President of Pearmill, ex-Head of Product at Taplytics, ex-Head of Mobile at Frank & Oak. YC fellow.
VP & GM, Viome Life Sciences
Rodrigo Hutt's had a diverse career path across multiple industries including biopharma, entrepreneurship, e-commerce, to now health tech innovation.
He shares with the current challenges around health prevention in the U.S., Viome’s approach to education-based marketing, and how he thinks about phases of growth startups go through.
More highlights include:
Follow us and our guests:
[00:00:00] Rodrigo Hutt: So I think that one important thing. that I have learned from working in startups and scale ups is that the importance of operating in phases and what that means is that, you know, you know, you know, you have to have clarity about what the problem, what the problem is and, you know, uh, and what is the solution or the MVP of, of your product, then you have to make sure that you have product market fit.
[00:00:27] Rodrigo Hutt: Then you need to have a way, you know, to, to monetize and make sure that your unit economics makes sense for the business. Uh, and then you go to what I call the go to market fit and the go to market fit is really trying to understand what, how you're going to distribute your products and what are, what's going to be your, yeah, your go to market strategy.
[00:00:50] Rodrigo Hutt: Is it going to be B2B? Is it going to be B2B2C? Is it going to be direct to consumer? And if you're going to be direct to consumer, you know, what are going to be the main challenges? That are going to help you, you know, acquire the customers and, you know, and help you take the company from A to B.
[MUSIC FADES IN]
[00:01:10] Nima Gardideh: Welcome to another episode of the hyper growth experience. I am your host, Nima Gardideh. Today, we're going to have Rodrigo Hutt, the VP and general manager at Voice Life Sciences on the podcast. if you don't know about Voime, it's a D2C biotech company focused on personalized health systems by using and analyzing your microVoice and your gene expressions, it's, it was quite interesting to just get an understanding of what that all means.
[00:01:36] Nima Gardideh: From Rodrigo, who's been in, biopharma and just in the space for a long time, uh, with some experience as an entrepreneur and in e commerce, it was really, wonderful to hear him talk about how he's been thinking about his career. If you have been an entrepreneur before, or you're thinking about it, really good conversation to listen to, to understand how he's thought about joining companies sometimes, instead of founding them and helping them scale. it was very articulate about how he's been thinking about the. The growth of volume in itself and generally how he sort of buckets companies into different phases of growth and how the teams need to be structured and how prioritization has to be thought about in these different stages.
[00:02:22] Nima Gardideh: We start with him beginning to share what the connective tissue has been for him as he's been going through different industries and products and helping those companies grow. Okay.
[MUSIC FADES OUT]
[00:02:32] Rodrigo Hutt: You know, some things were planned, but as you know, many things in life are not planned, you know, however, however, I would, I would say that there is a connecting tissue, you know, in my career, and I believe, and I strongly believe that the driving force.
[00:02:54] Rodrigo Hutt: You know, has been health innovation and in addition to health innovation, also, you know, making sure that I work for mission driven companies who truly want to improve people's lives. And that has, has been, you know, kind of the impetus and, and definitely a key motivator in my life. Has been, has been that like what can I do, uh, in with my professional career and with my talents and my time that I have here on earth, you know, to try to improve someone's lives.
[00:03:29] Rodrigo Hutt: And I've taken the route of health innovation and trying to, to, to tackle, you know, health outcomes and, uh, you know, and broadly speaking, you know, helping people to. live a better and healthier life. Um, so, so yeah, that's, that's kind of the quick summary. And as you said, I started my career in biopharma working for big companies.
[00:03:59] Rodrigo Hutt: Then I became an, I became an entrepreneur more than 10 years ago. I started, uh, one of the first digital health companies in Latin America. Uh, then I worked in, uh, for Mercado Libre, you know, the leading e commerce company in the region, in Latin America as well, super successful company and learned a ton about, you know, how to scale companies and scale teams.
[00:04:24] Rodrigo Hutt: Uh, and then, and then when I moved to the U. S. three years ago, I decided that I wanted to be full on, uh, in health technology, in health tech, and that's one of the main reasons why I joined Voice, uh, and then finally, you know, the last piece is that, you know, I strongly believe that this is, that we are living in one of the most exciting times, you know, for humanity.
[00:04:52] Rodrigo Hutt: Thank You know, as we are moving closer to better understanding the human body and our health today, you know, the science, the technology, AI, you know, DNA testing, RNA testing, and all of that, you know, it's finally converging and, and, and it's, you know, and I feel very excited Thank To be part of the health revolution or the health of evolution, whatever you want to call it, but I strongly believe that this is a really, really an exciting time to, you know, for entrepreneurs or companies to create the new generation of health companies that will.
[00:05:37] Rodrigo Hutt: You know, prevent diseases and, you know, and cure some of the diseases that have been lingering for so long.
[00:05:45] Nima Gardideh: If we were to just sort of double click on the market or Libra portion of your experience. So what was the, can you were there? And then. You said your learning was like scaling teams and building teams.
[00:05:59] Nima Gardideh: What were some of the most important things you've sort of carried with you from that experience?
[00:06:05] Rodrigo Hutt: Yeah, so when I joined Mercado Libre, I think the company was valued at 7 billion in market cap, and I was there for just over four years, and when I left, I think the company was valued at 80 or 85 billion in market cap, so it was, it was a You know, very interesting period. Um, it was, it was, uh, it was hard work, um, but also it was very rewarding.
[00:06:36] Rodrigo Hutt: And I, and I also learned a lot, you know, uh, not only from, not only from my job, but also from learning other leaders in the company doing their work. Um, so, so yeah, you know, one of the, one of the, you know, one of the key things that I took away from Mercado Libre. It's people and culture and MercadoLibre paid a lot, you know, a lot of attention to making sure that they were bringing the right people on the bus and making sure that everyone was leaving the company's DNA.
[00:07:14] Rodrigo Hutt: So they spend a lot of time. You know, crafting the company's culture, um, and then making sure that everyone went through, you know, trainings to make sure that everybody understood what the company values were, and that you were actually putting, putting, putting those values into practice. So, you know, beyond, you know, you know, MercadoLibre, you know, it's a technology company, it's an e commerce company, but more than the technology piece.
[00:07:44] Rodrigo Hutt: I would say that the level of ambition that people had at MercadoLibre was really, you know, impressive. And also the amount of time and attention that the company placed on talent and cultural building was, I think to me, you know, um, one of the key things.
[00:08:05] Nima Gardideh: And so was that, so that sounds like there was a bunch of sort of like training and program, programming for the culture to enforce it within the organization. Uh, was it also part of the interview process somehow? Like how are the, how are they filtering for? And, and what are the sort of things that stood out?
[00:08:25] Nima Gardideh: I think culture is, uh, in my experience, very sort of specific to the company. Um, and so there's like multiple ways to get culture, right. Uh, but what were, what were the things from MarketaLibre that, um, that you may have brought into Viome or you would want to recreate?
[00:08:43] Rodrigo Hutt: yeah, yeah. And, you know, to answer your first question is like, yes, it started from the interview process, you know, from that point, you know, part of the interview process is to go through the, you know, MercadoLibre's cultural values. Um, so, you know, uh, you actually ask the, you know, interviewees, you know, a number of questions to make sure if they, if they, you know, have had experiences or leave your values already.
[00:09:18] Rodrigo Hutt: Uh, so let me give you an example. So one, one of the values was, you know, to have an entrepreneurial mindset, right? If you don't have an entrepreneurial mindset. Uh, which means, you know, it's like being an entrepreneur, it's a journey of, it's a journey of failures. So you need to try things, you need to experiment things, and if it doesn't work, it's okay, but at least you're taking the learning with you, right?
[00:09:44] Rodrigo Hutt: So that's, that's one of the things that, you know, it's part of the value, you know, were part of values when I was there. Uh, that I strongly believe and that I took with me, uh, and then the other one, the other one, it's for example, you know, uh, you know, execution with excellence or speed of execution. So that's another value.
[00:10:07] Rodrigo Hutt: So, you know, it doesn't you don't have to plan for ages and then, you know, make sure that you. You know, that you were going to have time to execute, you know, once you have a strategy or you have an idea of an MVP product or something that you're going to do, then, you know, the value is that you need to execute well and execute fast because, you know, the fast, you know, the faster, the better, because if you failed, you're going to learn faster.
[00:10:33] Rodrigo Hutt: And you're going to be able to add those learnings into the next process or next iteration of your product or strategies that you're trying to move forward. So I think that those are, you know, there were six, six values. I'm not going to go through all of them right now, but those are two of them, you know, speed of execution and having an entrepreneurial mindset, uh, are two of them.
[00:10:55] Rodrigo Hutt: And the other one, it's, uh, really collaborating and working in teams. You know, uh, you know, that's super, super, super important, like, like work. If you work in silos, you're just going to be inefficient and it's going to take you, you know, more time, it's going to take you longer. So that's another key piece that making sure that you have the right leadership, the right teams, the right mix of people within teams and the right operating system in place to make sure that you have a lean team.
[00:11:24] Rodrigo Hutt: And that you are operating fast and with the right mindset. So those are just a few examples of things that I learned at MercadoLibre. Um, that I've been able to take with me. Now to buy on. And then one final piece that, you know, it's a, it's an interesting thing that I noticed when, while I was working there, um, is that, and I believe that, you know, the founder founder and CEO of MercadoLibre, Marcos Galperin, you know, I think that he assembled, you know, one of the most impressive Leadership teams that I have ever seen and, and, and he has, you know, he not only build that team, his team, but also that, you know, the core team has been together for over 20 years.
[00:12:15] Rodrigo Hutt: So they have been together and they have learned, uh, through the ups and downs. And I think that that, you know, tells you a lot that, that, you know, the management team has been working together for a long time.
[00:12:28] Nima Gardideh: Yeah. That's a very interesting point. I think at least in Silicon Valley, that tends to not be the case. People hop around a lot and there's like sort of startups going through these. Volatile periods of growth and then, you know, massive falls. And so you end up working in a lot of companies, but I commonly have a different point of view on this as well.
[00:12:51] Nima Gardideh: I've been working with my co founders for seven years, um, and across three different companies. And similarly, I think that's, that's one of the better ways to produce work because you just fine tune the relationship over the years. Um,
[00:13:06] Rodrigo Hutt: Yeah. Yeah. It's, uh, it's not, it's not a rule, but it definitely helps, you know, I've seen, I've seen both work, but, you know, I think that one of the key ingredients for, for, for Mercadoliba, I think from my perspective, Is that they, you know, you know, the founder managed to really build a great team and Um, he's been able to preserve, you know, that leadership for,
[00:13:31] Nima Gardideh: Yeah, it's quite interesting. I have a sort of personal bias towards it because my father, uh, built something similar in his, uh, in his journey in Iran where He's now been running a company for over 30 years. And I think most of his VPs have been there from the beginning or, you know, something like average is 25 years they've been working together.
[00:13:56] Nima Gardideh: Um, and it's just such a special connection they've built together, but also they've just been able to get more done as they've gotten to figure out how to interact. Um, that's a, you know, it's, it's actually rare to see that in such a big company. Um, I think commonly these companies end up becoming sort of lifestyle businesses and Um, I'm going to, after this explore, I understand that that team a lot more now.
[00:14:19] Nima Gardideh: Um, so
[00:14:21] Rodrigo Hutt: absolutely. Yeah,
[00:14:23] Nima Gardideh: getting into Viome before we get into what the, you know, the, the problem that you're all solving over there. Can you just maybe give us a snapshot of healthcare in the U S generally speaking, but more importantly, these sort of markers that you talked about of the changes that are coming. It feels like, uh, you know, and I'm just generally an outsider in, in biotech.
[00:14:46] Nima Gardideh: Uh, but it seems like SynthBio that is going through a revolution. There are cost curves that are, uh, really hitting the mark where a lot of production is even switching to SynthBio. So there's a lot of interesting things happening. And then there is obviously evolutions on. on the genetic side, uh, what is it, what's exciting to you and why are you doing it in the U S because I know you're, you've, you've had opportunities to work outside of the U S as well.
[00:15:16] Rodrigo Hutt: yeah, sure. Um, and, uh, yeah, so let, let me start by giving you, you know, by giving you a little bit of context of what's going on in the healthcare industry in the U. S. What's wrong and where the opportunities are, uh, at least some of them. But, you know, the healthcare industry in the U. S. it's massive, you know, U.
[00:15:39] Rodrigo Hutt: S. Healthcare expenditures are over 4 trillion, 4 trillion, uh, in expense, in health related expenses, direct related expenses in the health industry, and that, that, uh, equates to 19% of the GDP of the U. S. So I'm going to say that again, you know, almost 20% of the GDP. In the us it's the, it's the, the size of the healthcare, uh, industry in the us, uh, alone.
[00:16:13] Rodrigo Hutt: But the most, you know, you know, interesting thing is that it's one of the co you know, it's a country that spends the most in healthcare. And yet life expectancy, uh, has not kept up. So let me tell you what's been going on. So, uh, for the last, you know, 20 years or so, life expectancy has been improving, you know, one year, a couple of years, every, you know, every X number of years.
[00:16:41] Rodrigo Hutt: And, you know, the, the, you know, the life expectancy in the U. S. A couple of years ago reached a, you know, we were at 78 years old and 78 years. And now for the last couple of years, life expectancy has started to decline. Right now we are at, you know, uh, life expectancy. It's at 76, 76 0.5. So it's definitely not improving.
[00:17:06] Rodrigo Hutt: And, and, and, and also, and, and I think that there are three things that are affecting, you know, the, you know, the, the health industry. The first one is that it's, it's super expensive. I don't know how, I don't know how, how often you get sick or if you have relatives that need to go to hospitals or see physicians or doctors and so on.
[00:17:29] Rodrigo Hutt: But, you know, healthcare in the U S it's very, very expensive. The second one, the second one, it's health outcomes and generally speaking, health out, you know, you, you will see, you will encounter. Poor health outcomes are not optimal and that, and I am generalizing. I'm not saying that everything it's bad.
[00:17:51] Rodrigo Hutt: I'm just saying that generally speaking for the amount of money that people are spending in health, you know, people are not really seeing the value for the money and then finally, but not least, I think that there, you know, the customer experience. The customer experience in the health industry, it's not great.
[00:18:12] Rodrigo Hutt: Uh, so, you know, when you go to the doctor, you know, and then you get, you get your bill. You never know how much you're getting billed until, until much later. Uh, you know, it's not, it's not clear. It's not transparent. So I think that generally speaking, there is lack of trust, uh, there is lack of trust, trust in the, in the, in the health industry.
[00:18:37] Rodrigo Hutt: Uh, there is lack of communication and. And typically it's hard to navigate. So I think that, you know, the problems that we are seeing in the health industry are also some of the biggest opportunities that we're going to, uh, see that many of the entrepreneurs and new companies are going to start tackling, you know, to improve all of the things that I've mentioned before.
[00:19:02] Rodrigo Hutt: Then there's a, there's, there is another thing that is super important, and this relates also to what we're doing at Vion. But today, you know, chronic diseases, chronic diseases affect over 60% of the U. S. population. So at least, at least 60% of the people in the U. S. have at least, you know, one or more.
[00:19:26] Rodrigo Hutt: chronic disease and 85% of healthcare costs go to treating and managing chronic, chronic diseases. So the vast majority of healthcare expenses in the US go to treating and managing health, uh, chronic diseases. The interesting thing about chronic diseases is that, you know, most of them. Not all of them, but most of them are lifestyle related. So that's something that you can do. It means that you can do something about it. You can prevent many of these, of these expenses and, and, and diseases, you know, down the road. Uh, so I think that, you know, the U. S. is spending too much money and most companies or institutions or hospitals are, are, Spending too much time on focusing on certain areas of, of health care and technology, but there are many other things that, you know, that, you know, you know, the science and the technology that I mentioned earlier are now getting to a point where we're going to be able to see.
[00:20:42] Rodrigo Hutt: You know, uh, you know, new technologies, new breakthroughs, and we're going to be able to see better health outcomes on and hopefully, uh, less expensive for, for, for people going forward,
[00:20:56] Nima Gardideh: And is the reason sort of this exists, is it, first of all, is this very unique to the U. S. where three out of five people have chronic issues and is the reasoning for sort of why a lot of the cost goes towards it is that the general approach of, at least my understanding is of insurance companies, is that they're willing to pay for essentially, um, symptom resolution as opposed to Prevention of the symptoms to begin with.
[00:21:26] Nima Gardideh: Like there seems to be like an economical and misalignment there as well. Right.
[00:21:30] Rodrigo Hutt: so, so the first question is, yes, I think, I think the U. S. It's, you know, it's the U. S. It's worse than other comparable developed nations. So if you compare the life expectancy, uh, you know, of the U. S. versus Switzerland or Norway or Japan or Australia, you know, the, the U. S. it's, you know, many years behind also, you know, pregnancy related deaths.
[00:22:02] Rodrigo Hutt: And the number of chronic diseases, you know, per capita, yes, the U. S. It's, you know, slightly worse than other developed countries. And that has to do that has to do with nutrition. You know, it has to do with nutrition. It has to do with lifestyle. It has to do with the environment. It has to do with many different things.
[00:22:21] Rodrigo Hutt: You know, at Viome, we focused on On, you know, on understanding your, your microVoice and then, you know, we, we are, you know, helping people by, you know, actually the mission of Voice is to empower people. Live healthier lives through personalized nutrition, and I'll, and I'll, I'll get more into the details of how, how we do it, you know, at Voice, but I think that, you know, that nutrition, your diet, you know, uh, stress lifestyle, and, you know, all of these factors in the U S, uh, are a little bit more learning, you know, than other countries, I guess.
[00:23:06] Rodrigo Hutt: Not to say that other countries are immune to, to this product. I'm just saying that relatively speaking that you, the U. S. has, has a bigger problem. And answering your second question is that, you know, I moved to the U. S. three years ago because I, I, I, I was very excited that in the U. S. you, you know, you can find, uh, a lot of the innovation.
[00:23:32] Rodrigo Hutt: In terms of the science and the technology and AI, most of those technologies are being developed in the U. S., not only in the U. S., but you know, but also, you know, uh, you know, I would say at least 50 or 60% of the companies that are developing these new technologies are in the U. S. Um, you know, I'm originally from Mexico City.
[00:23:52] Rodrigo Hutt: I've spent most of my life in, in Latin America and Europe and now in the U. S. Now I want to spend most of my time. You know, focusing in the U S
[00:24:01] Nima Gardideh: Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. And I think there is, there's definitely like an incentive here for healthcare companies, because there's really no upper limit on how much, uh, value they can create in the space. Um, so can you give us maybe an intro to Viome? What is the sort of core insights on the technology that you guys are building on top of, and, you know, would you consider yourself a DTC healthcare company?
[00:24:25] Nima Gardideh: Uh, and sort of walk us through the current sort of growth trajectory and how it's been working thus far.
[00:24:31] Rodrigo Hutt: sure. And sure. Uh, so Viome, it's a health tech company and also a biotech company. Uh, and we are primarily a direct to consumer company and we are also, you know, developing a B2B, uh, business. Uh, because we are developing, uh, you know, a new diagnostic products, uh, sorry, my phone went off. Um, uh, we're also developing, you know, cancer diagnostic, uh, diagnostics that are going to be.
[00:25:11] Rodrigo Hutt: You know, uh, sold a B to B, uh, through patients and, uh, hopefully getting FDA approvals and, you know, uh, insurance reimbursement and so on. But the main, the, the, the core business, uh, uh, at Viome is a direct to consumer business, and that's the business that I, that I run, that I run. And I spend. You know, uh, most of my time on, um, so that's a little bit about the company, you know, as I said, you know, the company started as a God, as a, as a God microVoice testing company, and it has evolved.
[00:25:48] Rodrigo Hutt: You know, to become a personalized health company, um, basically, you know, the core principle of Viome and Viome's approach, it's what we call biochemical individuality. So there is not such thing as an average person. And we are all genetically and biologically unique. So when the founder and CEO of Viome, uh, Naveen Jain, who is a very successful serial entrepreneur, he started the company seven years ago and he, you know, uh, he came up with two key insights for, you know, launching Viome.
[00:26:34] Rodrigo Hutt: The first one is genes. And the difference between DNA and RNA and the second insight is the role of the microVoice. So let me tell you, let me tell you a little bit about those two insights. The first one is, you know, genes, as you know, we have, you know, we have genes in our bodies, uh, and you, you, you probably have heard of DNA and RNA.
[00:26:59] Rodrigo Hutt: And the first thing to know is that DNA is not necessarily your destiny. So you get your DNA from your mom and dad, right? And, and, and, and, you know, and, and, and on the other, and on the other hand, most of chronic diseases. Turns out that are not associated with DNA. So DNA does not change with disease. So, for instance, a knock on wood, but let's say that if tomorrow.
[00:27:35] Rodrigo Hutt: I develop a chronic disease like heart disease. My DNA doesn't change. If I develop Parkinson's, my DNA doesn't change. If I develop diabetes, my DNA doesn't change. So, something was missing where so many companies and health institutions were focusing on DNA. As the source of truth for understanding chronic disease, something was missing. So it turns out that DNA is not necessarily your destiny, but RNA can be your destiny.
[00:28:12] Rodrigo Hutt: What does that mean is that RNA measures your gene expression. So the chief science officer at Viome developed a technology called metatranscriptomic analysis. Which focusing, focuses on RNA analysis and, and, and, and gene expression.
[00:28:33] Rodrigo Hutt: So instead of just understanding your genes or your DNA, we are understanding what your genes are expressing, the biochemical reaction of your genes. So when you eat certain foods, your, your microbial genes and your human genes interact with those foods, and they create, they create a biochemical reaction.
[00:28:58] Rodrigo Hutt: That's what I mean by gene expression.
[00:29:00] Nima Gardideh: Yeah.
[00:29:01] Rodrigo Hutt: The second, the second, the second insight is the microVoice. And the microVoice, just very high level, not to be very... Technical here is that in your body, you know, and this is super, this is very interesting. And I don't know if you know this, but, and I didn't know this before I joined Voice, but turns out that we are less than 10% human. And I don't know what, you know, when I heard that for the first time, it's like, what, what do you mean that I, we are less than 10% human. It means that, you know, we have 90%, 90% or 95% of our genes. Are microbial genes and that's a microVoice is the ecosystem of microbes that live within our bodies. So those are bacteria, bacteria, viruses, fungi, all of those, and then less than 10% are the genes that come from our mom and dad.
[00:29:56] Rodrigo Hutt: So why is that? Why is this important? It's because the foods that we eat fits our microVoice. If our microVoice is out of balance, then your immune system is out of balance. And that creates chronic disease when you have chronic inflammation in your body that creates chronic disease. And that's what Viome does.
[00:30:18] Rodrigo Hutt: Viome, Viome analyzes your microVoice and analyzes your gene expression. And based on your results, then we give you a, a, and by the way, let me take a step back. So you go to Viome. com, you buy a, you buy a test, you buy a home test. You get it, you get it at home, and then you collect, uh, you collect stool, blood and saliva samples,
[00:30:46] Nima Gardideh: Mhm.
[00:30:46] Rodrigo Hutt: put it in a box, you send it back to our lab, we have our own lab, then we analyze it, we do the gene expression analysis, you know, we digitize the human samples, we send it to the cloud.
[00:31:00] Rodrigo Hutt: And then we apply our own AI algorithms to analyze your, your, your microVoice pathways and, and, uh, and also your glycemic responses. And then based on that, then we, we send you, uh, your results in the biomap.
[00:31:20] Nima Gardideh: Mhm.
[00:31:21] Rodrigo Hutt: then in the biomap, you're going to be able to see three things. Your health scores, which tell you, you know, how your body is right now. Number two, you will get food recommendations. We tell you precisely. What are the foods that you should eat more? And we call them your super foods. What are the foods that you should minimize and what are the foods that you should avoid at all costs? And we tell you why.
[00:31:47] Nima Gardideh: Mhm.
[00:31:48] Rodrigo Hutt: Finally, we also give you supplement recommendations and probiotics and prebiotic recommendations.
[00:31:55] Rodrigo Hutt: Why? Because, you know, it's impossible to get all the nutrients that your body needs only with food, only from food. So we also got into, into, into personalized supplements. So right now, based on your unique biology, you know, we create a custom made formula just for you. And we send you a box of personalized supplements and personalized probiotics once a month to your home, to your house.
[00:32:25] Rodrigo Hutt: And then that way you can continue with a personalized health plan and you can retest every four to six months because your microVoice is dynamic and it changes. So you know, in conclusion, Viome has become your health partner and your personalized nutrition coach in, you know, in, in just a few.
[00:32:49] Nima Gardideh: And I love about that is that this is the exact opposite of what I was talking about earlier, where you're coming in way earlier. If you're trying to fully prevent These diseases that come from inflation, not inflation, sorry, if inflammation, and you're trying to sort of beat early in the cycle and sort of educate consumers on how to eat well.
[00:33:10] Nima Gardideh: Uh, funny enough, I've done some of this personally and. It's fundamentally changed my life. And, um, I feel like the most healthy I have because I had microVoice issues. And, um, I do really believe that this is the future of healthcare. Um, and so, you know, you just had 20 minutes with me to explain all this to me.
[00:33:29] Nima Gardideh: So what is the sort of marketing challenge for a company like volume describing all of this to consumers? How are you thinking about, uh, there is trust involved here. There is also, I assume a price point. That's not as, um. Easy for people to get into immediately. So walk us through how you're thinking about these marketing growth problems.
[00:33:49] Rodrigo Hutt: Yeah. So, so to me, you know, you know, I always start from a marketing perspective. I start with. You know, you know, who, who the target audience is, you know, and what are the use cases. And, you know, from my perspective, you know, we've been focusing on three main use cases or three main customer segments. And, and there are more, but we, you know, I've been focusing on those three primarily.
[00:34:18] Rodrigo Hutt: The first one is. You know, and you, you were talking about prevention and you find you all, you know, you already like yourself, you, there are people out there. I called, you know, health conscious individuals who are into prevention. They are interested in eating the best possible foods, organic, they exercise, you know, and they just want to, you know, prevent diseases.
[00:34:49] Rodrigo Hutt: They want to feel their best and they want to maximize. Their energy and longevity. So that's, that's one, one segment. The second segment is what I, you know, you know, it's the, the, the biohackers, right? So there, you know, there is a, you know, there's a lot of people out there that are trying to understand as much as possible, uh, with the new wearable technologies with new, you know, home testing and many other tools that exist nowadays.
[00:35:20] Rodrigo Hutt: To understand what's going on in their bodies so that they can hack their own organisms. So these, these, uh, these people, this segment, they are very interested in data. Uh, so they come to VION because they really want to understand the data and what's, you know, under the hood. And then, and then finally, you know, the third segment, in my view, it's...
[00:35:43] Rodrigo Hutt: People that are trying to solve a pain point. Uh, in this case, it's a symptom or something that has been bothering them, you know, for a while and they are looking for an alternative solution. Right. So someone may have, you know, uh, digestive disorders. Some people might have a chronic disease or whatever, and they are, you know, trying to look for an alternative approach and they come to Viome because they are open to trying a new solution.
[00:36:15] Rodrigo Hutt: So it starts, it starts with really understanding. your target audience. Um, and then, you know, the second thing is, you know, to, you know, to buy on one of the key philosophies and the key things that we do. It's education. So I, I like the term education based marketing because everything that we do is not just trying to sell you stuff.
[00:36:42] Rodrigo Hutt: You know, we are, we spend quite a lot of time to educate, you know, uh, prospects and customers about the value that buy on brings to the table. So I, when I think about, uh, you know, our marketing, I think about. Uh, you know, uh, our growth strategy and our growth model, and I think of a growth loop. I don't think funnels pre, uh, precisely And that, you know, it start with customer acquisition, you know, so people come and buy maybe a, a home test kit, and then eventually, you know, uh, we do upselling. Because some people might want to choose to buy the personalized supplements or probiotics. And then the third piece, it's retention and engagement. So, across, you know, if you go through the entire growth loop, You know, at every stage of the process, there is a lot of education, there is a lot of education and, and also, as you know, you know, to sell science and technology, we, you know, uh, you know, it's not necessarily easy because, you know, there is a lot of terminology and jargon and scientific terms that, you know, that, you know, the average person is familiar with.
[00:38:02] Rodrigo Hutt: Who is not a doctor or a scientist, we will struggle to understand those terms. So we try to break that down in plain English, but always support it with scientific evidence,
[00:38:15] Nima Gardideh: Yeah, and I think that's an interesting challenge. I do like the, you know, we, we similarly speak about how every ad should be giving some form of value to people that are watching it, um, or seeing it and, and. Education based marketing is like a good way to put that in a phrase, you know, you're talking about these growth loops, which is, I think generally like, um, um, I like, I like thinking about growing companies and formulas.
[00:38:44] Nima Gardideh: Like if these four or five things cohesively work together, this, this sort of machine starts growing. How do you structure the team and given goals to the different sections of the company when it comes to these things is one org owning the growth as it's spread across, you know, these three stages that you talked about, have you done a sort of organizational design around this?
[00:39:06] Rodrigo Hutt: Yeah. Yeah. So we have, we, you know, we have, uh, you know, a growth team, generally speaking, even though that we don't call it like that, you know, I, I think, I think of the entire, you know, business and team that I, that I lead, you know, as a, as a growth function and that, you know, we have, we have more marketing experts, we have product experts, we have engineering experts, we have content experts, we have, uh, Design experts and, you know, we work together, you know, in each of these different steps of the growth loop or the growth journey, you know, to try to, you know, focus on the on the right growth levers, depending on where we are. You know, I think that one important thing is that, you know, we, we need to have a, you know, we need to answer the, the what and why, you know, if that has to be super clear in a company, like what are we trying to achieve and why, and, and I've already explained that to you about, about volume, which is super clear.
[00:40:08] Rodrigo Hutt: You know, we are in the, in the business of empowering people to live healthier lives through personalized health and personalized nutrition. So with that goal in mind, then we go to the how and the how, you know, it's, you know, what is the kind of, you know, the operating system that we have in place. And as you were saying, it started with, you know, the, you know, it started with the organizational structure, but also with strategy. So I think that one important thing. that I have learned from working in startups and scale ups is that the importance of operating in phases and what that means is that, you know, you know, you know, you have to have clarity about what the problem, what the problem is and, you know, uh, and what is the solution or the MVP of, of your product, then you have to make sure that you have product market fit.
[00:41:03] Rodrigo Hutt: Then you need to have a way, you know, to, to monetize and make sure that your unit economics makes sense for the business. Uh, and then you go to what I call the go to market fit and the go to market fit is really trying to understand what, how you're going to distribute your products and what are, what's going to be your, yeah, your go to market strategy.
[00:41:26] Rodrigo Hutt: Is it going to be B2B? Is it going to be B2B2C? Is it going to be direct to consumer? And if you're going to be direct to consumer, you know, what are going to be the main challenges? That are going to help you, you know, acquire the customers and, you know, and help you take the company from A to B, right? So, and for us, you know, a key thing has been, you know, a, you know, a, to have a growth mindset.
[00:41:54] Rodrigo Hutt: And as, as, as I've mentioned before. You know, in, in, in this setting, you know, you have to be aware that entrepreneurship is going to be a journey of failures and the same goes with, you know, when you're trying to fight, to find go to market fit, you also need to have that in mind and, and then the second piece and B is that you really, you know, what we tend to do is we need to have a testing roadmap.
[00:42:21] Rodrigo Hutt: And make sure that we, uh, think carefully about what are going to be the channels or the initiatives that we want to test and experiment with, uh, so that we can start then tracking and see which are going to be the strategies, tactics, channels that are going to be driving our Thank you. Revenue growth or, you know, or the, you know, at customer acquisition costs or whatever you're trying to do.
[00:42:51] Rodrigo Hutt: So at each stage of, of the process acquisition, upselling and retention, we have very specific OPRs, objective and key results. That, that we clearly define each quarter and that we track, you know, every week and every month to make sure that we're making progress.
[00:43:09] Nima Gardideh: yeah, that's pretty clear. And so are the teams then running their own experimentation sort of backlog for based on the OKRs that are sort of assigned in those areas. Um, so there isn't sort of one central experiment backlog that you're running. It's more like you're sort of managing the overall process of it.
[00:43:26] Nima Gardideh: And then the teams are following this sort of experimentation approach to figure out what initiatives are going to get you
[00:43:32] Nima Gardideh: to the
[00:43:33] Rodrigo Hutt: I mean, I mean, I need depends because we have, we have certain projects that are cross functional and we have, we have OKRs and then there are, you know, functional, you know, functional specific experiments. So, for example, the performance marketing team. We'll have their own testing roadmap based on the OKRs that they are after for that particular quarter,
[00:43:54] Nima Gardideh: Yeah. Yeah. That's, that's quite, yeah, I've seen that a lot. And I think we have seen a lot of companies run these things. It's, it's interesting to see folks, um, try to prioritize in different ways. So I'm curious as maybe a last question. You know, you said it's important to think in phases and I assume the sort of change in phases is kind of the priority function.
[00:44:17] Nima Gardideh: Like how are you choosing what to focus on based on the phase that you're falling into?
[00:44:24] Nima Gardideh: What is your sort of framework on thinking about prioritization there? Is it maybe even this phase that you're at now, which is kind of finding and finding fit and distribution and you go to market, how are you judging these, these initiatives? Um, and what is the sort of directive that everyone's. Using to make decisions.
[00:44:44] Rodrigo Hutt: I think that focus is super, super important and I love this quote that I'm sure that, you know. Like the main thing is to get, is to keep the main thing, the main thing, but that's really important because if you're trying to do so many things at the same time, you know, it's very difficult to get, you know, you know, uh, distracted and, you know, teams, you know, going in so many different directions.
[00:45:09] Rodrigo Hutt: So I think that's. That's, uh, that's something that it's very important. Um, one thing that I, you know, that I try to do and spend quite a lot of time is to make sure that we are prioritizing, uh, as, as much as possible. And, uh. Uh, you know, and, and also making sure that everyone is working with very specific OKRs.
[00:45:35] Rodrigo Hutt: Uh, so I'm not saying that OKRs are, you know, the panacea, but I personally think that it helps a lot, you know, to keep people focused on the things that we wanna do. And then finally, in terms of how we prioritize, you know, you know, there, there are many different, uh, frameworks to prioritize, but I, you know, I normally.
[00:45:56] Rodrigo Hutt: You say a type of a scoring model that helps me think about what is the impact of this strategy or initiative or tactic, you know, what is the potential impact if, if we do this and it turns out that it's what is the potential impact number two is like, what is the cost, you know? And the cost is sometimes you need to spend in paid media.
[00:46:20] Rodrigo Hutt: You need to spend in. You know, in, you know, testing and experimenting in Tiktok. So you need to spend money on not just paying Tiktok, but also in creating content, and then finally it's the feasibility or the level of effort for the team to execute on something. So if you find something that it's. You know, high potential impact, low cost and low level of effort, then, you know, it's a no brainer that that's something that you need to prioritize and go get on with it.
[00:46:49] Rodrigo Hutt: So that's something that we typically do. And then, you know, if you're operating in a, in a, in, in a, in a startup or in the scale of things move so fast, so fast and, you know, and priorities tend to change very often. And so, so you, I think that you really, you really need to. You know, ask yourself constantly, Hey, let's go back to our, you know, core mission, what we're trying to do and why to make sure that you're focusing on your true North star metric, because it's very easy to get, you know, to get pulled in so many different directions.
[00:47:29] Rodrigo Hutt: So one of the key learnings that I've, that I've had. Uh, in my career, and this might, this might be a little bit simplistic in a way, but it's like the importance of the importance of focus, uh, it's super important and be relentless at prioritizing what you're doing. And then once you focus on, on things, try experiment measure, and then, and then, you know, if you, you know, thinking like an investor, you know, you really need to make your bets.
[00:48:01] Rodrigo Hutt: You need to start tracking what's working, what's not. And then once you find a channel or an initiative that is working, you can double down on that one and you can kill the other, the other ones that are not necessarily working, but also give yourself sufficient time. To really test and experiment and also a super important to do, you know, postmortems with your team.
[00:48:25] Rodrigo Hutt: You know, sometimes people are so rushed that you don't take the time to stop, analyze, look back, reflect. And ask the question, what am I learning from, from this experience? So, um, so that's, that's one of the, the, the things that we are doing right now as well.
[00:48:48] Nima Gardideh: Yeah. I mean that, that overall process makes so much sense and it's very clear. You've been around the block and have done a lot of operations. So it shows the level of sort of deep thought you've, you've put behind these processes. And I think we use the ice model as well, this sort of impact cost effort.
[00:49:08] Nima Gardideh: And, you know, if we had more time, I'd want to get into predictions and how good we are at these things. And I think that in itself is a whole one hour discussion, but. Rodrigo, thank you so much for coming on and spending the time with me. It was a pleasure speaking to you and, uh, we'll be in touch.
[00:49:23] Rodrigo Hutt: Oh, thank you, Nima. It's a great being here. Thank you for having me. Uh, and I look forward to, you know, connecting again with you. All right.
[MUSIC FADES IN]
[00:49:35] Nima Gardideh: And that's a wrap. Thank you so much for being a listener of the hypergrowth experience. we've been working on a lot of different channels for growing our company at Paramount and recently it's decided to pause working on the hypergrowth experience. quite frankly, it's been more fun for me than anything else.
[00:49:55] Nima Gardideh: Having these conversations with these folks and learning from them. And understanding how everyone in this space thinks about growing companies. we've just been more successful at these other channels we've been working on throwing events and, in the city hosting webinars and working with some partners to, to grow our company.
[00:50:11] Nima Gardideh: And, uh, we're just doubling down on those. but at some point, I think this labor of love will come back because I'm interested in it. And I want to have, some even deeper conversations with some of these folks, uh, about how they think about growing companies and. really taking companies through exponential growth.
[00:50:30] Nima Gardideh: It's just the topic that I'm personally interested in. and it happens to not be as useful for growing Pearmill, our company. And so we're going to put a pause on that, but thank you for being a listener. And if you want me to continue these, maybe on a personal basis, please just feel free to email me at Nima at Pearmill.
[00:50:48] Nima Gardideh: com and I'll be around to answer any questions and, potentially think about a different series that's. We're focused on the founder side of this instead of the marketer side. but thank you so much for, for being here. Have a good one.
[MUSIC FADES OUT]