DNA Spectrum Applies the Start-up Business Model to Genetic Ancestry

A new online company run by an international team of business managers and genetic researchers releases DNA test packages to help clients discover their ethnic origins.


January 20, 2012—The plummeting cost of genetic sequencing has led to rapid growth in the DNA analysis field. The newest addition to the market, DNA Spectrum, just launched three DNA test packages to help the curious uncover their genetic heritage.

While the main office and laboratory, led by Dr. Donald N. Yates, is based in Phoenix, Arizona, Donald’s son, CEO Paul Yates, runs the company from his home in Huntington Beach. Partners Valentin Shmidov and Adam Ableman are also based in California, while the third principal, George Berar, lives in Romania. Paul Yates met Shmidov, Ableman and Berar through doing related business with their company Benevolent Generation, an angel investor and online marketing agency.

In many ways, DNA Spectrum functions like a tech startup. Most of the staff members have full-time day jobs while DNA Spectrum has been their side project at night. It’s rare that all 19 of the company’s employees can get on a conference call at the same time, so the team uses the website basecamphq.com to share coding and ideas, set deadlines, and plan future projects.

“In today’s society, you don’t get together, decide to start a business, go rent an office space, hire a receptionist, plug in phone and computer lines, and print up letterheads and business cards,” Paul Yates says. “I think the best way to go is to get like-minded people who are already working on similar projects together who trust each other.”

DNA Spectrum was born out of the passion of Paul’s father, Dr. Donald N. Yates, who became interested in genealogy and genetics after learning the secrets to his own heritage. Dr. Yates, who has worked as a professor at Notre Dame, University of North Carolina, University of West Florida and Georgia Southern University, confirmed his mother’s ancestry was Cherokee Indian. Next, he found out he was Jewish.

He worked with the U.S. company Sorenson Genomics and a statistics program developed by a San Diego police detective, to learn as much as he could about genetic testing and analysis. Donald started a company in 2004 to commercialize his academic research interests and help others discover their genetic origins. In 2006, the company founded a proprietary method for determining ethnic ancestry.

In partnership with Benevolent Generation, the Yates’s launched DNA Spectrum in December 2011, to combine this cutting-edge science and consulting with the power of online marketing and e-commerce. The company built upon existing research and testing capabilities to come out with an internet-ready product that stands out from the pack.

While most genetic testing sites, such as Ancestry.com, Family Tree DNA and 23andMe, use mitochondrial or Y chromosome analyses—which test the mother’s or the father’s line respectively—DNA Spectrum applies “next-generation” autosomal DNA testing that traces both parents to give clients the whole picture of their genetic background.

The company zeroes in on sixteen genetic markers, which are compared with samples from more than 400 world populations and nearly 120,000 individuals. After a process of advanced statistical analysis, the data is compiled into a reader-friendly profile report and ethnicity certificate that clients receive in the mail.

Beyond offering paper reports, DNA Spectrum invites people to email or call with any questions about their tests, and enables them to share their results with family and friends through social media features integrated into their online myDNA accounts. Clients can also opt for a DNA profile ID card, and an ancestral migration map for a unique visual way to understand their heritage among moving world populations. Customer service has always been a big focus of Dr. Yates, but the new team is taking it to the highest level with 24-hour phone and online support.

“We’re capitalizing on these really great ideas that my dad has but didn’t have the resources to bring to a wide market, and drawing on these people really good at execution and plugging them together,” Paul says. “What’s on the horizon is definitely exciting.”


About DNA Spectrum

DNA Spectrum was founded with the goal of delivering cutting edge genetic science in a format that is easy to understand and meaningful. Using autosomal DNA analysis and a database of more than 400 world populations, DNA Spectrum offers the most comprehensive genetic ancestry test available, with the clearest presentation. For more information or to order a kit, please visit DNAspectrum.com.

Media Contact:

Paul Yates
CEO, DNA Spectrum
(310) 739-7282

DNA Spectrum

26438 N 42nd Way
Phoenix‎ AZ‎ 85050
United States
(888) 806-2588