Just a quick word about a website and service I had heard about but never really looked into until I sat next to Esther Dyson at the Aspen Institute roundtable I attended last week. Esther — who’s on the company’s board, an investor and a customer — gave me and VC Arjun Gupta a demo of 23andMe, a site that brings DNA, genealogy and family relationships to the next level.
They’ve done no marketing but already have lots of customers. Their mission statement says: “23andMe’s mission is to be the world’s trusted source of personal genetic information.” The site’s Overview page points out: “We help you understand how your genetics influences more than 80 diseases, health-related conditions and traits. We also help you explore your family relationships and ancestry with the information in your DNA.”
Here is Esther’s series of Flickr photos about the company. (I’m still surprised how few startups make use of screencasts, which would serve the site quite well.) 23, of course, refers to the number of twin pairs of chromosomes in a strand of DNA.
Sounds easy as cake to participate: just swab the inside of your mouth and mail it to their lab. As more family members participate, you’ll be able to compare how much of your DNA you share with your relatives. It’s not quite within reach of the masses yet because of the understandable $1,000 price tag — after all, it costs time and money to sequence a DNA swab — but within a year or two this startup will deservedly bust out in a big way. Certainly when it becomes a bit more affordable I’ll sign up.
JD Lasica, founder of Inside Social Media, is also a fiction author and the co-founder of the cruise discovery engine Cruiseable. See his About page, contact JD or follow him on Twitter.
Leave a Reply