This New DNA Test Will Eat 23andme’s Lunch


Screenshot 2014-11-13 08.32.48


Yes, the website totally reeks of trying to sell work-out products. Look below the surface. This new “MuscleGenes” test shows the future of genetic testing — a narrow focus on solving a problem.  See how the underlying business of DNA sequencing is changing? I’m not even an athlete and this sounds way more valuable to me than the nebulous “DNA test” from 23andme.

What MuscleGenes Does Better than Everyone Else

Their videos and pitch communicate a problem and a solution. No one else in the DNA testing community does this. It’s almost a decade since 23andme launched, and 23andme’s pitch is still nebulous, “curious-about-this-DNA-stuff”. I’ve seen “soft sell” DNA testing companies like Athleticode pop up to weak reception. Athleticode launched a very similar product to MuscleGenes about 4 years ago, but they put less work into really connecting with their audience.

Perhaps 23andme and Athleticode are hesitant because the science isn’t 100%. Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t. But what we’re seeing here is another company is happy to stand on top of a mountain and scream “Use Your DNA to Build Muscle and Torch Fat”. The world will not wait while we “put the finishing touches on the science”. If 23andme and Athleticode hesitate to control the conversation, startups like MuscleGenes will.

One other thing, just look at the names of the companies:

“23andme” – a scientific easter egg “Your 23 chromosomes can be useful…oh do you know what a chromosome is?”
“Athleticode” – “Muscles and DNA can be pretty useful. If you’re really bored maybe check us out”
“Muscle Genes” – Muscles + Genomic Science = Power

DNA Sequencing is Worthless

It’s the analysis, customization, and “taking action” that are worth tens, hundreds, and thousands of dollars. Not the DNA sequencing.

These tests show what’s happening in genetic testing. It’s not about DNA. If MuscleGenes could get this type of information using a brain scan, protein expression, X-rays, DNA methylation, or blood test, they would. The fact that it’s DNA is irrelevant.

23andme analyzes 10,000,000 base pair letters in your genome. MuscleGenes probably analyzes about 50. Base pair for base pair, MuscleGenes is about 200,000x the cost of 23andme. Hell, 23andme probably analyzes the same 40 genes as MuscleGenes — and millions more. It doesn’t matter.

I would still buy MuscleGenes over 23andme. They go deep and give me actionable information, and that’s what counts. From today on, DNA sequencing itself is worth approximately 0. Put my DNA to use, please.

Which Will Be The Most Popular DNA Test of 2015?

“Use Your DNA to Build Muscle and Torch Fat” -MuscleGenes

“Find out what your DNA says about you and your family.” -23andme’s big pitch on their homepage

With the advent of inexpensive DNA sequencing, academic laboratories throughout the world are scaling studies that are identifying connections between specific gene variations in athletes and sports injuries. -Athleticode


What do you think of all this?

P.S. 23andMe’s CEO Anne Wojcicki has some great ideas on the future of genetic testing and FDA regulation. Check her Recode interview here.

P.P.S. MuscleGenes even has a “fast talking science” video that hits you with jargon and fancy sounding shit:

Tekkie Bro Will Make Your Muscles Grow – With Science

The following two tabs change content below.
Tito Jankowski lives in San Francisco. He's a public speaker, biotech hacker, and post-hydrocarbon expert. He is the co-founder of Impossible Labs, expediting the post-hydrocarbon economy through partnerships between startups and Fortune 500 corporations. Find him on LinkedIn. Email Tito at blog@titojankowski.comPublic PGP key. PGP Fingerprint: 5A4F 4C5C E8B7 20C3 2867 9100 C56C 881F 13AE 02D7 EFF Guide to PGP Security

One thought on “This New DNA Test Will Eat 23andme’s Lunch

  1. The advantage with 23andMe is that since it gives you all the relevant code you can use it in 3rd party services now and in the future to get all kinds of info and help.

    Which include all info you get from MuscleGene. So Musclegene since limited. But as a quick fix, maybe better. If you trust their recommendations.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *