Why Richard Lin Built The Gut Health Solution Thryve

20 Minute Fitness Episode #88

Today on the 20 Minute Fitness we dig deep into a topic that has not entered the mainstream markets yet but is extremely important: gut health. And to get real professional insight on the topic, we talk to Richard Lin, the founder of Thryve, a personalized probiotics company targeted for your gut health.

Richard went through a very serious personal struggle when he realized that gut health should be getting more attention from us than it currently does. About two years ago, when he took “antibiotics, he ended up getting hospitalized due to major gut infection. Richard had lost control of his health and at that point, he knew that something had to change.”

So he started to get into the topic of gut health, but he felt like he was left with more questions than answers. Which is when Richard decided to start Thryve to find answers for not only himself but also to educate others about the importance of gut health & personalized probiotics.

Listen to learn more about gut health, why it’s important and how Thryve will get you the personalized probiotics your gut calls for to live a happy & healthy life!

Three Things You Will Learn

1) Why Thryve Is Better Than Your Average Probiotics

You can easily walk in any major supermarket and get a bottle of basic probiotics. But to be fair, you might not be doing any good to your health & body with that. As 1) you don’t actually know what you’re getting & 2) it might have completely different strains than what your body needs.

In contrast to this, Thryve works at a completely personalized basis. The first step with Thryve is to do an at-home microbiome test, which is then sent to a lab for analysis. Once you receive your lab test results, you’ll know all the ins and outs of your gut and what bacteria live in your body.

Based on these, Thryve will give you an overview of the various symptoms that you’re likely to have. Additionally, they’ll also provide you with food recommendations and truly personalized probiotics. Tune in to hear more about how Thryve’s gut health testing works and the benefits your body will gain from personalized probiotics!

2) Microbiome A-Z

Microbiome testing is unfortunately not that common yet, but it can really go a long way. There are a lot of chronic diseases as well as digestive issues that you can get to the bottom of with a simple microbiome test.

While you might think, “I know how to eat healthily, I just have to avoid processed foods & eat more veggies”, which is indeed a great generic advice, one size doesn’t fit all. Meaning that your microbiome might call for completely different veggies than your best friends’.

Personalizing your diet and complementing it with the right probiotics can have tremendous benefits for your gut health & overall wellbeing. The variety of bacterial species found in your gut will increase, just like the good bacteria. While the unpleasant bacteria that live in your body will decrease. This will ultimately result in improvements in digestive & metabolic issues.

Press play to learn more about the microbiome and why microbiome testing can be beneficial for you!

3) How Thryve Was Born

You might think that Richard has some sort of medical background, which is why he founded a gut health & personalized probiotics company. But this is not the case. In reality, Richard has a completely different background, however, he went through a very serious disease, which made him realize how important his gut health was.

A couple of years back, Richard was misdiagnosed, put on some antibiotics and got a superbug in his stomach. Even though he could feel that something was wrong, all the doctors that he saw told him that he was perfectly healthy.

So he went on to the road of self-diagnosis and looked for answers at online forums. Finally, he found out that he has a very serious chronic illness which kills about half a million citizens a year in the US alone. After being successfully treated and getting better, Richard came to the conclusion that consumers don’t have a good tool to understand what’s happening in their microbiome. Which he wanted to change.

Listen on to hear all about Richard’s dramatic journey and how he used one of his competitors to gain inspiration for Thryve!

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Full Transcript

00:00 Martin: Hey everyone, it’s your host, Martin. I’m in our studio in San Francisco, and today I happen to have a very interesting guest, Richard, from Thryve. Richard, why don’t you introduce yourself?

00:09 Richard: Hey everyone. Thank you for the introduction, Martin. My name is Richard, the CEO of Thryve and we are gut health company, that incorporates both microbiome DNA testing as well as personalized recommendations in terms of diet and probiotics, and we send a customized probiotic to our customers to improve their health.

00:24 Martin: Who’s like your ideal customer? Who’s it great for?

00:28 Richard: Yeah. It’s a great question. A good majority of our customers are dealing with some sort of chronic health problem, and these chronic health problems could be anything from digestive problems, like IBS, Crohn’s disease, all sort of colitis, even pretty non-specific symptoms like constipation. And then you have other customers that have autoimmune diseases, and mental health problems, metabolic issues like weight gain, being overweight, obesity, pre-diabetes and diabetes and general health.

00:52 Martin: Aren’t some of those issues like something that I would first go to my family practitioner first and ask them about how they can help me with it?

01:00 Richard: Yeah. So what ends up happening with most of our customers is they… Because they’re dealing with a chronic health problem, they’ve gone to their traditional western medicine, and essentially the experience for them has been take more pills and receive more side effects and your symptoms aren’t improving. And so for them, they’re really looking for an avenue to say, “How can I adjust my diet, as well as take natural means in terms of supplements, in order to improve my health?”. And so a lot of our customers are really just coming to us after a poor experience with the current way the medical establishment is.

01:27 Martin: Gotcha. Walk me through the process. I come to your website, thryve.com, I order one of your tests, how does it work?

01:34 Richard: Customers can go to our site at thryveinside.com, and essentially we’re direct to consumer, so any customer can go on our site and order our program and it’s two clicks, checkout, pretty simple. But essentially the experience is, you get microbiome DNA tests, and what that is, is essentially, we look at all the thousands of species of bacteria in a person’s body and the way they sample is they provide a little piece of stool off the toilet paper, they send that into our collection vial, goes to our lab, and about one or two weeks to get a report back. And in that report, we can tell you about the tens of thousand species of microbes. Are they good for you? Are they bad for you? How likely you are to have certain symptoms based on those imbalance of microbes and we personalize dietary recommendations for each individual. Which foods are best fit for you because you’re deficient on certain good bacteria or you’re overgrown in bad bacteria.

02:16 Richard: And then the final piece is we provide a probiotic supplement that’s tailored to a person based on a survey result as well as a test result. And the way that algorithm works, is our test result looks at an overgrowth of pathogens, and if we see an overgrowth of certain pathogens then we’ll incorporate different probiotic screens that create something called bacteria lysins, which are naturally occurring antibiotics that bacteria produce, that good bacteria produce, that will lower those bad bacteria counts. And that’s how we personalize a probiotic for the customer.

02:42 Martin: Right. How does it differ from let’s say your regular, standard, conventional probiotic supplements that you could acquire on Amazon?

02:50 Richard: There’s a huge difference. The first thing is the personalization component. If you’re going off the shelf at your Whole Foods or GNC and so forth, or you’re shopping on Amazon, you’re not really sure what you’re getting. Most customers just think, “Oh, I need to take a probiotic because I need to improve gut health ’cause I heard that from somewhere.” But people don’t really know what they’re putting in their body. And because we look at the microbial DNA and we look at your survey, based on your health goals and symptoms we’re better able to customize a blend for you.

03:15 Richard: The second piece is that two-thirds of the probiotics off-the-shelf all come from the same supplier, they’re just re-marketed differently. It’s really interesting. And we partner with multiple manufacturers around the world, from Asia to Europe, to the US, and we curate a catalogue of strains from the latest research, in order to provide this personalization, which is a 10x experience than you would find off the shelf.

03:34 Martin: How many different strains are there out there? How much does it really customize in the end?

03:42 Richard: For our catalogue, we have 25 different unique strains. The total strains in the world is, it’s very hard to count, but there’s a lot of bacteria and some of them haven’t even been indexed yet by science, and so it’s hard to give a number on that.

03:52 Martin: Gotcha. And how much variances is there really like in my microbiome? I can imagine that, depending on what I’ve been eating for the last several weeks, my microbiome might change radically, or is that not the case at all? How often would I have to keep doing a new gut check?

04:10 Richard: It’s a good question. What we’ve seen in science, and in our own database, is that drastic life circumstances will shift the biome, so if you go from a vegan diet to pure carnivore, only eating meat, your biome is gonna shift quite drastically. If you take antibiotics that’s gonna wipe out all the bacteria, it’s gonna over-grow and so forth, and that’s gonna change it as well. Medications, different supplements, different diet changes, lifestyle, we’ve even seen customers that travelled to a different part of the world, and because they’re a different part of the world, they’re eating different kinds of food, they’re in a different environment, their biome changes. We’ve seen that change but on a day-to-day basis, if you have the same routine, same diet, same location and environment, your biome normally doesn’t shift that much. But there is data that supports a lot of chronic illnesses, you’ll see the biome shift into a certain imbalance prior to the disease state. And even if… If we do see that kind of variability, that’s kind of a sign, like a flag.

05:01 Martin: Gotcha. Let’s say I’m your customer and I’ve received my first report from you guys, and you give me some advice on my diet, what I can switch up, and let’s say I’m not really eating that healthy and you make me some recommendations, how soon would I see some changes, both in my health and also my biome?

05:20 Richard: It’s a great question. It really depends on the use case. If you’re dealing with digestive problems, we’ve seen changes clinically in terms of improvement of symptoms in under seven days. For other things, like metabolic health issues with weight and so forth, that obviously takes more time and we usually see a change in the microbiome earlier than the actual symptom improvement. And we’ve done a study where it’s about a 100 people in our sample going on a gut health program. And we’ve seen not only self-reported kind of symptoms or, “Did you feel any better? Are your symptoms improving?”, and so forth.

05:51 Richard: We’ve seen a shift positively in the right direction, but we’ve also seen the microbiome shift, from the diversity of the microbiome, so the total amount of species that you have, which science has been showing to be important for your health. The more species, the more that your body’s able to synthesize vitamins, digest fibers and improve your immunity and so forth. We’ve seen diversity increase, we’ve also seen probiotics, good bacteria in the body increase, as well and then we’ve seen Gammaproteobacteria, which are a bad bacteria, decrease on our program.

06:14 Martin: And what would you say has bigger impacts, probiotics or diet in general?

06:19 Richard: It’s a good question. I think both are important, at the end of the day, diet is definitely gonna be the key one, because that’s something you eat on a daily basis. Probiotics is something that you’re introducing your body. The way we look at it is the probiotics work in conjunction with the diet. You can’t take our probiotic and expect to improve your digestion, or…

06:35 Martin: That would be too nice.

06:36 Richard: That’d be awesome, right? You can’t be taking our probiotics and drinking beer every night and eating junk food and expect the change.

06:41 Martin: And vice versa, what would you tell to the cynic among our listeners that might be saying, “Hey, I already know that I have to eat healthier, why do I need to take a biome test?”

06:53 Richard: I think the misconception is that a certain fad diet, like “eat more vegetables”, is generally good for you, but it doesn’t necessarily work and apply to each individual. Some individuals, say for instance, if you have IBS, other certain FODMAPs which are more fermentable probiotic foods, will actually cause diarrhea and gas in that person, and so you can’t just give a blanket statement and say, “just eat more vegetables and do x, y, and z.” Granted, those guidelines are generally better for you, but if you wanna get really targeted and you wanna see the most efficacy, then you wanna get more personalized.

07:24 Martin: What kind of findings could I expect to see? Would you be giving me as much details, telling me, “Hey, you can’t take any carrots or cucumbers,” or anything in particular that I shouldn’t be eating at all?

07:37 Richard: We are working on an allergen/avoiding certain type of foods based on your microbiome. Right now we’re more on the, enjoy your foods. You’re deficient in certain probiotics, those probiotics like eating x amount of foods, so you should introduce those kind of foods to improve that make up of microbes for your health benefit. So that’s how our algorithm works at the moment.

07:57 Martin: Gotcha. How would you recommend doing the test?

08:01 Richard: For us, we recommend every quarter, so every three months. We’ve seen that not only on a cost-value point of view for our customers…

08:07 Martin: How much does it cost?

08:07 Richard: Right now we’re charging $99 for the program. That includes the testing kit, as well as a bottle of probiotics and your personalized nutrition information. And we ask our customers, encourage them to do it every quarter, every three months, to see how their biome is shifting from the changes. And that’s usually the better kind of timeline for them.

08:23 Martin: Got it. And you look at competitive landscape, uBiome for instance, and you know, there’s like a number of other services out there, how would you say you guys compare to them?

08:34 Richard: We see two camps in the competitive landscape. You have your probiotics only companies, and then you have your microbiome only companies. I’ll talk about the probiotic ones first. We’re really competing against a multitude of different brands, faceless brands that has no loyalty with the customer. You can find them distributed in the grocery store, you can find them on Amazon, shock and approach, right? Legacy brands, it doesn’t really factor in the individual customer information, and it doesn’t follow their health over time, which is something that we do. Not only are we getting their health information but also their microbiome data. If we start seeing changes that are either better for them or not, we can provide an intervention versus your off the self, you’re kinda left to yourself, right?

09:12 Martin: Right.

09:12 Richard: And then on the microbiome front, you have your uBiomes and Viomes of the world. The one key difference between us is the personalization of the recommendations, and we’ve built our own natural language processing and machine learning algorithm. We pull in 50,000 research articles and we pull in all the metadata for each microbe, their health benefits, associated diseases, so on and so forth, and we tie them to food. No other company does that at the moment and they also don’t expose how they give any recommendations. So for instance, Viome will tell you, “You should eat this food,” but you don’t really know why.

09:41 Richard: And there’s no science behind it, it’s all kinda hidden in a black box. And one thing that we do differently in that end is we actually show all the research for each recommendation. So if I say, “Martin, you’re supposed to be eating an artichoke based on your biome. Here’s the 20 research articles that say xyz for this recommendation.” And we create that recommendation. We look at in aggregate the studies, were they in-vivo, were they in-vitro studies, were they human clinical studies, how long the duration and sample size, and double-blind placebo randomized trial, and we’ll create it based on strong, medium, emerging, or mixed research, and we provide all that transparency back to the consumer.

10:11 Martin: Yeah, that’s really helpful ’cause there’s a lot of research out there, and it’s really hard to make sense of it. I can see how by just getting some client recommendations and all that just based on hearsay and not really real science.

10:24 Richard: Absolutely. And one thing we’ve seen with our competitors is the recommendations change, which is concerning, because some of their customers are saying they should enjoy x food, say beans. And in a week later, from the same sample, that food is actually on their avoid list. So customers are like, “Oh, I’ve been eating beans for the past three weeks, and now you’re telling me to stay away from them? What’s going on? Is this good for me or bad?” You quickly lose the trust and credibility with the consumer if you don’t have all that transparency and the science.

10:50 Martin: And if somebody did a blind test with you guys, let’s say signs up two different names and submits two different samples from, let’s say, the same day, maybe not necessarily the same sample at the same time, but would you say there’s like almost 99% similarity between the results I would be getting from you guys?

11:08 Richard: That’s a good question. I think one of the issues with microbiome testing right now, is what’s the gold standard for the methods, and collection, and sequencing. We’ve seen other companies where same sample two different companies, two different results. And that’s caused some issues. For us, we can’t say that we can consider every single variable. You could sample the same stool, but it could be done even 30 minutes apart and based on the environment it could change the sample. So it’s very hard to say that we can get 100% clarity on that, but I will say that on our test, we’ve done tests where we’ve reproduced the same sample over the course of three or four times and we haven’t seen a huge change.

11:46 Martin: That’s reassuring to know.

11:47 Richard: Yeah.

11:48 Martin: Let’s switch gears a little and I would be curious to hear how do you come up with the idea of why, maybe you can walk me through the founding story.

11:55 Richard: Yeah, absolutely. Originally my background’s been in building software products. About three years ago I took antibiotics, ended up getting really sick. I went to…

12:05 Martin: Why did you have to take antibiotics?

12:06 Richard: Funny story. [chuckle] I actually had a cough and my doctor misdiagnosed me for bronchitis and said, “Hey you should take an antibiotic to get it treated.” Turned out it was viral so antibiotics actually doesn’t really do anything for you, right? I took the antibiotics. Wiped out everything in my gut. Ended up getting a super bug in my stomach. I didn’t know I had it at the time, so I went to multiple different doctor saying, “Hey, my stomach hurts like crazy. I haven’t been able to sleep. I’m having all kinds of symptoms. What’s going on?”

12:31 Martin: How long was that going on?

12:33 Richard: That was a two-month endeavor. Yeah. I had these symptoms for two months. Going to work and trying to just manage it. And these doctors are like, “Hey, you’re too young and healthy-looking to be sick, you look fit, what’s wrong with you? You’re probably just depressed and a hypochondriac,” and blah, blah, blah.

12:45 Martin: They didn’t run a test?

12:46 Richard: No, they didn’t run any test. They just looked at my outer appearance and based on my symptoms, at least what I told them. And so they thought I had, just maybe stress-related IBS. They gave me antidepressants for it. And then I joined a bunch of different forums and Facebook groups of people dealing with chronic health problems, and I just started asking people about my symptoms, and they said, “You might actually have this thing called Clostridium difficile,” which kills about half million citizens in the US a year.

13:10 Martin: No way?

13:11 Richard: Yeah, it’s insane. So I had this stuff going on. Thankfully, I was younger, ’cause most people that die on this kind of Superbug infection are older. I went back to my fourth doctor, I said, “Hey, give me this PCR DNA test on Clostridium difficile”. Came back positive. He quarantined me. [chuckle] It was insane, it was like out of a movie. “We gotta put you in the corner of this building, you can’t talk to people, you can’t touch anything,” and I’m like, “Oh snap. I’ve been walking around with this thing for two months?”

13:31 Martin: That was the same doctor that literally told you that you were completely healthy?

13:34 Richard: Oh no, no, no, no, it was a different doctor. I had to find a fourth opinion. So, got that sequence, then found that I had that and I got it treated, and felt much better afterwards. And… It was through that process that I realized that consumers just didn’t have a good tool to understand and know what was going on in their micromanaged and how to improve it. And a lot of these chronic health patients were also looking excited about the science and wanted a tool that can help them just learn a little bit more about the microbes. And so that’s how the product started.

14:00 Martin: And at the time, was there any other test already available, like uBiome or any other competition, or?

14:05 Richard: Yeah actually, I got a lot of my inspiration from uBiome, funny enough. So uBiome, before I started Thryve, was around for about three years. And power user of uBiome, did 12 different tests on them. And I realized as I was doing these tests that they weren’t really telling me much. They told me a list of bacteria in my body, but all the names were like Latin, and it made no sense to me. And so what…

14:25 Martin: You didn’t get any feedback…

14:26 Richard: No. There was no closed-loop, there was no… It was like a CSV file of bacteriums. So I literally copy and pasted each name into Google and PubMed, and just tried to read as much research on it. And I was like, I have a software background. Maybe I can build something to summarize this content and build it in a way that’s actually useful for the user. And I think one of the issues, as we were talking about competitors is… A lot of them are started by PhDs in academia, and because they come from that background, they don’t really understand what does the customer really care about? They’re building tools for other scientists. And I realized uBiome and all these tests were geared toward to scientists, but not really toward the end user, and that we could do a much better experience with it.

15:05 Martin: That was pretty, that the inspiration to create something that was much more consumer friendly. I get a test and I actually have somebody that helps me to make sense of it, kind of like going to the doctor. They also translate Latin into a common language to me, so it makes sense of it.

15:20 Richard: Yeah, absolutely, it’s being able to provide that information in a way that is easy to understand for the consumer, but at the same time can supplement a medical professional. So we never wanna subtract that from our recommendations, although we do have consumers that use it on their own terms, we always encourage them to seek their medical professional, get their feedback and understanding before making any changes to their health.

15:42 Martin: Right. Having said that, what does your current team look like? Do you have any PhD that is really specializing in that field?

15:49 Richard: Yeah, absolutely. Our head of research and development and business development is Jonathan, he is a PhD in Chemistry. Worked at many life science companies. He leads our science efforts, and we have a scientific advisory board, so professors from MIT, Harvard, Stanford, and UC Davis around areas like: Microbiome and nutrition, microbe and probiotics, microbiome and disease interaction. And patient safety, which is also a key portion of our product.

16:13 Richard: The rest of the team is growth marketers, supply chain logistics. Engineering, obviously. And it’s really interesting, because the way our business is set up as a consumer and digital health company, it’s a multitude of different expertise, from biology to supply chain, to computer science, to consumer brand marketing, and it’s very challenging to get all those different experts together in one room and say, “Hey, let’s execute on that plan.”

16:34 Martin: What do you see as your main challenge right now? Is it really educating the customer, them understanding what it’s for, or is it we provide better test results and relation to your test results?

16:45 Richard: I think there is a couple of things. I think the market on gut health and probiotics is becoming more mature, and so there’s a little bit less education involved there. But if you’re talking specifically about microbiome, there’s a lot to educate on the customer. And so we try not to position ourselves as a microbiome company, but more as a probiotic company. But there’s always a challenge of, how can we find more people that are not early adopters? How can we educate users on the importance of your gut, and the microbiome and so forth?

17:11 Martin: How do most people find you right now?

17:13 Richard: It’s a multitude of things. We do performance paid marketing with Facebook ads and Google ads and so forth, or just on Amazon. We are about to get going with that.

17:21 Martin: So it would be like a person that is already searching for probiotics or certain gut symptoms?

17:27 Richard: Exactly.

17:27 Martin: Some of the problems that you’re trying to solve?

17:30 Richard: Yeah, you’re searching for gut health. You are searching for microbiome, you’re searching for what’s the best probiotic. And other side of things, if you’re searching what’s helpful for a specific symptom that I have that’s related. If I’m searching up, how do I help my constipation or improve my digestion, we would show up in your search terms. The other side of it is we partner with a lot of influencers, do podcasts like these, blog posts and so forth, and build a lot of content around gut health and educating on that end.

17:55 Martin: Let’s talk a bit more about the current status of the industry, and how it’s been replicated in the last two years, there’s a number of companies have opened. The science is also catching up, so what’s the current field look like?

18:10 Richard: When you’re looking at microbiome studies, there’s about 50,000 research articles available in PubMed. It’s a relatively smaller number compared to, say, human genetics which is 3.5 Million. But one thing we’ve seen is the insane growth of microbiome research that’s growing about 40% year over year. You contrast that to Human Genetics, it’s about 3.5%. There’s a lot more discoveries on the science end in that realm of microbiome, and so we’re excited about those discoveries, but for us, a lot of it is correlation. There’s no causation yet.

18:39 Richard: And even for our recommendations, we wanna be as careful as possible about letting the customer know about that. We definitely see on the business side of things that a lot of companies coming out of the woodwork whether it’s uBiome, Viome and so on and so forth. And a lot of interest in the space on the business side and on the science side, as well.

18:53 Martin: And I’m assuming all my data is stored on my account with you guys. If something is changing, in terms of the research, are any of my previous results being updated, or they are like set in stone and the data is there, but now I would have to start looking into it if something has changed?

19:09 Richard: Yeah, so any time we make updates to our report and recommendations, we’ll update our customer on that information. And a nice thing about if you test yourself on our platform is, any time new science emerges and our algorithm provides new interpretations and things like that, it’s all free of charge. And so it’s kind of like anything that’s in the cloud. Your Tesla gets a new UI and gets new updates to the app, you don’t have to pay more for that. And just like our reports, as science is discovering more things and we’re able to figure out how certain microbes relate to certain health outcomes, we will continue to provide that information free of charge for our customers.

19:41 Martin: And I’m ready to see the black ball go in the next couple of years? Do you see microbiome testing becoming something that’s gonna be completely standard in health and that all people are going to take or what do you think stands in the way of more people doing so?

19:54 Richard: I think we’ve seen when the human DNA was first sequenced, many scientists thought that was kind of the book of life and we’ve quickly realized that the microbiome is the next frontier. And the reason why is because your genetics are set in stone. Not to say there’s not a lot of health with that, but your microbiome is something you can actively change based on diet.

20:11 Martin: That’s the difference, right?

20:12 Richard: Exactly.

20:12 Martin: When I do a DNA test, I get the results, but hey, okay, that’s very useful to understand but there’s only so much that I can change, and sure I can pay attention to some genetic defects or look at my family history around certain diseases, but at the end of the day, there’s not much I can do about it.

20:28 Richard: Absolutely, and I think what we’re saying and our vision in how our microbiome is gonna shift health in general, is that a multitude of things are gonna be personalized. From the foods you eat, the supplements you take, the medications you take, even the hygienic products you use on your hair, on your skin and so forth are gonna be personalized based on your skin microbiome, based on your oral microbiome, based on your gut microbiome. And we see our dataset as kind of the personalization of all that, so you can think of the for hims and for hers of the microbiome, is Thryve.

20:57 Martin: That’s interesting that you bring that up, because diet and nutrition has a huge impact on my skin.

21:04 Richard: Exactly.

21:05 Martin: Is that also something that you’re already giving advice or that you would be planning on giving advice on?

21:10 Richard: Yeah, it’s interesting. We have a rather large inbound interest from B2B companies, large strategics interested in skin health, in oral health, in gut health and so forth. And one of the areas we’re looking into right now is improving your skin from within and really changing your diet and certain supplements to improve the inflammatory markers in the body, so that your acne or eczema and so forth reduces on the skin. A lot of it is not necessarily topical, like putting something on your face to get a benefit, even though that there is help with that, but really improving the systems inside your body in order to improve other areas of your health.

21:46 Martin: What else would you say is next for you on your roadmap?

21:49 Richard: We’re definitely interested in sequencing more areas of the body. Right now we’re more focused on gut and probiotics, but we do plan to branch out to skin, skin testing, oral testing, and so on and so forth. Our recommendations are based on adult health, but we are looking into infant health and veterinary health, so branching out to even more areas like that. And then in terms of different products, right now we have our own probiotics but we do see new supplement lines coming out, potential partnerships with different meal kit companies in order to personalize your recommendations for food and other CPG products that might be interesting, whether we refer them to certain brands or we white label and create our own.

22:26 Martin: Cool. Do you have anything else that you would like to share with our audience?

22:29 Richard: Yeah. First of all, thanks for having me on the show.

22:32 Martin: For sure.

22:34 Richard: And gut health is so important, and we’ve, kinda see the hype of say, yogurts and kombuchas and things like that, but it’s really important to see, actually test yourself and know exactly what is going on in your body before you start ingesting a bunch of stuff because you think it’s important or hyped-up part of your health. And we always encourage people, “Get the data. Get the data first and then use that information to make an informed decision on lifestyle changes and health.”

22:58 Martin: Those of our listeners that are already physically active, they exercise several days a week and they, at least they believe they’re eating healthy, they feel good about themselves, they don’t have any gut issues, would you still recommend them to still take the test? Would that be something that they could be learning still about themselves?

23:14 Richard: Oh absolutely. I think we have a good cohort of customers that are already healthy but they wanna optimize more, whether it’s performance, losing a little bit more body fat and so forth. Are there potentially specific microbes in the body that are halting that? Or maybe you’re deficient in certain bacteria that can help? And no one ever has perfect health.

23:30 Martin: Yeah.

23:31 Richard: There’s always something people wanna improve and a lot of the general health applications obviously are a little bit more superficial, like, “Oh I wanna have clear skin.”, or “I wanna have a six-pack.” and so on and so forth. And there’s definitely data around certain microbes that may halt the progression of getting those goals.

23:47 Martin: If people wanna take a test, they can find you on thryveinside.com, right?

23:51 Richard: Exactly. Yes.

23:52 Martin: And that’s Thryve with a Y?

23:53 Richard: Thryve with a Y. We also own the domain, Thrive with the “I”, so…

23:57 Martin: Really?

23:57 Richard: Yeah. If you… [laughter] Feel free to spell it any way you’d like… And you’ll find us.

24:01 Martin: Awesome. Yeah. I just wanna round up our interview with a quick final round. The way it works is I’m gonna ask you a few questions and I really just wanna hear what comes to your mind. And I don’t really want you to think too long or too hard about any of those questions, it’s very easy going.

24:15 Richard: Oh man, the pressure’s on.


24:18 Martin: Can you share with our audience any other fitness or health apps or technology that you’ve integrated into your lifestyle yourself?

24:25 Richard: I don’t know if it’s specifically technology, but one thing that I’m actively doing is fasting. I incorporate a 23:1, which is 23 hours of fasting. I eat one meal a day. That’s definitely helped a lot with… In terms of lowering body fat. Ketogenic diet is obviously a big kind of thing right now. I do watch my macros in terms of the fat versus carb content of my foods. And in training, a high intensity interval training to get more lean. I’m actively sitting around like at 12, 13% body fat, but I wanna get to single digits, so I have to incorporate all these different things into my lifestyle. [chuckle] I don’t necessarily use any apps for that, but there is maybe a device that I use which is a glucose monitor and a ketone monitor. It’s a blood pinprick that I test my blood every day, just to see what my ketone levels are and what my glucose levels are.

25:10 Martin: Gotcha. And why 23:1 way of fasting?

25:13 Richard: I’ve been doing fasting for almost a decade and I’ve been doing the 16:8 split. And I realized that in order for me to get to the lower body fat percentage, I’m gonna have to fast more ’cause I hit a plateau essentially. And after I incorporated just eating one meal a day, it’s definitely gone down, more from body measurements and things like that, and Shape is definitely an awesome technology that can help me track that, and I’m very excited about using it, and trying it out more.

25:38 Martin: I’m sure that it’s all coming together in a way. It’s really making sense of our lifestyle and how that affects us in different ways. There’s so much to it and I can really see how technology has been changing in the last 10 or so years, and we can have a multitude of different ways that go beyond a doctor or your regular bathroom scale to really understand what my lifestyle choices do to affect my health.

26:05 Richard: Absolutely.

26:06 Martin: Anyway, you mentioned HIITs. Do you have any favourite workouts?

26:09 Richard: Yeah, I’m a huge, huge lover of compound… Heavy compound exercises. Different three-day splits of bench pressing, dead lifting, squatting and just incorporating more of those kind of movements into my workouts so less isolation and just more compound movements.

26:24 Martin: And you go for strength, or you go for high reps? Or what do you go for?

26:29 Richard: Oh man, balls-to-the-walls heavy lifting. [laughter] I try… It’s fun, it’s like gamify-ing your life and saying, “Can I put five more pounds on the squat and so on and so forth.” And I think maybe eventually my body will catch up to me where as I get older, maybe my joints will be like, “Hey, that’s too heavy. Let’s go for the higher rep version.” But for the time being, I can go for the heavy load more often.

26:53 Martin: Where do you work out?

26:54 Richard: I go to a really janky 24-hour Fitness near my house. It’s probably the worst gym I’ve ever gone to, but it’s got the equipment, so I just go in and get out. I think the biggest thing for me is having a gym that’s at least under five minutes for me. If it’s anything from 15 or 20 minute drive or commute, I probably will not go.

27:11 Martin: Yeah, it’s all about convenience.

27:12 Richard: Exactly, yeah.

27:13 Martin: And would you say there’s any resource, any book, any podcast, any blog or influencer that our listeners should pay attention to, because it’s very helpful when it comes to their health and fitness?

27:23 Richard: Lyle McDonald has a book. I forgot the name of the book. But it’s about fasting and it’s about heavy weightlifting, that I think is good for any general purpose person that just wants to build a lean body and things like that. Dr. Wahls is a Multiple Sclerosis patient that was able to reverse all her symptoms through diet. Obviously this is more on the chronic health problem area, but she has a great book on how she was able to reverse a lot of chronic problems with just diet alone.

27:50 Martin: Gotcha. And is there any health or fitness company that you look up to or that has been an influence on you, besides uBiome?


27:58 Richard: And I think Shape is one of them. [chuckle] There’s a lot of biotech companies that I’m keeping an eye on, like Grail, which is early detection of cancer through sequencing, which is pretty cool. As we know cancer is potentially… The outcomes are much better if you obviously detect it much earlier. And their mission is to detect that at the microscopic DNA level to better treat patients before cancer becomes a problem. And I think their mission is great, and so I’m looking out kinda what…

28:24 Martin: Have you been using their service?

28:26 Richard: Oh, it’s not available yet.

28:27 Martin: It’s not available yet?

28:27 Richard: Yeah, they’re going through trials and so forth. And once, obviously, it gets all the FDA approvals, then it becomes more mainstream, but that could literally change the outcome of a lot of health issues nowadays.

28:38 Martin: Awesome. Well, final question. What would you do if you get stranded on an island?

28:43 Richard: Wow. Okay. Well, I would check if there’s food and water first, and if there’s not, then I’ll just go to sleep.


28:52 Martin: Alright. That completes our interview. Thank you so much for making time Richard. It’s been an absolute bliss to have you over here.

28:57 Richard: Absolutely, thank you for having me.

29:00 Martin: Thank you.

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Lilla Laczo

Lilla is a content writer and community manager at Shape.
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