Hometown: San Diego, CA
Birthday: October 24, 1988
Sure. Like Elizabeth Holmes, Jamie Skaar from The Bachelorette is a BioTech CEO.
We’re sorry. That’s not really a fair comparison.
If Elizabeth Holmes’s Theranos device had actually worked, it would have revolutionized healthcare.
According to a microbiologist we spoke with, the best-case scenario for Jamie’s SanctuAire device is that it doesn’t work.
When we sent them information on the device, they recoiled in horror and said, “What about Legionnarie’s disease?”
Legionnaires’ disease is a type of pneumonia caused by legionella bacteria, which is spread by devices like air-conditioning units and humidifiers diffusing it into the air through their mist.
Jamie’s Probiotic Balancing System claims to spread “good” bacteria by diffusing a “Microflora Mist” into your breathing air.
We’re going to get into some science here, which is interesting to us and further explains the concerns the microbiologist had. Feel free to skip ahead if you just want to learn more about Jamie’s businesses (just don’t go too far, you’re not going to want to miss the Yelp reviews). For everybody else, school in session.
This is for you, Pardeep!
Jamie’s device looks like a normal humidifier, except that you pour a solution with dormant bacteria into it.
According to our microbiologist, as long as the device doesn’t do anything to activate the bacteria, the bacteria will likely stay dead and mostly settle to the bottom.
However, if the solution is heated or a food source is added, some of the bacteria will come back to life and start to reproduce. Since it’s impossible to maintain a sterile culture in a home environment, the device could become contaminated with other potentially dangerous bacteria and fungi.
And, seeing as the difference between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ bacteria is location, even aerosolizing their unnamed allegedly beneficial strains is probably a bad idea. Our expert gave the example of staphylococcus aureus (“staph”), which is a bacteria commonly found on skin and surfaces but causes fatal pneumonia in the lungs.
According to the Mayo Clinic, even standard humidifiers should be cleaned regularly (as in, every three days!) to prevent contamination by and spreading of bacteria and fungi.
See? Science is important. This is why you should pay attention, Peter.
To wrap up today’s science class, our microbiologist said: “Long story short, I wouldn’t recommend purposely inhaling a significant quantity of any kind of bacteria into your lungs.”
Of course, without being able to assess Jamie’s device in person, we can’t say what it actually does. We’re not saying that using the device will spread Legionnaires’ or any other harm will come to you from using it. We’re just sharing information on how bacteria grows and is spread.
Who came up with this?
It doesn’t even look to us like the device is Jamie’s original idea. It appears to be the exact same humidifier this larger company is selling with a slightly different label.
Interestingly, the marketing for the other, suspiciously similar device goes right past pseudoscience and straight into mysticism. They claim to use “water from the Sea of Galilee as a suspension agent.”
If that can’t beat COVID, what can? (Other than vaccines. And monoclonal antibodies.)
It appears Jamie’s device is only available via pre-order, so we were unable to test it ourselves. There’s a great testimonial on his website by David Allen. However, we’re not sure if reviews from friends can be trusted to be unbiased.
(We’re not sure what Jamie was doing in Budapest and whether it was the infamous spontaneous trip to a third world country, but take note of the IG handle used to tag him. It comes up again in Part 2.)
In our search for a review that was less prone to bias, we came across this one for the suspiciously similar device:
“It’s like the old joke of the guy standing in the middle of the road. A friend walks up and asks him:
‘What are you doing?’
‘I’m repelling elephants.’
‘But there are no elephants around here for 1500 miles.’
‘It’s working pretty well, isn’t it?’
I have no idea if the BetterAir Bionica 800 is doing anything at all – positive or negative.”
Our most charitable assessment of the device is that maybe Jamie doesn’t know how these things work, seeing as he doesn’t appear to have a background in Biology or Technology. However, Jamie does have a background in running companies with trendy products and poor reviews. More on that later.
Who’s buying this device
We’re going to share some information and let you come to your own conclusions about who the target market is.
On SanctuAire’s website, there are no prices listed, and the only way to get more information on the product is to schedule a phone call. Generation Z and Millennials equally hate making phone calls.
Another avenue to finding out more is take the “Home Health Quiz” on SanctuAire’s website. We took it multiple times, trying to get a score in the 55-70 range of “most U.S. homes.” Weirdly, our home health scores always turned up well below average. Here’s one of our results.
However, we found the questions more interesting than the results.
The “Home Air Quality Quiz Results” is a pdf with 20 pages (give or take), outlining the things in your home that are harming you and your family specifically—many of which have nothing to do with air quality and most of them aren’t actionable.
So, if not to provide genuinely helpful content, why would the quiz ask personal questions like,
- Is anyone in the home vulnerable to contracting viruses like Covid-19?
- Does anyone over the age of 50 live in the home? (including yourself)
In contrast, a different home health quiz we took was a lot more interested in building materials, number of pets, and proximity to potential environmental hazards. The Haywood Score’s personalized report provided comprehensive information about what we could actually to do improve the health of our imaginary home (we tried to get a low score).
It did not ask about the age of adults in the home.
Our spidey-senses were already tingling when we noticed this in the quiz results:
“During the call our EcoAdvisors will also complete a digital energy model of your home. This SanctuAire energy model will allow you to visualize the impact that improvements—like changing appliances, upgrading windows and insulation— can have on your home’s health, before any investment is made, giving you peace of mind that you are installing proper equipment and eliminating surprises by changes in energy bills and building performance.”
Hold up, grandma is just looking to buy an air purifier and now she’s getting a digital energy model? What’s that about?
What did Jamie do before he got into “BioTech?”
On LinkedIn, Jamie claims to be the founder and CEO of Sol Solutions Today. The company has the stated goal of “making homes green and healthy.”
Sol Solutions Today does energy efficiency and home health assessments (which sound a lot like the surprise consultations potential customers receive when they call about a SanctuAire device), with the goal of selling them various “green technology” products.
We found a press release that claimed,
“Sol Solutions Today has an innovative marketing approach – invite customers out for a free dinner at a prime local restaurant and allow leading experts in home evolution industry to take care of the rest.”
This is a marketing strategy also used by funeral planners and time-share salesmen.
Another one had the headline,
“Sol Solutions Today Experiences Phenomenally Rapid Growth in Sales, Expansion and Employee Staffing”
We couldn’t independently verify this “phenomenally rapid” growth.
However, these are PR pieces that the company paid to run. So, let’s take a look at what some customers and employees had to say.
(Note, we did not independently verify any of the reviews. We’re just sharing what we found.)
We’re not sure whether Sol Solutions is still active, the last company updates we came across were from early 2019.
It’s possible that reviews like the ones above could have shut them down, but Jamie’s bragged about his ability to talk his way out of trouble.
At least, it looks that way from this old Twitter account.
More on this alleged Twitter account in Part 2.
xo Your Nosy Friends, Proven to Eliminate Up to 99% of Airborne Bullshit
PS If we saved you some money by talking you out of buying a SanctuAire, please consider sending a few dollars our way for hosting and research expenses. We really appreciate it!
PPS Thank you to @aunt_carl for your assist on gathering quiz data.