The future of wellness: personalized and guided by experts

Katherine Shiao
5 min readSep 15, 2022

From a global pandemic to political strife, a war on race to a war in Ukraine, the world has faced significant trauma we likely won’t see the full effects of for years to come.

More than ever, people are turning inwards to pick up the pieces. While the outside world spins out of control, people are taking action on what they can control — improving their physical and mental wellbeing. There’s no greater issue we face today than our health.

Wellness is a rising market with Millennials and Gen-Z largely driving its growth. In a McKinsey survey with 7,500 global consumers, “79 percent of the respondents said they believe that wellness is important, and 42 percent consider it a top priority”.

What is wellness exactly?

The consumer view of wellness can be defined across 6 dimensions.

The global wellness industry is valued at more than $1.5 trillion, with annual growth of 5 to 10 percent. Not only has it disrupted the traditional health industry, but it’s created a category of its own. Prominent companies in wellness include ClassPass and Peloton in fitness, Calm and Headspace in mindfulness, and BetterHelp and Talkspace in mental health.

People are choosing to take a proactive approach to their health and wellness, rather than a reactive one when things go awry. Holistic health has become increasingly popular among consumers as an alternative to traditional medicine that may come with side effects. People are seeking solutions that solve the root of the problem, not just alleviate symptoms.

The Legitimacy Problem

However, the wellness industry is relatively new and has its fair share of skeptics. Traditional health practitioners often reference the lack of evidence of its effectiveness and regulation in the industry. People are left to their own devices to sift through endless information on the internet to find remedies. From Facebook groups to Reddit to TikTok, people are vulnerable to misinformation that may be detrimental to their health.

What the industry needs to solve its legitimacy problem is expert guidance, personalization, and science-based research. Consumers seek solutions from sources they trust. Wellness companies that provide evidence-based expertise and personalization at its core will come out ahead.

3 Startups to Watch

I’ve been fortunate to meet some impressive founders who value personalizing treatments for customers and utilizing experts to guide their customers and product.

bekome — customized supplements, consultation, and education

bekome provides natural, personalized supplements and expert care targeting anxiety. The company currently offers a supplement pack that uses ingredients with clinical studies showing significant impact on anxiety. Customers can have a 1–1 consultation with an expert to learn about mental health nutrition and supplementation.

What stood out to me in my conversation with Co-Founder & CEO, Shanna Traphoner-Liu, was bekome’s vision to make mental wellbeing core to the human experience. Shanna’s personal journey led her to build bekome as she saw the lack of daily mental health solutions that fit seamlessly into people’s lives and routines. bekome’s products are all-natural and leverages the science of the gut-brain connection, a burgeoning area of health.

The company plans to customize supplements for customers — based on things like their symptoms, weight, diet, and environmental factors — which will differentiate them from wellness supplement competitors like Thesis and Ritual. Its use of education and consultation to help customers gain understanding and control over their mental wellness is another key differentiator.

Zen Sleep — a Modern Health/Noom for sleep

Zen Sleep is a comprehensive CBT-I based sleep technology coaching platform that helps users improve their sleep hygiene, leading to better mental & physical health. Through improved employee sleep wellness, the company aims to lower healthcare costs for employers while boosting employee productivity & happiness.

Under the direction of its Co-Founder Dr. Neil Kline, a board-certified sleep physician, Zen Sleep has developed a proprietary AI and wearables-powered system that helps identify each employee’s unique sleep issues while leading them to better sleep hygiene with customized individual routines. They also provide access to human sleep therapists and a content library of CBT-I lessons, meditations, and sleep sounds. Zen Sleep currently has 10+ enterprise pilot clients with 400 users along with 3 sleep company partnerships.

I met Co-Founder & CEO Sunny Liang after he pitched at a LA Tech Week event. Sunny is a life-long insomniac himself. He was wrapping up his career on Wall Street as a private equity investor, not sleeping much, when he had his first CBT-I experience — it turned his life around. I nodded in agreement as he spoke on how so many people have problems with their sleep. Sleep affects our physical health, mental health, and productivity, yet it’s often neglected when addressing our issues.

Labdoor — testing the purity of supplements

Labdoor independently tests and ranks supplements, so consumers can research, find, and buy the best supplements. The company finds out whether products have what they claim and if they have any harmful ingredients or contaminants. They grade and rank those products, write reports, and publish that information, so consumers can confidently buy the best supplements for their health.

I invested in Labdoor because ensuring the purity of supplements is crucial as the supplement industry continues to grow. People should have the peace of mind knowing the supplements they’re taking are safe, pure, and potent.

If you’d like to be introduced to the founders of bekome or Zen Sleep, feel free to reach out: katherine.shiao [at] gmail. If you are a founder in the wellness space, I’d love to learn about your startup!

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Katherine Shiao

Ex-founder bridging the gap between founders and investors