Careers at 23andMe
23andMe’s mission is to help people access, understand, and benefit from the human genome.
23andMe was founded in 2006 by Linda Avey, Anne Wojcicki, and Paul Cusenza. The company was established with the goal of giving consumers the ability to order genetic tests and receive results. The name is a reference to the fact that human DNA is arranged into 23 pairs of chromosomes. The company was able to raise funds early, with an investment of $9 million in 2007 led by Google.
The service launched in the U.S. in November 2007 at a cost of $999 per test kit. The following year its coverage expanded to Canada and 49 countries in Europe. In the next few years its price changed many times – dropping to $399 in 2008, $199 in 2010 (with a mandatory subscription of $5 per month), and $99 in 2011 (with a subscription of $9 per month). At this point, its test could provide information on 750 maternal and 500 paternal lineages. During this period 23andMe was able to obtain many investments – raising $12.6 million in 2009, $22 million in 2010, and $9 million in 2011.
In 2011 the company announced the achievement of many milestones, including 100,000 people in its database, 60,000 customers who had completed at least 10 surveys, the discovery of over 60,000 pairs of relatives, and the publishing of over 100,000 community forum posts. In 2012 the company raised $57.95 million and abandoned the subscription requirement due to poor feedback among customers. 23andMe now has more than one million customers in its database, with 80% of them consenting to participate in further research. Its test kit price now stands at $199.
Benefits at 23andMe
Business model of 23andMe
23andMe has a niche market business model, with slightly different customer groups:
Consumers: The company conducts genetic tests for and provides results to individuals.
Professionals: The company provides access to its database to scientists and other researchers.
23andMe offers six primary value propositions: accessibility, convenience, customization, performance, risk reduction, and brand/status.
The company creates accessibility by enabling consumers to order personal genetic tests and receive results. It also provides researchers with access to one of the world’s largest genetic databases.
The company offers convenience by providing a simple, easy-to-do test and enabling consumers to complete it from the comfort of their own homes. They receive a saliva collection kit in the mail. Afterwards, they collect their saliva in a tube and mail it back to 23andMe’s lab in a pre-paid package. Approximately 6 – 8 weeks later, they receive a notice to see their results in an online account.
The company offers customization through the level of detail involved in testing. Most ancestry services utilize historical records such as marriage, birth, and death certificates to trace customer lineage. 23andMe analyzes DNA for this purpose, making its results more specific and accurate.
The company has demonstrated strong performance. It offers estimates of ancestry percentages down to the 0.1%, and also enables customers to analyze results at different confidence levels.
The company reduces risk through its stringent standards. It bills itself as the first and only personal genetic testing service with FDA-approved reports. Its labs are confirmed to meet the standards of the CLIA (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988), which ensures quality.
The company has established a strong brand as a result of its success. Its database includes over one million genotyped individuals around the globe. Further, it has gathered over 320 million phenotypic data points (survey responses), and collects over two million responses weekly on average. Lastly, the company has published over 200 peer-reviewed studies in prestigious scientific journals.
23andMe’s main channels are its Sales and Business Development teams. The company promotes its offering through its website, social media pages, and advertising (TV, radio, and online).
23andMe’s customer relationship is primarily of a self-service nature. Customers utilize the service while having limited interaction with employees. The company’s website features resources such as reports, videos, and answers to frequently asked questions. There is also a community element in the form of forums that users can visit to receive advice from peers.
23andMe’s business model entails designing and producing genetic test kits, completing analyses of material obtained from the kits, and analyzing and providing test results.
23andMe maintains the following key partnerships:
Medical Professionals – The company creates resources for clinicians and other medical professionals to help them understand its range of genetic reports. These include carrier status, traits, wellness, and ancestry reports. The goal is to ensure clinicians are prepared if patients discuss the reports.
Educators – The company creates resources for academic institutions to share with students to promote personal genetic testing. The resources include free sample reports, videos, photo books, webinars, and discount pricing on DNA test kits. It works with schools all the way from Kindergarten to graduate school. Its specific partners include the University of Chicago, the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, the MRC Epidemiology Unit at Cambridge University, and Stanford University.
Consumers – The company operates the Refer-a-Friend program, through which it invites consumers to send a referral website link to friends and family members. If someone submits an order using the link for a test kit within 30 days, the consumer receives a $20 Amazon gift card when the order ships.
Beyond the above programs, the company maintains the 23andMe Affiliate Program. It invites third parties to promote the company on their platform (website, mobile app, etc.), and provides a $10 commission if any test kit orders are generated through the referral.
23andMe’s main resources are its laboratories, which it uses to process test kits submitted by consumers. It also depends heavily on its staff of scientists and clinicians to analyze results and write reports. Lastly, as a startup it has relied heavily on funding from outside parties, raising $225.6 million from 16 investors as of July 2015.
23andMe has a value-driven structure, aiming to provide a premium proposition through frequent enhancements to its service and an emphasis on quality. Its biggest cost driver is likely research and development, a fixed cost, as well as variable test related costs. Other major drivers are in the areas of sales/marketing and customer support/operations.
23andMe has one revenue stream: revenues generated from the sale of its genetic test kits. The kits cost $199 plus shipping charges. The price includes access to 60+ reports (ancestry, traits, wellness, and carrier status).
info: Anne earned a B.S. in Biology from Yale University. She spent more than a decade working in healthcare investing, with an emphasis on biotechnology firms. She previously served as a Healthcare Analyst at Passport Capital and Andor Capital Management.
info: Andy earned a B.A. from Princeton University and an MBA from Harvard Business School. He previously served as Chief Financial Officer and President of Gilt Groupe, Chief Operating and Financial Officer of PlayPhone, and CFO and SVP of Business Strategy at StubHub.
info: Dean earned a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of California, Berkeley and an M.S. in Taxation from Golden Gate University. He previously served as CFO of Adaptive Biotechnologies and Genomic Health.
info: Jill earned an M.D. from Stanford University School of Medicine. She previously served as SVP of Medical Strategy at InVitae Corporation, a genetics information firm, and as SVP and Chief Medical Officer of Complete Genomics.
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