Anton Solonnikov had been a pharmacist for a decade when he saw a better healthcare solution.
People would come to Solonnikov’s pharmacy in search of the right vitamins, the right brands, the right dosages, and he would walk them through an aisle of options, aiming to get them as close as possible to what they’d need.
“People would ask, ‘But what’s right for me?’ I’d recommend what I could, but it’s different for everyone,” says Solonnikov. “As close as we’d get, it wouldn’t be totally personalized — and that didn’t seem right.”
Disturbed by the discrepancies in quality and dosages, Solonnikov had an idea: What if he could give people access to customized vitamins, in much the same way another medicine is dispensed?
The result is VitaminLab, an online, personalized supplement supplier, based on specific DNA testing.
“As a pharmacist, you see the health data and the solution, but there was no option for a custom vitamin,” he says. “Now a client can take a test and visualize their needs, so we can fill them.”
Solonnikov says people in this region are commonly deficient in Vitamin D and Omega 3, but other needs are more complex to assess. VitaminLab removes the guesswork.
“A lot of people take vitamins but don’t know why, or what they need,” says Solonnikov, whose team now includes physicians and pharmacists throughout Canada and the U.S. “Just like a Starbucks order, you should be able to get something made entirely for you, and now you can.”
A Q & A with Anton Solonnikov of VitaminLab
What advice would you give to someone just starting out?
Expect the challenges you face will be something you don’t usually face in any other scenario. Persist through it — believe in what you know. Sometimes you have to grind out the tough times because they will be there.
What was the scariest part of starting out?
The unknown is the scariest part of starting anything. You have this idea, but you’re not sure if the market will accept it. Just keep going.
What book or podcast have you found most inspirational?
The Secret Letters of the Monk Who Sold His Ferrari by Robin Sharma had an impact on me. It’s an inspirational look at how to take care of yourself in the full scope. It changed what I do.
What would you do differently if you could do it all again?
I think the way we got here was the right way, but it might have been nicer if we’d arrived quicker, and made some decisions sooner.
This article is from the April/May 2019 issue of Douglas.