Genexa co-founder David Johnson

If you’ve been shopping for a fever-reducer for your kids or something to help you sleep on the shelves of your local pharmacy, supermarket or Walmart, then you’ve likely come across Genexa. Billed as the first “clean medicine,” the startup makes pharmaceuticals with the same active ingredients as the household name brands – like acetaminophen – but without all the artificial, inactive ingredients that usually come with them. Founded on the West Coast by David Johnson and Max Spielberg, Genexa is now based in Atlanta. We caught up with Johnson to talk about the creation of the brand, his favorite local hangouts and to get his pop-country tinged In the Mix playlist.

With people concerned about what’s going in their bodies in the age of COVID, how has Genexa embraced/pivoted to meet those concerns? 
Genexa medicines were created with ingredient transparency at their core. We started this company five years ago because we were concerned about the inactive ingredients in our kids’ medicines after realizing that as much as 93% of all drugs contain potential allergens. More and more people are realizing that their health products don’t just consist of the important ingredients that are supposed to help them feel better. We found a way to make medicine with the same active ingredients that address acute symptoms like colds, allergies, fever, etc. but without any artificial fillers or common allergens. We are bringing awareness to the inactive ingredients in over-the-counter medicines and put our list directly on the side of the box so it’s easy for people to see what’s in the product (and what’s not in there). 

How has the move from the West Coast to Atlanta been beneficial for Genexa’s growth? 
We love our new headquarters in Atlanta! This is such a vibrant city full of talent, diverse experiences, and a unique culture that has been very beneficial for our team. We’ve grown an incredible team of employees with diverse backgrounds and are hiring even more this year. Atlanta offers both the appeal of a large urban city with a small-town community feel and we’re excited to get out and about in the community even more this year. 

How has social media and influencers aided in the growth of the company?
Our driving philosophy at Genexa is “people over everything,” meaning we put people at the center of everything we do. Our core customer lives on social media so we’ve made it our goal to deepen our connection with them through our online communities. Buying medicine is a deeply personal experience and many people lean on those they trust within their own circle of influence, often a parent, friend, or healthcare professional. So we’ve worked with a number of different “influencers” to help spread the word –  everyone from our superfan customers, medical advisors, our celebrity investors, and more. 

What are some local spots you visit to unwind or recharge from running a busy company?
I love being outdoors and try to stay active, so I spend a lot of time walking the BeltLine and at Chastain Park with my family. Atlanta has a lot of great hiking trails so we’re always looking for new ones to explore.

What’s some of your favorite restaurants, pubs, or hangout spots in Atlanta?
My wife and I are foodies and love sushi, so we are fascinated by the fact the best sushi in the country is found right in our backyard at Sushi Hayakawa. We also love all the vendors at Ponce City and Krog Street Markets. There are so many amazing chefs and restaurants in Atlanta, our list of favorites is a mile long!

Collin Kelley

Collin Kelley has been the editor of Atlanta Intown for two decades and has been a journalist and freelance writer for 35 years. He’s also an award-winning poet and novelist.