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Have you sniffed a trillion different odours? You have the capacity



If you ever want a fact to impress your friends, try this one:


humans can distinguish between a trillion different odours


It’s quite mind boggling if you pause for thought, as when it comes to smell and our ability to do this we rarely do consider it until something goes wrong.



We have highly developed olfactory receptors through the nose and body


The information we smell is processed in the olfactory bulb. It processes this information from our olfactory receptors that line the inside of our noses. It gives us all kinds of information that helps each one of us make sense of the world. Photo: Ulysse Pointcheval


Think about that information for a moment.


How often do we rely on this sensory perception to protect ourselves, judge if something is not right or even know, when food, perfume or people are attractive or need to be avoided?


We are on the cusp of a dramatic breakthrough


Although we can actually distinguish between a trillion different odours it’s not something that we have ever been able to communicate particularly well. Certainly, it can be very hard to describe a smell precisely or accurately. It’s all about impression and comparison and a ‘you know what I mean’ kind of phraseology. But that is all changing, and we are certainly on the cusp of a dramatic breakthrough and business is excited by the possibilities.

There are companies now that have the capacity to digitise and quantify the process humans go through when they smell an odour or aroma. By using sensing technology, for the first time we are privileged to see just how sensitive our receptors really are. Think about that as a business opportunity.


Consider when we are lead by our noses, at different times in our lives


Our sense of smell informs so many decisions about what we should do and what things we need to purchase. Consider how many ‘smellies’ we purchase. From products we put in our shoes, we spray on carpets and sofas, that we use to fragrance a room and enhance our laundry; the market is huge. This is just one aspect. What about food? Food smells can reignite powerful memories, hunger, lust, disgust and so on. Photo: Meelan Bawjee

What would happen if you could ensure that the products you buy appeal to our own specific preferences?


What would happen if we had the capacity to quantify, reproduce and understand the senses of smell and taste in an unprecedented way? Well, guess what? We can. Now companies, like Aromyx, a biotechnology start-up, is applying biotechnology and data science to capture unique sensory data. They deliver data that ultimately transforms how companies will design products, target highly specific demographics and psychographics. It can help forecast trends and tap right into health and sustainability. Photo Daiga Ellaby


Companies have the capacity to digitise millennia of biology and it’s worth trillions in the marketplace


Aromyx can use the biological receptors from the human nose. They then create quantitative representations of sensory data. As I mentioned, this can then be used for multiple applications.



Aromyx technology has the potential to be disruptive almost everywhere


This technology allows Aromyx to quantify, reproduce and understand the senses of smell and taste in an unprecedented way. By enabling clear, reproducible digital representations of smell and taste, Aromyx technology has the potential to be disruptive across a wide range of industries. Aromyx products and services are in use at several Fortune 500 companies, in pharmaceuticals, chemicals, food & beverage and consumer packaged goods.

Working in the food and ingredients sector as an executive recruiter I am specifically intrigued by the impact their technology will have on taste and the food we consume and also what skills future candidates will need to possess. I have also been developing further understanding regarding the types of hires companies like this need to grow further and develop.


Right now, I am in the middle of interviews for this specific field, and it has been noteworthy how similar these roles are to higher multi national clients. They may well be equity-backed companies but the roles dovetail. However, the biggest difference is that although the job specifications are broadly similar the expectations over and above the day job are quite different. Photo: Geraldine Lewa

Working in a smaller business role means candidates will need to be perform in a much broader capacity than what’s on paper


After all, quite often there is no luxury of a dedicated PA or IT dept. I believe this kind of executive role requires a different type of individual within smaller company. It’s not about whether you can do the job after all, that is often evinced on a cv. It’s a bit more about whether a person, as an individual, would be able to function in these creative and agile environments. For example, there is often far less bureaucracy, things move much faster but there is often far less support that you might expect in a large corporation.

Of course, being in a new company that’s just completed its Series A funding is very exciting. To be part of the business at this stage can be extraordinarily fulfilling as the opportunities can be massive. This of course requires a different personality type and special character traits to thrive in this environment.

When we interview, we ask about how they might focus and what would they need to be successful


If the answer is: ‘a team of 200 people’ then they are not a good match. Decisions are made fast and sign off is rapid. The ability to adapt and be flexible with respect to rolling up one’s sleeves means the contribution is inevitably much greater than it may appear on paper.

What I do know is that within the food and ingredients sector the opportunities are extraordinary and it’s a real privilege to search for and discover such exciting candidates. If I can help you develop your talent pipeline, then please do give me a call.