- Why Release Our Business Plan?
- Our Mission
- Growth in Traffic Since 1.5 Years Ago
- To Get Investment or Not?
- Direction Going Forward
- SelfHacked Immediate Goals
- Software Companies/Products
- Productivity Tools (released for internal use)
- HRsoftware (released for internal use)
- Future Software Products
- In the Dreaming Phase
- How We’ll Bring Up Revenue in Short Term:
- Conditional on Resources:
- Competitive Advantages
- People Currently Working for SelfHacked & SelfDecode
- People We’re Actively Looking to Hire
Why Release Our Business Plan?
Business plans are usually secret. This one contains good ideas that most people wouldn’t release to the public. This is the kind of stuff you make people sign a Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) for.
Well, I’m a transparent guy and I run a transparent company. Maybe a little too transparent.
In any case, I think the problems we are trying to tackle are quite large and to tackle them well will require a lot of resources and smart people. Hence, I’m interested in working with passionate people – potential team members, investors, mergers, acquisitions and partnerships to realize this vision. If something interests you here, let us know! Email email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com if you’re interested.
Our mission is to empower people to improve their own health. We are a personalized wellness company. SelfHacked does it through content, SelfDecode does it through software. We are looking to expand and create easy to use, yet powerful software tools that help people improve their health, in an affordable way.
Health issues and conditions can make people feel hopeless. They are left at the mercy of doctors and drug companies that often treat symptoms rather than the root causes.
We work to give the power back to the people. We strive to give our customers all of the relevant scientific information and tools that they need to better understand what’s going on in their own bodies and to heal themselves, so they can finally begin living their lives at their full potential.
There are many movements/practices, or business models that claim to be based on science, such as functional medicine and integrative practices. Rather than sticking to a label, we stick to the science.
Growth in Traffic Since 1.5 Years Ago
SelfHacked now gets 4 million pageviews a month…
To Get Investment or Not?
I’m currently in talks with some investors about getting investment, but I’m still not sure if I want to take their money. It’s definitely a life changing decision and I don’t have enough data on what it would be like. If I don’t take their money, it means we will have to grow less quickly.
The only thing I know is I’ve asked dozens of people about their experiences with investors and everyone seems to say similar things: it’s terrible and if you can self-fund then don’t get investors. I still haven’t met anyone who said “it’s been a great experience.”
My Initial Experience Looking for Investment
I initially looked for investment in the summer of 2017 and was completely alienated by the process. It reminded me of the TV show Silicon Valley.
It seemed like people who lived in the bay area would automatically strive to get investment, whether they needed it or not. It was as if it was a rite of passage to be considered a legit company.
The VCs there each had their own algorithm, but whatever their algorithm, you had to check at least one of 4 boxes to get investment:
- Already having a reputation there
- Having an exponentially growing company
- Being a Stanford or MIT graduate
- Being super polished and presenting things in the exact way that they want to hear it, with all of the right buzzwords attached
The incubators were mostly scams and run by complete idiots (with the exception of the top few) – no one I would hire, that’s for sure.
I got the impression that someone should only consider these avenues if they were utterly desperate. I wasn’t and I didn’t want to be a part of the Silicon Valley cool group of ‘funded companies’.
However, beyond the coolaid drinkers, I managed to meet a group of Bulgarian investors (through a connection from this site!) who are smart and cool, and I’m currently in talks with them .
Direction Going Forward
We are starting a new software company to analyze lab tests. We’ve taken our science researchers and editors away from producing SelfHacked content and transferring them to the lab test analyzer (LTA) and other paid products. We think the LTA will be our best product, since we are putting a lot of resources towards it and we are doing it right from the inception. This product will be much more user-friendly and better designed than our other products.
We will be redirecting resources away from producing free content and instead using those resources to work on our software products and premium content. We are doing this to create more revenue to fund further expansion and to prioritize our paying customers.
We will also be relaunching some of our paid products to make sure that everything we release is amazing.
SelfHacked Immediate Goals
- Relaunch podcast
- Create more premium video courses
The holy grail with software products is to collect data from people, see what works for them, and then analyze the data for patterns (machine learning if you like buzz words) to better predict what people will do well with based on their genes, symptoms, and lab data.
So here’s what we’re working on….
Genetics can be really complex. People get data files with billions of pieces of information and need software to parse and make sense of it.
I can confidently state that we are the most thorough and ambitious genetics software out there.
We’ve been able to get the customer satisfaction scores way up, but we still have ways to go to make it a mass market product. We’re working on improving it every day.
Our vision going forward is:
- Redesign various elements to look nicer and also be easier to use
- Make improvements with existing infrastructure to make it simpler and more user friendly
- Create PDFs that group genes by categories that are simple and user friendly
- Fix health categories section
- Build symptoms analyzer within SelfDecode, to work with genetics
- Support VCF files
- Make a linear process for on-boarding consumers so that they know where to start and don’t get lost in the program
- Some cool new features that our data guy is working on…
Lab Test Analyzer (LTA) – Launch in March
People have questions about all kinds of lab tests that they have, not only those found in the blood. Almost no one understands how to interpret these tests because doctors don’t have the time to explain it and it can be tedious finding quality information for each marker.
We also want ability to track lab markers based on time and interventions.
The goal is to analyze all biomarkers possible and give recommendations based on them, including those related to:
- Genetics (related to single genes such as HLA genes, etc..)
- Brain (CSF, EEGs, sleep studies, etc…)
- Air (mold, VOCs, etc..)
- Microbiome (might be separate program)
Digital Health Coach – in progress, on hold till LTA launches
Even with tools that can help people decode their genetics and lab tests, people often don’t know where to start with conflicting recommendations or information, so there is a need to guide people in a step by step fashion.
- Will be a health coach that connects to SelfDecode and Lab Test Analyzer…We can find their accounts based on their email address if they want it to be connected.
- People input their data (labs, symptoms, genetics) and get back recommendations to try out…They then give feedback on the recommendations and try out new recommendations based on what they experienced
- Would be monthly subscription and would include free subscription to SelfDecode and/or Lab Test Analyzer
ProgDr (Progressive Dr) – in progress, on hold till LTA launches
For the next 20 years, people will still need the aid of doctors, especially those on the cutting edge, using cutting edge software tools such as ours. There needs to be a place where people can find cutting edge doctors and where cutting edge doctors can advertise their services.
SelfHacked is in a unique position because we have a lot of progressive doctors who read our content.
We would also include certifications for doctors who are skilled in using our products in a clinical setting – Certified SelfDecode Coach.
Marketplace for patients, doctors…that caters to biohackers/natural/alternative/longevity enthusiasts…People will be able to find open-minded doctors in their area, as well as doctors to give them an online call.
Productivity Tools (released for internal use)
More and more companies are going to be remote and also hire talent from across the globe. Also, to compete with companies who spend billions of dollars, flatter organizations with less ‘executives’ will need to be more common, since executives are the most costly aspect of a business.
SelfHacked & SelfDecode is a leading example of what future companies will be like.
We have a flat organization with less emphasis on ‘executives’ and more on teams and project managers.
With a flat structure and a remote team across many time zones and locations, there arises some challenges related to communication and organization.
For this reason, we’ve been developing a suite of productivity tools, which allow teams track each other’s progress, hours worked, priorities and goals, submit and upvote/downvote ideas, rate each other and self-manage to offload the need for more executives, which creates a more efficient company.
HRsoftware (released for internal use)
The biggest challenge a company faces is often finding talented people to run the company.
People need to be a good fit for a position in terms of:
- Cognitive capacity
- Technical skills
- Personality/Cultural fit
To interview people individually can take a tremendous amount of resources to be able to determine who is a good fit, and even then you don’t know how capable they are for a given task. There is essentially no correlation between how confident people are about their skills and their actual capabilities. This is because of the Dunning-Kruger effect, where smarter people are more aware of how little they know.
For this reason, we’ve been automating the HR process to be able to screen through hundreds of applicants with minimal resources.
We currently screen applicants automatically based on technical skills, cognitive capacity, and in the future personality/cultural/motivation/passion fit.
As we get more and more data, we can better predict based on these systems who will be a good fit for the company and who won’t be.
In the past month, we’ve gotten a flood of great candidates, which means our process is working well.
In the future, once we find the results to give a super accurate prediction, we can develop a recruiting agency that can help people get jobs that suit them the most. The upside of a more automated process is the prevention of any hiring biases based on race, sex, etc…
Email firstname.lastname@example.org to apply….
Future Software Products
The goal is to create an ecosystem of apps and health software and health content products that allows people to get healthier….Ecosystems are incredibly important and that’s one reason why Amazon, Google and Apple are so successful…They are able to integrate their assortment of products to work together and benefit from product synergies.
- Build mobile apps for SelfDecode, LTA, DHC, ProgDr…All of our web apps need mobile apps that correspond to them.
- Build chrome extensions for SelfDecode, LTA, etc…any time someone is reading something, we can highlight terms and show them how it applies to them. So if they are scanning the web and come across a certain gene or hormone, we can highlight and tell them their gene is potentially problem or their hormone is high/low
- Supplement predictor, we will try to predict based on existing supplements that people do well with, what they should try out…For example, if people do well with 5 supplements that work in a certain way, we can try to predict based on that what other supplements they will do well with in the future.
- Nutrient analyzer and recommendations – will analyze your diet and lifestyle and make suggestions about what you should be eating more/less of, which nutrients you need, and which vitamins/mineral supplements you should take.
- Personality testing site and recommendations – will give you a survey questions and will give you insight into your personality and also recommendations based on your personality type…So if you’re higher on neuroticism, we can recommend things for that.
- Cognitive testing site and recommendations – for example if we find your short term memory is bad, we can make recommendations for that, etc…A cognitive and personality testing site can also give us a steady stream of people we can reach out to to work for us
- Alexa voice product, which can tell you all about what you should be doing and answer your health questions…It will work with SelfDecode, the LTA, a nutrient analyzer and our other projects..it will be able to recommend what you should be eating today and help you plan your life out
In the Dreaming Phase
Things in the dreaming phase haven’t been started and are contingent on resources.
If we got investment, I’d start the dating site sooner than later. Otherwise, if people are interested in running it on an equity basis alone, let me know and we can partner together. (P.S. Cognitive tests are required before I partner with anyone).
Dating site primarily focused on diet/lifestyle
Dating is extremely tough, partly because people have different lifestyles and diets. It’s hard for someone who is ‘paleo’ to date someone who is a vegan and vice versa.
In particular, I’ve heard many people in the low carb, longevity and paleo community speak about the difficulty in finding someone who fits their lifestyle. For this reason, to help build a sense of community and offer needed services, a dating app wouldn’t be a bad idea.
Another issue with dating apps is the risk of women meeting men, because they don’t know if a man is normal or a serial killer. They don’t know if men will become stalkers or psychopaths. On the other hand, men don’t know if that photo is 10 years old and the woman has gained 50 pounds since she put it up. To solve this issue, ratings need to be implemented for people, the same way there is ratings for everything else (amazon, yelp, airbnb, uber, etc…)
In addition, genetics will increasingly be able to help determine compatibility over the decades and SelfDecode is suited to be at the forefront to help figure that out. Genetics would help to create buzz around an app because of the novelty.
Based on the success of my dating ad, I’ve come to believe that it would help the dating process if matchmakers and rewards were allowed in dating apps.
I also think there is a lot of science around personality that is not being utilized in dating, hence utilizing science more in finding compatibility is a good idea.
If we were building a dating app, I think a decent idea would be to also allow women to become wingwomen to help find dates for men. It will allow them to earn money and allow the guy to have company for a night. The issue would be that women are scared that the man might turn into a creep, but this is solved with ratings.
Instant dating is also good idea, but held back because of fear of the unknown. But with ratings, instant dating may become more appealing.
- Low carb/paleo/vegan or diet/lifestyle-based dating
- Ratings, reviews and testimonials – people will get rated
- DNA information – people can check for compatibility based on DNA…People can selectively choose which DNA information they share
- Matchmaking – matchmakers will be able to set anyone up on the app
- Rewards – people can offer rewards to be set up
- Scientific dating – dating based on modern psychology such as the big 5/10/30 personality traits
- Wingman dating – men paying women to help them go out and approach women at bars, etc…
- Instant dating by location
I would like to partner with other industry leaders to create a biohacker summit in the US.
A summit can be a good way to build a community. It is easier to do something like that with scale.
Along with a community, scale and a solid brand, selling products and eCommerce becomes easier. There are some products that could add value that we can sell.
How We’ll Bring Up Revenue in Short Term:
Since we’ve made a lot of hires, it’s caused us to burn more cash. So we plan on solving that by the following:
- Restarting Podcast – getting sponsors, marketing our own products
- Releasing video courses
- Releasing simple SelfDecode PDFs
- Launching Lab Test Analyzer
If self-funding isn’t enough, other options include:
- Giving out equity to members of the company
Conditional on Resources:
Having more money will allow us to accelerate the speed of building our products, build more products simultaneously and also create more free content. With limited resources, we will be forced to focus on paid products, which means we will producing less free content.
Free content creation for SelfHacked
In the following order, we’d like to:
- Continue with daily evergreen articles
- Repurpose content to make more infographics and videos
- Repurpose our denser content into multiple articles that are more readable
- Create Biohacking/Nootropics ‘news’ section, where writers delve into studies and translate them for the lay people – more in depth, but simpler than sciencedaily
- Create concise nutrition and health answers – like 500 word articles for quick answers to questions
- Create detailed user experiences for various supplements, devices, biohacks
- Creates recipes
- Create lifehack and Self-help articles
- Increased focus on branding
- Ad spend
- It would help to spend a bit of money on legal structure.
- SelfHacked is market leader, has a community and traffic
- SelfDecode is already market leader in genetics
- Amazing Team
- Great hiring process
- Great content process
- Ecosystem of health products
People Currently Working for SelfHacked & SelfDecode
About 4.5 years ago, I started SelfHacked as a hobby. About 3.5 years ago, I decided that I was going to make my livelihood from it, but I was running things alone. In the past 2 years, I’ve decided to turn these companies into businesses, because I realized that I needed money to hire people and there was no way I could realize my vision alone.
When it was just me, I didn’t know anything about business or running a company – and the truth is I had never even worked for a company before starting SelfHacked. I really just liked to do health/science research and write.
In the past few years, I’ve made almost every mistake possible, but the important thing is I’ve learned quite a bit from them and found them useful. I tend to do things even if I have a bad feeling about it, just to test it out of curiosity – to make sure my gut feeling was true. I’m sure I’m going to continue making mistakes, but I don’t mind, as long as I learn from them.
I think the success of a company is determined by the people, company culture, and vision.
If I had to pick a single accomplishment that I’m most proud of, it’s been in assembling a great team. Everyone currently working for the companies has only started working here sometime in the last year (excluding a few part time writers from 2016). That’s 26 team members and a few dozen freelance writers in less than a year, without funding.
We have an extremely high bar to be able to work at SelfHacked, SelfDecode and our other projects – because we need great people to create great products.
We’ve got people who are brilliant, motivated, educated, and passionate about what they are doing. I consider everyone on the team as part of my extended family and I feel special that I can work with them.
At SelfHacked and SelfDecode, we have a diversity of science-minded people with the only agenda being trying to find the unbiased truth. The general vibe and culture of the team can be characterized as smart, friendly and open-minded skepticism. We’re free and independent thinkers, looking to overturn established ways of doing things.
- Joe Cohen – CEO (Newport Beach, USA)
- Nattha Wannissorn, PhD (Molecular Genetics, Nutritionist) – Product Creation and Science-Based Marketing (OC, California, USA)
- Charlie Jorge-Samways – Head of Design, main designer for SelfHacked, SelfDecode, and all new products. Helps manage projects. (UK, soon to be Newport Beach)
- Brendan Swan, PhD (Functional Genetics) – Lead Geneticist, heads SelfDecode (NZ)
- Evguenia Alechine, PhD (Biochemistry, Human Genetics, Biomedical Sciences) – Chief Science Editor (Digital Nomad…Argentina, Thailand)
- Biljana Novkovic, PhD (Biology) – Head of Lab Test Analyzer Project, also works as an editor as well as the head of the blood test analyzer project. (Serbia)
- Sam Modlin, MS (Biomedical Informatics) – SelfDecode bioinformatician, database consultant, also works on lab test analyzer and general project manager. (San Diego, USA)
- Richard (PhD, Bioengineering, Theoretical Neuroscientist) – Data guy and developer, helps out Brendan with SelfDecode (NZ)
- Matt Carland, PhD (Neuropsychology) – Science Editor/Psychometric Consultant, working on Lab Test Analyzer (Canada)
- Yara Khatib, BS, MS (Pharmacology, Molecular Genetics) – Science Editor for SelfHacked articles (Dubai/UK/USA)
- Randa Laouar, BS (Physiology and Biochemistry), Science Editor for SelfHacked articles, working on Lab Test Analyzer (CO, USA)
- Helen Quach, BS (Biology) – Science Editor for SelfHacked articles, working on Lab Test Analyzer, Selfdecode (CA,USA)
- Will Hunter, BA (Psychology) – Science Editor for SelfHacked articles, working on Lab Test Analyzer (CA, USA)
- Arjun Chakraborty, MS (Translational Medicine) – Researcher, working with Brendan on SelfDecode compiling research (CA, USA)
- Dori Pinkerton – proofreader/editor for writing quality, grammar, spelling, etc…(USA)
- Ben Bagamery – Marketer, takes care of analytics, PPC marketing, and various marketing needs (South Korea)
- Dan Beltran – Designer, part time (Seattle, USA)
- Kim Nguyen, BS (Biology) – Generalist, Joe’s assistant, works on Lab Test Analyzer (Newport Beach)
- Ach Petroysan – Technical Recruiter and helps manage HR system (Armenia)
- Archana Buddhala – Virtual Assistant, selfhacked and selfdecode support, recruiting (UK)
- Maria Saldariega – Recruiting, HR, Virtual Assistant (Philippines)
- Kamal Raj – bookkeeper (India)
- Vlad Korkach – Developer on SelfDecode (Ukraine)
- Julio Navarro – Developer on LTA, HR system and internal tools (Venezuela)
- Nitish Kansal – Developer on SelfDecode (India)
- Andrew Terpolovsky – Developer on SelfDecode (Ukraine)
- We have a few dozen part-time freelance writers.
People We’re Actively Looking to Hire
- Science Editors
- Marketer – including copy writer…needs to have a background in health or science.
- Project Managers with science background
- PR Expert
- Other – if you have skills that you think can grow one of our current or future projects and you’re passionate about it, let us know!
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