Since health is true wealth and personalisation is the new byword for luxury, it seems only fitting that the latest frontier in wellness consists of solutions that are completely customised to individual needs.
None more so than Bioniq, which made its UAE debut at the end of last year. The research-led health system aims to help people optimise their wellness through a multi-pillared approach. “The mission of Bioniq is to make health accessible and actionable,” the brand’s founder and chief executive, Vadim Fedotov, says.
When he’s speaking at conferences and events, Fedotov likes to kick things off with a simple exercise. “I’ll ask the audience: ‘Who has a car?’ And they’ll raise their hands. I’ll ask: ‘What car do you have? What kind of engine? Is it gas or diesel? What horsepower?’ They’ll answer. And then… ‘What’s your blood type?’ People don’t know. They don’t have a clue about their bodies. We know so much about things we are going to throw away in three years, but we have no idea about the one thing that’s going to be with you your entire life,” he says.
Bioniq helps its customers to garner insight into the inner workings of their bodies, but also offers actionable solutions to help them streamline their health. Once you’ve subscribed to the Bioniq Life programme, a medical professional will come to your home or office and conduct a blood test. Your blood is then measured against 50 parameters, which include metabolic markers such as glucose, triglycerides, cholesterol and homocysteine levels; iron and other micro-elements, from ferritin and calcium to magnesium; hormones such as testosterone and TSH; vitamins; liver function; and haematology.
Bespoke health solutions
The results are displayed on the Bioniq app, on your personalised dashboard, which also flags areas of concern or potential improvement. A unique algorithm developed by Bioniq, based on the biochemical analysis of more than two million data points, taken from 30,000 blood tests, supports the recommendations made by the brand’s health experts.
A face-to-face, one-on-one consultation with a nutritionist is scheduled after the results come in, and you are given advice on how to tweak your diet to counter your specific health issues. All these recommendations are then added to your personal dashboard, so you can go back and refer to the recommendations whenever needed.
And, as the pièce de résistance, Bioniq creates a bespoke formula of probiotics, vitamins, enzymes and micro-elements that is tailored to your unique health needs, as highlighted by your blood test. This, too, is delivered to your doorstep, in personalised bottles with your name and unique recipe printed on the label.
The raw materials for the formula are manufactured in a licensed laboratory in Switzerland, in the form of patented granules that are taken twice daily and dissolve over a period of 12 hours. They deliver the 40 or 50 ingredients that Fedotov says the average person requires (although they can contain up to 120 elements), while removing the need for those endless rows of individual supplement and vitamin bottles that clutter up many a bathroom cabinet or bedside table. “With Bioniq, you are only taking the vitamins you need. A lot of people overdose and take things they don’t need. We take the guesswork out of it. And it changes with every blood test you do.”
Should your blood results warrant it, the team may recommend that you consult with a specific medical professional. “The thing we realised, which was eye-opening, was a third of the people who do the test, who get personalised micronutrients and nutritional consultations, have illnesses or are inclined to illnesses they don’t know about. Quite early, we realised this was a preventative health thing. Before you can optimise your health, you need to figure out if you are actually healthy,” says Fedotov.
Bioniq is one of those ideas that’s so brilliant, you can only wonder why it hasn’t been done before. “The best ideas are the ones where, when you tell someone else, they say: ‘That must already exist. That’s so obvious,’” he acknowledges.
A question of optimisation
Born in Russia and raised in Germany, Fedotov comes from a sporting background, so wellness and peak physical fitness have always been top of mind. His father was a professional tennis player, while he himself played basketball for the German national team before moving to the US to further his career.
“I studied in New York and also played in the US. During my career, I had four major knee surgeries. A lot of doctors tried a lot of different procedures on my knees to figure out what would work best, which opened up the world of rehabilitation and health optimisation to me. Quite early on, I realised that I would not have a very long career because my body was just not made for professional sports. So I went into corporate.”
His career has included stints as chief executive of Groupon Russia and Ukraine, and then of the largest media holding company in Eastern and Central Europe, Gazprom-Media. “There, I was heading corporate ventures, so I would invest in start-ups. I’d speak to the founders of these start-ups and realise their passion and what they were going through. And I would think to myself: ‘Why am I not on the other side? Why am I not creating?’”
In his early thirties at the time, Fedotov was still quite heavily invested in health, nutrition and sports, but despite that, he explains: “I would be tired at lunch; in the evening I’d feel sluggish and wouldn’t want to work out. On the weekends, I just wanted to stay in. I didn’t feel energised or optimised. And I thought: ‘How is this possible? I am way too young to feel this out of shape.’”
He recalls visiting a doctor to try to understand what was happening to his body. “The doctor said: ‘OK, you have to do these blood tests; they are going to cost $1,000. In a week’s time, you’ll come back and I’ll tell you what you need to do.’”
What does healthy mean?
So Fedotov did his blood tests, waited a week and went back to the doctor, invigorated by the idea that he would finally be getting some answers. “The doctor said: ‘Yeah, you’re fine. You’re not ill.’
“I knew that. But I realised that from a doctor’s perspective, in this instance, anyway, they put people into two categories. If you’re ill, they will treat you. If you are not ill, you’re not ill. And I realised that in the medical world, this is fine. But in my world – of people who want to feel better and optimise themselves – you need a little bit more.”
It comes down to what healthy really means. At its most basic level, healthy can mean not sick. But there’s a gap between not being sick and your body performing at its optimum. And this is the gap that Bioniq is aiming to fill.
Fedotov teamed up with Dr Constantin Karuzin, a sports doctor and neurosurgeon who had spent 14 years conducting clinical trials for leading pharmaceutical companies such as GlaxoSmithKline from the UK and Pfizer from the US. Bioniq was officially launched in London in 2019 and then across Russia in July of the same year. The UAE was an obvious next move, explains Fedotov.
“In London, a third of our inquiries were from people from the UAE. We did a lot of research here. Unfortunately, this region has a lot of issues in terms of diabetes and cholesterol and everything around that. So we see a lot of things we can help with. Thirdly, people here are willing and open to investing in their health.”
Long-term partnerships with world-renowned medical facilities, coupled with economies of scale, allow Bioniq to offer its services in the UAE for Dh1,600 a month, or Dh1,500 if you prefer to go to the lab to do your blood tests.
Before the Covid-19 pandemic, Bioniq’s core customers were essentially “early adopters, anti-ageing experts, women who wanted to increase their vitality, men who wanted to increase their cognitive function at work, or triathletes who wanted to perform better”. But now, with the pandemic alerting us all to the fact that we need to pay even more attention to our health, there has been a notable shift in the profile of the average Bioniq customer.
“Our target audience used to be 35-plus-year-old women and 40-plus-year-old men. It’s now 28-plus. People are wondering what’s going on with their body, and are more used to doing blood tests and PCR tests, so are more comfortable with the process. People are also choosing their health over the purchase of other items. There is a huge shift going on.”
While the minimum Bioniq Life subscription period is two months, the idea is that people make this a long-term part of their health management strategies, redoing the blood tests every eight weeks and receiving a newly tailored formula that adapts to any changes in their results. “I’m not interested in doing a single blood test with you. I am interested in making you part of the system, so we can positively impact your health in the long run,” says Fedotov.
“As one of my clients recently said: ‘You are subconsciously taking care of my health so I don’t have to.’”