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Healthiest is the Honest Company for your medicine cabinet

The company curates bundled natural products that help treat common and chronic health issues

Entrepreneur interview by Steven Loeb
November 27, 2015
Short URL: http://vator.tv/n/4189

We are hosting our second annual Post Seed (#postseedconf) event on Dec. 1 at Ruby Skye in San Francisco. The event - which we expect to draw more than 500 attendees - kicks off at 8 am and ends around 5 pm. We're excited to have Cory Johnson, anchor at Bloomberg West, broadcasting live from 7 am to 11 am PST. It should be a riveting day! Register here: Post Seed 2015. 

At our annual Vator Splash LA event last month, we were proud to announce that Healthiest, a member of the Splash LA Class of 2015 cohort, had won the Judges Award.

Healthiest is your natural medicine cabinet. The company has developed a process for curating bundled natural products that work together to treat common and chronic health conditions; Healthiest takes the guesswork out of natural health products by working with practitioners and researchers throughout the selection process.

 It has partnered with honest and transparent vendors to ensure the highest quality natural products that support organic, fair-trade, sustainable practices in eco-friendly packaging whenever possible. The company also has a medical practitioner and research panel, which is involved throughout the process to ensure that all content and resources are current and accurate. Each bundled Solution contains a selection of all-natural remedies to help users build the Healthiest medicine cabinet in their own home.

 The San Francisco-based company, which was incorporated in February of this year, (working on their B Corp Certification) has raised a $100,000 friends and family round, and is in the throes of raising a seed round, with an open note of up to $2 million.

I spoke to Crystal Brown, CEO and founder of Healthiest.

VatorNews: What is the origin of Healthiest? Where did the idea come from?

Crystal Brown: I met Drew Chontow, who leads the natural health product selection. He was passionate about integrative and alternative healthcare and had been thinking about a resource like Healthiest for years. We immediately recognized the opportunity to collaborate and create an online resource to help people find natural solutions to common conditions. On a more personal note, I grew up in Berkeley, where my parents raised me on a vegetarian diet and we ate organic food, so natural living has always been in my blood. But with my own kids I began to stray away from that path. Then, about a year ago, my daughter got a staph infection and my doctor told me that antibiotics were not going to work since staph is so resistant - I wanted to know what my options were. So I went online to see what to do I was overwhelmed and confused.

That's when it hit me. With the emergence of companies like Whole Foods and the Honest Company, consumers are talking about natural, safe and non-toxic solutions. But where was the place for your medicine cabinet, so that you could get something natural instead of chemical filled toxic solutions?

I realized this was an incredible market opportunity. People spend tons of money, but it's hard to know what's safe.

VN: What is the problem that Healthiest is trying to solve? How does it solve it?

CB: Our value proposition is that we do the work for you. We do the research. We work with high level practitioners including Dr Arian Nachat, Head of Integrative Medicine at Kaiser Permanente and Dr. Brad Jacobs, who was formerly with Revolution Health. We also have clinical trial data and scientific research papers and we provide that information for our users. It's all curated. Every product has links to research done by the research panel. Eventually, we will have experts in each area that will weigh in.

We believe in doing the work for the consumer. There's a confluence of what kind of content they need to feel secure. When you go to WebMD, why do you believe that NyQuil will help you sleep? Why do you trust that brand, because it is sold at Walgreens? Or maybe you heard about it from a friend. We meeting customers in in the aisle, so they don’t have to take unnecessary chemicals to treat their ailments.

VN: Who is the typical customer for Healthiest? How and why do they use it?

CB: We have three typical users.

The one we are targeting first is the CHO, the Chief Health Officer of the family. It's the mom who does most of shopping, between 33 and 55 years old. She is making a lot of product decisions, like what shampoo, what toilet paper, what Neosporin, what Band-Aids to buy. Rather than reaching for Tylenol, would she try turmeric with black pepper, which has no side effects and gives the same results? What about arnica oil to replace Ben-Gay? We're giving creative solutions for PMS. Women don’t have to take Advil since it can be harmful for your liver. They can take what we provide in our solution. We target where they are, where they are shopping, what they reading, and who their influencers are, whether it be Gwyneth Paltrow, Reese Witherspoon or a mommy blogger.

The Second is the professional woman. She does yoga, goes to the gym, and she wants to be healthy, but she's busy. She does shopping online, like all young millennials, and she's “detoxing” all the time, but when it comes to healthcare she's following the western approach. She's curious what acupuncture is or why she should take a probiotic.

Last is the single male, who could also be the CHO. He really cares about his health, he goes to the gym, and he doesn’t want to lose his hair. He wants to feel good and is looking for a quick and easy way to have things delivered to him. It's a big market and over 50 percent of our users are men.

We currently have four solutions: sleep, immune support, PMS and the medicine cabinet essentials. The essentials kit includes things like non-toxic deodorant and probiotics.

We looked at the top 25 conditions, and we picked ones that were low hanging fruit. So we won't start with cancer support, but we understand sleep. Some of the bundles we are working on are for hangover relief, allergy relief, kids essentials, detox, athletic recovery and skin conditions.

VN: How many customers do you currently have? How is that growing?

CB: We have mostly been doing testing, and haven’t pushed out beyond yet, but we have grown 50% over last month. We will officially go to market on December 2nd. Of course, we are live now!

VN: What separates Healthiest from other similar companies? What do you do that they can’t or won’t?

CB: Thrive or Honest those are great comparisons because they are doing what we would like to do but in a difference space. Honest is focused on babies and newborns, while Thrive is focusing on natural food at affordable prices.

I don’t think there's a good solution in the health and medicine cabinet space. There are the old guards like Dr. Weil or Dr. Mercola, but there hasn’t been a brand that provides really good products and content to the community.

Our goal is not just to have content but to actually link that to the commerce piece. We believe in healthcare in recurring bundles. We believe that you should take a calcium supplement or fish oil or digestive tea on a regular basis. These things are recurring.

VN: Why does the subscription model work best for you? Have you ever considered doing something like the Honest Company, also offering individual products for sale?

CB: We already do sell individual products! We have 22 SKU’s, and only four SKU’s are based on bundles, while the other 18 are individual products. We offer a recurring model, where you only buy the bundle solution once. In the sleep solution you receive an eye mask and a travel case, as well consumable items like a sleep aid supplement, lavender oil, and tea. Those consumable items would then repopulate for the next month and would be shipped.

Allergies, for example, are likely a seasonal need but other supplements, like probiotics or fish oil, are often taken each month and can even ne prescribed by a doctor.

In the future, the customer experience will be highly personalized. We look forward to knowing more about our customer through integrations with wearables like FitBit, health records, and through questionnaires we provide. We will know what each customer, each patient, needs. Some are chronic issues and some are one-time problems. It depends on the item.

We also can't wait to get into stores and to partner with doctors so they can sell our products, but our first plan is to white label so products can be rebranded. We don't want to have a hippie dippie look and feel, it should feel more like Pottery Barn or Martha Stewart.

Our goal is to be the portal where you can type in what you’re looking for, and find a solution that is integrative in nature and personalized. We also want to use telemedicine.I'm on the edge of my seat and can’t wait to do all these things.

Healthcare is shifting and a lot of people are interested in how to prevent diseases. They want quick ways to find that.

VN: Talk to me about your background, and what led you to Healthiest?

CB: I worked in healthcare tech for about 12 years and I was always looking for ways to make the business of healthcare more efficient and effective. After I had kids I took time to focus on nonprofit work, eventually founding the largest parent lobby supporting better public education in California. I was on the ground, organizing around issues, giving them info, and connecting with them on values.

When I saw this opportunity to marry my background in healthcare, technology, advocacy, organizing and start ups, Healthiest was the perfect medium.

Healthcare is facing an enormous crisis. Cancer, heart disease, diabetes, back pain, all are on the rise. Many Americans are still uninsured and underinsured - so access to great care, and prevention is critical. I realized I could tap into my background and build a company that could be highly profitable, and have the social impact needed in the industry. Real change happens in the private sector. By building a company with authentic values, it's the only way for America to change. There's formaldehyde in shampoo, and drugs may have detrimental side effects, and that is not going to change unless the consumer demands it. We can go back to what is good, what works, and what is helping people. They want that, and it works if it is trusted and easy to get.

VN: How would you like to disrupt the space in the next five or ten years?

CB: What I hope is that eventually we don’t view healthcare as traditional vs western medicine, but rather, just the healthiest way. They shouldn’t be opposing systems. If there is a great way for a patient to be healed - especially without other side effects - that healing method should be well known and accessible. If a patient suffers from chronic back pain they often use injections and surgeries for relief, but they still have pain. Maybe they'd be willing to try acupuncture if they knew what it was where to go to find relief. Everyone should have access to the best information, products, and practitioners to be healthy. There isn’t anyone out there that doesn’t want to live a healthy, vibrant life. But we have to make sure everyone has access to the information, tools, and resources.

VN: Is there anything else I should know about Healthiest?

CB: We have received an incredible response when we pitch to investors, consumers, partners and influencers. We have heard 500 times, "That’s such a good idea."

To actually take the idea and make it a reality is difficult work to do. Health is a personal issue for people and trust matters. But the “problem” we are solving impacts everyone…. your parent, your girlfriend, your mom. Everyone is or has suffered from some health issue and so people understand a solution like Healthiest is needed. That makes me want to be even more successful, because I feel the pressure. I know I'm really onto something people want and now it is time to execute and make it a reality.

(On stage in photo: Bambi Francisco, Wilson Sonsini's partner Rob Kornegay, Katharine VanderDrift, Crystal Brown)

At our annual Vator Splash LA event last month, we were proud to announce that Healthiest, a member of the Splash LA Class of 2015 cohort, had won the Judges Award.

Healthiest is your natural medicine cabinet. The company has developed a process for curating bundled natural products that work together to treat common and chronic health conditions; Healthiest takes the guesswork out of natural health products by working with  practitioners and researchers throughout the selection process.

It has partnered with honest and transparent vendors to ensure the highest quality natural products that support organic, fair-trade, sustainable practices in eco-friendly packaging whenever possible. The company also has a medical practitioner and research panel, which is involved throughout the process to ensure that all content and resources are current and accurate. Each bundled Solution contains a selection of all-natural remedies to help users build the Healthiest medicine cabinet in their own home.

The San Francisco-based company, which was incorporated in February of this year, (working on their B Corp Certification) has raised a $100,000 friends and family round, and is in the throes of raising a seed round, with an open note of up to $2 million.

I spoke to Crystal Brown, CEO and founder of Healthiest.


VatorNews: What is the origin of Healthiest? Where did the idea come from?

Crystal Brown: I met Drew Chontow, who leads the natural health product selection. He was passionate about integrative and alternative healthcare and had been thinking about a resource like Healthiest for years. We immediately recognized the opportunity to collaborate and create an online resource to help people find natural solutions to common conditions.  On a more personal note, I grew up in Berkeley, where my parents raised me on a vegetarian diet and we ate organic food, so natural living has always been in my blood.  But with my own kids I began to stray away from that path. Then, about a year ago, my daughter got a staph infection and my doctor told me that antibiotics were not going to work since staph is so resistant - I wanted to know what my options were. So I went online to see what to do I was overwhelmed and confused.

That's when it hit me. With the emergence of companies like Whole Foods and the Honest Company, consumers are talking about natural, safe and non-toxic solutions. But where was the place for your medicine cabinet, so that you could get something natural instead of chemical filled toxic solutions?

I realized this was an incredible market opportunity. People spend tons of money, but it's hard to know what's safe.

VN: What is the problem that Healthiest is trying to solve? How does it solve it?

CB: Our value proposition is that we do the work for you. We do the research. We work with high level practitioners including Dr Arian Nachat, Head of Integrative Medicine at Kaiser Permanente and Dr. Brad Jacobs, who was formerly with Revolution Health. We also have clinical trial data and scientific research papers and we provide that information for our users. It's all curated. Every product has links to research done by the research panel. Eventually, we will have experts in each area that will weigh in.

We believe in doing the work for the consumer. There's a confluence of what kind of content they need to feel secure. When you go to WebMD, why do you believe that NyQuil will help you sleep? Why do you trust that brand, because it is sold at Walgreens? Or maybe you heard about it from a friend. We meeting customers in in the aisle, so they don’t have to take unnecessary chemicals to treat their ailments.

VN: Who is the typical customer for Healthiest? How and why do they use it?

CB: We have three typical users.

The one we are targeting first is the CHO, the Chief Health Officer of the family. It's the mom who does most of shopping, between 33 and 55 years old. She is making a lot of product decisions, like what shampoo, what toilet paper, what Neosporin, what Band-Aids to buy. Rather than reaching for Tylenol, would she try turmeric with black pepper, which has no side effects and gives the same results? What about arnica oil to replace Ben-Gay? We're giving creative solutions for PMS. Women don’t have to take Advil since it can be harmful for your liver. They can take what we provide in our solution. We target where they are, where they are shopping, what they reading, and who their influencers are, whether it be Gwyneth Paltrow, Reese Witherspoon or a mommy blogger.


The Second is the professional woman. She does yoga, goes to the gym, and she wants to be healthy, but she's busy. She does shopping online, like all young millennials, and she's “detoxing” all the time, but when it comes to healthcare she's following the western approach. She's curious what acupuncture is or why she should take a probiotic.


Last is the single male, who could also be the CHO. He really cares about his health, he goes to the gym, and he doesn’t want to lose his hair. He wants to feel good and is looking for a quick and easy way to have things delivered to him. It's a big market and over 50 percent of our users are men.

We currently have four solutions: sleep, immune support, PMS and the medicine cabinet essentials. The essentials kit includes things like non-toxic deodorant and probiotics.

We looked at the top 25 conditions, and we picked ones that were low hanging fruit. So we won't start with cancer support, but we understand sleep. Some of the bundles we are working on are for hangover relief, allergy relief, kids essentials, detox, athletic recovery and skin conditions.

VN: How many customers do you currently have? How is that growing?

CB: We have mostly been doing testing, and haven’t pushed out beyond yet, but we have grown 50% over last month. We will officially go to market on December 2nd. Of course, we are live now!

VN: What separates Healthiest from other similar companies? What do you do that they can’t or won’t?

CB: Thrive or Honest those are great comparisons because they are doing what we would like to do but in a difference space. Honest is focused on babies and newborns, while Thrive is focusing on natural food at affordable prices.

I don’t think there's a good solution in the health and medicine cabinet space. There are the old guards like Dr. Weil or Dr. Mercola, but there hasn’t been a brand that provides really good products and content to the community.

Our goal is not just to have content but to actually link that to the commerce piece. We believe in healthcare in recurring bundles. We believe that you should take a calcium supplement or fish oil or digestive tea on a regular basis. These things are recurring.

VN: Why does the subscription model work best for you? Have you ever considered doing something like the Honest Company, also offering individual products for sale?

CB: We already do sell individual products! We have 22 SKU’s, and only four SKU’s are based on bundles, while the other 18 are individual products. We offer a recurring model, where you only buy the bundle solution once. In the sleep solution you receive an eye mask and a travel case, as well consumable items like a sleep aid supplement, lavender oil, and tea. Those consumable items would then repopulate for the next month and would be be shipped.

Allergies, for example, is likely a seasonal need but other supplements like probiotics or fish oil are often taken each month and even prescribed by a doctor.

In the future, the customer experience will be highly personalized. We look forward to knowing more about our customer through integrations with wearables like FitBit, from your health records, and througheven questionnairess we provideask. We will know what each customer, each patient, needs. Some are chronic issues, and some are one- time problems. It depends on the item.

We also can't wait to get into stores and we definitely want to partner with doctors so they can sell our products, but our first plan is to white label so products can be rebranded. We don't want to have a hippie dippie look and feel, it should feel more like Pottery Barn or Martha Stewart.

Our goal is to be the portal where you can type in what you’re looking for, and find a solution that is integrative in nature, and where we can personalized. We also want to use telemedicine. and I'm on the edge of my seat and can’t wait to do all these things.

Healthcare is shifting and a lot of people are interested in how to prevent diseases. They want quick ways to find that.

VN: Talk to me about your background, and what led you to Healthiest?.

CB: I worked in healthcare tech for about 12 years, and I was always looking for ways to make the business of healthcare more efficient and effective. After I had kids I took time to focus on nonprofit work, eventually founding the largest parent lobby supporting better public education in California. I was on the ground, organizing around issues, giving them info, and connecting with them on values.

When I saw this opportunity to marry my background in healthcare, technology, advocacy, organizing and start ups, Healthiest was the perfect medium.

Healthcare is facing an enormous crisis.. Cancer, heart disease, diabetes, back pain, all are on the rise. Many Americans are still uninsured and underinsured - so access to great care, and prevention is critical.  I realized I could tap into my background and build a company that could be highly profitable, and have the social impact needed in the industry. Real change happens in the private sector. By building a company with authentic values, it's the only way for America to change. There's formaldehyde in shampoo, and drugs may have detrimental side effects, and that is not going to change unless the consumer demands it. We can go back to what is good, what works, and what is helping people. They want that, and it works ift its is trusted and easy to get.

Companies like Honest or Beauty Counter built a brand around natural, and being safe and healthy. People trust Jessica Alba, and that makes it easy for people to heal.

VN: How would you like to disrupt the space in the next five or ten years?

CB: What I hope is that eventually we don’t viewrefer to healthcare as traditional eastern vs western medicine, but rather, just one way, the healthiest way. They shouldn’t be opposing systems.  If there is a great way for a patient to be healed - especially without other side effects - that healing method should be well known and accessible.  If a patient suffers from chronic back pain they often useattempt injectionsshots and surgeries for relief, butand they still have pain. Maybe they'd be willing to try acupuncture if they knew what it was, where to go toand find relief. Everyone should have access to the best information, products, and practitioners to stay and be healthy. There isn’t anyone out there that doesn’t want to live a healthy, vibrant life.  But we have to make sure everyone has access to the information, tools, and resources.  

VN: Is there anything else I should know about Healthiest?

CB: We have receivedgotten an incredible response when we pitch to investors, consumers, partners and influencers. . We have heard 500 times, "That’s such a good idea."

To actually take the idea and make it a reality is, it's difficult work to do., because hHealth is  a personal issue for people and trust matters. But the “problem” we are solving impacts everyone…. your parent, your girlfriend, your mom., Everyonesomeone is or has suffered from some health issue and so people understand a solution like Healthiest  is needed. That makes me want to be even more successful, because I feel the pressure. I know I'm really onto something people want and now it is time to execute and make it a reality.

 



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