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Ritual wants to reinvent the vitamin

TechCrunch TechCrunch 10/05/2016 Sarah Buhr

Ritual has developed a beaded oil capsule vitamin for sustained release from what it says are the best ingredients found throughout the world to nourish your body. The company launched today onstage at Disrupt NY.

Vitamins, even the sustainable release kind, sit within a crowded space. They come in pill, pack and powder form, are not hard to get online or off and are sometimes even handed out as samples whether you wanted them or not. It’s tough to know what’s best to go with for your body, and information on the source ingredients in those pills and powders is often murky.

But new brands pop up hopeful all the time. Even Donald Trump was peddling them for a while.

Vitamins are an $80 billion industry and about half of America takes a multi-vitamin every day, according to Gallup. But Ritual CEO Katarina Schneider tells me most vitamin brands formulated their nutrients based on data from 1968 and it’s dangerous to get the wrong amount for your diet.

“Sometimes those nutrients accumulate in the cells and can cause harm,” she says.

We should note that Trump’s vitamins were pulled for using bad science.

Schneider came up with the idea to build a better vitamin when she was pregnant with her first child. She did some of her own research and became alarmed at the high levels of ingredients in several off-the-shelf vitamin bottles she didn’t want to give to her unborn baby.

So Schneider and her co-founder Lauren Hayes now source the world for good ingredients and make that research and data available online for others curious about what is the best nutrition for their body.

For instance, Ritual’s folate comes from Italy because it’s “the most optimal,” and there’s no Vitamin C in the formula because we get enough in our diet, says Schneider. Nor does it include calcium, because it’s formulated with Vitamin K, magnesium and boron — all ingredients needed to help you absorb the right amount of calcium from what you eat.

The startup plans to sell each 30-day supply of its vitamins online, direct-to-consumer, for $30 per month. Compare that to Alive Whole Food Energizer — ranked No. 3 in the top 10 best multivitamins on Labdoor; a 30-day supply can be purchased for $6.99 on Amazon.

However, Ritual maintains its ingredients are superior to the competitors.

The startup is new, so it has not been evaluated against other vitamin makers yet. It also says the direct-to-consumer model will help it provide the best ingredients worldwide at a fraction of what it would otherwise cost.

Is it the best stuff for the price? And do we really need the “best” versus something that might work as well? That’s tough to say. The vitamin industry is a loopy one without a lot of regulation, so it’s hard to know what is in most of the products out there. But Ritual does add some value in open-sourced research on the ingredients used.

So far Ritual has pulled in $1.3 million in angel funding from Upfront Ventures, FF Angel, Rivet Ventures and Troy Carter, and plans to branch out from vitamins to include other products with natural, research-based ingredients, such as deodorant, toothpaste and other household items.

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