Taking Care/of Health
Akash Shah’s start-up Care/of delivers personalized vitamin packs to consumers via monthly subscriptions.
Indian American entrepreneur Akash Shah is passionate about positively impacting people’s lives. This desire led him to co-found Care/of, a start-up which delivers personalized vitamin packs to consumers via monthly subscriptions. Under his leadership, Care/of has raised over $46 million (Rs. 340 crores approximately) from venture capital firms like Goldman Sachs Investment Partners, Goodwater Capital, Tusk Ventures, RRE Ventures and Juxtapose. Shah was featured in Forbes magazine’s 2018 30 Under 30 list in the retail and ecommerce category.
Excerpts from an interview.
Please tell us about your background, education and work experience.
I was born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, where my parents currently reside, after emigrating from India in 1984. I graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor of Science degree in economics from the University of Pennsylvania’s The Wharton School and a Bachelor of Arts degree in international studies from the university’s Huntsman Program in International Studies & Business. I currently live in New York City with my wife, a nurse practitioner who specializes in women’s health.
In 2015, I partnered with former vice president of marketing at Bonobos, Craig Elbert, to disrupt the $39 billion (Rs. 2,88,000 crores approximately) vitamins and supplements industry through a personalized customer experience. Since its launch in 2016, Care/of has doubled revenues every two months, acquired tens of thousands of active subscribers and quickly emerged as a market leader.
Prior to Care/of, I co-founded Hometeam, a tech-enabled in-home senior care provider that has raised over $40 million (Rs. 295 crores approximately). Since starting the company in 2013 with Forbes’ 30 Under 30 alumnus Josh Bruno, Hometeam has helped create peace of mind for thousands of families and employed over 1,000 professional caregivers. Both Care/of and Hometeam are testaments to my personal drive and desire to positively impact people’s lives.
What do you feel are some of the biggest problems faced by consumers when trying to choose the right vitamins and mineral supplements?
There are a few problems. First, the vitamin aisle is overwhelming and confusing. There are lots of options. It is very difficult for consumers to decide what’s right for them. Second, many people are skeptical of what’s out there. It is difficult for consumers to know which brands are trustworthy. Third, it is hard for consumers to know whether their vitamins or other supplements are working. There is no feedback loop.
Please explain how Care/of works.
We allow people to build personalized daily vitamin packs. Here’s how it works.
• Tell us about yourself: Answer a few easy questions about your goals, lifestyle and values.
• See the recommendations: We recommend the right vitamins and supplements. Add or remove as you see fit.
• Get personalized daily vitamin packs: Receive a box of personalized packs each month. Adjust or cancel any time. Free shipping on orders over $20 (Rs. 1,470 approximately).
We’re all unique (hurrah!). Thus, with the differences in our goals and lifestyles, the idea of a mass-market multivitamin becomes outdated. The most compelling research on supplements is for specific populations. We try to help consumers find what’s right for them. Our Scientific Advisory Board is comprised of leading doctors, scientists and nutrition experts. We work with them closely on our product development, recommendation logic and to stay on top of the latest research findings. Everything is manufactured and tested in the United States.
We may not have all the answers, as the science is nuanced, but we always tailor our guidance to a consumer as an individual.
Natasa Milas is a freelance writer based in New York City.