There’s no end to the bottles, packs and pills of various nutritional supplements out there, but vitamin startup Care/of plans to stand out by tailoring the vitamins you pop to your specific needs.
The startup joins a growing number of others in tech hoping to cash in on the lucrative vitamin industry. Elysium offers pills they say will boost longevity; Ritual makes vitamins for women; Olly is a venture-backed vitamin company from the co-founder of Method soap. And then there’s Zenamins, a startup out of Y Combinator that also provides personalized vitamins.
It’s a crowded marketplace, but Care/of just launched its platform and pulled in $3 million in seed funding from Juxtapose, the co-founders of Casper and Bonobos co-founder Andy Dunn to take on GNC, the Whole Foods vitamin aisle and everyone else — with customization.
Each designer box varies in price, depending on what’s included, but start at $5 per month and go up from there. The pill packs are delivered to your door with a chosen mix of what co-founder Craig Elbert says are top-quality ingredients, such as calcium from Icelandic algae or Rhodiola from the Altai Mountains in Siberia, for example.
Elbert, who previously spent seven years as the VP of marketing at Bonobos, says he started Care/of after being dismayed at the whole vitamin shopping experience.
“I was going to get pills for myself, some Vitamin D and also my wife was pregnant so getting some prenatal and fish oil pills…I didn’t know what to purchase and why,” he said. “And in the case of the prenatals it’s something that impacts the health of our unborn child and I’m getting advice from a clerk who’s reading off of the back of the box.”
Elbert soon realized he could use technology to offer something better to the individual needs of consumers and to help sort through some of the confusing information out there about what supplements you really need. But his main focus is on the consumer experience and catering to the individual.
“We’re not coming out and saying ‘Hey we’ve found a magic pill’ we’re actually coming out and saying there’s actually a lot of good products out there and we’ve sourced the best ingredients and we’re going to help you figure out what’s right for you,” Elbert told TechCrunch.
Care/of is backed by a scientific advisory board, with doctors from Harvard, Northwestern and Tufts, and Elbert’s co-founder Akash Shah comes from Hometeam, a healthcare startup helping senior adults.
The startup has also hired two senior execs from vitamin company New Chapter to handle the supply chain. Sheila Pinkney and Bob Khalil were both responsible for sourcing and researching ingredients at their previous company and Elbert indicated they were instrumental in helping to build out the ingredients used at Care/of.
The platform works by users logging onto the site and then filling out a form with various questions about their health and what they’d like to get out of a supplement. Care/of robots then decide the best formulation.
I tried it out myself and was worried it was a bit generic. Based on the information I gave, Care/of recommended I take something called Bacopa, fish oil, Astaxanthin, Vitamin D and some probiotics. But Care/of assures me there are more than a million combinations it can make with its currently 30 available ingredients, and that more than 85 percent of customers get a unique mix made just for them.
Elbert tells me the plan is to add more ingredients (up to 125) as he and his co-founder continue growing the company. You can try Care/of yourself and see what it recommends you need.