Care/of, a year-old, New York-based company that makes subscription-only vitamin supplements that it says are tailored specifically to user’s needs, has convinced investors to give it $12 million in Series A funding to get more of its pill packs on users’ welcome mats.
Goodwater Capital led the round, with participation from Tusk Ventures, RRE Ventures, the co-founders of the prototyping tools company InVision, and earlier investor Juxtapose.
Whether customers need customized vitamins is an open question, but Care/of now has 70-full time employees, including 20 at its headquarters and another 50 at is fulfillment center in New Jersey, working on engineering, design, marketing, supply chain stuff, and, of course, R&D. In fact, the company claims there are more than on million combinations it can make with its currently 30 available ingredients.
In fact, though it says that 85 percent of customers receive some unique supplements made just for them, the company also sells at least 30 more standardized products, including vitamins, probiotics, speciality supplements, and a recently launched prenatal vitamin; it says it has a pipeline of new products, including vitamins, supplements, and other wellness products coming, too.
It’s an interesting strategy, and quite the opposite of another vitamin company that we’ve covered before, Olly, which, like Care/of, thinks more about the design of its packaging than vitamin makers have historically, but that shares little else in common with the company. Most notably, Olly, which makes sugary, chewable vitamins, began as an online-only business but in recent years, it has shifted its focus almost entirely to selling through big-box retailers like Target, where it now derives most of its revenue.
Though Olly, too, had begun as a subscription business, Olly CEO Brad Harrington, had told us he didn’t recommend it, because it’s “hard to scale,” he’d said. “You have to factor in your acquisition cost for a new customer and how long you keep the new customer, and it tends to be that acquisition prices are extremely high right now given the online ad world. So you’ve got to be able to withstand [those costs] while you’re building a brand.”
Asked if that was a concern, Care/of CEO Craig Elbert, a former VP of marketing at the online e-tailer Bonobos, suggested that it’s not. In fact, he suggested, he thinks the one-size-fits-all approach to health is outdated and will invariably give way to more personalized approaches across every imaginable category.
“Our product is personalized for each user, and that’s possible because we are digitally based,” says Elbert. “Consumers share some information with us through a quiz that takes a few minutes, and we recommend a set of supplements for them using an algorithm that takes into account clinical research. We’re really excited to be able to offer this level of personalization to our customers, and it’s not something that would make as much sense in a retail setting.”
Asked what the company’s biggest challenge is right now and how it plans to use its new funding, Elbert unsurprisingly say Care/of is very focused on finding the right people to recruit as the company grows. (It says its business is doubling every two months.)
It also has ambitions to grow its product line, improve its site experience, and to release and app. “It’s all a matter of prioritization,” Elbert says.
Care/of has now raised $15 million altogether.
Pictured above, left to right: Care/of cofounder and head of product, Akash Shah, and CEO Craig Elbert.