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Founders Everywhere: Jeff Chen and Pelin Thorogood
Jeff Chen and Pelin Thorogood are the co-founders of Radicle Science, the first ever proof-as-a-service for health and wellness products to prove their true effects beyond placebo.
Welcome to Founders Everywhere, where we highlight the incredible people behind the companies we’ve backed at Everywhere Ventures, a global pre-seed fund supported by a community of 500 founders and operators.
Have you ever stood in the vitamins and supplements aisle at the drugstore and asked yourself, “which one do I buy?” So many choices, all claiming to support whatever ailment or deficiency you’re trying to remedy. The problem is that none of these nonprescription health products are required to conduct clinical trials or seek FDA approval. And since clinical trials were created to validate pharma drugs, they’re simply too slow and expensive even if wellness products wanted them! Jeff Chen and Pelin Thorogood joined forces to democratize the access to clinical trials so health and wellness products can clinically PROVE their true effectiveness. Their pioneering company, Radicle Science, is the first-of-its-kind Proof-as-a-Service for non-pharmaceutical products. They’re simplifying the process for companies who want clinical evidence that their product truly works beyond placebo, while at the same time giving consumers confidence and trust in the products they’re purchasing.
What’s your personal motivation for founding Radicle Science?
Jeff: Becoming a doctor, my mission was to bring health and healing to people. I realized that if I wanted to create a dramatic change in impact, working within healthcare systems might not be the best way to do that. I saw nonprescription health and wellness products as having unparalleled innovation opportunities compared to things that are stuck within the mold of the healthcare system. For me it represented the greatest opportunity to deliver better health in mass to society. Ultimately, what was missing was the proof - for consumers, retailers, brands and doctors. There are doctors who'd love to talk about supplements, but don’t because there’s no clinical evidence. So that's when I said okay, we've got to figure out how to generate proof on these products.
Pelin: I experienced the causes and ramifications of a glaring proof gap between pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals when I was funding first-of-their-kind natural medicine trials at renowned research institutions across the U.S. As a tech CEO, I’d seen first-hand how data-driven decision making could transform entire industries. I knew it was time to do the same for these massive non-pharmaceuticals used by nearly all Americans. The fact that I am a Mediterranean girl who had grown up with a lot of ancient herbal remedies was a big contributor. I had personally experienced remedies work for some people, for some conditions - and not for others - and felt it was time to scientifically prove their personalized effects. I found a like-spirited partner in Jeff… and Radicle Science was born.
What’s Radicle Science’s “North Star”?
Our North Star is creating a world where people have access to PROVEN health and wellness treatments that are inherently democratized, meaning accessible and affordable. These treatments cannot be patented, cannot be monopolized, and do not require a doctor's prescription. We pioneered Proof-as-a-Service and we use a precision medicine approach because we all have unique bodies and conditions that need to be represented in clinical trials.
Tell us about some recent milestones that Radicle Science crushed.
We’ve been running studies for a little over a year and we've already had over 25,000 Americans participate from all 50 U.S. states. The typical clinical trial on a wellness product like a dietary supplement has a few dozen people - and very few supplements ever undergo a clinical trial. In contrast, our trials involve at least 500 people! Historically, participants in clinical trials have been white males in urban areas; conversely, we’re making sure to include women, minorities, rural populations and other groups traditionally excluded from trials. This approach ensures our data represents the diversity of the broader population and thus is actually generalizable and actionable for society, delivering much needed health equity!
We recently signed one of the top five largest CPG companies in the world as a client. They want to start using Radicle Science to systematically generate proof on their products. Stay tuned!
What’s on the horizon for Radicle Science?
We are continually increasing the number of conditions that we're studying and generating proof around. We started with the top three that everybody goes to non-pharmaceutical products for: pain, sleep, and anxiety. Since then we've added many others including energy, gut health, and cognition. And we’ve started creating studies on need states such as immunity and women’s health. Our current focus is on benefiting these conditions/correcting so-called deficiencies, and in the future we plan to study how non-pharmaceuticals can enhance normal human physical and mental performance. We also plan to expand into other industries that clearly need proof such as beauty and cosmetics, nutrition, functional foods & beverages, and pet care to name a few. Those will come in due course, but we’ve started with dietary supplements because it’s a massive industry ($50B in the U.S.) that most Americans consume, with the greatest potential to impact people’s lives when there is real proof!