Jeff Ruby, Founder & CEO, Newtopia
Jeff Ruby is a health innovator with an extensive entrepreneurial track record in preventive health. Newtopia is a precision health company for sustainable habit change and disease prevention. Prior to founding Newtopia, Jeff was Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Cleveland Clinic Canada, a collaboration between the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and Canyon Ranch, and Canada’s leading destination for preventive health and lifestyle management. Before that, he served as Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Life Screening Centers, a cancer screening and prevention company. Prior to Life Screening, Jeff was a Co-Founder and Head of Operations of Genetic Diagnostics Inc., an early stage biotechnology company commercializing a new genetic diagnostic testing platform.
Jeff has a joint Juris Doctorate and Master of Business Administration (JD/MBA) from Osgoode Hall Law School and the Schulich School of Business in Toronto and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Western University.
Jeff is a global thought leader and expert on integrative, hyper-personalized, and highly engaging strategies to deliver proven, scalable and sustainable habit change. Jeff is passionate about making health care about keeping healthy people healthy.
What was the inspiration behind the founding of Newtopia? What made you decide to start this company and what are you hoping to accomplish through it?
I lost my father to cancer when I was young. Like many who have been touched by this horrible disease, it was difficult to watch him struggle and leave us too soon. It was then I realized that our health care system has little to do with keeping people healthy, focusing more on a reactive approach to acute illness rather than taking a preventative approach and managing chronic conditions.
Growing up I would remember sitting in the oncologist’s office with my father. I would overhear the importance of a lifestyle’s effect on genes, but didn’t fully understand at that age. I began to realize that there was something missing in the market, and in 2008 Newtopia was born out of the need to re-think preventative healthcare and inspire individuals to live healthier every day. Focusing on a sustainable, 1:1 individualized approach, our company takes into account social, psychological, and genetic insights, facilitating the prevention of chronic disease with individuals at risk of developing obesity, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, among other conditions.
My father’s battle with cancer was a catalyst and ultimately led to the creation of this company. I started Newtopia for my father, myself and my kids. I want to inspire every person on the planet to participate in a unique health plan suited for their own biological makeup, helping them live healthier lives.
It was recently announced that Newtopia will start trading on TSXV. How do you believe this decision to opt in for direct listing will impact the company?
Just as my father passing too soon was a catalyst for me in creating Newtopia, the COVID-19 pandemic is a catalyst for the global society to focus on disease prevention. This direct listing is an invitation to join us in the fight against chronic disease and a “sick care” system stuck on its back foot.
I see this impacting the team at Newtopia in a few ways:
- It provides a broader platform to tell our story, inviting investors to join this fight as we grow as a company.
- The direct listing shows greater transparency and operating discipline to stakeholders. All our clients are public employers and insurers, many Fortune 500 companies, and we believe that they would feel more comfortable doing business with a public entity.
- This offering also allows us currency to navigate potential mergers and acquisitions to accelerate our growth into potential new distribution avenues or product lines.
Newtopia is focussed on disease prevention. With the current COVID-19 outbreak, what advice can you give when it comes to implementing lifestyle measures to help prevent people from getting the virus?
Newtopia is focused on preventing lifestyle-related chronic diseases. There is a growing body of evidence that shows the majority of patients hospitalized and displaying complications with COVID-19 have some form of underlying chronic disease. Coming out of this pandemic, we all need to have a different outlook on how we live healthier lives and mitigate these potential risks.
Outside of government and public health recommendations, we do not offer any additional advice on preventing the chance of contracting COVID-19, but our hope is that by reducing the risk of chronic disease, we can eventually decrease potential complications from this virus and other respiratory related viruses that may occur in the future.
Has COVID-19 had an impact on Newtopia and if so, what strategies are you using to reduce this impact on the success of the business?
I believe the entire world has been impacted by COVID-19 and we are all in the process of learning how to come out of this together. Fortunately, Newtopia’s telehealth-enabled habit change platform naturally has been built for social distancing and as an essential service we remain fully open and active.
A large number of our clients are essential services within the US, many of whom are working closely with their employees to encourage healthy lifestyles. Our monthly engagement rates have remained high through the pandemic as participants look to Newtopia more than ever to keep them on the right track. Our team has also been agile when shifting to a full work-from-home model.
On a final note, what advice can you give to entrepreneurs in the health industry when it comes to helping people during the COVID-19 pandemic?
I would advise entrepreneurs to leverage remote devices or telehealth platforms to design products or experiences that offer real value in improving an individual’s health, not just incorporate elements of convenience. Then once you have something that is truly beneficial, go out and prove its value with pertinent clinical data.