance, alertness and recovery. The key bioactive ingredient is epicatechin, which is the naturally occurring substance found in most fruit and vegetables that helps your cardiovascular system by improving the flexibility of blood vessels.
This means that when athletes take EPIC Sport, it decreases vascular resistance and increases the flow of oxygenated blood to the muscles and brain by up to 68% when they need it most, without putting additional strain on the cardiovascular system.
The result is an enhanced sporting performance, using only approved, safe, natural ingredients.
The EPIC Sport app uses the mobile phone camera to record increased blood flow and oxygen levels in the skin, tracking variations in light reflectance with more accuracy than the green light technology used in most wearable devices.
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Over time, users are able to easily see the chronic improvements in their cardiovascular health, monitoring indicators like central vascular age, maximum heart rate, rate of oxygen uptake and mean arterial blood pressure.
EPIC Sport is our first product, aimed specifically at the fitness market. However, the benefits of epicatechin and the use of technology to measure the impact of what we eat on our health has much broader appeal, so we have more products due for launch later in 2016.
Where did the idea for your business come from?:
One of the co-founders of the company, Richard Wood has spent much of his career researching why natural diet allows isolated population groups around the world to avoid age-related rises in blood pressure.
This worldwide research identified it was epicatechin-rich foods like apples and cacao that were having a hugely beneficial effect on the cardiovascular health – it all goes back to the famous saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.”
We had talked about ways bring an epicatechin based product to the mainstream market for a while. However, it was when we had the idea to marry a product with an app that proves the benefits that we realised we were really onto something.
The smartphones most of us carry around every day have such incredible capabilities, we thought why not use the technology people already have to measure health benefits of foods?
How did you know there was a market for it?:
You only have to look at the number of health products on the market now, from yoghurts that help your digestion to spreads that lower your cholesterol, to see that people in the UK are increasingly aware of what foods and drinks do to their bodies.
Of course, in most cases people just believe that these things are healthy because the packets say so, but we wanted to create something that goes beyond marketing health claims to provide real proof.
The fitness supplement industry is already worth billions of dollars worldwide, as athletes and fitness enthusiasts are open to investing in their health and performance. That is why we chose to launch EPIC Sport as our first product to market.
What were you doing before starting up?:
Before we started work on Bioepic I was CEO of an organisation called Addom Enterprises Limited. It is a global hospitality networking site, bringing together over 30,000 users from hotels, restaurants, pubs and bars to connect businesses searching for employees with staff profiles.
Have you always wanted to run your own business?:
Absolutely. I studied Business and Marketing at university, but have always been interested in enterprise rather than working for other people.
How did you raise the money?:
We have a number of people who have invested in the company at various stages. We are fortunate that our investors have really bought into our idea and what we’re trying to achieve in the long-term, and we really appreciate their support.
Describe your business model, and how you will make money:
We are a little unusual in that we are both a health food company and a technology company.
The EPIC Sport app, for example, is a state of the art fitness tracker that works with more accuracy than the greenlight reflective technology that most wearable fitness tracking devices use, but we give it away for ‘free’.
We are able to fund the app by selling the fitness supplement, so people who are buying the product get full access to the app, with unlimited storage of their personalised fitness data so they can monitor the progress they make as a result of taking the supplement.
What challenges have you faced and how have you overcome them?:
There have been almost too many challenges to mention. Starting from scratch we had to get the product formula right, production processes in place that meet the stringent standards, branding, distribution, building a team – every day seems to have a fresh challenge, but that’s what makes Startups so exciting.
What was your first big breakthrough?:
The real big breakthrough was getting our patent. There are of course lots of people and companies out there who already understand the health benefits of epicatechin, but by patenting ourselves as the only food or drink supplement that measures its affects via an app, it gives us a strong differentiator.
The food, drink and health supplements industries are tied up with red tape about what health claims they can and cannot make, but we are the only product that lets customers see for themselves.
What advice would you give to budding entrepreneurs?:
The key piece of advice I would give is to always keep in mind the long-term picture. Working on a start-up you are inevitably going to be hit with a million and one different little challenges daily and they can be demanding and distracting, but they are all just little hurdles on your way to creating a business with real value.
Where do you want to be in five years’ time?:
The next year or two are going to be huge for us, as our various products finally launch to market. We’re already talking to major global distributors, so I would like to think that in five years EPIC will be a brand that is recognised on the shelves around the world with a loyal army of customers who are experiencing the health benefits of epicatechin.