Episode 154 – Julia Cheek
What is up everyone? It is me, Drew Manning. Your host to the Fit2Fat2Fit Experience Podcast. I want to say thank you, first of all, for you guys tuning in to the Podcast each and every week. I hope that you guys love the Podcast. I hope that you guys find value out of all the episodes. I really appreciate all the support throughout all the years as well. Most of you know me as the Fit2Fat2Fit guy. The trainer that gained 75 pounds on purpose and then lost it again in the course of 6 months of gaining weight and then 6 months of losing weight. I wrote a book, which became a New York Times best seller, called Fit2Fat2Fit, which then became a TV show. Now, here we are today. I have had the Podcast for two and a half years now, interviewing all kinds of people. Experts in health, fitness and nutrition, doctors, chiropractors, celebrities, all kinds of people that have awesome stories. Today I want to talk to you guys about my friend, Julia Cheek. She is the CEO of EverlyWell. EverlyWell was recently on Shark Tank. They were featured on Shark Tank for their at home medical testing that you can do. So you can do testing instead of having to go into a lab, you can do their testing at home. They send you the kit. It is usually saliva, urine or blood sampling. You just prick your finger, and you just put little drops on this little piece of paper. You send it in. You have prepaid packaging. You send it off to the lab and they email you your results. You log in and you get your results in a very easy to understand manner. It’s super simple to follow and then this way it is so much more convenient to get your lab tests. So anyways, I talk to Julia Cheeks. She is the founder of EverlyWell. We talk about her story. How she created it. How she got on Shark Tank and where they are at today. We also talk about what kind of tests they offer at home. So, we are going to get into all of that. Let’s go talk to Julia.
Drew: Alright, Julia Cheek, how are you doing? Welcome to the show.
Julia: I am doing great. Thanks for having me. I am excited to be here.
Drew: Yes, likewise. I am very excited to have you on. It’s been awhile since we have connected, right? *laughing*
Julia: Yeah. A little while. I’ve been a big fan since early days.
Drew: Yeah! So, I wanted to catch people up to speed that may not know our relationship. Back in the day when you guys kind of first started, we had got connected through my brother, who lives out there and worked with you guys early on in your early phase. It’s so cool to see how you guys have evolved and what you have done with EverlyWell. We will get into Shark Tank in a little bit. But first, let’s get to know you. Where did this idea come from? Tell us about your background that led you down this path to where EverlyWell is today.
Julia: Absolutely. As you know, I am not a health care expert and I didn’t come from a health care background. That actually is something I think has given me a bit of an idealistic advantage into starting a company that probably most people in health care would have shied away from, because it is really hard. I was in management consulting and had a really traditional business career for a long time. I had gone to business school. I had a great corporate development job with a public company. I ended up in this position where I was feeling really terrible. I had gone to a ton of doctors. I had corporate insurance that was a high deductible plan. All of these doctors, they went through this Odyssey where they all ran all these different lab tests. I spent this six month period of just feeling awful and not having a clear diagnosis and not having really clear symptoms to try to work with typical physicians. At the end of all of that, I really had no additional information and yet I started receiving all these lab bills. I just thought, I have zero value out of this process. I don’t even have my lab results to take to another doctor and have in my file and I am now getting hit with all of these lab bills that my insurance didn’t cover. It ended up costing me …. gosh, like over $2000. I just sat back and I thought, if ever there was a time to build a consumer company around health care and provide a much needed innovation on a really dated and archaic industry that everybody needs to use, it’s this. I actually took some steps and quit my corporate job pretty quickly to think about how to build a company that made lab testing accessible, affordable and actually useful for people. And really, for mass market, not just for quantified servers, but for anyone in the country who wants to have access to a cholesterol test or another type of test that they need to get on a regular basis.
Drew: Yeah. That is, first of all, an amazing story. I think it’s really powerful as well. Did you grow up with an entrepreneurial mindset? That is basically in a nutshell, what an entrepreneur is. They see this demand and they want to fix something. Then, boom, they quit their day job and they go create this company and now it’s like massively successful. Where does that mentality come from?
Julia: It’s funny when I retell it because it sounds somewhat stereotypical, right?
Drew: Yeah, exactly! *laughing*
Julia: I wasn’t the entrepreneur like at age five starting a lemonade stand! *laughing* It wasn’t like, ‘Oh I was always starting these businesses!’ That’s really not me. But I did always have activities that I think were very independent and off the beaten path. I was competing in horses when the rest of my friends were cheerleading and it was often very independent. I’m an only child. I made choices that I felt were the right decisions for me no matter what anyone else thought. I think when I was in business school, I was surrounded by a number of impressive people who were also entrepreneurs. I was able to sort of understand that you can actually make a career out of being an entrepreneur. It was at that point, which was actually five years before I started EverlyWell, but it was at that point that I knew I wanted to start a company. But it took me five years to find this idea that was like, businesses are not built overnight as you well know, this is a long term commitment. It is a slug and it has to be something that I felt was fundamentally transformational for American healthcare for me to really want to quit my job and to invest all of my time and effort into this idea. When I have this personal experience and sort of looked at the market, I felt like this was my chance. So, I took a leap.
Drew: Gotcha. Let’s talk about that transition really quick. A lot of people, me included, when I switched over to Fit2Fat2Fit from my day job in the medical field, a lot of people are afraid to make that jump. What was it that gave you the courage? Did you have already like a financial …. you were financially sound at the time? You were like, ‘Ok I can take this much risk. I have six months to figure it out.’ What was it that gave you the courage to actually pull the trigger on that? I think that’s what stops a lot of people. It’s like, ‘Ah, I’ve got this salary coming in. I’m pretty good. I don’t need to take any more risks.’ *laughing*
Julia: Yeah, it’s a really good point, because I was not in a really stable place to make this decision. I had gotten married a year before, in 2014. When I got married, my husband wanted to start a company and I had the stable corporate job, so I said fine. Quit your job, start a company. He had no salary. So we had this plan all worked out and a year into our plan, I came to him and said I want to also quit my job. So, it was somewhat or something that some people would view as pretty irresponsible. We had bought a house 12 months before. We sold our house and moved into a two bedroom apartment. We made a lot of moves that were just what we had to do in order for me to be able to pursue this dream, given that he had previously also quit his job. It was maybe not the ideal time, but the fundamental thing for me, what I mentally couldn’t get over, was I was 30 years old. I was working in a great job, but I thought if I didn’t try this, I would regret it the rest of my life. I put it in the context of what is the worst that could happen. The worst that can happen is that it fails and I have to go back and get another job. I was never worried that I would not be able to go back and get another job. I was worried that if this is what I am going to do for the next 20 years in corporate America, what am I going to have missed out on? So, I chose to sort of put all of those fears aside. Now, we also made responsible financial decisions in the context of the situation we were in. We didn’t just continue sort of acting like we were living on two salaries, right? You have to balance it. It was a lot harder, just to be honest, your first year of marriage and having two people quit their jobs to start companies. We pretended to be like cool and we didn’t need money. That probably was not the most responsible choice, but we got through it. We are in a really good place now where he’s got his business and I am obviously still in the early stages. It’s just a little give and take. You have to make it work and prioritize different needs at different points in your life.
Drew: Ok. I love that. Before we get into EverlyWell, did you ever find out what was wrong with you? What was your diagnosis?
Julia: Yes. So, after a GI doctor, a Rheumatologist, a Neurologist, a back and neck doctor, a urologist, I called everyone. I got all of my lab results. I had to do extensive follow ups to do that. I took them all to a functional medicine doctor and to see an accupuncture doctor. I found out I was super deficient in B12, magnesium, Vitamin D, B6, Iron and then last but not least, my cortisol had completely run haywire and I had adrenal gland fatigue. It was really a set of issues that were complicated for traditional medicine to diagnose. But if I had had that information, it would have helped. I went on kind of a 3 and 6 month plan to get all my levels back in the right place. It really can affect your health substantially, but it’s not that difficult or expensive to fix, once you have a plan.
Drew: Gotcha. It’s actually very common, those things you are deficient in. A lot of people, a lot of Americans are deficient in those things. Interesting. Let’s talk about EverlyWell. What was the birth of EverlyWell? Where did that name come from? Let’s talk about your early days. You said you didn’t really have any experience in this field. How did you make it work?
Julia: I came up with the name EverlyWell because I wanted something that represented a lifestyle and wellness brand, but that also had medical credibility. We have always been consumer first. Everything we do is about delivering an exceptional experience, which is not usually the case in health care. We didn’t want something that was just like, ‘Test From Home’, right? Or something that was non-descriptive that we couldn’t build a brand around. So that’s where EverlyWell was born. And just to be really practical about it, as you know online marketing matters if you can achieve FDL rankings. It matters how differentiated your URL is and it was something that was differentiated enough where I felt like we could build a really credible marketing machine. I think in those early days, look, I had been in a corporate environment and management consulting at a senior level position at a public company. I had always been driving towards …. I had a team reporting to me. I had a boss. In those very early days, I mean you start on day one. Nothing happens unless you do it. It was a very interesting realization for me that everything was on my shoulders and I had no healthcare experience. I just sort of centered myself and said, ‘Ok, what is the next thing I have to do for a door to open. And if that door opens I can walk through it, but I can’t get anything else done if I don’t make that happen.’ For me in those first early months, it was finding a medical director and finding a little bit of money to hire that medical director and then getting lab contracts in place. Let me just tell you, when I called up labs and said, ‘Hey I am building this company. I have no healthcare experience and I want to sell lab testing to consumers so that they can get value out of it at lower prices.’ No lab would talk to me. But as soon as I was able to hire that medical director, every lab would talk to him. It’s just about sort of sequencing things in a way to say, what is the one essential thing that I need to be able to sell in order to get to the next step. That really helps simplify it. Because if you think too far down the line, or too big, it gets overwhelming. It’s too overwhelming to think about the next step.
Drew: There are so many names of past entrepreneurs in history …. because people think they need to know how to do this in order to be successful. The knowing the how part isn’t the problem for people, you’ll figure that part out. You look at Andrew Carnegie or Elon Musk, these people that sometimes have no idea what the industry consists of, but then they figure out a way to make it super successful. So, you are a great example of that. I love that. It’s such a great story to hear to give them that inspiration or courage. If they want to do something, they think well I have to know exactly how to do it before I do it and that’s not the case. If you have your vision and you know your why and your passionate about it, the how is going to figure itself out. I love hearing that. The idea of actual in home medical testing, where did that come from? Is that something that you wanted to create with EverlyWell? Was that because of your experience with all of the cost of the lab tests you had to do?
Julia: Yeah, we designed the initial vision, which is largely still what it is today. I thought about frankly, all the women in my cohort and generation who were 30-40 and had either kids at home or were working demanding careers, who literally could not make it to a lab if they tried. When they did, they then started continuously getting bills at all these higher costs. Our goal was to always focus on three things, convenience, access and value from the results. We really honed in early on at home testing and felt that it would be a huge differentiator for us and it has been. Instead of just matching people to draw centers, because the compliance in the U.S. of people actually getting their testing done and going to a draw center is abysmally low. And we also knew that if we were going to really radically transform this, we are in a new generation and we still were three years ago. Where consumers expect a seamless experience, ala Uber or Amazon. Health care is going local and we are going back to the subscription milk delivery that we had all those decades ago. To think that we were going to be able to radically transform a really dated industry and not bring that to consumers in home, I think would have been just a complete mismatch. We’ve been steadfast on that since the beginning. We have remained that way and in every product that we launch it is validated and designed to be for home collection.
Drew: I love that because when I first met you guys, I thought it was such a genius idea. Because even for me, in the health and fitness industry, I would try to get people to go out there and get their blood testing done. But, I will be totally honest with you, the reason I did it so often is because doctors offered it to me. It was free, but our average person has to pay that much money to go get it tested, to go into a lab, draw all that blood and go back and meet with your doctor. He will interpret the results for you, take this prescription, take that prescription. You think, ‘Alright, I guess that is what I am supposed to do?’ *laughing* Even for me, myself, it’s inconvenient for me. And here I am, a health and fitness professional, but we are a society of convenience. So, you’ve done an awesome job with making it more convenient. Some questions from some people that have asked me about you guys, is how does your blood testing compare to traditional lab testing? Are the results accurate? Those are some concerns that some followers have and that’s what they want to know from you.
Julia: Yeah, it’s a great question and one that we expect our customers to ask us. We have always prioritized compliance and accuracy as number one since the beginning. Here is in general something to know about lab testing, our sample collection methods right now are urine, saliva, swab and then finger prick blood spot testing. So most people understand urine and saliva, most of their questions are around the accuracy around the blood testing. One thing to note is that you can test as accurate and sometimes more accurate of a way …. hundreds of hormones using dry blood spot testing, hundreds of markers. That being said, you can not test everything. You cannot thoroughly replace a lab menu and there are certain markers that due to sample stability and how you have to analyze that particular marker, that cannot be tested using that method. We don’t offer those markers. So yes, there are some limitations. The labs that we work with, so we work with a network of about 10 labs around the country. All of them are predated EveryWell, we work with physicians and hospitals as well and they really view us as their consumer engine. So, all of them are not only compliant with federal regulations around those accuracy and process, but they are also passing our EverlyWell quality standards that we have implemented, which in fact are above and beyond what are expected by the federal government. So everything is validated with that collection method. It is within the variability standards for blood draw method or just intra-lab variability, which exists in general and are entirely accurate. So, we actually have been excited because more and more doctors are referring their patients to us proactively, because of the cost and it’s been a great validation of just being able to say, ‘Look, we work with labs that your physicians work with already.’
Julia: That’s how we do the testing and actually, I think it’s a great advantage for us. Because from an innovation standpoint, when there is a new proprietary test out, when there is a new collection method, we are able to work with those leading companies to bring that directly to consumers, even though we don’t create the testing ourselves. We just partner and then we are able to distribute it. So, the labs like it because they don’t want to build consumers businesses, we like it because we get access to the best products out there.
Drew: Gotcha. Can you specify which markers you guys can’t test? Are you allowed to talk about specifics?
Julia: Yeah. There is a whole host of markers that we can’t …. I mean, today we can’t replace an entire CBC panel. We don’t have the technology yet. Our labs don’t have the technology to do that. Do I think that will happen in the next five years? Absolutely. We are going to be first at the table to partner with an organization to offer that. We are not in the business of …. where you are in a business of being able to work with leading lab partners to create an entire consumer experience and make it accessible for people to use their tests.
Drew: Awesome. Love that. Can you tell us the story of you guys getting on Shark Tank? How did that happen? How did it go? What were your expectations and were your expectations met? What were some surprises? Can you tell us all about that?
Julia: Yeah, so Shark Tank was, first of all, an incredibly positive experience for me and for the company. Just the way the entire show is handled, I think is a really, really positive and uplifting experience for entrepreneurs. I am super grateful to ABC and Lori for the opportunity we had there. It is a process. I think that it takes a lot of grit to get through it. One of the traits of many entrepreneurs. We started the process in March of 2017. It ended up airing the night before Cyber Monday, which was Thanksgiving weekend in November of 2017. So my entire team canceled their Thanksgiving holidays to be there. It was incredible. The entire process took kind of that …. 7 months or so. 7-8 months. It’s a constant process where you have to say my likelihood of making it to each step in the process, my likelihood is so low. But I ultimately felt for EverlyWell …. your audience, Drew, I think better understands the options around lab testing and sort of how do you take that data and use it as part of your lifestyle and dietary changes. The broad American public has no idea that they are able to often get tests more affordably, more conveniently and more results that they can use with their doctor. This is just an entirely new product introduction. I felt very strongly that the best way to educate people about both EveryWell, but just this entire model, was through a mass market opportunity. Then I also felt there were certain Sharks that could really add credibility and materially help EverlyWell along from the product marketing standpoint. My target Sharks in the process were Mark Cuban and Lori Greiner and I ended up getting a deal with Lori.
Drew: Yep, Lori. That’s right. That is awesome. Were you nervous at all? Was it hard to be grilled by some of the Sharks? How was that process or are you ok being on stage like that?
Julia: Yeah, nobody is prepared for that, right? The amount of pressure …. you can read all of this online, but you walk onto the mat on Shark Tank, they start the cameras rolling and they don’t stop. So, it is very real. The Sharks don’t know who you are. It is very real. They start rolling the cameras and until you walk out of the Tank, anything is fair game. Obviously you see edited portions of the pitch, but you have to be prepared for any question that they throw at you. Your pitch has to be delivered perfectly. The amount of pressure, especially for me with EverlyWell, was …. I had a lot of investors. I had a lot of employees and I wanted to do right by them in representing the company to the best of my ability. I did have concerns. I went to Harvard and the Sharks don’t like that typically. I had raised venture capital money and there were a lot of things. I asked for a huge valuation and in all of those things, I had to be really prepared for how I was going to answer for that. I would say, I probably practiced that pitch and rehearsed my questions about 50 times. You can’t predict how it is going to go. I was super happy with how it turned out. I am super grateful for the Sharks …. you didn’t see a lot of this, but the Sharks were really kind to me and could have been a lot tougher. *laughing*
Julia: I had nerves, but I was a competitive athlete for a decade and I certainly think that has helped me prepare for big moments where you have to keep your calm head and you have to go in and do whatever. Otherwise it’s just not worth all the work it took to get there.
Drew: Gotcha. Let’s go back to talking about EverlyWell a little bit, just as far as specifics. Let’s talk to those average people you are talking about. The vast majority of people that have no idea why it’s important to get your blood work done. What would you say to those people that are like, ‘Ok, I get it. I guess I need to get my blood work done.’ What should they be looking for versus you guys versus going to a traditional lab? What should they be looking for that’s important, as far as the testing and then also the results and interpreting them?
Julia: Absolutely. I think for the testing on average everyone listening should be testing their cholesterol once a year probably. There are many different types of people who should be testing different markers more frequently, who maybe have a specific plan they need to be on. For example, if you have a thyroid condition, you can get most of your thyroid testing done on a regular basis through us. I would not recommend that obviously for everyone. There is a set of tests that I think you can look at doing regularly for all Americans, cholesterol, Vitamin D, HgbA1C, I think these are really important core markers. Then there are of course specialty markers that are maybe condition focused or things that in a particular life stage you might be interested in. For example, our testosterone test or fertility panel. So, I think we cover kind of the gamut of whatever a consumer needs for their particular lifestyle. You can access it on our platform. I think that when you get the results and how you should think about lab testing in general, is you don’t need to be over testing too often. That is not the goal for the average American. But what’s really important to keep in mind, as you look at your results, is that lab ranges and reference ranges for normal, low and high, or normal and abnormal, either way, are generally set by the lab. There are generally acceptable ranges for each marker. You, in particular, if you are female or if you are male, if you are in a certain demographic, your own body may run at a different level and knowing that information over time and actually having access to that and tracking it is far more insightful for both you and your physician, than saying, ‘Hey, I took a cholesterol test once. You have one of my values and it’s elevated.’ But we have no idea what that means in context. For us, it’s really about practical lab management over time, where you know your numbers. I believe that every American should know their Vitamin D, their HgbA1C, their cholesterol and to actually know what’s normal for them. That is a lot of what we are trying to bring to the results platform in education. It’s a little bit different than a lot of quantified buffers, where they are getting very tactical and specific in some very detailed markers that may not be relevant for everyone. We are fundamentally saying, how can we make lab testing like an over the counter pregnancy test or like a supplement that you buy. How can we have you bake it into your everyday health and wellness in a reasonable capacity, where it is just something you just do as part of your health management?
Drew: Exactly. That is one thing I love about you guys, is making the results very easy to understand. You even give suggestions about how to maybe improve those markers, right? So, I think it’s very simple for your average person to say, ‘Ok, here are my results. This is what the results are. This is what it means. This is how I can improve it.’ It’s then up to them to take those steps or actions to improve those levels. But, I will get into what I love about EverlyWell at the end. So, I will save that for the end!
Drew: Can you go over all the specific tests you guys offer currently?
Julia: Yes. We now have over 30 Drew, which I know you will find hard to believe. *laughing*
Drew: Wow! That is crazy! *laughing* How many did you guys have when I worked with you?
Julia: Three. We had three in 2016 and now we are up to 30. So we are super excited. They range from $39 to $399, depending on complexity. On average, each panel is significantly less expensive than definitely what you will pay out of pocket, but also generally depending on your insurance deductible, is going to be cheaper out of pocket even compared to that. And they are HSA and FSA covered. We generally have categories. So one is food sensitivity, which is a top seller. Vitamin D, sleep and stress, which is cortisol and melatonin and a few other panels like that. Heavy metals is another one. Then we have women’s health, which covers everything from our new HPV test all the way to perimenopause, postmenopause and fertility. Men’s health, which is a variety of different hormone tests for men. Then we have our STI testing, so comprehensive plus individual marker tests for STI’s. We are always launching new tests. We will probably have another handful through the end of the year. Our goal is …. of course I forgot to mention cholesterol and HgbA1C, fall under general wellness. But we try to kind of cover what we hear most from …. we look at new tests and we think, what is clinically relevant? What can we make affordable, but still enough markers to be relevant to the condition we are trying to package. Then how can we make sure this is going to be easily communicated and valuable to the consumer? Because there is a sense of if we do something way too complex, is it really going to communicate value to the consumers? So we are balancing all those things when we develop our tests.
Drew: Yeah, gotcha. Let’s go back to the food sensitivity test. What is it and what is it not? I want to know like if it can tell you if you have Celiac or gluten sensitivity? What are the specifics of the food sensitivity? I think that might be one of the more popular ones, right?
Julia: It is, it is. There are about five really popular ones and that is one of them. That was also actually our first test to launch. We actually have the largest database of food sensitivity data, I think in the country. So, it’s really cool. There are some interesting insights that we publish. One of the things about food sensitivity and intolerance is they are not allergies. They are not immediate response anaphylactic allergies. It’s really important to differentiate that, because you may have a food allergy and you may have a food sensitivity and they may be totally different. Anaphylactic allergies are mediated by an IGE response. Intolerance and food sensitivities are mediated by delayed antibody responses are IGG or IGA. So, our test specifically measures 96 foods and your IGG reactivity to those 96 foods. It is best used as a guide path for an elimination plan. We just released a ton of new content on our results platform written by our medical director on how to think about crafting your elimination plan based on your results. It is our most, what I would call …. we get more reviews about that test changing people’s lives. Specifically because they have had issues and they have not been able to pinpoint them, but we do recommend you do it with an elimination plan and then reintroduce the foods. What we find is people are really affected and say, ‘Oh my gosh, I now realize why I shouldn’t be eating that food.’ But, it’s important to differentiate it from an allergy test and two, to your earlier question, it can not diagnose you for Celiac. That is a combination of a blood test and usually a biopsy, as well as a number of other types of markers. But it is also helpful for people who maybe did the Celiac process, didn’t have celiac but still feel like they may have a gluten sensitivity and are really looking to understand if they are reacting to gluten in a different way.
Drew: What are some of the most popular foods that people have sensitivities to based on the tests?
Julia: Gluten is actually not number one. *chuckles*
Drew: Ok. *laughing*
Julia: The top 10 are things like wheat, yeast, gluten is in there. A variety …. we do specifics with dairy, so everything from cows milk to different cheeses, because there are actually different proteins that make up those different forms of dairy, yogurt and so on. But, different types of dairy and barley. Those tend to be the most common sensitivities. And you know, honestly what we found in our data is a limited number of people have really high reactivities, but …. which is how it should be, right? We don’t tell everyone that they have super high reactivities but people find that even when they have moderate reactivity or mid level, when they eliminate those foods and then they reintroduce them, those were actually causing symptoms for them. It’s been fascinating to see and I think it’s super important with what has happened to our food supply in the last 15 years to understand this better. There is really a limited body of research on it right now, despite the pop culture talk around food intolerance and food sensitivities.
Julia: We hope we can better contribute to that and help people understand what these are and what they aren’t.
Drew: Gotcha. So part of me does not want to take the test because it might end up being some foods I love, you know? *laughing*
Drew: I think one of my friends did the test and they were like, ‘What? I have a sensitivity to almonds?’ And they love almonds and almond butter. But that’s interesting, that’s one I haven’t done. I haven’t done food sensitivity yet. Maybe I will be brave enough to.
Julia: It would be great, Drew, actually if we had you do the food sensitivity test and do the elimination plan and then reintroduce and then our executive medical director could walk you through that.
Drew: Ok, that’s a great idea. *laughing* We will make that happen. I think that’s a great idea. What is the elimination plan? Is it 30 days and get rid of those foods and then reimplement after 30 days? Is that the protocol?
Julia: There are two forms because some people just can’t adhere to a stricter form. The strictest one we really recommend is being able to actually eliminate one by one and then we introduce after 30 days. The alternative is you eliminate sort of a handful of your highest ones and then reintroduce and that shortens the time line. That is called an elimination with an add back. We do always recommend that you try to add back because that is where you really see how severely symptomatic you are, if at all. That’s what we recommend, but there are multiple ways. You can read all about elimination diets, but the goal is that one, the exact test is offered by thousands of physicians and practitioners around the country. It is generally the same test, it’s generally anywhere from $800-1200 out of pocket.
Julia: We offer it for $199. Then point two is you can typically take those results and if you have a particular practitioner or you have a particular elimination plan you want to follow. We have our view on what works best but you can implement that however you would like.
Drew: This is a blood test with a prick of the finger?
Julia: Three drops.
Drew: I am curious to know the science behind it. How they can get so specific with the blood and the sensitivity to certain food. Do you know that?
Julia: Yeah for 96 foods. Yeah, it’s 96 little, tiny vials and they punch micro samples, 96 micro samples from your card and then expose it to the food. Yeah, I mean it’s really interesting to see.
Drew: Whoa. How do you get 96 micro samples because the circle is so small, but you get 96? *laughing*
Julia: Yeah, I mean it’s a very small amount that they need. Yeah, I can send you a video of the process! *laughing* I mean listen, generally that form of testing is a very old school form of testing. It’s proven, it’s reliable and it’s accurate. The question of IGG accuracy is it is super accurate. The challenge around the research is how do IGG reactivities them correlate to then everyone’s symptoms and that’s why we recommend it. It’s proven with an elimination plan, but we don’t recommend people just blindly eliminating things and don’t eat them without testing it out.
Drew: So, it sounds like it is mostly grains and dairy that most people have sensitivities to.
Julia: Yep. That’s not that surprising I suppose. But for some people they find foods that they are highly reactive to that fundamentally changes their well being and just the ability to live a normal life every day. It’s foods that they never would have thought of and they eliminate them and then reintroduce them and say, ‘Oh my gosh. This has totally changed my life.’
Drew: Gotcha. I love that. I guess one of my last questions for you is why should people chose EverlyWell? Do you want people to chose EverlyWell over traditional labs? Do you feel like that is where it is headed now? And if so, why?
Julia: Well in general, I think the consumer movement toward convenient and great experience health care is here. I think that you will start to see Amazon and other brick and mortar players really move into this space aggressively and players like Apple and Google. I believe that ‘23 and Me’ has done an excellent job. I mean think about `10 years ago, would you have ever sent a biological specimen in the mail? No. But now millions of people are sending saliva samples. That movement in and of itself has fundamentally changed how I think about at home lab testing. I believe that this is the future of lab testing. Do I think that it will replace 100%? No. Actually what we are doing is expanding the pie of people being compliant and getting their testing done and people getting tests done that never would have done lab tests. So, it’s not really about do I think people should chose it over other lab tests. I think it’s about what are your personal needs. What are your symptoms? We have a lot of people who pick us because they actually find it to be beneficial prior to getting a doctors appointment. We recommend people share their results with their physicians and frankly, if you don’t know what a test is going to cost you, we definitely recommend you use us. Many physicians are sending their patients to us, because if you are on a high deductible plan or if you are uninsured or underinsured or if you have FSA and HSA, I will tell you, probably 20 people a day send us emails or live chat. They say, ‘Well what are you doing to bill me after?’
Julia: ‘How much am I going to pay after?’ And we say, ‘We will never, ever charge you again and you will get a full service that is physician reviewed. You have full access anytime and it’s $70.’ They are blown away. For some people it’s just the transparency of knowing they are not going to get a $500 bill. That is another situation where that’s just becoming more and more common. That trend is unfortunately not going to stop. That is something where I would say we can provide a better service.
Drew: Ok. Yeah. So let me wrap up by saying what I love about EverlyWell. This is what I feel like it is doing in my opinion. It goes right along with my message of encouraging people to become their own self experimentation. If we could get people the tools they need to become their own self experimentation, it doesn’t mean they are not going to need doctors anymore. But, it just means they are staying accountable to taking control of their own health, rather than relying on a doctor to just look at their blood results or give them a prescription and say, ‘Ok, here you go.’ Then you don’t question anything, but this gives you the power in your own hands to say, ‘Ok. Based off of this diet I did the past 90 days, this is what my blood work looks like. I feel better and my markers are telling me I should be feeling better based on the blood test I just did.’ I feel like that is empowering for a lot of people, because they know now what is affecting their health. For so long we have been fixated on health equals weight loss or health equals lower scale weight. There is so much more to health than just that. I feel like you guys do an awesome job of making it accessible, making it convenient, making it affordable and making the results really, really easy to understand. I think that’s really important for your average person out there, not to be intimidated by doing these tests. It’s super simple. When the box comes to your door, you unwrap it and you follow the instructions. It doesn’t hurt. I mean a little prick of the finger might hurt for some people, but in general it is super simple. *chuckles* You just send it off. It’s prepaid and it’s super simple. You get the results back in an email. Do you have it in an app now? I can’t remember?
Julia: It’s on the website. You just log in but you can chose to have us text you or email you and then you just log in. But it looks like an app.
Drew: It does. It’s mobile friendly.
Julia: It’s like an app quality.
Drew: It’s super simple to understand exactly what your numbers are. I love it because yes, I am kind of quote unquote a biohacker. I like to see what changes I have made in diet, nutrition and exercise and how it has affected my blood work. Because really that is what is optimal. You can’t go just based off of just your body fat percentage and weight loss. There is so much more to being healthy than just that. That’s why I love what you guys do. Sorry, I took about the last 10 minutes of our time.
Julia: I was going to say, I couldn’t have said it better. I need to record you.
Drew: I should have come on Shark Tank with you. I would have gotten you a better deal. *laughing*
Julia: I know! *laughing* Exactly. So no, I couldn’t have said it better. I really appreciate you being a fan and just your steadfast support in loving what we are doing.
Drew: Yeah. I’ve always been a fan. Just to wrap up, what is new coming up? Anything we should be on the lookout for with EverlyWell? Anything new that you can announce?
Julia: Yeah. We just launched two Omega 3 tests basic and plus, which I think are super essential. Probably most of your listeners are taking Omega 3 Supplements, DHA supplements. Do you have any idea if they are working? Probably not. I think this is sort of a companion to supplementation. The other thing is tomorrow we are launching an HPV test which is …. and I am super passionate about this. So it is 14 high risk genotypes of HPV responsible for over 99% of cervical cancer cases in the U.S. Truly this why we started out so well, is we are able to provide access for an $89 price point for women to get screened for these high risk genotypes and for them to know what their risk level is for possibly contracting cervical cancer. It’s not a cancer screening test, but very similar to ‘23 and Me’. It is more information for women to then be able to act on. It’s an affordable price point and you can do it at home. I’m really, really hopeful. There is a study that came out just two weeks ago that said it is more accurate than the pap smear and that many doctors think it may eventually replace regular pap smears. It is an example of like EverlyWell being able to partner with incredible technology companies and bring these tests to consumers. So just super excited about it and doing more testing that actually increases public health access and increases research. Just being able to really bring that element into a mass market product and not just for people who have a lot of money to spend. There is something for everybody on this site.
Drew: Gotcha and love that. Last question, it just popped up in my head. Can kids or can parents have kids take these tests? What do you guys say about that?
Julia: No. We are working on it. No, not yet. Really the tests are actually accurate for children. The issue is for regulatory reasons we have a physician validation process and we would need to have some sort of electronic liability waiver. So we are just not quite there yet. It’s coming and we just have to sort out that piece and make sure we are compliant.
Drew: Gotcha. That would be awesome one day. Well keep up the good work, Julia. Where can people find you? What is your website and your social media platforms? And yours too, because yours is entertaining too.
Julia: Yeah, I’m at Julia T. Cheek, like on your face. On Twitter and on linkedin and then EverlyWell is at EverlyWell.com and @Everly_Well on Instagram and Twitter. We are super pumped on Instagram. We are about to surpass ‘23 and Me’s’ following all organic. A lot of time and content in that. We have a full time person who is just amazing at it. So I would really recommend if you are looking for good factoids and giveaways and things like that, follow us.
Drew: Love it. Thanks so much, Julia for coming on. I just want to say thank you for what you do. I appreciate your vision and you have helped so many people. So, keep moving forward. I love it and we will be in touch. We will talk to you soon.
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