Speaking to the TechGraph, Sajeev Nair, Founder & Chairman, Vieroots Wellness Solutions said, “As the Indian economy and administration improve, but the real issue according to me is that, whether it is private or public healthcare, we are simply aping the West.”
Read the interview:
TechGraph: Could you help give a sense of how far Vieroots has come since its existence? From when it began to where it is now?
Sajeev Nair: Vieroots’ flagship product is EPLIMO, which is one among a handful of such genometabolic-based personalized lifestyle modification solutions anywhere in the world.
This product wouldn’t have been possible in the last millennium, even in the tech-boom decade of the 90s. What facilitated this is the completion of the Human Genome Project in 2003. Shortly after this, I visited the US and came across this innovative concept of genetic testing for finding hard-coded disease risks in our genes.
Though this test was very expensive back then, I ventured for it, as wellness and prevention were always my passions. I was quite impressed with the test methodology and results, and right then realized that this is going to be the future of healthcare. Back in India, I began my preliminary studies about how to bring this technology to India, and more importantly how to go beyond mere testing and knowing the risks, to deliver preventive steps for such risks.
It was during this same time that there was an explosion in research on biohacking and more specifically on the role of lifestyle modifications in such preventive hacks. Soon I became a biohacker in theory and practice, with my specialized area being not the implantable chips or such controversial methods, but the sheer power of lifestyle modifications in keeping diseases at bay.
It was the same time during which research was unraveling that many common lifestyle diseases like diabetes, hypertension, obesity & cardiovascular diseases have a common origin called metabolic syndrome and that if this syndrome could be detected and prevented early on, many of these diseases wouldn’t develop. Another lifelong passion that came to my help during this period was my interest in Ayurveda, which had figured out most of these concepts in a macro sense, millennia ago.
Soon, I started interacting with researchers, geneticists, physicians, and Ayurvedic researchers, and came to know that lifestyle modification when personalized for genetic risks could be so powerful that it could be epigenetic or capable of overriding such genetic risks even. But since no lifestyle disease is 100% genetic, I researched further and understood that if we make metabolic traits too as a part of this equation, the predictive power would be near perfect.
That is how EPLIMO came into being as one of the first geno-metabolic-based lifestyle modification solutions in the world. Vieroots and EPLIMO are just two years old, but two decades of thought is what created them.
I also published my key findings as a highly readable book on biohacking, titled ‘The Making of a Superhuman’, which went on to become a bestseller on Amazon. FY’22 was Vieroots’ first full fiscal year in operation, and we could clock nearly Rs. 15 crores in sales, mostly driven by EPLIMO.
TechGraph: How is Vieroots utilizing its sectoral expertise and technology to solve the pain points in the health & wellness sector?
Sajeev Nair: I have always emphasized this in my talks, at least wherever I have delivered the keynote address – that any Indian middle-class family is just one hospital bill away from lifelong debt or even poverty.
We live in a country where 90% of people work in the informal sectors, with no real social security to cover them in the case of a health emergency. At the same time, due to genetic and dietetic reasons, South Asians in general, and Indians, in particular, are very susceptible to some key lifestyle diseases. For instance, India is the diabetes capital of the world, and diabetes as you know is a kind of gateway disease to several killers including heart attack, stroke & kidney disease. But today companies like Vieroots have the expertise and technology to address this pain point in the healthcare sector.
We work with a multidisciplinary team of medical researchers, geneticists, physicians, dieticians, nutritionists, fitness experts, ayurvedic practitioners, yoga gurus, psychologists, etc to fine-tune and perfect the selection and application of research-validated lifestyle modifications from each of these domains to prevent or postpone lifestyle diseases that each one of us may otherwise be susceptible to develop.
This is a huge body of domain knowledge or sectoral expertise that Vieroots has amassed over its short two years of existence. Then comes the technology part. Since a person’s genetic data in itself is complex, and here we are taking into account their detailed metabolic assessment too, this calls for artificial intelligence-based systems to evaluate it all together and bring out the disease risks as well as the personalized and comprehensive lifestyle modifications. So that is how we leverage our sectoral expertise and technology deployment to address this pain point in healthcare.
TechGraph: What is the state of healthcare & wellness in India?
Sajeev Nair: I think India has much to be proud of in healthcare. We have the latest diagnostics, the latest invasive techniques including robotic surgeries, and access to next-generation medicines that were sometime back only a dream. But having said that, I should also say that we have many things about which we can’t be proud.
While many may think that the abysmal nature of our public or subsidized healthcare is our main issue, I prefer to differ. That may improve down the line, as the Indian economy and administration improve, but the real issue according to me is that, whether it is private or public healthcare, we are simply aping the West.
While not only India, most developing nations are doing the same, we should have done better as this is the land of Ayurveda and Yoga, which taught us from millennia ago that prevention is always better than cure. In that ethos, we should have given modern preventive medicine much more importance.
Instead, in our hurry to follow Western standards, we fell for the costly and risky proposition of reactive healthcare, which teaches us to do nothing until we have a diagnosis, but once we have a diagnosis, spare no efforts or money to kill it off.
This is so unscientific, impractical, and painful, as everyone agrees it is better to prevent cancer rather than wait till cancer strikes silently, and then when you are shocked with a Stage 3 or 4 diagnosis, go in for aggressive therapies like chemotherapy and radiation. In contrast, solutions like Vieroots EPLIMO can detect your geno-metabolic chances for developing 250+ lifestyle diseases including several cancers, years or decades before they strike so that you can start defending against them through comprehensive lifestyle modifications.
TechGraph: How is technology transforming the health & wellness sector? Do you think the trend had taken hold even before the pandemic-induced disruptions?
Sajeev Nair: I think we are in an exciting phase when it comes to technological transformations in healthcare. Wearables are a huge area where there is much action happening.
Almost every brand in smartphones, watches, and gadgets is coming out with wearables tracking a slew of health parameters like step counts, glucose levels, heart rates, oxygen saturation, and such things, and then there are the advanced biohacking tools like KardiaMobile 6L, which Vieroots has pioneered in India, which is a compact and personal 6-lead EKG, the size of a pen drive, that can detect 6 of the most common abnormal heart rhythms in the comfort of your home or office so that you can inform your physician or cardiologist promptly.
It is the only US FDA-cleared 6-lead EKG in the world, and Vieroots is proud to have brought this to our country. Smartphone apps are another area where technology adoption in healthcare has been disruptive, to say the least. EPLIMO itself is delivered to the consumer as a user-friendly and AI-driven smartphone app for iOS and Android devices so that these lifestyle modifications can be delivered to the client in a most personal manner, which also makes it easy for follow-ups and further consultations if needed.
I think the pandemic has affected different health-tech companies in different ways. For me and Vieroots, it only increased our resolve and urgency, and this can be seen from the fact that the publication of ‘The Making of a Superhuman’ and the launch of Vieroots both happened right amidst the pandemic when most businesses were worried about death.
TechGraph: Which are the key products & services driving the growth of Vieroots?
Sajeev Nair: I already discussed EPLIMO which is the flagship and mainstay of Vieroots. It is driving the growth of our company as people are not only interested in avoiding diseases, but in achieving peak productivity and performance. EPLIMO helps them achieve this as personalized diets and personalized fitness programs are key elements of EPLIMO. So both from a prevention perspective as well as from a peak performance perspective, EPLIMO delivers impactfully.
Then, there is something else driving the sales of EPLIMO, which is its potential to enhance lifespan as well as healthspan. While lifespan refers to actual longevity or long life, health span refers to the number of perfectly healthy years in our lives. Since EPLIMO is based on personal geno-metabolic and preventive lifestyles, it can add significantly to both lifespan and health span.
EPLIMO is available directly from Vieroots, or its certified lifestyle coaches present across India, as well as from several pioneering hospitals that have adopted this next generation of Health 5.0-based technology. Coming to our other products, Vieroots has an array of natural health supplements based on research-validated Ayurveda, falling into distinct families like Thoughtbiotics, Antioxidants, General Wellness & Longevity.
Our key Longevity supplement NAD Complex is the first and foremost such product in India. Another blockbuster product for us has been Vie. The cafe is a supercharged coffee that adds the power of brain-enhancing herbs like Ashwagandha, Ginseng, and Brahmi to the sheer energy and taste of coffee.
TechGraph: What is the roadmap for Vieroots going forward?
Sajeev Nair: Vieroots’ growth so far has been driven by innovation, and this will continue, with more innovative products and solutions. Early on in our growth, we were fortunate to have been backed by Bollywood superstar and noted startup investor in the health sector, Suniel Shetty.
This had added to our visibility and provided the drive for our certified lifestyle coaches to go to the market and build awareness about EPLIMO and our other products. At the end of the day, our innovative and scientific products are not the kind to be pumped up by an advertising blitzkrieg, but by building awareness among the discerning and health-conscious customer segments, who want to take charge of their health.
Our growth via hospitals and doctors too is gathering pace now, and it will be beefed up further with more such pan-India tie-ups. But the most exciting growth opportunity for Vieroots and EPLIMO will be Limoverse, the newly launched blockchain-based health and wellness metaverse.
Designed as a Web 3.0 project from the ground up, Limoverse will be the perfect meeting place for health seekers and wellness experts from the world over. Based on EPLIMO’s geno-metabolic data of each health seeker, independent wellness experts like doctors, dieticians, fitness experts, yoga gurus, ayurvedic practitioners, psychologists, etc will be able to provide personalized lifestyle modifications to the users.
Limoverse also stores each user’s genetic and health data securely on its blockchain, so that users can share it with research institutions in exchange for Limo tokens, which can be used to pay for its health services as well as for accumulation for potential value gain. While on the server side Limoverse will use advanced technologies like AR, VR, XR, etc, users can avail themselves of Limoverse services by downloading its app from the Google Playstore.