DNA Simple entered the Shark Tank with their saliva donor service that allows users to contribute to research studies and make money for the samples they provide. After filling out a profile on their website, the system matches the person’s attributes with a researcher. Once he or she agrees to participate, they are sent a saliva kit as well as compensation for their time.
We interviewed co-founder Olivier Noel, who is currently enrolled in the MD/PhD program at Penn State University, working on a PhD in biochemistry and molecular genetics. He earned his undergraduate degree from Queens College in chemistry and biochemistry.
The Haitian native told us that currently there are over 20,000 users of DNA Simple. The scientists they partner with are both from academia and business, and some are working on rare disease, drug response and cancer research studies.
Here’s what else he told us about…
How the Idea Came About
A big part of it was to try to solve my own problems as a scientist. Being in a small rural town, we had difficulty accessing large number of patient samples for important research studies mainly due to the geographic barrier. And so I wanted to build a database where patients/study participants all over the country could be matched into research studies independent of location as long as they fit the study requirement. It also doesn’t hurt to compensate donors for their study participation.
His Advice to Future Contestants of the ‘Tank’
Make sure you know your numbers and all details of your business like the back of your hand. Very important to sound knowledgeable and confident.
Plans for the Future
Working with a larger number of researchers and take on more studies. Growing and scaling the company and raising a bigger round of investment in the near future.
Other Shark Tank products: