UK-based health startup Feel raises £4.5M, wants to revamp nutritional supplement market
The nutritional supplement market is no small business as consumers spend upwards of £442 million every year on product purchases. The UK-based health company Feel aims to “clean up” this segment that is apparently rife with supplements offering shoddy quality, fillers and ineffective nutrients. The company has now raised £4.5 million in its latest funding round to further its goal.
The latest funding round for Feel was led by Fuel Ventures and included TMT Investments, Sova VC, Richard Longhurst, LoveHoney.com founder, and Igor Ryabenkiy, founder and GP of Altair Capital.
This funding round will enable Feel to expand its business across EMEA and target new verticals to serve pregnancy, kids, pets and cognition. While the company’s CEO, Boris Hodakel, didn’t tell us exactly where they will offer their services next, he mentions it will be somewhere in mid-Europe, followed by other EU countries.
When more is less
The nutritional supplement market has a bad rep when it comes to the ingredients being used in products. Feel is developing clinically-backed formulas to produce quality nutritional supplements that exclude all harmful and unnatural additives. The company uses a direct-to-consumer subscription, which it will expand further with fresh funds. This model enables it to offer its supplements at a more affordable price point and avoids a high mark-up high-street retailers usually tend to put on their supplements.
As for the company’s origin, its founder came up with the idea while shopping for some supplements. “Supplements are part of my health routine, but the ‘aha’ moment arrived during my visit to a health shop. The shop attendant recommended a product, and to my question, why is this the best, she promptly answered – ‘well, it just has more in it’,” Hodakel says.
“And ‘more’ it did, but not the vitamins and minerals: just more nasty additives and ridiculous doses of low-quality ingredients. So I decided to do something about that,” He reveals.
Being digital, and the competition
COVID-19 pandemic forced many businesses to go digital. However, Feel started out as a digitally native brand and wasn’t negatively impacted by the pandemic. In fact, Hodakel notes that the company has witnessed 60x growth, from 400 to 21,000 users, in 12 months. It has a £250,000 recurring monthly revenue, which is said to be growing further.
Speaking about the competition, Hodakel says Feel thinks about where its customers come from. “In our case, mass-market customers mainly shop at Holland & Barett, Boots and offline retail. E-commerce in general, has seen a tremendous boost due to recent global events, and it helps us reach customers who otherwise would not have considered shopping online their first choice,” Hodakel says. He also believes that no other company is as affordable as Feel, while maintaining the quality of its product at the same time.
Many supplement startups offer customised nutrition solutions for its users. We asked Hodakel whether Feel will offer the same in the future but he notes that the company is already doing the same by providing products driven by customers’ health goals.
“If you’re talking about personalised vitamins where you get a pile of different tablets every day, then I see this trend winding down. The same companies who came in strong with the message that people need personalised vitamins by doing an online quiz or a blood test, are now releasing standalone products. It’s a good concept, but this is where it ends,” Hodakel says.
A lean approach
With fresh funds, Feel is all set to expand its services, which means it will also onboard new people. Currently, Feel has 25 employees with 5 more set to join next month. While the company will employ more people this year, Hodakel notes that Feel won’t be going on a hiring spree. “We want our products to be as affordable as they can be, which means being lean and efficient with everything we do,” he says.