Case Study: DNAeX

01/14/2015 Posted by Brandon

Running a desert marathon!

In 2016 Scott Longden plans to run in the Marathon Des Sables, a 250km self supported run across the Sahara Desert where you carry everything you need on your back in temperatures approaching 50C/122F.

Not my idea of fun.

For Scott a jog across the Sahara seems like the logical next step — he’s participated in numerous triathlons and marathons and is ready for the next challenge.

At that level you can’t simply trust your training or body to know if you are “competition-ready”. What is on the surface may not reveal the potential, or lack of potential, for competitive success.

Science has come along way in helping athletes like Scott. DNA science can now measure athlete-to-sport compatibility and tailor programs for specific genetic make-ups.

So how does this relate to Knack?

Not only is Scott an endurance athlete but he is also the Director for DNAeX Fit Test: an innovative genetic test that analyzes specific genes associated with an individual’s sport and exercise performance.

Scott and his team use this DNA analysis to provide structured fitness and nutrition programs to athletes.

The Problem: Compiling and sharing data and analyses

Athletes use swab kits to self-administer a DNA collection process. They mail this swab kit to the DNAeX clinicians for testing and then await the analysis to be compiled, printed and delivered.

The collection and testing process requires a data management solution well beyond the scope of your typical spreadsheet:

  • a database to store all of the data following the scientific analysis
  • a method to deliver and present this data to the client athlete in a secure manner
  • simplify the data entry/formatting process
  • allow for cloud accessibility across multiple devices
Not an easy feat, when you think about it.

Scott started by hiring developers to create the database software to store and analyze the DNA data. However, 6 months into the development (and thousands of dollars out of pocket), things appeared to be stalling as major deadlines were missed.

Scott decided he needed to take things into his own hands.

He did some web research and upon comparing and trialing a few online database solutions he quickly found Knack to be a great fit: it was the only one that wouldn’t impose limits on the number of fields he could use or the number of users that could access his application.

The Knack Solution: A client database portal

Scott began building his database application with Knack and within 4 days he had completed the app, something that professional developers could not do in 6 months!

In his 4 days Scott built a secure client portal that integrated all of his database requirements:

  • Input and analyze DNAeX data
  • Custom reports and data presentation
  • Secure access for clients
  • Web-based, mobile ready

With these components in place he had effectively established the backbone of his database application. Here is how he uses the application in practice.

  • Customers purchase and administer a DNAeX Fit Test
  • The Fit Test is sent to the DNAeX labs where analysis is conducted
  • The data analysis is recorded in the Knack application – manual input and via import
  • The Knack app formats the data into reports and forms while also performing numerous calculations
  • The customer is notified via email that the report is ready
  • Each customer signs on to the DNAeX portal to view his/her records from any web connected device

Previously, this data was managed in spreadsheets on a per-client basis. There was no online accessibility and the data needed to be transferred and compiled into hard documents and PDF’s.

Not bad for 4 days of work!

The power of rapid custom development

Knack enabled Scott to get to market faster with a product that met his functional requirements and at a fraction of the cost he was looking at for full-time developers.

Scott put this business-changing experience into perspective:

“For 2 developers over the course of a year, we would have incurred at least $250,000 in hard development costs and with Knack we created an opportunity savings by getting to market 6-12 months faster allowing us to begin generating revenue.”

The screenshots below, found on Scott’s website, represent the demo version of his application that he has recently presented to the Minister of Sports for India, Orthomed hospital in India, and Olympic Teams in China and India.

Scott has been encouraged by the early results: “Everyone who sees the app I created just goes ‘wow…we’ve never seen anything like this.”

This is a summary view of test results:

DNAeX Knack 1

This is a deeper dive into the analysis of the genes tested:

DNAeX Knack 2

For Scott, Knack isn’t just another software tool — it’s a critical piece of getting his business off the ground.

Or as Scott puts it, “Our business never would have started without Knack”.

We couldn’t be more delighted in seeing Knack play such a critical part in creating great businesses like DNAeX!