Vitargent believes that every person should have the information they need to make informed decisions about the products they purchase and consume. Their technology is not only enabling more widespread access to information, but it’s also pioneering the field of safety testing technology using medaka and zebrafish embryos – making animal testing a thing of the past.
Jimmy Tao, CEO of Vitargent, shares how his company is working to allow millions of people to understand what ingredients wind up in their food or cosmetic products, so they have the ability to make safer and healthier decisions.
What experience inspired you to start this company?
My family is super health conscious; my mum used to only buy products labeled “organic” or “natural.” However, many of those products listed interesting ingredients with long, unknown chemical names, and she wanted to know what they were. Since I’m a fairly well educated person, she thought I should know what they were, but I constantly disappointed her. So, I started to bring those products to my chemist or pharmacist friends who I believed could tell me the answers with ease. Unfortunately, they all encountered the same frustration.
Then, more and more food and product recalls and scandals popped up with even more unknown chemicals being added without detection by regulatory bodies. I realized there was an urgent need for a technology or platform to empower consumers with informed purchasing decisions and to help producers make safer products.
Why does this issue matter so much to you?
Food safety is a global issue. Manufacturers are finding it difficult to source real, “natural” raw materials due to pollution. Over 100,000 manmade chemicals are being used basically everywhere without any of us knowing the potential hazard to human beings. Without proper regulation, how would we know how they affect us in the short and long term? Studies in public health will only be able to review this after decades have passed; we are no more than guinea pigs, and our bodies are the biggest source of “animal” testing for most consumer products. Not to mention, ruthless businessmen are adding these illegal, harmful chemicals that can’t be detected by traditional chemical analysis without knowing what targeted chemicals to test. This should matter to everyone, and we all should ask what we can do to make a change.
Why is your solution unique?
Our innovation takes over 10 years to be validated and refined. We are using pharmaceutical grade biotechnologies and the best experts in the field of toxicology to provide a smart testing solution. We hired the best IP lawyers to prepare both offensive and defensive patents together with trade secrets to protect our current and future business interest. This makes us shine in many international stages as featured showcase and earns us numerous awards and recognitions globally and locally. In the past 2 years, we focused on the B2B market and we are highly recognized by our business clients especially with their R&D department through double blind trial.
However, given that our testing method isn’t the “regulatory” standard that usually takes several decades to get official approval, many big corporates don’t feel the urgency to apply our technology [to uncover information about their products]. Also, they worry about opening another pandora’s box by learning something they might not want to know. Big companies aren’t well prepared for this, even though food and product safety has become such a pressing social issue. In the coming 12 months, we will put a lot of effort into public education by introducing our product grading campaign with 21 selected topics including pet food, condom lubricants, coffee, dairy products, energy drinks and more.
What has been your company’s proudest moment been to date?
I always believe the best is yet to come, but I feel proud and fortunate to work on Vitargent, a company that has the privilege of empowering the lives of millions of consumers each and every day to choose safer products. What a blessing to have so many eminent leaders from all over the world to support us as shareholders and business and scientific advisors – spending their money, time and reputation to grow the company. We have a dedicated team who feels a sense of satisfaction beyond financial return. All of these things keep me going the extra mile to be a better leader.
What do you hope the world will look like as a result of your work?
Sounds cliché, but our innovation does make the world a better place. It’s a complete loop because it helps manufacturers produce safer products, then consumers have more and safer choices from the market, and by the end, all of those products go back into the environment at the end of their product life cycle. Safer products mean causing the least damage for Mother Nature. As long as we join hands with different stakeholders along the supply chain, we can truly create an inherently safe ecosystem where all parties benefit. This is not a dream – it’s something we’re actively working towards with our technologies.
This company participated in Unreasonable Impact created with Barclays, the world’s first multi-year partnership focused on scaling up entrepreneurial solutions that will help employ thousands while solving some of our most pressing societal challenges.