From e-start-up to brick-and-mortar: Miramix plots ‘fast and hard’ growth in supplements
The company allows consumers to formulate their own vitamin and health supplement mixes milligram-by-milligram after choosing from hundreds of options online, and allows for the customization of all products, at no extra charge, based on variables such as age, gender, and allergies. Ingredients are sourced from domestic US farmers and distributors.
“We wanted to give the industry a facelift, create a marketplace where users could get no frills information about ingredients and product mixes that they consumed” said Duane Dennis, founder and CEO of Miramix.
Customizable formulations or from scratch
The company, which operates a facility in Indiana, uses patent-pending, micro-dosing technology to manufacture each individual’s customized order, Dennis told NutraIngredients-USA.
The company’s approach is broken down into two segments: One is for ready-made formulations of ‘brands’ invented by nutritionists or dieticians or others. Consumers can select these formulations, customize them to their age, gender and other variables, or buy the formula as is. Miramix profit shares with these ‘brand owners’.
The other option is for a consumer to formulate their own product milligram-by-milligram from scratch. That requires a relatively educated consumer who knows the ingredients, the doses, etc, admitted Dennis, and there are checks and balances built into the system, like limiting the dose by the FDA upper limits.
With both approaches consumers are given dynamic feedback about their blends, he said.
The products are currently available as powders, which can go into capsules, or smoothies, for example, and MiraMix is investigating other delivery formats, from gummies to liquids.
Not content with the digital space, Dennis and Miramix are eyeing expansion into brick-and-mortar retail.
“We’re currently testing the water with consumers, and we’re hopeful of having our first stores by the end of 2016.” These would allow consumers to go in and produce their own formulations across the company, he said.
The business all started while Dennis was at MIT, “tinkering around with micro-dosing technologies for powders”, he said, which led eventually to nutraceuticals.
The company now has a manufacturing plant in Indiana and “powerful” e-commerce technology. “Think Amazon but focused on the nutrition industry.”
Financial support has come from The MIT Global Founders' Skills Accelerator (MIT's student venture accelerator) for $60K and a further $190K has been raised from angel investors and venture capitalists, said Dennis.
The company sources its whole food ingredients from farms in the US, but also offers some synthetic ingredients. All of the ingredients must have third party verification, he added ("Most of our suppliers use NSF or third party labs," he said. "It is the most well respected organization out there."). Even the packaging can be personalized. For the past few weeks the company has been processing 300-400 orders per day, he said.
So what about new or novel ingredients? Safety is first and foremost the priority, said Dennis. “We have banned ingredients like yohimbe because they are super controversial and there are indications of potential adverse events,” he said.
“We work with third party consultants to ensure that the formulations are safe,” he added. "Currently we work with several registered dietitians on contract basis."
Generics vs branded
Miramix’s inventory currently lists only the generic name for ingredients and Dennis notes that 90% of their business is with generic ingredients. “Some ingredients have proprietary knowledge so if a consumer wants a specific branded ingredient we will sign a licensing agreement with that supplier to be able to provide that ingredient.”
So what’s the competitive landscape like? “There are a lot of companies doing something similar,” said Dennis, “but they’re watered-down versions. No company is doing full customizations.”
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