Interview with Adrian Kapsalis, LOEWI
Updated: Oct 28, 2020
When used correctly, dietary supplements have the potential to improve immune systems, boost athletic performance, and support long-term health. But when vitamin regimens are merely a matter of buyer selection, how can consumers rely on more than personal satisfaction to measure supplements’ effectiveness? As it turns out, it is possible to bring scientific validation to individual consumers through personalization.
Adrian Kapsalis, cofounder and CEO of LOEWI, spoke at the Future Food Tech summit held on September 17-18. Food Food Tech connected the industry's leading innovators, executives, and entrepreneurs to facilitate collaborative discussion about food systems and technology.
In his previous position at Ferrari, Adrian couldn’t help but notice how top Formula One athletes went above and beyond to optimize their performance - including using blood tests to measure and improve nutrition. Indeed, it has been common practice in many professional sports to use blood work data to pinpoint ways to improve performance and safeguard health via individually tailored diets and supplements. Adrian’s business background prompted him to see an opportunity to bring the practice to the general public. Soon, he partnered with other founders to create nutrition and supplement startup Loewi, developed as a scientific spinoff of The Technical University of Munich.
Loewi’s system utilizes existing methods to provide relevant health data and personalized supplements to users. Customers receive an at-home kit to collect a small blood sample, which is then analyzed for twenty-eight nutrient markers to construct a health profile. Loewi uses this profile to provide nutrition recommendations and offer a personalized nutrient supplement, the contents and amounts of which are individually tailored to the user’s own needs and goals. After the dietary improvements are implemented, blood is retested to ensure that the supplement is having the desired effect.
The innovation started with empathy. By seeing the problem from the end user’s perspective, the Loewi team found an untapped gap in the nutrition market. According to Adrian Kapsalis, who now acts as managing director of Loewi, the startup’s innovation lies in the ability to bridge the gap between the capabilities of science and the public’s access to it. The success was born of the team’s ability to recognize the value in something as common as blood testing and bring that value to customers. “Once you can put yourself in the customer’s shoes, you can have the initial spark to get it right,” he announces. And with a diverse team of founders drafted from across industries, Loewi proves that anyone can have that initial innovative spark.
Although personalization is becoming more popular in every industry, Loewi’s solution is more than just a trend. Every recommendation and supplement has a scientific backing, both in ingredients and doses. “Everything we do is evidence based, and that’s really important to us.” This quality is exhibited in every area of their products and business model, and the results have been most rewarding. “The great part about working with blood data is that you can actually see as a consumer that you’re going in the right direction.”
Even though Loewi’s solutions are well-founded, building the startup hasn’t always been without challenges. According to Kapsalis, one challenge with nutrition as an industry is communication of long-term benefit with the customer. “Changing your nutrition is always a dynamic process. You get the benefits in the long term,” he explained. The essence of nutrition as a lifestyle change, along with the newness of the personalized nutrition industry, shows a need to clearly communicate the benefits to customers. Loewi was able to innovate around these challenges by creating a system in which the user is empowered to understand their own needs. The improvement in the blood’s nutrition markers over time creates a transparent feedback loop that helps keep customers coming back. Kapsalis says, “I truly believe the users’ understanding of how the product works is the key to helping them make a change in their nutrition.”
The key to Loewi’s success, Kapsalis has found, has been to challenge the frontier of quality in products and trustworthiness in companies. It’s not enough for Loewi to just have quality nutrients. The next level of excellence in food tech will be to show the customer that they are not only choosing the best possible product, but also that they are personally benefiting from their choices in a visible way. “That’s the basis for a high quality customer-centric product. A high quality product, if it’s standardized, still might not be the right one for you. That will be the next level because in the end, finding the right solution is the whole point behind changing our nutrition.” Naturally, when decisions are informed by personalized, relative data, it leads to a deeper value for patients. In that case, data security and transparency of the whole process is absolutely critical. That trustworthiness is part of Loewi’s value. When personal data informs our health choices, absolute security needs to be the standard from providers.
As our ideas about health shift from prevention to wellness, Loewi poses itself to be a solution of the future. The Covid-19 pandemic has sparked a global reckoning of Western healthcare systems and has helped change the general public’s perception of health data. It has highlighted the need for illness prevention and a strong immune system. Consumers are more focused on staying healthy than ever before, and they are ready to lean into digital health to do so. This shift in mindset has potential effects on sustainability. Personalization in health makes the process of finding the right products more efficient, which can lower consumption overall. The company has found that when customers see their own behaviors’ negative or positive effect on the body, they are more invested in making better choices. Personalization empowers customers to take control of their health, with less guessing and less waste.
Promoting long-term health is one area in which Loewi is primed for growth. “We want to continue to bring the long-term health benefits of optimal nutrition to the general public. The fantastic thing with our technology is that we are also considering interactions with diseases, medications, allergies and so on, so there is the basis to go into therapeutic applications as well. When we started the company, our first customers were athletes.” And in the end, optimizing health has many benefits from better athletic performance to a strengthened immune system. Loewi will continue to help customers improve their nutrition by using personalized data to create unique, sustainable products. “The user is always the centre of our activities. It doesn’t matter what we are doing, we always look for the value to the end user. And in the end, that’s what personalization is all about.”
LOEWI founders Philipp Merk and Adrian Kapsalis (right)
Future Food-Tech will be connecting hundreds more innovators, food brands and investors this December 2-3. See more at www.futurefoodtechnyc.com