Examine.com, an independent nutrition website which provides unbiased and quality scientific research on nutritional supplements and related topics, has sprouted over $700,000 in revenue within the past 12 months, as the startup shows significant growth. Sol Orwell, co-founder of Examine.com, stated on his personal website, Solorwell.com, that the nutrition website had generated about $10,000 in the first two years of its existence.
“In some ways, it may seem overnight, but it wasn’t. From day one we have been very obsessive about being independent and being trustworthy,” Orwell said in an online interview with Guardian Liberty Voice. “So for those first 2.5 years when we didn’t really have anything to sell, we didn’t try to make money in other ways. We didn’t sell to our audience or anything like that. We bided our time, knowing that as we built up our brand and our knowledge base, good things would come.”
Unlike most nutrition and supplement websites, Examine.com’s focus is about giving objective information about food and nutrients and the science and research behind it. They are not affiliated with any supplement company. Started in early 2011, Examine.com states that its goal is “to be the unbiased source for supplements and nutrition.” With a team of registered dietitians, biochemists, statisticians, physicians, writers, and other related professionals, Examine.com have spent thousands of hours collating the latest scientific research. Oftentimes, they update their information and findings based on new evidence and findings. The company even encouraged readers “to submit corrections and any research” that they may have missed.
“We always made sure to make it very easy for people to give us feedback and thoughts,” Orwell said, “which is exactly what happened. After enough people asked us about how they could have our site as a quick reference, our Supplement-Goals Reference was born. It did roughly $100,000 in the first week.”
“And we kept listening to the feedback. And one of our top requests was that our information was a bit too much. That people wish they had something that they could just follow. They trusted us, so they didn’t need us to explain every detail. They wanted to know what to take, when to take it, and why to take it. Done. And so we released our Stack Guides roughly 11 months after our Supplement-Goals. And it blew it away, generating over $250,000 within the first week. The beauty is because we’ve released two information products that people want, it continues to sell. We carved out our own niche (unbiased supplement and nutrition information), built up our reputation, and then sold something that filled a need (Supplement-Goals Reference – quick access to scientific information and Stack Guides – easy-to-follow instructions).
Although Examine.com’s showed exceptional profit and growth recently compared to its nascent years, the idea behind this independent nutrition website sprouted from Orwell’s previous overweight condition and the lack of unbiased supplement information online at the time. It was not about selling a product or rallying a hype. “Honestly, there was a need for it. I was pretty overweight about five years ago, and when I started to lose weight, as an engineer, I started to track everything. Not just what I ate and did, but also what I learned. I wrote tons of notes on hormones, macronutrients, supplements, etc. And I realized pretty soon that while there were some decent resources on nutrition, there was literally nothing for supplements. So I went to my co-founder, Kurtis Frank, and proposed the concept of Examine.com. He himself was prepping to apply for a PhD, and I told him that it could wait. The ability to do a PhD was going to be around for a while. The ability to do something cool like Examine.com would not.”
Examine.com’s diverse team, including nutrition researcher Kamal Patel, registered dietitian Cassandra Forsythe, copy editor Dmitri Barvinok, fitness and nutrition advisor Alan Aragon, physician Bryan Chung, and chemist Bill Willis, all contribute to the uniqueness and quality of the company. When asked how he had harvested such a team, Orwell replied, “Happenstance and a lot of reading. I’ve been on Reddit for over eight years now, and one of the areas I was very active in was fitness. That was where I met Kurtis. I saw how friendly he was, how much he knew, and most importantly, how he knew what he didn’t know. With my technical and business knowledge, and his knowledge of human nutrition, it was a very nice and easy fit. As for when we expanded. I read. A lot. And I make it a habit to reach out to people whose work I enjoyed and say, “Hey, good stuff.” That is how I met Kamal Patel. He had a website, I enjoyed what he had written, and I reached out to him. And for a few years after that we just kept in touch. And when it came time to expand, he was the perfect match!”
With such dynamic changes and growth in Examine.com in the past year, Orwell decided to let “smarter people” go ahead and “run the show” so he could sprout further ventures. “It is in my nature to help build something up,” he said. “The aforementioned Kamal is our director and is slowly but surely phasing me out. Within the next six months I expect to re-retire and likely find something else to get me going. As for Examine.com’s future, our biggest hole is that we need to create something that takes the latest news and research and distills it into a way that a layperson can understand. The cutting edge, basically, but making it accessible; a digest that makes sense of all of this. We’ve so far easily resisted calls for us to look into X or Y that have nothing to do with our strengths, which are supplements and nutrition. And I expect us to keep our focus for the next four to five years on that until we are the undisputed number one source of information.”
By Nick Ng