Category Archives: Events and exhibitions

Dragon Duncan misses the bigger picture!

By Kelly Lea

Oxfordshire couple and co-founders of PlayDNA, Dr. Samantha Decombel and Dr. Stuart Grice, were seen on BBC2’s Dragons’ Den last night pitching for £50,000 investment in their business which creates artwork from DNA at Cherwell Innovation Centre. 

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Dr Stuart and Dr Sam face the dragons

Together for 17 years, the couple had an attractive business proposition if only the expert panel of entrepreneurs were able to keep their mind on the business in hand. Instead, viewers saw the Dragons probing for personal information about Sam and Stuart’s marital status rather than focussing on PlayDNA’s business potential, ending with Peter Jones offering the sum of £50,000 to Stuart if he proposed to Sam on the show.

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Spot the scientists!

Undeterred by the TV experience filmed in May 2013, the business savvy couple have recently launched MuscleGenes, a sports specific spin-off company of PlayDNA, established to analyse genes that impact on fat burning, endurance, speed, metabolism and aerobic capacity.

The company already boasts celebrity clients including professional rugby player, Roger Wilson and TV presenter Andi Peters, both of whom have endorsed MuscleGenes via testimonials and social media. Celebrity doctor Dr Christian Jessen of Embarrassing Bodies fame is also known to have taken the test. Jessen

Dr. Samantha Decombel explains: “MuscleGenes has taken us to a whole new market.  Our sales have already eclipsed PlayDNA in our first few months of trading and we have experienced significant growth and appetite for our product in the UK and US.  We feel Duncan Bannatyne definitely missed a trick by not looking at the bigger picture, especially with his knowledge of the sports sector.”

The MuscleGenes test focuses solely on the information contained within an individuals DNA to help fine tune training programmes, performance and nutritional advice, with no artwork involved.

Swabbing 8-times Mr Olympia Ronnie Coleman!

Swabbing the legendary Ronnie Coleman!

The idea for MuscleGenes came about shortly after the den experience in a chance meeting with co-founder, Dr. Dan Reardon, a medic and former personal trainer.

Within 3 months MuscleGenes was formed and the impact was immediate. “Our sales went through the roof and we had to take the product off sale because we couldn’t manage the demand!” says Dr. Samantha Decombel. “In May, we were despondently walking out the den without investment. By September, we were in Vegas at the Mr Olympia event swabbing 8-times Mr Olympia Ronnie Coleman!”

MG team, Stu, Bernie, Mark, Sam, Dan

The MuscleGenes team in their lab space at Cherwell Innovation Centre

The team is already five strong with plans to recruit an additional two people to join the Cherwell Innovation Centre HQ following further investment in high-throughput equipment. Commenting on her journey to date, Dr. Samantha Decombel continues: “It is difficult for scientists to have the ability to start-up a company due to the significant investment needed in lab space and equipment.  We have been very lucky to discover Cherwell Innovation Centre, as rather than funding an entire lab, we have been able to just rent a bench in addition to sharing equipment and office space with scientists who are in a similar situation.  This has enabled us to invest in other areas, such as our branding and marketing, vital for product sales and the success of the business.”

Cherwell Innovation Centre is one of the only facilities in Oxfordshire to provide a flexible agreement for start-ups interested in lab space, office space and meeting room facilities.

MG Nation pics

The MuscleGenes Nation!
The sharp-eyed amongst you may spot a few IFBB Pros amongst the happy MG customers

MuscleGenes new website is now live with the aim of capitalising from primetime TV exposure gained through the Dragons Den appearance.  To find out more about the company and how genetics can help improve your sports performance, visit: musclegenes.com.  Alternatively, visit PlayDNA for a family DNA portrait.

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A happy ending!

For people intrigued by the Dragons’ probing into Sam and Stuart’s personal life, the University of Oxford DPhil Geneticist proposed to his business partner and girlfriend last November in Stratford-upon-Avon, the location of their first date just before Sam’s 16th birthday.  The couple are now both 33.  Dr. Samantha Decombel concludes: “We are (finally!) very happily engaged to be married and after 17 years of waiting I wouldn’t swap Stuart’s eventual proposal for any amount of Peter’s money, it was much more romantic than a TV studio!”

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Filed under Customer stories, Dr Samantha Decombel, Events and exhibitions, Genetics, Media, New Products, Science, Update

Come PlayDNA at Taylor Wimpey’s Kingsmere Development – and win!

The new Taylor Wimpey development at Kingsmere

The new Taylor Wimpey development at Kingsmere

Are you anywhere near Bicester in Oxfordshire this weekend? If you are, you can drop into Taylor Wimpey’s Kingsmere development and view some of our unique DNA Art on display – and as if that wasn’t enough to tempt you, you could also win a fabulous prize worth over £2000!

A keen supporter of local small businesses, home developer Taylor Wimpey have very kindly offered us the use of their three, four and five bed showroom properties for a photographic shoot. Beautifully designed inside and out, we’re looking forward to taking some stunning images!

Darren McCormack, regional sales and marketing director for Taylor Wimpey, says: “We are really pleased that we have been able to work with such a prominent local artist and help display her work. The PlayDNA artwork is totally unique and makes a great talking point for any home. What’s more, the artwork can be displayed in various different colours and formats, so you can have it styled ready to feature in your brand new home.

We love Sharmaine's traditional yet natural style. Copyright: Sharmaine Sepehr photography. Not to be reproduced without permission.

We love Sharmaine’s traditional yet natural style.
Copyright: Sharmaine Sepehr photography. Not to be reproduced without permission.

“Plus, anyone who visits the development during the event can enter into a free prize draw to win a family membership at Bicester Hotel Golf & Spa worth over £2,000!”

To make the most of this fabulous opportunity we’ve teamed up with up and coming Oxfordshire professional Wedding Photographer Sharmaine Sepehr who will be taking our shots on the day. Sharmaine specialises in family portrait photography with a creative yet unobtrusive style. She will also be providing the sample images for our new range of Framed Photo Prints. You can view a selection of Sharmaine’s work here.

A collection of our unique artwork will be on display at Taylor Wimpey’s Kingsmere development on Sunday 21st April from 10.30am to 5pm. Dr Samantha Decombel, Co-Founder of PlayDNA Ltd, will be attending personally from 11am to 1pm, so if you want to talk all things DNA, pop in and say hi!

Please click here for the full press release: DNA Artist Event at Taylor Wimpey Kingmere – Press Release

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PlayDNA gets thumbs up from Debenhams crowd!

Debenhams wedding fairAfter an overwhelmingly positive response to our first wedding fair at the 5* Randolph Hotel, Oxford, in January we were delighted to be invited to exhibit our new range of Framed Prints at the Debenhams Oxford department store last weekend.

Following hot on the heels of Valentines Day, the traditional British retailer held a Wedding Fair on Saturday 16th February 2013 to celebrate love, commitment – and how to have a fabulous wedding!

Dr Sam talks through our new product range

Dr Sam talks through our new product range with some keen shoppers

Dr Sam explains the interpretable nature of a PlayDNA portrait

Dr Sam explains the interpretable nature of a PlayDNA portrait – and why they make such great wedding gifts!

As well as the many excited brides and grooms, a busy Saturday crowd kept PlayDNA Founders Dr Samantha Decombel and Dr Stuart Grice chatting about their novel artwork all afternoon. More than one person were stopped in their tracks by the colourful display pieces and paused to admire the ‘extremely cool’ and ‘fascinating’ artworks as they browsed the aisles.

As a wedding gift never to be forgotten you certainly couldn’t do better than a PlayDNA portrait – a fun way to see how compatible the bride and groom might be!

Do opposites attract? Or are you the perfect match? Beautiful genetic portraits for couples and families that come complete with your own DNA analysis and guide.

Available now, just contact sam@playdna.co.uk for more information or take a look at our facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/playdna.

Own a wedding portrait as unique as you

 

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