The investment round, led by the growth equity fund PowerPlant Ventures, brings the young company’s total fundraise to $7.5 million since it launched in 2015, and validates its successful initial efforts to achieve its ambitious mission.
“We reach new consumers every single day,” and the vast majority of them – 60% -- have never eaten a superfood before they found us, even though 25% of them have a pre-existing health condition that could benefit from a healthy approach to nutrition, said co-founder Michael Kuech. “In addition, 70% of our customers are not from urban areas – they are from the middle of the country in the US where they don’t have Whole Foods.”
But they do have Facebook, he noted, which is why the company has focused so heavily on ecommerce as a strategy to build its business and reach those who are underserved or who need additional education about the benefits of the company’s powdered superfood blends.
To date, 95% of Your Super’s sales have come from its online store, which has attracted more than 500,000 customers, according to the company. It adds that its customer base has grown 40% month over month since January 2018 when the company moved its headquarters from Berlin to Venice Beach, Calif. This in turn has helped fuel growth of 1,000%.
Succeeding with ecommerce is about more than simply selling online
But building a successful ecommerce strategy has not been easy – contrary to the common misconception that if a company builds an online store, consumers will come, said Kuech.
He explained that like many startups with limited resources to pay slotting fees or support sales at retail stores, Your Super saw ecommerce as a more affordable path to market. But unlike many companies that have had sluggish online sales at best, it also recognized that an online store needs just as much support as a brick and mortar store.
“At the end of the day, it is about marketing. Whether you are on a crowded space like Facebook or at a farmer’s market with people passing by, you need to work the same to create awareness and traction and grab people’s attention. Ecommerce is just like anything else – it is just that a lot of people assume if they have an online store people will just come and buy. But you need the same marketing strategy as any other channel,” said Kuech.
“I think what most people think about ecom is that they can just put it online and think it will just sell. But that is really not the case. Really ecom, and understanding how to drive traffic, are a separate skill set” that needs to be cultivated, added Kristel de Groot, Kuech’s co-founder and creator of each of the company’s powdered superfood blends.
She also noted that a significant advantage to ecommerce over other platforms and retail stores is that it is not just a place to sell products – but also an opportunity to educate consumers.
“In stores, people just see the product on the shelf next to everything else. But with ecom, you can actually educate people as well. So, we don’t just sell products. We also sell a lifestyle and we educate people on how to eat more plant-based,” she said.
This messaging is reinforced with booklets and educational materials included in the product delivery that outline the benefits of the ingredients as well as show consumers how to use the products.
This is clutch for the brand given that most people who try superfoods for the first time don’t know what they are eating or what unique benefits they provide.
Clean ingredients & transparency attracts consumers
Easy access and education are not the only draws for consumers to Your Super’s lineup. Rather, de Groot says many consumers come to them rather than competitors because they offer clean ingredient decks and are transparent about how they source each superfood.
“We created a line of seven functional mixes that are all organic, non-GMO, plant-based and have just five or six ingredients,” none of which are fillers, flavors or sweeteners, which allows consumers to control what they are eating and how they eat it, she said.
In addition, she said, “everything is directly sourced. We don’t go through a wholesaler and get ingredients from there. We really have direct relationships with farmers and smaller suppliers where we source everything from. And we test all the ingredients to make sure they are truly organic,” and the brand ensures they come from areas where they grow naturally and in abundance.
A clean, sustainable look further sets the brand apart from competitors
The brand extends its minimalist approach to the products’ ingredient decks to their unique packaging – another move that sets it apart from m any of its competitors.
Unlike many powders that are sold in the US in large tubs or single serve packets that focus on a single macro-nutrient, one key ingredient or the company brand, Your Super sells its powders in canisters wrapped in basic brown craft paper and with product names that tell consumers not only what is inside, but what benefit they will receive.
“When I first started giving Michael acai and spirulina and other superfoods he was like, ‘what is all this stuff,’ and so we wanted to make it very accessible for everyone with names like Energy Bomb, Forever Beautiful and Muscle Power because those names speak to what they are,” de Groot said. “Given that 60% of our customers have never eaten superfoods before they found us, we really wanted to introduce them to the benefits and show them how to integrate these really powerful nutrients into their diets – and the descriptive names do that.”
Under each name is a basic description of the product – “organic superfood mix” – and a list of ingredients that mirrors the list found on the Nutrition Facts.
“We are very focused on sustainability. So our packages are all made with recycled paper and we try to be as sustainable as possible, and as simplistic as possible because we would rather the products speak for themselves, rather than having a crazy plastic colorful tub or some other thing,” Kuech said.
The only other image on the front of the canisters is a single color flag directing users back to YourSuper.com – a marketing decision that reinforces the brand’s choice to focus on ecommerce.
Room to grow
While the company has grown dramatically to date, the most recent infusion of funds will help it further accelerate its growth by developing additional educational and marketing materials, expanding its team and introducing new products, Kuech said.
“Now with great partners, we can really accelerate our growth, and hold the hands of more people as we educate them about how to eat healthier,” he said. “So, this is a really exciting time for us.”
Echoing Kuech, de Groot added the company has a lot of room to grow given that nine out of 10 people don’t eat enough fruits and vegetables.
She added that many people who historically filled this gap with synthetic multivitamins, increasingly want to get their nutrition from food. At the same time, she said, they don’t follow through with the plans to eat more salads and smoothies because they are too busy.
“We always say that we are best of both worlds. We have the convenience of the supplement, but we are all natural and more versatile,” she said. “You can stir our blends in water, smoothies, yogurt, oatmeal or because they are not sweetened, you can also add them to you pasta sauce or sprinkle them on avo toast. There are so many options and ways that our blends can make whatever you like better and more super.”