As a mom-to-be, Katerina Schneider was disappointed in her choices of prenatal vitamins. The ingredients, she found, were questionable and not up to her standards. So the former venture partner at Atom Factory started her own vitamin company.
“I was always passionate about health and very conscious about what I was eating and what I was putting on my body,” Schneider told Crunchbase News. “When I got pregnant, I started questioning things even more deeply…. I started taking an even closer look at ingredients and how things were made. When I examined what was in my prenatal vitamin, I wasn’t happy with what I saw. So I decided to do something about it.”
That was in 2015. Now that company, Los Angeles-based Ritual, just closed on a $25 million Series B round of funding that brings its total raised to $40.5 million. Previous investors Founders Fund, Norwest Venture Partners, and Forerunner Ventures all participated in the financing. With this deal, Norwest’s Lisa Wu joined Ritual’s board.
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Since its launch, the direct-to-consumer women’s vitamin subscription company has sold over 1 million bottles to date, according to Schneider, 33. Its flagship product, “Essential for Women,” is a multivitamin for women that she says contains “the only nutrients” that women need, something the company determined after conducting its own scientific studies—also described by Schneider as “obsessive research.” Specifically, Ritual claims that its products are backed by over 12,000 scientific studies.
“Four years ago, I started by asking if we even need vitamins at all,” Schneider said. “Through our team’s research, we discovered most women actually don’t need the typical 20-30 nutrients in most multivitamins, but that there are specific nutrients that are especially hard to find in our food sources alone.”
Ritual markets its vitamins as vegan-friendly and “highly absorbable.” The company aims to be transparent on the sourcing of each ingredient. Last year, Ritual also launched a prenatal vitamin and is currently developing a post-natal and post-menopausal vitamin with plans to release later this year. The company also has a patent pending on its encapsulation.
“Katerina and the Ritual team have elegantly combined science, design and commerce to disrupt the multi-billion dollar vitamin industry,” said Norwest’s Wu in a written statement. “The company has fast become an innovator known for its high-quality ingredients and transparent supply chain, while creating a relationship with every single customer via its direct-to-consumer model. We are thrilled to back this phenomenal team in this next phase of growth.”
Ritual plans to use its latest capital infusion toward investing in more testing and research, as well as getting more creative with its marketing. The company plans to kick off a large, independent clinical human study on the effects of its vitamin at a top US university. It already has also done some major new hires, including that of Nima Alamdari, a Harvard-trained physiologist, as chief scientific officer, and of Mastaneh Sharafi as director of scientific and clinical affairs. It’s also hired Jonny Leicht, formerly of Apple and North Face, as its creative director.
Schneider is particularly proud of the fact that Ritual is not only female-founded but that three-quarters of its board members are women and that 60 percent of its 47 full-time employees are female. COO Liz Reifsnyder previously led business development & strategy at Dollar Shave Club and was there though its $1 billion 2016 acquisition by Unilever.
The past week overall has been hot for personal care startups. On Jan. 29, we covered how Hims, Madison Reed and Billie, each raised significant funding rounds. I hope this means Americans are taking better care of themselves?