We’ve entered an era of mass customization when it comes to virtually everything but what happens when it comes to your daily vitamins. Enter Care/of, the personalized daily vitamin delivery service that sends a monthly supply to your door based on your own personal needs and physiology. The startup, launched in November of 2016, promises to provide transparency, honesty and quality around the vitamins you put in your body daily when using the service. It also provides up to a 20% savings for better quality vitamins when compared to the average health store.
Today we sit down with cofounded and CEO Craig Elbert to discuss the rapidly growing business, its future, and the company’s latest round of funding.
Who were your investors and how much did you raise?
We just completed a $12 million Series A financing for Care/of led by Goodwater Capital with participation from Tusk Ventures, RRE Ventures, the co-founders of InVision, Bullish, and the company’s lead seed investor, Juxtapose. We’ve now raised over $15 million in total funding.
Tell us about your product or service.
Care/of is the first personalized vitamin and supplement company offering bespoke recommendations, built on honest guidance and top-tier ingredients. It is one of the fastest-growing companies in the direct-to-consumer health and wellness space, having doubled sales every two months since its launch in November 2016.
What inspired you to start the company?
Most consumers who have ever tried to shop for vitamins know how confusing it can be. My cofounder and I had both experienced this ourselves. At one point, I was in the vitamin aisle looking for vitamin D for myself and prenatals for my then-pregnant wife, and was overwhelmed by the hundreds of products in the aisle and the hunch that some of the brands there were not ones to trust. I knew there was an opportunity to create a better-designed customer experience that would make the process much easier for people simply looking to do something good for their health.
How is it different?
We created Care/of based on principles of honest guidance, better ingredients, and a personalized approach. Customers who visit our site don’t have to choose among hundreds of products—instead, we ask them to share a few details about their health, and we recommend the best supplements for them, based on peer-reviewed research and input from our Scientific Advisory Board, a team of doctors and researchers. Our digitally-based approach makes this possible. Nobody is really leveraging the resources and transparency that technology provides and marrying it with old-fashioned empathetic customer service. At Care/of, we’re doing that.
What market you are targeting and how big is it?
We are targeting the $40 billion supplement industry to start – and specifically anyone who is looking for an easier, technology-enabled experience. Anyone who has a particular health goal in mind can visit our site and find a solution that makes sense for them, based on their diet and lifestyle. The majority of people in the US take vitamins and supplements, and people are increasingly focused on their health, making lifestyle choices for better living when it comes to nutrition, fitness, and lifestyle. We’re excited to help people who are focused on nutrition and health find the products that work best for them.
What’s your business model?
We make our own line of vitamins, minerals, probiotics, and specialty supplements, all from the best ingredients we can find. It’s important to us that we’re creating products that are safe, well-tested, and rooted in scientific research. After taking a brief survey, we personalize vitamin packs for our customers, who receive them via a monthly subscription, shipped straight to their doors.
How has your previous experience at Bonobos shaped the trajectory of this venture?
When I was at Bonobos, we talked a lot on what a new vision of retail could be and were focused on innovation as a key to improving the customer experience and on investing in a brand that people loved. We think about Care/of the same way. Our primary focus is to create something that is helpful and delightful and valuable to our customers. Our technology-driven approach allows us to innovate within the vitamins space in a meaningful way, and based on the positive feedback we get from our customers, we can see that it’s already making a difference in their lives.
What was the funding process like?
It was immensely rewarding to be able to share the progress we’ve made to date with investors and discuss the path we envision for our business. We feel fortunate to be partnering with a wonderful group of investors who bring extremely helpful perspectives to the table as we expand.
What are the biggest challenges that you faced while raising capital?
We were fortunate to have strong interest from the market, based on our company’s healthy trajectory in the months after our launch, but wanted to be deliberate about choosing the right partners who understood our vision for the vitamins space and who we knew could help us unlock those opportunities. We were extremely pleased to have Goodwater lead the round and to have the support from our other investors.
What factors about your business led your investors to write the check?
We’re leveraging technology to create a solution in the vitamins space that just makes sense. Our investors can see that our approach to innovation here–rooted in using data to enable personalization– is one that can truly help create a unique and valuable customer experience and help propel our business forward. We’ve also demonstrated product-market fit through the organic growth we’ve experienced–a significant share of our customers hear about us through friends and word-of-mouth.
What are the milestones you plan to achieve in the next six months?
With this new round of funding, we plan to invest in Care/of’s world-class personalized fulfillment system, build top-tier data science capabilities and continue to grow our team. We also plan to develop new products, including programs tailored towards specific health goals, and launch a mobile app to further the consumer experience and meet the demands of the company’s rapidly growing customer base.
What advice can you offer companies in New York that do not have a fresh injection of capital in the bank?
The addition of capital into the mix certainly helps, but for all businesses, including ours, I think the key is to be data- and metrics-driven about the value you offer customers and the strategies you can employ to create that value. If you can test into those opportunities in small, measurable ways, it can lead to potential for scale or eventual fundraising.
Where do you see the company going now over the near term?
There’s tremendous opportunity within the wellness space to help empower customers to live healthier lives. If we can do that, we’ll have succeeded. We’re already thinking of new vitamins and supplements to add to our product line that can help with certain health goals–in fact, we’ve launched several new products since our launch. We love the idea of demystifying overwhelming or frustrating shopping experiences within wellness, and anyone who’s shopped the category knows there are many!
What’s your favorite restaurant in the city?
I love Lucali, the cozy little pizza parlor in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn. It’s my favorite spot for a night out with my wife. The ingredients are all fresh and you could trip right into the kitchen from any of the handful of tables. It’s one of those places where you can tell they just take real pride in their craft. The food is delicious and the atmosphere is warm and unpretentious.