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'You Need to be a Non-Expert': Why Billionaire Naveen Jain Believes Outsiders Make the Best Entrepreneurs Naveen Jain founded microbiome testing and supplements company Viome by believing he didn't need expertise to disrupt an industry.

By Jason Feifer Edited by Frances Dodds

This story appears in the March 2023 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

Courtesy of Naveen Jain

Naveen Jain had a crazy idea: Could he prevent and reverse chronic diseases?

Why was this crazy? To start, Jain is not a doctor. He's an accomplished technologist whose first company, InfoSpace, became one of North America's largest tech companies in the 1990s, and who then went on to found or spearhead many others, including a space company called Moon Express. But Jain wasn't intimidated to enter healthcare; he believes that outsiders produce the best ideas. And this was his big idea: What if he could sequence people's RNA — a nucleic acid similar to DNA, but that changes over a person's lifetime — to learn what their bodies need to be healthy? "I asked every expert, and the answer was yes," Jain says. "But they'd start laughing, because they said no one has ever done it. And I said, 'Let's not worry about that for a second.'"

That was in 2016. Today, his company Viome does exactly that: Users submit small samples of blood, spit, and stool, Viome analyzes their gut and cellular health, and then produces customized supplements to support their bodies. The company is expanding its testing capabilities further, and the FDA designated it as a "breakthrough device" for a product that detects oral and throat cancers.

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