Leadership: Sherry Zhang
Address: 2140 N. Prospect Ave., Milwaukee
What it does: Genomic testing and dietary plans
In March, a panel of local business moguls awarded Milwaukee startup GenoPalate Inc. investment advice, mentorship, introductions to local investors and strategy development from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Lubar School of Business and Stuck LLC on entrepreneurship pitch show “Project Pitch It” on WISN 12.
GenoPalate founder and chief executive officer Sherry Zhang has been very busy since then. In June, the company moved into its first permanent office space, a dedicated office plus flexible shared space at micro co-working space Work Lofts on Milwaukee’s East Side.
In May, GenoPalate completed a $357,000 equity and debt funding round. And in August, it relaunched its website with two adjacent product offerings to drive additional recurring revenue.
GenoPalate’s main service is offering personalized nutrition recommendations to individuals via genomic sequencing. Zhang has a doctorate in molecular biology and was formerly an assistant professor at the Medical College of Wisconsin.
“I have dedicated my career to helping people nourish their body based on science,” said Zhang, who spent more than 10 years studying obesity genetics at the Medical College of Wisconsin. “We all see these generalized, one-size-fits-all healthy dieting options, but we know it won’t help people in the long-term because each of us is genetically unique.”
GenoPalate analyzes saliva samples that users submit with its test kit, and develops a personal nutrition guide with information on which foods to eat and which foods to avoid. Now, GenoPalate has added two new products: detailed personalized menus from staff nutritionists based on genomic results; and one-on-one health coaching.
Zhang has also expanded her staff to eight full-time and seven part-time employees, including chief operating officer Neal Giugno.
“What we’ve focused a bit more on recently is the idea of eating for your genes being the unique value proposition,” Giugno said.
GenoPalate provides actionable insights for those who are interested in their DNA profile, he said. And there are about 10 million people who have already had their genotype analyzed through other services.
“We have our own niche right now and with my and my team’s scientific background, we’re confident we will develop into the leader of personalized nutrition based on genomics in the industry,” Zhang said.
GenoPalate has grown to about 900 customers. Zhang hopes to soon launch another funding round to fuel its national expansion.
“We want to reach tens of thousands of users and we want to have 10 to 20 percent recurring rate, meaning people will come back to purchase the meals or purchase the coaching,” Zhang said.