Earlier today, after nearly a year in development, Omada Health launched to bring diabetes prevention online in an effort to help fight obesity in the U.S. NatureBox wants to do its part, too, and has announced that it has closed $2 million in seed funding to accelerate its business and help anyone and everyone discover healthier eating options.
The investment is co-led by General Catalyst Partners and Redpoint Ventures and includes participation from a number of angel investors. Founded in 2011 and launched in January 2012, NatureBox has grown its subscriber base by 50 to 100 percent month-over-month and now has over 250K visits per month to its website, co-founder Gautam Gupta tells us.
But what is this NatureBox all about? Simply put, NatureBox is looking to create a Trader Joe’s for the Web — or a Birchbox for organic foods, if you prefer. In other words, the company distributes its own brand of nutritionist-approved health foods, sending them to subscribers via box. The idea is to take the hassle (and guesswork) out of buying health snack foods, making those that are typically difficult to find in stores easily accessible online to a wider audience.
The inspiration for NatureBox evolved from Gupta’s personal struggle with obesity throughout his childhood and the time spent early in his career as a VC at General Catalyst. Weighing in at over 210 pounds by age 12, Gupta lost 70 pounds through healthy eating and by the time he was 19 had landed an internship at the VC firm. And by the time he was a senior in college, he was fully immersed in the world of venture capital and had begun to focus on e-commerce investments.
“NatureBox’s mission is personal to me,” the co-founder tells TechCrunch. After Gupta discovered that snack foods actually represented a $64 billion market and that there was tremendous market opportunity in providing a convenient way for consumers to get healthier foods that they couldn’t find at their local grocery store.
According to Gupta, children and adults are snacking three times more than they did 30 years ago and consuming a third of their daily calories from snacks. Gupta believes that this is what caused his own struggles with obesity and thinks that it could have been prevented had he had access to healthier choices.
He and co-founder Ken Chen (a friend from college and real estate investor) incubated the company with their own money and “began generating significant revenue at the outset,” Gupta says, before seeking out VC investment. With the new funding raised, NatureBox plans to expand its customer base and continue to grow its healthy foods brand. It will also use the new injection of capital to beef up its website and its staff and scale operations to meet growing demand.
The company’s “private-labeled” snacks are hand picked each month and delivered in a recyclable snack box, and each includes 15 to 20 servings of four to six items, which have been “curated” by a nutritionist based on a seasonal health and wellness theme, Gupta tells us. In October, for example, the box was nicknamed “Antioxidant Trifecta” and included a combo of dark-skinned berries, raw nuts and dark chocolate. The snacks are sourced from local growers and indie food suppliers across the U.S. Every snack, the co-founder says, is free from high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, trans fats and artificial sweeteners, flavors and colors.
Those interested can learn more at NatureBox.com. Oh, and another incentive to check it out? If the organic foods aren’t enough, for every box that the company delivers, like TOMS Shoes, it donates a meal to feed the hungry in the U.S. through partner organizations.