Multiply Labs co-founders (left to right): Joe Wilson, Alice Melocchi, Tiffany Kuo, and Fred Parietti.
Even if you are among the half of Americans who take dietary supplements—a 30 billion dollar industry—the idea of taking a handful daily probably makes you cringe. Evaluating your deficiencies, adjusting to seasonal needs, and adapting to life and body changes takes time and energy. A group of MIT alumni and students found an easy way to do most of that all in one pill.
Multiply Labs first started two years ago when Fred Parietti, PhD ’16 and Alice Melocchi, a visiting scholar in the Department of Chemical Engineering, began to discuss how they could create smaller batches of pharmaceuticals in a faster way. “I was talking with a friend of mine and she was taking more than 10 pills a day,” says Parietti. “And she told me ‘look, these could change my life in terms of supplements. Having a single pill would be a game changer.’ This [made me realize] it’s not just me and there are people that take even more than me.”
Parietti was using 3D printing for robotics research and saw a natural fit with the tool. They spent the next two years pursuing the project, focused on confirming that using 3D printing allowed for the same time-of-release profile as if you were to use a normal large-batch, printed capsule. “One of our most popular combinations is a morning release of vitamin D and omega-3, and then later in the day caffeine,” says Tiffany Kuo MBA ’16. “The fact that caffeine is added to the supplement and released later in the day is something a mass-produced pill cannot do.”
In the second year, the co-founders brought on two Sloan students—Kuo and Joe Wilson—to help with the market research and commercialization of the product.
“We found a lot of young professionals care about health and fitness but don’t have time to devote to their own well-being,” says Kuo. “Because we’re using 3D printing robotics to manufacture in smaller batches rather than larger batches, it allows us to do personalization and allows us to get different formulations out and printed faster.”
So how do they customize each pill to their customers? Multiply Labs partnered with a nutritionist to develop a tool that takes into account height, gender, weight, health goals, and current diet to see where the gaps in nutrition may be—with plans down the road to incorporate blood tests for better knowledge of individualized deficiencies. The pill—the size of an Omega-3 capsule—includes only the supplements and amounts deemed necessary for each person. The personalized supplements are delivered every two weeks, allowing the supplements to adjust to your weekly feedback and other various like changes in weather.
The company will officially launch this spring and has started taking pre-orders for the supplements. The team not only got its start at MIT, they also got seed funding through the MIT Sandbox Innovation Fund Program, allowing them to devote their full-time to the endeavor, setting up a headquarter in San Francisco. Currently they are outfitting their recently acquired warehouse to meet Food and Drug Administration standards for good manufacturing practices.