I’m the CEO of Thryve, a service that provides gut test kits and probiotics to improve gut health. We’ve been featured on MIT Tech Review, Techstars, and several other publications. AMA!
12 months ago I took an antibiotic and came down with a nasty stomach bug. I ended up being hospitalized and started researching the reasons for my illness. Turns out antibiotics wipes out all the good and bad bacteria in your system and sometimes the recovery isn't always optimal. Every since then I've been on a conquest to find out more about the bugs in our guts to improve overall health and wellness.
Disclaimer: I don't have any formal microbiology training, but have brought on super smart people with Ph.Ds in Biology and Bioinformatics from the likes of Stanford and Harvard to make Thryve a reality.
EDIT: We are ending our AMA now. We tried out best to answer everyone (even the top comments!). That said the amount of interest we had on here was really exciting. Thanks again to the Reddit community for engaging with us and allowing us to share the mission of Thryve with you all. Feel free to reach our directly or [email protected] if you'd like to followup. Cheers!
Why don't you answer the top questions?
- It was our first time on Reddit posting. Even AMA was completely new to us. We didn't have any idea it was going to blow up so quickly. Getting to all the messages was a bit overwhelming, but thanks for everyone's patience. Otherwise, please see here for our replies to the top comments: here here and here
Where are the studies for your probiotics, can you claim that it "may" help with support gut and immune function?
- We partner with a leading probiotic research lab called Synbiotech that creates their own probiotics over the past 15 years. We've partnered with them to create Thryve's probiotics.
See here for articles/whitepapers:
What are your pricing and plan options?
Maintain ($59.95) - Microbiome gut testing kits sent 4x a year and probiotics sent 12x a year. You receive the testing kit on the first month you start the subscription.
Repair ($79.95) - Microbiome gut testing kits sent 4x a year and probiotics sent 12x a year. You receive the testing kit on the first month you start the subscription.
What is the duration of the subscription?
We offer monthly plans and annual plans. Annual plans are 20% cheaper on a per month basis.
Monthly Plans can be cancelled at anytime. We offer a money back guarantee if you are not happy about our service. No questions asked, we'll provide a refund on a monthly plan or an annual plan if cancelled within 30 days.
For our Maintain Plan, that contains 50B CFU and the following strains and % composition
Strain % Lactobacillus plantarum LP28 29.00% Bifidobacterium lactis 27.00% Lactobacillus fermentum. 11.00% Lactobacillus paracasei NTU101 11.00% Lactobacillus rhamnosus 11.00% Bifidobacterium longum 2.00% Lactobacillus acidophilus LA25 2.00% Lactobacillus casei 1.70% Bifidobacterium breve 1.50% Streptococcus thermophilus GRX02 1.00% Lactobacillus helveticus 0.70% Bacillus coagulans 0.60% Bifidobacterium bifidum 0.60% Lactobacillus reuteri 0.60% Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. lactis 0.30%
For our Repair Plan, that contains 100B CFU and the following strains and % composition
Strain % Lactobacillus plantarum LP28 26.00% Bifidobacterium lactis 24.50% Lactobacillus fermentum 10.00% Lactobacillus paracasei NTU101 10.00% Lactobacillus rhamnosus 10.00% Lactobacillus casei 3.50% Bifidobacterium longum 3.00% Lactobacillus acidophilus LA25 3.00% Bifidobacterium breve 2.00% Lactobacillus helveticus 2.00% Bifidobacterium bifidum 1.50% Lactobacillus reuteri 1.50% Bacillus coagulans 1.00% Lactobacillus delbrueckii subsp. lactis 1.00% Streptococcus thermophilus GRX02. 1.00%
Do you conduct testing to ensure your CFU's are high (like advertised) and their aren't pathogenic microorganisms?
Yes, we have 2 independent lab studies (one at the manufacturer and another at the bottling service prior to shipping)
We test the following: CFU viability/total count of lactic acid bacteria, yeast/mold, coliforms/E.coli, S.aureus, Salmonella, and L.monocytogenes.
Are you FDA approved?
- We are not FDA approved
- Unfortunately, going through FDA approval is extremely expensive. Although we want to go through FDA approval process to gain more credibility, the funds required are too high for us at this current stage of the company. Plus it makes much more sense to go down FDA approval once we are going the clinical route (diagnosing and treating), which we aren't at the moment. That said, we will definitely be visiting this proposal in the future.
Are you applying to grants or an IRB?
- Yes! We actually just finished out SBIR and in process of completing the application for an IRB.
Why don't you market this as a "citizen scientist" project?
- Although we have a strong following with quantified self and citizen scientist, we believe the quickest way to advance this area is to get everyone involved. Unfortunately, not everyone classifies themselves as citizen scientist (which we believe they should!) and we want everyone to be included in our microbiome discoveries.
Are you a medical diagnostic service / company?
- No we are not. We offer microbiome testing, diet recommendations, and probiotics. We do not provide diagnosis, prevention, treatment, and cures for diseases.
Why do you have disclaimers about your product / service?
- We are very clear that we aren't solving medical issues and providing "cure-alls". We are in no way a medical device / therapeutic company. So we have to say the following: Thryve is not intended to diagnose a disease or other medical condition, or tell you anything about your risk for developing a disease or condition in the future. Thryve is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment, and should not be used as the basis for a diagnosis or treatment. You should always consult your physician or health care provider about any health issues and before making any changes to your current care.
Do you have any Ph.D's and medical staff?
- Yes, we have 1 Ph.D Candidate in Bioengineering and another Ph.D from Stanford on our team and another industry veteran Ph.D from Stanford in Bioinformatics.
What type of sequencing do you conduct?
- We use Illumina MiSeq Machines to conduct 16s rRNA microbial sequencing on the v4 region that brings in roughly 10-15M reads per run.
Do you keep my data and what are your guidelines on privacy?
- We allow all our users 100% access to their data and fastq files (raw microbial genetic data) and everyone can choose to opt-in as anonymized research participants. Or they can always opt-out.
Do you plan to partner with research / hospitals / academia in the future?
- Absolutely. We are currently seeking out opportunities in this space to scale faster in our research and build credibility. We are small startup so it'll take some time. Bear with us!
What makes you different from other companies in the space? Like uBiome, AmericanGut, etc...? First off, we love what uBiome, AmericanGut, and others are doing in this space. They have done an awesome job making microbiome science more mainstream, which means more research, funding, and discoveries.
More accurate collection method. We noticed that the current dry swab and liquid buffers on the market were not preserving the microbes very well. Microbes tend to change based on temperature, environment, etc... Thus, there was a lot of noise with what was being sample vs. sequenced. We did some internal tests to ensure that our collection method made our sequencing more accurate.
Machine Learning and Natural Language Processing (still in process), to summarize 3000+ microbiome research articles displayed side by side with your own microbial profile for more education and data for informed decisions.
More personalized probiotics (still in process). We currently, offer a standard cocktail of strains in our probiotics. The hope is that we collect more data and provide customized probiotics based on the machine learning and data provided by our users.
Community Sharing and Journaling. We are building out a chatbot that asks our users daily about their lifestyle information (symptoms, diets, supplements, etc...) and that information gets funneled back into our system which makes the platform more powerful for users who submit their data, but also for everyone else on the platform. For instance, once we collect enough data users would be able to query the following [crohns_disease][USA][Male][top_3_overgrowth_bacteria][lifestyle_data_that_lowered_top3].
Yeast and Viruses. We have a yeast protocol coming out in Q3'17 and Viruses early '18
Are you available internationally (UK, Canada, Asia, etc...)?
- We will be in the next 3-6 months. Email us at [email protected] if you want to be updated.
Are you snake oils salesmen or con men?
- No. We honestly are working hard on the science and have gathered experts in the field of machine learning, bioinformatics, and biology to help us work toward a common goal. To learn about the microbiome and help others. Feel free to check up our team here
Do you offer discounts for first time customers?
- Yes, please email me at [email protected] or DM your email address
How do you feel after the AMA?
- Fantastic. Honestly, it's been an awesome learning experience for myself and the team. We saw a split between 40% had negative sentiments about our product, 20% on the fence (need more credibility and data), 40% positive response and wanted to learn more. Although trolls are impossible to avoid on the internet, we genuinely believe there were scientist / concerned folks who had really great feedback and input. We thank everyone for their contributions. Maybe we'll do another AMA sometime in the future, once I crawl out of the fetal position :)