Multiply Your Health

Taking lots of vitamins is more annoying than being vegan in Germany. Believe me, I’ve done both.

The Messenger Wore Tortoise Shell Glasses

In the summer of 2008, I finished my sophomore year of college, and began to plan for a rite of passage common to many adventurous, curious, and privileged 19 year olds: the study abroad.

I had to update my vaccines and get blood tests, typical preparation for a long trip overseas. This routine was only a passing thought. I was far more concerned with which books I was going to bring on the flight and how to title my forthcoming Facebook albums (I went with the simple yet classic “Berlin,” FYI).

I wasn’t exactly prepared when my doctor asked me to go over results in person. She told me that I tested positive for an antibody called ANA, and that having a positive ANA test could mean a few things. For 15% of patients, it’s a false positive, meaning I’d have nothing to worry about. But for the other 85%, it means an increased likelihood of developing chronic autoimmune diseases, like Lupus, Crohn’s, and Multiple Sclerosis. I didn’t know which group I was in. I still don’t.

My doctor had a way of speaking as if she was recapping, when really the news was being delivered for the first time.

“As you know, there is nothing you can do. Just stay healthy,” she adjusted her tortoise shell glasses matter-of-factly and my stomach tied itself into knots.

In order to “stay healthy,” I began a vegan diet and started taking a ton of vitamins and minerals to address deficiencies in my body: vitamin D, vitamin B, vitamin C, omega 3, iron.

Explaining what it means to be vegan in Berlin was not easy. Before every meal, I’d spend at least 15 minutes recruiting an English-speaking German to translate my order of vegetable soup, only to find a large sausage plopped down in front of me anyway.

And yet, managing my regimen of vitamins was even more annoying. I had to figure out what I needed and where to get it, and then I had to remember to take my pills, and then I had to swallow some half-dozen morning and night. I couldn’t feel the results right away, so what was the point? Most people can’t be bothered to take supplements for these reasons — and I understand why.

But after a couple years, my ANA count went down. This was a good sign. Something about the regimen of healthy eating and supplements actually changed things.

Multiply Labs

Nearly a decade later, I started graduate school at MIT and reconnected with a uniquely impressive Italian student named Fred. Fred is equal parts pioneer and optimist, which, when combined with a PhD in Mechanical Engineering, is a powerful recipe. I learned about something he and his colleague Alice had invented: a way to 3D-print pills that can combine into one capsule multiple ingredients, and release them at different times throughout the day.

“This is the future,” I enthused over sandwiches. Several scientific journals agreed, it turns out.

From there, things accelerated in what still feels like the blink of an eye. My boyfriend Joe joined the team to run product, and Tiffany, the resident marketing expert, came on board. The four of them began growing the company, which eventually they named Multiply Labs. They conducted hundreds of customer and expert interviews, then applied to some of the top incubators in the world. I almost caused a car accident — because I was screaming so much — when Joe called from Highway 101 to tell me that they got into their top choice program.

To commercialize the innovation, Multiply Labs would produce high-end customizable, personalized supplements — allowing consumers to program which ingredients they want and when in the day they want them released, all in a single capsule. Personally, this would help me manage my health. It would help my mom, who has an unwieldy Monday-Sunday pill container for all her vitamins. It would help my brother who is always trying to enhance the quality of his workouts. It would help my best friend who could use some caffeine releases to stay sharp during the day.

Multiply Labs Technology

Summer 2016

And then it was time to build the thing. Define the customer. The manufacturing process. The message. The supply chain. The site. The flow. The logo. The packaging. The alpha test. The beta test. The feedback channel. When to ship. How to ship. Repeat. These decisions, this endless work, spans hours and days and weeks — and I am lucky to have a front row seat a few nights a week at date nights, when I get to hear the numerous stories of each day’s many occurrences, always leaving me amazed by the team’s focus, commitment, and creativity.

One of my favorite dates of the summer was the night before a big manufacturing deadline. I met Joe at the Tech Shop, where the team’s 3D printers are set up — each named after a Harry Potter character depending on the printer’s personality. Jack, employee number one, blasted classic rock and sang like no one was listening as he did something I don’t understand involving injection molding. Alice reasoned quietly with the machines to lull them into cooperation. (It worked.) Joe took a break from the chaos to turn a cardboard box into a makeshift dinner table, pull over a couple industrial stools, and display our containers of Thai takeout, so that we could spend 20 precious minutes eating together. I learned about the day’s latest misadventure: their newest 3D printer had been incorrectly delivered to a stranger’s house.

Something People Need

Fred, Alice, Joe, Tiffany, and Jack are building something completely new. And it’s hard. It’s hard because a million things could go wrong at any moment, and every day they have to make a choice to just tackle the challenge in front of them. But it’s also incredible. It’s incredible because every time they want to go to bed before the work is done and every time they start to resent their Soylent consumption, they get think about what they are working towards and remember why it’s worth it.

It’s worth it because what they are building has value to the world. It’s something people need.

I need it. I’ve pre-ordered my supplements, and so have all of my loved ones. I plan to have all of the vitamins and minerals I need released in the morning, to keep me healthy, and then a boost of caffeine released in the afternoon, so I can stop drinking so much coffee. I’m so excited for early next year when my order ships to me and I still can’t quite believe that his technology exists.

You can pre-order, too, which is why I’m sharing this story. In fact, I’m asking you to do just that.

For only $19, you will:

1. Be first in line for an awesome product that will make you healthier in both the short-term and long-term.

2. Be supporting an incredible team of people and telling them to keep going — that you believe in them and what they are building.

3. Get to invest in an early application of what is hopefully the future of drug delivery. Because if I do develop an auto-immune disease, I’m going to have to take a lot of medication, and I hope one day, this technology will be used to limit the number of pills I take, and make it easier for me to live a healthy normal life.

Visit Multiplylabs.com and pre-order yours now.

Founding team scarfing down In-N-Out Burger