MATTER Profile: Real Dietitian

March 18, 2015

By Mary Lee, MATTER intern

I’m a person who grabs a $2 fast-food burger on the go and eats cereal for dinner. Why?

Well, my hectic schedule prevents me from sitting down and enjoying a home-cooked meal, and I’m also trying to save up for a vacation in New Zealand.

Like me, many others consider healthy eating a luxury, and are oblivious to the importance of nutrition’s impact on an individual’s wellbeing.

34 million Americans are eligible to consult with a registered dietitian for free with their current insurance coverage, yet a measly 4 percent exercise this option, according to Real Dietician statistics.

The importance of nutrition has been conventionally absent, explained Sidonia Swarm, CEO and founder of Real Dietitian. “It really is not a focal point when it comes to health care.”

Frustrated by its discounted status, Swarm established a platform that promotes an appreciation for eating healthy.

Real Dietitian

Real Dietitian, a new member at MATTER, connects patients and dietitians, and provides medical nutrition therapy through a mobile app and web enabled platform. The company ensures 24-hour instantaneous access to a registered dietitian.

“You don’t need a dietitian in an office or in a clinic the most,” Swarm said. “You need them at the grocery store, at the restaurant, or when you’re cooking a meal at your home.”

Real Dietitian opens a channel of communication with a personal dietician through a mobile phone appointment or on-demand text messaging. The service-central company leverages human relationships through technology to enable the best health outcome.

Medical Nutrition Therapy is an evidence-based therapy that can cure people from cancer, diabetes and different diseases, Swarm explained. These chronic diseases are preventable through a diet, she continued.

Dietitians at Real Dietician work closely with the patient, specifically catering to each individual’s diagnosis and health.

“At the end of the day, health care is an interaction between two humans,” Swarm said.

Real Dietitian goes beyond simply providing a list of dos and don’ts and delivering packaged lunch boxes to your front door.

“We’re teaching people how to understand their condition,” Swarm said regarding equipping people with knowledge about healthy eating habits, to “sustainably live the rest of their lives through eating.”

You are what you eat. The food you consume is extremely vital to one’s health, she explained. “One day in the near future, we would love to see that everyone has their own doctor, but has their own dietician as well.”


MATTER Member Profile: HappiLabs

“Advocating for healthy and happy scientists”

March 11, 2015

By Mary Lee/MATTER intern


HappiLabs wants to bolster the happiness index for scientists.

The startup company, launched in 2013, is a virtual lab manager and personal shopper. Scientists are burdened and distracted from their innovative work because their expertise does not extend to addressing pricing disparities and purchasing laboratory equipment. HappiLabs takes on the responsibility of researching and acquiring the finest scientific lab supplies at a discounted price.

Tom Ruginis, CEO and founder of HappiLabs, conceived the idea for the company after visiting university research labs where scientists dedicated their lives to remedy diseases including cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, diabetes and more. He found that poor customer service and exorbitant prices dampened the velocity and progress of their valuable research.

The National Institutes of Health funds $30 billion in scientific and medical research, and about 20 percent, or $600 million, is allocated to purchase lab equipment and supplies, Ruginis explained. He says HappiLabs guarantees a minimum of 14 percent to 40 percent in savings, promising potentially $90 million in savings.

The conundrum confronting scientists is simply the absence of a Yelp-like or database for this population. Scientists have no method for determining a fair price because an archive that analyzes a product’s functionality, quality and rating simply does not exist. A few companies monopolize retail of these lab supplies, chemicals, reagents and equipment, and advertise high prices to unknowing consumers.

These dominant institutions fix prices, which are “triple of what they should be charging,” Ruginis said.

The lack of transparency coupled with soaring prices block out competition; smaller distributors lack the marketing power to compete, which stifles innovation. But, HappiLabs locates these hidden yet nascent distributors that offer identical items at a reasonable price.

Customers hire on an hourly basis, supply a shopping list, and HappiLabs will secure the best deals. HappiLabs customers are guaranteed bargains, efficiency, high quality products and sustainability.

“The industry needs a customer-service focused company,” Ruginis said regarding the private sector. “Everyone’s all about profit margins,” he added, but his company cuts through the conventional current and establishes a company that is predicated on the happiness and health of its customers: scientists.

HappiLabs will leave scientists free to research and work, unfettered by administrative logistics and financial qualms.