Gut check at Nordstrom: Retail giant to sell microbiome test from Seattle-area startup Viome
Nordstrom has paired up with Seattle-area startup Viome Life Sciences to sell kits that analyze the microbiome, the collection of bacteria and other microbes in the gut and other regions of the body.
Testing the limits of Nordstrom’s generous return policy, the Viome ‘Health Intelligence’ kit requires collection of a stool sample. The kit will sell as part of Nordstrom’s beauty category for $199 on Nordstrom.com and will appear in select Nordstrom stores in 2022.
“Both Viome and Nordstrom believe that true health and beauty start from within,” said Viome CEO and founder Naveen Jain in a statement. The health intelligence test is also available on the Viome website.
Viome analyzes the microbiome via sequencing of RNA, nucleic acids present in living organisms. The approach detects bacteria and other components of the gut such as yeast and viruses.
The company claims that its AI-driven algorithms are able to yield personalized recommendations for diet and supplements. Viome customers can also sign up for a $149/month mail service for “precision” made-to-order supplements and probiotics.
Viome has performed a study saying that its services yield substantial improvement in self-reported cases of anxiety, intestinal bowel disease, and severe depression. The data are posted on the preprint service bioRxiv and have yet to be peer reviewed. But outside researchers are skeptical.
The methodology is “questionable,” David Suskind previously told GeekWire. Suskind is a gastroenterologist at Seattle Children’s Hospital and professor of pediatrics at the University of Washington. He is also a co-founder of Nimbal Health, which provides nutrition and lifestyle advice to people with intestinal disorders and tests their blood and stool.
Viome has raised $80 million from investors to date including from Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and expects to hit $100 million in revenue next year. It is also developing a saliva test for head and neck cancers and recently hired Emmanuel Hanon, the former head of GSK’s vaccine group to help run its separate diagnostics and therapeutics division.
Jain is the founder and former CEO of InfoSpace and also co-founded public records firm Intelius, as well as Moon Express, which aims to take paying customers to the moon. Viome, founded in 2016, is Jain’s first life sciences venture.
He has told GeekWire that he has learned to have a consumer mindset and appealing product design.