EmpireSpit iGEM developed AptaStress, an aptamer-based stress testing kit to provide a measurement to those who are undergoing acute stress. Here, we outline our business plan to bring our testing kit to the market and demonstrate AptaStress’s entrepreneurial viability. AptaStress is an affordable but effective testing method used at home with our developed home PCR machine, cutting back the timely process of tracking your stress.


Primary Problem

Acute stress leads to chronic stress which can lead to mental illnesses

Mental health is the second most prevalent health concern in the world. According to the World Health Organization, in 2019, 1 in every 8 people, or 970 million people around the world were living with a mental disorder. The most common cause of mental illness is stress, more specifically chronic stress: a consistent sense of feeling pressured and overwhelmed over a long period of time. However, many fail to identify the primary cause of chronic stress. This cause is the build-up of acute stress: a short-term physiological and emotional response to a perceived threat or pressure that triggers the body's "fight or flight" reaction. In layman’s terms, having many cases of short term stress over a long period of time leads to chronic stress.

Secondary Problem

Current stress detection methods are time-inefficient and costly

To combat mental illness, some resort to stress detection methods. However, current detection methods in the market are time-inefficient with most taking over two-weeks for the customer to get detection results. The main cause of this downtime being the time it takes for the test to be sent from the customer’s location to the lab and back. Current stress detection kits in the market are also costly with the average price of a kit costing over $200. Although $200 might seem miniscule in the context of the treatment quality, this price is not affordable for the average customer who might need to buy at least two or three kits each month.

Tertiary Problem

Blood draws and other detection methods are invasive

Currently, the most common way of detecting stress is through blood draws and other invasive methods. Tests such as ECGs, GDRs, and blood tests, all involve drawing blood or using electrodes. With blood tests, there is a risk of pain, bleeding, fainting, bruising, infection, and/or hematoma. Additionally, it is only recommended to get blood drawn once a year. If mental health professionals wanted to get stress levels for each meeting this would be very inconvenient and potentially dangerous to the patient’s health. Furthermore, the use of electrodes for testing pose a detrimental risk to a patient’s health as it can cause spasms, lower blood-pressure to a suboptimal level, cause inflammation or infection at electrode implantation sites, and internal bleeding.

Our Solution

Primary Solution

AptaStress allows for acute stress detection

With the use of aptamers, AptaStress is able to detect acute stress. AptaStress does this by measuring the levels of alpha-amylase in a person’s salivary fluids. By detecting the levels of acute stress, AptaStress is able to combat the causes of chronic stress, which is a leading cause of mental illness. With AptaStress detecting acute stress, more people will become aware of what acute stress is and the dangers of acute stress through their kits.

Secondary Solution

AptaStress is cost-effective and time-effective

By giving customers test kits to take home, we allow them to receive results abruptly right then and there in the comfort of their home. AptaStress simply eliminates the long and tedious process of receiving stress results in current detection methods. Customers can simply use a swab to collect their saliva and input it into our home PCR machine to detect their acute stress and will receive results in under a few hours. AptaStress is also cost-effective compared to current stress test kits in the market. Current kits in the market use ELISA to detect stress levels, however AptaStress uses aptamers which are affordable with prices ranging from $1–4 per microgram. The AptaStress take home PCR kit has a $45 retail production price and will sell at $75.

Tertiary Solution

AptaStress is non-invasive

By allowing customers to appraise their acute stress levels at home with the use of salivary detection, we completely eliminate invasive methods such as blood draws and electrodes. AptaStress’s anti-invasive aspect simply allows for safer, easier, and simpler stress testing.


Primary Segment

Individuals who are at the risk of chronic stress and looking to measure their acute stress

AptaStress primarily targets the general public concerned about their health and stress levels, with its primary customer base being regular individuals at risk of chronic stress seeking to measure their acute stress levels. The rationale for this segment is straightforward: individuals at risk of stress-related diseases and chronic stress are deeply invested in their health and well-being, seeking a convenient means to monitor their acute stress levels, which is crucial in reducing their risks of common stress-induced health complications like hypertension, Type II diabetes, and heart disease (Yale Medicine). This customer segment encompasses a wide range of age groups, from the younger generation who are increasingly conscious of their mental health to the aging population concerned about their overall well-being.

Secondary Segment

Health centers and institutions

Our secondary customer segment includes doctor's offices, where patients often experience high levels of stress due to work, school, or personal life pressures, potentially leading to health issues. AptaStress offers valuable assistance by detecting stress levels in patients and facilitating meaningful discussions on stress management strategies. Given that routine medical tests are already a part of most people's lives and mental illness diagnoses are common, AptaStress can serve as a proactive tool. Incorporating this stress assessment into annual check-ups and other necessary medical record updates allows doctors to regularly monitor their patients' acute stress levels, ultimately reducing the risk of stress-related health complications.

In addition to doctor's offices, our secondary customer segment encompasses mental health institutions and hospitals. AptaStress, with its stress level detection capabilities, would be a valuable addition to their routine checkups for patients and residents. If elevated stress levels are identified, these institutions can take timely measures to provide care and support to individuals at risk of stress-related diseases and chronic stress. Moreover, measuring a patient's stress level offers valuable insights into tailoring their treatment and determining whether additional tests are necessary for more effective patient care.

Tertiary Segment

Farms and pet hospitals

The company's tertiary customer segment includes farmers and pet hospitals. Since animals cannot verbally express their stress levels, those who work with livestock and pets often rely on subjective cues like body language and behavioral changes, which can be less reliable, leading to the potential for missed signs of stress. Farmers and pet hospitals share a common concern for the well-being of the animals in their care. For farmers, managing the stress of livestock is crucial because elevated stress levels can weaken the animals' immune systems, making them more susceptible to illness and reducing fertility, incurring significant costs (Temple et al.). In pet hospitals, measuring an animal's stress level proves invaluable in determining the most appropriate handling methods and identifying signs of pain or anxiety that require further investigation.

Unique Value Proposition

Primary Proposition

AptaStress utilizes aptamers for detection

One pivotal distinction between our product and other mental health kits that assess stress biomarkers is our use of aptamers as a measurement system for detecting cortisol and alpha-amylase, in contrast to the more commonly recognized ELISA method. ELISA-based kits can be time-consuming, taking up to 6 hours to yield reliable results, and cost-prohibitive, with prices ranging from $500 to $790. By incorporating aptamers as our core measurement system, we not only introduce a groundbreaking approach to the medical field but also significantly reduce both time and cost. Furthermore, since DNA is more cost-effective than antibodies, the use of aptamers makes our solution an efficient choice.

Secondary Proposition

AptaStress measures alpha-amylase as its primary detection method

Existing mental health kits predominantly rely on measuring cortisol, a hormone associated with stress, (National Institute of Health). However, AptaStress recognizes the potential of alpha-amylase, a protein more abundant during 'fight or flight' responses, as a promising biomarker for stress in saliva.

Tertiary Proposition

AptaStress offers customer stress profiles

Another distinctive feature of our product is the inclusion of a stress and psychological profile for each user. These profiles will be based on the levels of various microRNA types, providing a comprehensive understanding of an individual's stress and psychological state.


Primary Channel

The online store would serve as the central hub for customers to explore and purchase mental health testing kits

AptaStress’s main way of reaching customers will be through the use of the company's online store, which is strategically designed to serve as a central hub for customers to explore and purchase our kits. The online store will be a place customers can access our kits through a user-friendly website that will provide a streamlined and seamless shopping experience that will make our kits accessible to an even wider audience. The website will have an user-friendly interface, with detailed product information, clear instructions on how to use the testing kits, and secure online payment options. The purchasing process will be simple where users can click to add our testing kits to their virtual shopping cart and proceed to a checkout page. The company can leverage digital marketing strategies, such as search engine optimization (SEO), pay-per-click (PPC) advertising, and social media marketing, to drive traffic to the online store.

Secondary Channel

Partnerships with healthcare professionals

AptaStress will reach customers through partnerships with healthcare professionals. This primary distribution channel effectively reaches our target customers by forging strong partnerships with physicians, clinics, and healthcare facilities that will ensure the widespread adoption of our product. Our approach is to establish strong and mutually beneficial partnerships with healthcare professionals to form a network across different healthcare settings. This will provide a seamless and trusted avenue for patients of trusted physicians to access our acute stress testing kits. AptaStress will connect and build relationships with doctors, equipping them with knowledge and resources needed to recommend our kits to their patients and positioning our kits as a reliable solution for stress assessment and management. By integrating our product into the existing healthcare system, easy accessibility, credibility, and patient trust can be created, resulting in widespread adoption.

Tertiary Channel

Health expositions

To further captivate more customers and interest investors, AptaStress can attend health & business expositions and events such as Mental Health America (MHA) Annual Conference, American Psychiatric Association (APA) Annual Meeting, and World Federation for Mental Health (WFMH) World Congress. This would offer a platform for knowledge sharing, networking, and discussing the latest advancements and challenges in mental health care.

Revenue Stream

AptaStress is poised to generate revenue through product sales via healthcare partnerships, over-the-counter versions available in retail and pharmacy stores, as well as sales on our online website. The company's revenue model follows a transaction-based approach, a sales revenue model, where income is primarily driven by the sales of AptaStress test kits. Our consumers are expected to buy one stress test kit every two years in order to establish their baseline stress levels and observe the fluctuations of their stress over time. The average customer lifetime value is projected to be $1500 if they continue using AptaStress for over ten years.

Our consumers are expected to buy one stress test kit every two years in order to establish their baseline stress levels and observe the fluctuations of their stress over time. The average customer lifetime value is projected to be $1500 if they continue using AptaStress for over ten years.

Figure #: Detalied Financials on our projected monthly statement

Key Metrics

Financial Metrics

AptaStress will track its annual revenue to gauge the product's market success. Additionally, we will maintain records of net profit, factoring in operating expenses and production costs. This data will enable us to adjust our business strategy by implementing cost-cutting measures as required. Should our profit margins fail to meet our objectives, we may need to reassess our incurred expenses or our production costs and methods. Furthermore, through continuous monitoring of monthly sales growth, we can assess our progress and formulate plans based on our alignment with our target goals.

Customer Metrics

While financial metrics are crucial for assessing the economic success of AptaStress, the user experience remains a significant factor. To evaluate the effectiveness of AptaStress tests from a consumer perspective, we will consider factors such as customer retention rates and satisfaction ratings. These metrics will enable us to refine the product based on the feedback we gather. Customer loyalty not only reflects the company's sustainability but also the level of familiarity associated with the AptaStress brand. Moreover, customer satisfaction ratings provide insights into whether AptaStress tests outperform competitors in terms of effectiveness and convenience.

Competitive Advantage

A clear advantage of AptaStress is that we offer much cheaper and less invasive stress detection methods than other companies in the market. This not only distinguishes us from our competitors but also positions us as the go-to choice for cost-effective and minimally intrusive stress assessment solutions, giving us a competitive edge in the industry and making 'stress detection made easy' our trademark. In other terms, we have the first-mover advantage, pioneering accessible and efficient stress monitoring solutions that are reshaping the landscape of stress management.

Full Business Plan

Check out our full business plan below!


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