Dr. Nikitha Kendyala and Dr. Purvikalyan Pallegar’s interest in gut health began a while ago.
At the time, Dr. Kendyala’s mother was suffering from gut health issues as a result of treatments she had received for cancer and tuberculosis. The couple soon realized that there was a huge knowledge gap in the field about maintaining a healthy gut microbiome.
Dr. Kendyala and Dr. Pallegar, who hold PhDs from Memorial University in biochemistry and biology respectively, saw that there was no medical service available in the health care system to test the status of your gut.
This led them to found Nucliq Biologics, a startup focused on developing a gut check kit that users can order online. Similar to an at-home DNA kit where individuals can learn about their ancestry, Nucliq simply requires users to mail in a stool sample using the kit to receive a personalized gut health report.
Coming from science backgrounds, Dr. Pallegar and Dr. Kendyala had little experience in the business world so they got involved with the Memorial Centre for Entrepreneurship (MCE) and Genesis to learn more about entrepreneurship.
“MCE is one of the best places for a student with an early-stage idea to validate their idea and learn from mentors,” says Dr. Pallegar.
When they heard about MCE’s Mel Woodward Cup, they decided to apply.
It was a hectic time for the co-founders. In addition to preparing for the competition in the midst of the pandemic, Dr. Kendyala also gave birth to their second child. Dr. Pallegar, who was finishing up his PhD, began an entrepreneurial work term with the MCE that allowed him to work on his startup full-time while receiving a $4,500 bursary.
“It was a crazy time but we’re fortunate enough to be safe and keep going,” he says.
“We could always move forward because of the support of the MCE ecosystem,” Dr. Kendyala adds.
Nucliq Biologics was named the winner of the 2020 Mel Woodward Cup, bringing home a grand prize of $25,000.
It’s made a huge difference for Nucliq Biologics, says Dr. Pallegar, with the funding allowing them to initiate product development and gain attention from investors and other players in the business.
“The Mel Woodward Cup is a great opportunity for student entrepreneurs. It will definitely help them bring their idea to reality.”