Mr. Mittelman, CEO of Othram, said his company has received more than $400,000 from benefactors. According to Crunchbase, the startup has also raised $28.5 million from institutional investors to turn the market around this new investigative technique. Founded in The Woodlands, Texas in 2018, the company now has 30 employees, including five full-time genealogists, and will soon be moving to a new, room-sized building, Mr. Mittelman said. experiment four times the current. .
Othram’s pitch is simple: Government labs lack the expensive equipment needed to process DNA evidence – cigarette butts, blood-stained cloth, bones – that could be decades old, run down, or mixed with non-human materials. Now, it’s up to private laboratories to make the job of generating gene profiles compatible with those generated, much more easily, from the saliva of consumers. Then, forensic genetic genealogists must do the time-consuming work of sorting through third cousins and population records. Finally, another DNA test is usually required to confirm a suspicious match.
Othram wants to be the government’s one-stop shop for the whole process. “Once they see it, they never come back,” Mr. Mittelman said.
The company created a website called DNASolves to tell the stories of John and Jane Does’ terrible crimes and tragedy – with catchy names like “Christmas tree woman” and “natural baby”. god” – to encourage people to fund tight-budget police departments, so they can hire Othram. A competitor, Parabon NanoLabs, has created a similar website called JusticeDrive, which has raised about $30,000.
In addition to the money, Othram encourages supporters to donate their DNA, a request some critics have called absurd, saying donors should contribute to a database easily available to all. both investigators.
“Some people are too nervous to put their DNA in a common database,” Mr. Mittelman said. “Ours is purpose-built for law enforcement.”
Carla Davis has donated her own DNA, as well as that of her daughter and son-in-law. Her husband refused.