In fact, Wang further argued that consumers’ non-compliance to dosage and ingestion schedule is a major contributor to the shroud of doubt surrounding dietary supplements. “To make it a healthy habit, it’s really important,” she told NutraIngredients-USA. “People take it for one week and then forget it for three weeks—so they don’t get the benefits and then get doubt.”
She came up with the startup Sho Nutrition as a solution, a brand of tubular supplement dispensers filled with Spheri-Gel encapsulated dietary supplements. “I was looking for simple packaging ideas, like Pez. Initially I thought, Pez is a candy, but why don’t we have a supplement Pez!” Wang said.
Designing the dispenser
Sho Nutrition’s dispensers come with two components: The main vessel, a clear tube which houses the small spherical supplements, and the cap attachment, which twists onto the tube and has a dial with the name of days embossed onto it, as well as the clicking mechanism that dispenses the supplement.
The idea is that consumers turn the dial to have a reminder, right there on the container, that they’ve taken the day’s dosage of supplements. The size is optimized for the Spheri-Gel capsules, so once the user runs out of the supplement, he or she can order the refill. As of now, the two Sho supplements available are Sho Energy+ (with B vitamins and matcha for energy boost) and Sho Balance (Lactobacillus casei K-1 to promote colon health and immunity).
With 10 plus years’ experience in the corporate world under her belt, including a long stint at major pharmaceutical and healthcare company GlaxoSmithKline, Wang had an up-close view to consumer and industry behavior in healthcare and wellness, which informed the conception of a dispenser and supplement combination.
“The supplement has traceable vegan formulas, which is really on trend in today’s environment,” she said. “I tried to really squeeze several things into this one product.” Sho isn’t just about dispensing and remembering whether or not you’ve taken your dose of supplements for the day, it’s also a solution to people who find it hard to swallow pills but want to avoid the sugar-content that comes with taking supplements in gummy form.
Sustaining the idea
The brand new start-up started shipping product last month. It is currently only sold online, but Wang has been pitching the idea to several independent wellness stores in New York, where she is based. “Right now we’re focused on building more awareness and traffic through our online website,” she said.
For marketing, the company is focusing on recruiting social media influencersto get the buzz out. “We’re focusing on Instagram because it’s a very visually appealing product,” she said. “We’re sending out free samples to influencers to get the brand in their hands.”
Additionally, supported only by two part-time employees, and a handful of freelancers to spread the word, Wang, the primary source of the company’s funds, is starting to raise angel-level investments. She’s targeting the East Asian markets of Japan and China as well, a region that she credits as Sho’s design inspiration (“When you go to Japan, everything is designed so well!”).
“It’s still far down the road, I’m looking at licensing opportunities for other channels,” she added. “This whole ease of use and compliance solution has so many potential applications.”