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How The Founder Of Rootine Is Revolutionizing Nutrition And Wellness

The Crunchbase “Female Founder Series,” comprises stories, Q&As, and thought-leadership pieces from glass-ceiling-smashers who overcame the odds and are now leading successful companies.


Rachel Sanders, CEO and co-founder of Rootine, is dedicated to optimizing health and human performance with precise nutrition. 

After graduating from business school, Sanders was constantly fighting stress and fatigue. Through this challenging experience, Rootine was born. Rootine uses personalized cellular nutrition solutions to leverage better health and is furthering its mission through its recently announced $3 million seed round. As one of the few female founders within the data-driven health industry, Sanders aspires to deliver the highest quality solutions for better health. 

In this Q&A, Sanders shares her journey starting and growing Rootine, how she has evolved as a leader, and her advice for founders who are starting out. 

Rachel Sanders, CEO and co-founder of Rootine headshot
Rachel Sanders, CEO and co-founder of Rootine

Q: What is the story behind Rootine’s founding?

Before I met my co-founder, Dr. Daniel Wallerstorfer, we were both determined to optimize our own health and performance, each on a different side of the Atlantic. Daniel, a Ph.D., biotechnician, nutrigenetic expert, author and founder, was busy building Europe’s leading genetics lab, Novogenia. I was an ex-investment banker and recent Harvard Business School MBA graduate and was in the midst of founding my first company. We were both fighting stress and fatigue, searching for better solutions to improve performance, and were unimpressed with the status quo. So we did something about it.

We were inspired to make a positive human impact through the next generation of health solutions, and driven by a common mission to empower people to leverage their personal data to optimize health and performance. So we came together to launch Rootine. Rootine is a nutrition startup rooted in science and data that combines technology, precision micronutrients and software to help users track and improve their health. 

 

Q: What problem does Rootine solve? When it comes to that issue, what are some of the most meaningful impacts Rootine has had to date? 

Rootine is optimizing cellular nutrition using data and science, building holistic solutions tailored to the individual versus a one-size-fits-all product approach. We are also combining health data analysis, precision-personalized products, and software to support health improvement.  

Nutrition is a key aspect of maintaining and improving health and can be broken down into two main categories: macronutrients and micronutrients. Most U.S. diets get enough (or too many) macronutrients, but lack adequate daily micronutrients to maintain optimal cellular nutrition. The CDC found that 80 percent of people don’t eat all recommended foods daily, indicating a lack of adequate micronutrients from diet alone. 

Achieving and maintaining optimal cellular nutrition through micronutrients is critical for overall health. Inadequate daily micronutrient intake can impact many aspects of health including stress, fatigue, mood, metabolism, sleep, immunity and more. Products formulated for the masses, based on antiquated standards and averages, do not take individual health data into account, and often contain questionable ingredients and deliver subpar results.

Today, consumers have access to the personal health data relevant in determining individual micronutrient requirements, but they cannot leverage their data effectively. Rootine built its precision nutrition platform to ingest, analyze and match health data with thousands of clinical studies to deliver actionable insights and precision-personalized products with the goal of producing better health outcomes.

 

Q: What’s one thing you wish you had known before starting your company?

Decision fatigue and burnout are real. These are things that people say, but you don’t really understand until you experience life as a startup founder. Tracking your data and paying attention to your body, your energy and mental clarity will help you better manage the stresses that come with startup life and ultimately allow you to perform better. 

 

Q: What has worked for you in terms of customer acquisition? What hasn’t worked? How have you been able to differentiate yourself in terms of product offerings?

Rootine is going after a $700 billion market that operates within the fastest-growing segment: personalized nutrition. What makes us different is our dedication to delivering the highest-quality solutions rooted in science and data. Specifically, we have a better process with our test-take-track approach, have better data and insights from our precision nutrition tech, and have a better delivery format with our slow release microbeads. 

 

Q: How important have you found branding to be for the success of Rootine? What are the most important branding lessons you’ve learned along the way?

Branding is incredibly important. Your brand is how you tell the story of your business and products to your customers and how your customers explain your company to their friends and family. It is critical to dial into who your target audience is and how you communicate with them. Most importantly, you have to be really clear about your positioning as a brand and make sure that positioning flows through to every customer touch point from the website through to the unboxing experience. 

 

Q: What’s the main lesson you’ve learned about hiring since you started Rootine, and  what are the most important things you look for when bringing on a new hire?

A well thought out and collaborative onboarding experience is critical to ensure new hires can start contributing quickly. Over time, we have increased access to company information via Notion, created unique onboarding documents by department, and have strategic check-ins and goal setting sessions throughout the first 90 days. Our goal is to have new hires start contributing by week two. 

We look for people who will be additive to the team and to our culture. We are building remote-first, so the ability to work and contribute in this type of environment is also important.  

Beyond those qualities, the most important things we look for are:

  1. A curiosity and predisposition to innovation and challenging the status quo;
  2. An ability to work, build and create with empathy for everyone, including Rootine members, vendors and internal team members;
  3. Experience and domain knowledge for the given role; and
  4. The demonstrated ability to be solutions-focused and data-driven.
 

Q: What is one challenge you have faced as a female founder? What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs in a similar situation?

While fundraising and speaking about Rootine in general, I certainly experience a number of well-documented challenges, most notably the promotion versus prevention questions. Recognizing the question type and developing a script to turn prevention questions into promotion answers has been very beneficial. I am also one of the few female founders in the next-generation data-driven health and wellness space, giving Rootine and me a unique perspective in the market. 

 

Q: Which books, podcasts, educational programs, or other resources have been most helpful to you since starting Rootine?

I constantly search out new ways to learn and find inspiration through podcasts, newsletters, webinars, books and more. Some of the top resources I am using to learn right now are: 

  1. Dreamers & Doers
  2. All Raise
  3. OnDeck
  4. Nick Sharma’s newsletter
  5. NFX’s newsletter
  6. Alex Iskold’s newsletter
  7. Future by a16z’s newsletter
 

Q: What advice would you give someone starting out on the journey you’re on?

The founder journey is long and can be challenging. Ensure you are scheduling in time for self-care. As founders, we cannot afford to miss days or weeks due to low energy, sickness, or brain fog, so paying attention to your health stack is critical. You won’t be able to perform at your best if you are not optimizing your nutrition, sleep, exercise and mental fitness. The best way to do that is through data. Tracking metrics and making informed decisions creates better outcomes than the “guess-and-check” mentality. 

Beyond self-care, there are a few other pieces of advice that I would offer:

  1. Build the best team of experts and executors you can, including your early employees, investors and advisers. People can be the ultimate differentiator. 
  2. Decision fatigue is real, but making decisions is critical. Find a way to make decisions and move forward. If you make a mistake, reassess, and continue on. 
  3. Learn how to thrive in uncertainty.

Rachel Sanders is a member of Dreamers & Doers, a private collective that amplifies extraordinary entrepreneurial women through thought leadership opportunities, authentic connection and high-impact resources. Learn more about Dreamers & Doers and subscribe to their monthly The Digest for top entrepreneurial and career resources.