The main delivery mode of supplements is capsules and tablets—pills—and ‘pill fatigue’ is an oft mentioned barrier in the supplement field. Some older consumers say they have trouble swallowing pills and many complain of having to take too many every day in order to comply with some supplementation regimens.
Both companies began as ways to get around this issue while offering convenience and at the same time driving compliance. Tespo’s device features preloaded ‘wheels’ that fit into the device, with each cell holding a day’s dose of powdered dietary ingredients that are mixed in water and dispensed into a cup.
Güdpod’s device loads the active ingredients into pods that also act as their own mixers. The offerings include energy drinks, protein powders and multivitamins to be mixed into juice, milk or water.
Fits and starts
Both companies have had fits and starts finding their sweet spot in the market. They are inherently more expensive than buying those humdrum pills off the shelf, and it has been something of an uphill battle selling consumers on the benefits.
Tespo CEO Ted Mills said true innovation is very difficult and fraught with opportunities to make mistakes.
“It’s a lonely place being an innovator in the white space we find ourselves in because there’s no playbook,” he said.
After a couple of false starts trying to launch a branding program with established names in the supplement business Mills said the company has shifted gears and is going all in on the big data aspect of the business.
Transforming to digital health
“We are transitioning into becoming a digital health company,” Mills told NutraIngredients-USA. “We are investing pretty heavily in technology. We are acquiring a statistics platform and that is really going to accelerate the way we can use our mobile app. By June we will roll out a new version of our app and of our dispenser,” he said.
Mills said the connectivity of the new platform will be a strong point, and will help sell the idea to practitioners.
“There are all these devices out there generating data from Apple, FitBit, Google and others. We will be able to correlate those inputs by the minute, and connect with people who care about these biometric outputs and actual adherence to a supplementation regimen,” Mills said.
Interest on consumer electronics front
Mills said the company was invited to present at the recent CES (Consumer Electronics Show) last month in Las Vegas. The company’s presentation about a pilot trial connecting the device, the app and measurements of sleep quality via a Fitbit device generated a lot of interest, he said.
“We are really focusing on the digital health explosion and making sure we are experts at tracking everything that is going into the human body. Our current partners don’t view us as a supplement company but more of a digital health company,” he said.
Mills said the ability to track compliance and health outcomes right into the home will be of interest to health care providers. And he said insurance companies are interested, too, and approached Tespo at CES to look at how the costs associated with the device could be reimbursed through insurance plans or through Medicare.
Güdpod follows trail of K cups
In the case of Güdpod, Gian Carlo Ochoa, PhD, the company’s founder and chief innovation officer said the plan is to follow the lead of a company’s that’s already had success with a pod delivery system—Keurig.
“We basically took a page out of that playbook,” Ochoa said. “They launched in offices before they went straight to the consumer. We hired Miguel Gonzalez who launched the office brewing arm of Keurig.”
“We’ve had great success launching this with some big high tech companies,” he said. “Employers offer it to their employees as part of their wellness programs.”
The dispenser is being marketed to offices with three basic products in various flavors. One is whey protein shake with caffeine, another is a greens drink with kale and spirulina and the third is a ‘Satisfy’ product that acts as a healthy snacking option.
“For employers it’s part of keeping their employees happy and healthy. In the office we have a captive audience and we can command a higher price,” he said.
Ochoa said broader retail distribution and a partnership with a nationally known organic brand are in the company’s future.