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Dragons miss out on PlayDNA and FitnessGenes’ success

Oxfordshire couple, Dr. Samantha Decombel and Dr. Stuart Grice, pitched for £50,000 investment for PlayDNA in the Dragon’s Den in 2014. Despite not being successful in the Den the couple went on to launch a spin-off company, FitnessGenes, the world leader for interpreting DNA, genetic traits and environmental data.

Together for 17 years, the couple had an attractive business proposition but were unsuccessful when pitching to the Dragons. Undeterred by the TV experience, the couple launched FitnessGenes, a sport-specific spin-off company of PlayDNA, established to analyse genes that impact on fat burning, endurance, speed, metabolism and aerobic capacity. The company boasts celebrity clients including TV presenter Andi Peters, and doctor, Dr Christian Jessen, of Embarrassing Bodies fame, who are known to have taken the test.

The FitnessGenes test focuses solely on the information contained within an individual’s DNA to help fine tune training programmes, performance and nutritional advice. The idea for FitnessGenes came about shortly after the Den experience in a chance meeting with co-founder, Dr. Dan Reardon, a medic and former personal trainer. Within three months FitnessGenes was formed and the impact was immediate.

FitnessGenes discovered Cherwell Innovation Centre, and the Diagnox Shared Lab, where rather than investing in their own expensive fit out, they were able to rent a bench in addition to sharing vital equipment and office space with other scientists developing their own business ideas. This enabled the company to invest in other areas, such as branding and marketing, vital for product sales and the success of the business.

“Cherwell Innovation Centre is one of the only facilities in Oxfordshire to provide a flexible agreement for start-ups interested in lab space. Co-working with other like-minded companies was also invaluable.”

Dr. Samantha Decombel – Co-founder, PlayDNA & FitnessGenes

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