Meet The Disruptors: Eziah Syed On The Five Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

Fotis Georgiadis
Authority Magazine
Published in
9 min readJun 5, 2023

Understand the market, live it, breath it, become intimate with the problem space. In my case, mend was the outcome of a number of health challenges in the family and firsthand experience with health systems and the nature of acute care.

As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Eziah Syed.

Eziah Syed has spent his career steeped in technology, strategy, and innovation across a variety of large corporations and several startups. Currently, he serves as Co-Founder and CEO of mendTM, a life sciences company operating at the intersection of digital health and nutripharma.

Prior to his current position with mend™, Eziah cultivated a wealth of knowledge through senior innovation and strategy roles with Deloitte, Citibank, and Dynamics Inc. He has deep experience in innovation, new products, ventures, and white space growth opportunities with a focus on technology-based solutions.

Eziah attended McMaster University in Ontario as an undergraduate and holds an MBA from the University of Western Ontario. He has also been trained in design thinking and advanced corporate finance through New York University Stern School of Business and the University of Virginia Darden School of Business.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I’ve spent my career in strategy and innovation for both large firms like Deloitte and Citibank as well as startups and am trained to identify gaps and white spaces. A number of family members have recently experienced health events that led to acute care with hospitals. This is where I saw a clear gap between what’s offered today in the acute care delivery model and what’s possible. Mend is on a mission to fix this gap.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

We’re operating at the intersection of two megatrends, food as medicine and digital behavioral health, that will improve healthcare in the years and decades to come. We have developed a novel food as medicine platform which includes evidence-based nutrapharma, medically tailored targeted meals and nutritional counselling. We use nutrition as a core node in a behavioral support model to get patients optimized for surgery and then transition them to healthy habits that will stay with them throughout their lives. This first to world integrated model is a game changer that will save billions from poor surgical outcomes and even more from the burden of lifestyle preventable chronic illnesses.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When you’re building something completely new, it’s a constant learning and optimization process. When we first started, my brother and I literally tried to formulate a nutrapharma product at home. To call it swamp gas in terms of its taste and odor might not be that much of a stretch. It wasn’t so much of a mistake (we knew we weren’t going to produce the actual product at home) as it was an experiment, but it did give us insights into just how complex a formulation and production process is. That leads to the very important lesson, in that there is no substitute for rolling up your sleeves and doing the work. Learning every aspect of your business hands on. I’ve been the chemist, the shipping department, the copywriting, the production manager, etc. at different points in the journey. And I wouldn’t change that if I were to do it over again. There is enormous value in getting into the weeds and learning your business.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

I very intentionally surrounded myself with advisors, particularly in areas like nutrition, where I had limited knowledge. My science advisors formulated our Repair and Recover product, which is now regularly stealing market share from a large incumbent. Repair and Recover is used by 30+ professional sports teams, the US Military, and countless doctors across the country. The credit on the strength of the formula goes to them. More recently I brought on an advisor that is helping me to navigate sales into health systems. Needless to say, health systems are slow, complex, and the sale cycles are extremely long. Having someone who has been inside the walls of these health systems counsel me has been invaluable. Mend is now being utilized as some of the most prestigious hospitals in the country.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

If you speak purely in the colloquial sense, disruption refers to the introduction of a new product, service, or technology that fundamentally changes an existing industry or market.

To answer whether disruption is good or bad we really need to have a temporal lens as homo sapiens have been creating disruptive change throughout our history. Often, when a truly disruptive innovation takes hold, it causes certain constituents an enormous amount of pain and dislocation, while others find opportunity for unparalleled wealth creation. The long arc of innovation I believe is generally a positive one if we look at it through the lens of reducing hunger, poverty, and limiting suffering.

Given that we have built a free-market capitalist economy, I don’t think we can slow down or stop change. As innovators identify opportunities to change the status quo and make a lot of money doing it, disruptive change will continue to come our way. It’s a core feature of our system and I believe one that gives us our competitive edge in a global economic context.

We cannot stop disruption; however, we can be thoughtful about erecting safeguards to limit the blowback and unintended harm that can come as a result of something fundamentally new.

There’s a fierce debate raging right now over AI and the potential for untold harm if we don’t put in place strong safeguards. The technology domain is racing ahead far more quickly than our ability to understand the full implications and our ability to enact policies to protect us. As leaders of industry and for those on the frontiers of change, it’s incumbent on us to keep our greed in check and operate with some core principles and ethics on our responsibility to society. We all can and should sing the chorus of responsible technology and have a core moral and ethical framework that guides our efforts.

Can you please share 5 ideas one needs to shake up their industry? If you can, please share a story or an example for each.

1. Understand the market, live it, breath it, become intimate with the problem space. In my case, mend was the outcome of a number of health challenges in the family and firsthand experience with health systems and the nature of acute care.

2. Turn the problem inside out and challenge orthodoxies. I asked why nutrition wasn’t being utilized as a medical modality and being developed in a pharma like manner for use in conventional healthcare.

3. Test and iterate and repeat as there is no substitute for actually testing your solution with end customers. Many of your assumptions will be wrong and you won’t know until you test. I had a core thesis that I could go to market in the physical therapy channel but learned of a number of barriers to adoption only through testing.

4. Be tenacious. Disruptive innovation and being a change agent is hard stuff and you will encounter numerous roadblocks on your journey. You cannot become discouraged by roadblocks, you must be tough, resilient, gritty and resourceful. I have encountered roadblock after roadblock but have found a path around or through each of them. And I anticipate plenty more ahead, it’s par for the course.

5. Stay anchored in mission and purpose. There will be very long nights and you will be challenged and tested in countless ways. What will keep you going through all of it is your passion for the mission and purpose. My journey has been about helping to improve healthcare, healing, and human health. I wake up each day with joy in my heart about working on this mission and it pulls me through when difficulties arise.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

We are facing a crisis at a staggering and unsustainable financial cost. The rise of chronic diseases in America is underscored by alarming statistics that highlight the scale of the problem. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), chronic diseases account for approximately 6 out of 10 deaths in the United States each year. Heart disease, cancer, and stroke alone contribute to nearly half of all deaths. Obesity rates have also reached epidemic proportions, with around 42.4% of adults considered obese as reported by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. This increase in obesity has a direct correlation with the rise in chronic conditions such as type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and certain types of cancer. Diabetes affects approximately 34.2 million people in the U.S., with an estimated 7.3 million cases going undiagnosed. Furthermore, the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease, a chronic neurodegenerative disorder, has surged to affect an estimated 6.2 million Americans, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. These statistics serve as a stark reminder of the urgent need to address the rise of chronic diseases in America through proactive healthcare strategies and public health initiatives.

Mend intends to be a core pillar of “Medicine 3.0”, a system that makes wellspan and adding quality years to our lifespan a priority. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done in this area and we want to play an outsized role.

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

I listen to Hidden Brain quite regularly and have recently read several books including Outlive, Anti-Cancer Living, The Invisible Machine, Disease Delusion and How Healing Works. There’s so much wisdom in each of these that I don’t want to single out any one in particular. The common thread in all of them is that transformative change for personal health and wellness is possible and within reach for each of us. Small modest changes accumulate over time and new habits and behaviors have a compounding effect. One of the habits I’ve developed is to start each day with a set of morning affirmations and meditation. I do this because I know how powerful the subconscious mind is and that it requires effort to program and reprogram it. With a thirty-minute routine to start my day, I’m inserting new software into my subconscious mind. Deliberate insertion of programs that I believe will enhance my wellbeing.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I have become a big fan of Stoicism as I believe there is enormous benefit in striving to live a virtuous life and in acceptance. The core Buddhist training is all about acceptance and directing one’s energy and focus inward. I think the principles in both philosophies are the antidote to the stress and dissonance many people experience in modern life. Living virtuously, with benevolence and love in your heart and accepting life in all its color and taste has a way of unlocking serenity and fulfillment.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

Aggregate well-being and aggregate happiness, that’s what I believe we should be measuring as a yardstick for our success as a species. There is far too much needless suffering, and we have all the know-how, resources and tools to improve aggregate well-being and aggregate happiness. I would be overjoyed if we could create a global movement around these two metrics.

How can our readers follow you online?

I’m on LinkedIn, where I occasionally publish my thoughts. I’ve recently activated a Twitter account, however, haven’t decided what kind of role I want to play on this platform. Mend is on all the standard social channels and we’re actively publishing information that we think will be valuable to the health of society.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!



Fotis Georgiadis
Authority Magazine

Passionate about bringing emerging technologies to the market