Founders : Leadership

19 Founders | Page:

Gordon Horwitz of Allostatix LLC

How did you start your business?
I typically begin my business ventures by taking a few months to study the subject and pull together the business plan and investment strategy. For Allostatix, it was essential to find the best health researchers and statisticians in the local area. I found that in our chief science officer, Dr. Robert Ludke, from the University of Cincinnati's School of Public Health, and Dr. Ken Rothe, a seasoned statistician and neural network specialist.

Once my internal team was formed, it was necessary to create our Science Advisory Board to establish credibility in the health risk tool we were about to develop, as well as create a defensive moat around the IP we were developing.
It turns out that combination of certain biomarkers, when looked at interactively by a sophisticated analytic tool (which is what we have built), can predict disease and/or death in healthy people with a high accuracy, three to five years in advance.

How did you come up the idea for your business?
I’ve suffered from chronic fatigue since 1992 and just felt lousy most of the time. I have a great family physician, but the challenge for him was that all of my vitals and blood work were within the accepted, healthy range. Added to that, I am a spinning instructor so the question was, why was I feeling so lousy?

I set out on a personal quest to find out what was actually causing my early aging, tiredness, etc. I found what I was looking for when I was introduced to the concept of allostatic load. Allostatic load is the physical damage done to your body by chronic stress.

It was at one of the preliminary meetings with my research staff where we were discussing the allostatic load concept that I had my "aha!" moment; It became clear that my personal health challenges were being caused by the constant triggering of my body's automatic stress response. Once we had our health risk tool developed, I personally took the test and found that I had a high allostatic load. We deliver our Allostatix Load score on a color spectrum of green-yellow-red, and I scored in the red! Although all of my vitals and blood markers were within acceptable range when looked at independently, cumulatively analyzed they were telling a very different story. My body, as a whole, was out of balance.

What resources here did you take advantage of and how did they help?
I relied on my mentor and I believe everyone needs one. He kept me on a defined research track, helped me refine my business approach and led me to the University of Cincinnati. With the help of my research staff, I then developed an "engineering" spec for the screening test I was about to create, setting down the accuracy, sensitivity and predictive capabilities.

Once the allostatic load research was digested and our analytical engine developed, we moved into the Hamilton County Business Center incubator, which provided us with an enormous amount of business, sales, marketing and financial resources. Pat Long and HCBC helped us to refine our sales tool, presentations and investor pitches.

What inspires you?
Firstly, helping people have a healthier and happier life. Secondly, stopping the march toward chronic illness; I consider that a $2 billion, long-term threat to the United States. It is killing the country, no pun intended. Our risk tools can have a lasting and visible effect on this escalating number.

Interview by Robin Donovan

Questions with Gordon Horwitz of Allostatix LLC

Robin Gentry McGee of Functional Formularies

How did you start your business?
My most recent project, Functional Formularies, is an organic, whole foods enteral (feeding tube) formula that I developed for my father after he suffered a very sudden and very severe traumatic brain injury. I could find nothing on the market that was not full of corn syrup, sugars, MSG, synthetic vitamins and loads of chemicals.

My father’s physical healing was so profound and so rapid after we began to give him the whole-foods formula that it set me on a whole new career path. I went back to school to study whole foods nutrition and started working as a health coach and health and wellness consultant. I also developed another line of both retail and “nutraceautical” organic whole foods based on a food-as-medicine model.

How did you come up the idea for your business?
My current business is nothing that I really ever sat down and thought, “Gee, I think I would like to do this as a business,” about. The idea was first born when the product that I needed wasn’t available in the marketplace, and then reinforced by vast number of people who consistently contact me looking for this kind of enteral formula for their loved ones. This business is purely a labor of love.

What resources here did you take advantage of and how did they help?
I was accepted into Bad Girl Ventures’ second class, and was chosen as the winner, receiving the $25,000 interest-free loan, which has been a great help in launching the product lines. I also received a line of credit from Fifth Third Bank and a small loan from Sam Adams Brew the American Dream program. Most recently, I was one of four winners in the Innov8 for Health project and received a $5,000 prize, which will help in the test market trials of the enteral formula.

What inspires you?
My clients inspire me. One of my most favorites is former NFL linebacker Steve Smith. Steve was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) nine years ago. He has lost all central nervous function and has been on a feeding tube for about five years.

Steve’s wife, Chie, came to me a few months ago looking for our formula. Sadly, Steve had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes after he had been on the commercial formula for years. He was also suffering a lot of digestive issues, which we see quite frequently with those formulas. Chie started giving him our formula and within a few months time, his docs declared him free of diabetes.

Steve, and others like him, who have all the odds stacked against them, have an incredible will to live and super-human strength to keep fighting. Those are the people who inspire me daily and give me the courage to continue on this uncharted path.

What’s next for you and your company?
I have been working diligently to bring my whole-foods feeding tube formula to mass market production due to the many requests that I get from people looking for exactly the same thing I went searching for.

My goal is, first and foremost, to get the enteral formula on shelves and to the people who want and need it. Then, we plan to expand the line of functional foods as well as add more formulas to the enteral line of products.

Interview by Robin Donovan

Questions with Robin Gentry McGee of Functional Formularies

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