Microbiome Insights, Inc. won the Innovate BC $60,000 2nd place prize and the $10,000 CDRD Life Sciences in-kind prize in 2017. Since then, they’ve raised 1.3M, grown their team by 5x, and have worked with over 100 clients around the world.

Interview with Malcolm Kendall, co-founder and CEO.

Photo of Malcolm Kendall courtesy of INTERFACE Health. Photo credit: Kris Krug.  

Your company’s quick elevator pitch – what do you do, and why are you passionate about it?

Microbiome Insights is a global leader in microbiome testing, which includes DNA sequencing of microbial communities and state-of-the-art bioinformatic analysis. We offer a wide range of services (a one stop shop) that enables researchers and clinicians to easily and effectively include microbiome analysis in their studies across a range of human, animal, agricultural and environmental applications. We are based in Vancouver, Canada, having spun out of the Life Science Institute and the Personal Medicine Initiative at UBC.

Our multidisciplinary team of researchers and thought leaders provide access to decades of expertise in traditional sciences such as ecology, microbiology, infectious diseases, and genetics. We are committed to providing clients with fast, dependable, cost-effective results.

You had entered the competition in 2016, making the top 10. Did you approach the competition differently the second time around, and were you aiming for the top prize?

In fact, I have had the pleasure of participating in the NVBC competition three times – once as the CEO at Indel Therapeutics in 2009 and twice as the CEO of Microbiome Insights in 2016 and 2017. All three times, we advanced to the top 10, and in every case we were going for the top prize. I think what made the difference in 2017 was the care we put into the delivery of our final pitch, and being able to show judges an additional year’s worth of success, sales and validation.

You won both 2nd prize and also the CDRD life sciences prize. How have you used your prize money / in-kind services?

The prize money was invested in sales and marketing to accelerate the growth the business. We have more than doubled sales every year since we were founded in 2015.

Any updates or successes you can share since completing the Competition? How did the competition help or contribute to your success?

Since competing in the NVBC, we raised $1.3M and continue to grow quite rapidly at a 2X+ rate. Our team has also expanded by over 5x in the last year.

We are very proud of the work we have done with over 100 clients (all over the world), supporting over 200 microbiome studies and testing more than 15,000 samples. In addition, just recently, we signed a strategic collaboration agreement with a multi-national company consumer products company.

The competition has contributed to our success by providing external validation that we can share with potential clients and investors. And during the competition, it forced us to really focus on our business and strategy, resulting in better execution and improving how we tell our story. The results speak for themselves.

What was the best feedback from a mentor, juror or fellow competitor that you received?

Wow, we received a ton of good feedback. More than anything they provided perspective and focus.

What tips do you have for this year’s Innovate BC-New Ventures competitors?

I have three main tips for startups entering the competition this year:

1. Take advantage of the programs and all the resources provided. 2. The judges are looking for viable companies that are going to have an impact. 3. They want to hear how you are going to go to market and win.

Any other comments you’d like to share?

I am a super big fan of the Innovate BC-New Ventures Competition and believe it has had and will continue to have a significant impact on our entrepreneurial ecosystem, elevating everyone’s game and bringing the community together. Looking forward to continuing to support the program and staying involved with NVBC as a judge and mentor.


Where are they now? SlickSpaces doubles team and fully scales out product