Y Combinator’s Multiply Labs launches a 3D-printed vitamin with a time-release twist

There have been quite a few “clean” vitamin and supplement startups popping up lately — Olly, Ritual, Elysium Health and Nootrobox are just a few of the venture-backed chosen in the space — and many offer different combinations for better hair, brain power, focus and energy in several different packages and subscription plans. Elysium even claims to help with longevity.

But Multiply Labs believes it has something special the others don’t — a personalized capsule for time-released nutrition.

Most supplements are made one-size-fits-all, regardless of weight, height, gender or nutritional needs and package nutrients separately to help with one thing or the other. But Multiply Labs offers all of the above by allowing you to manually select the types of supplements you want in a single, time-released pill.

Courtesy of Y Combinator: Joe Wilson (Head of Product), Tiffany Kuo (Head of Marketing and Operations), Alice Melocchi (CTO), Fred Parietti (CEO).

Courtesy of Y Combinator: Joe Wilson (Head of Product), Tiffany Kuo (Head of Marketing and Operations), Alice Melocchi (CTO), Fred Parietti (CEO).

Most supplement companies use a standard beaded capsule to release contents into the body. But that poses a problem if you need to take certain vitamins and minerals that would otherwise cancel each other out. Large doses of minerals like calcium or magnesium will compete with each other and are therefore less effective when taken together, for instance.

However, Multiply Labs claims it can time its capsules, which are printed with a patent-pending pharmaceutical polymer, to control the release of the nutrients at certain intervals throughout the day.

The technique makes it possible to swallow just one pill when you’d normally need to swallow several pills at different times to get the same effect — and could be used for more than just the release of vitamins in the future.

Co-founder and CEO Fred Parietti, who has a background working in the pharmaceutical industry and worked on his Ph.D. in the field at MIT, alluded to as much as part of the startup’s future plans.

“But, for now, it’s just vitamins and supplements,” he told TechCrunch.

It works using a “fully automated, robotic filling system to fill each pill with each customer’s unique set of supplements and quantity combinations,” according to company spokesperson Tiffany Kuo.

So, for example, if you want less iron or need a caffeine boost in the middle of the day, you’re able to adjust the quantity on Multiply Lab’s site before you order.

Choosing vitamins based on your gender and age aren’t unique to the industry. After all, Centrum’s done that for decades, but the timed release is an interesting twist with ramifications for the pharmaceutical industry as a whole. It will be interesting to follow this young company as it continues to develop.

But before you rush to buy, know that Multiply Labs isn’t shipping these supplements yet. You can, however, start to design and pre-order them on the site; the startup plans to start sending out its product in early 2017.