It All Began With A Gut Feeling: Why We Invested In Her One
Hippocrates once said: “all disease begins in the gut”. And he was right. Tens of trillions of microorganisms reside in the human gut, contributing up to 2kg to our body weight. The number of different species of bacteria is estimated at around 1,000. Even though there is still much to learn about the gut microbiome, in recent years more and more studies are investigating the causal relationship between the gut and its impact on overall health, metabolism, energy, cognitive performance, immunity and even appearance (such as skin health). And the more we learn about it, the more we learn to love our gut.
Why Her One is our Number One
When we started looking into the gut health space (which part of the $300b global market for supplements, and the $60b probiotic market), we understood that not only awareness for gut health is growing, but that gut health issues are very common among a large group of people, (62% of people worldwide suffer from digestive health problems at least once a year). On top of that, there are often taboos on the topic, which make it difficult to tackle it. We found very few companies that have succeeded in breaking through, until we met her1. And this is what our gut feeling (and lots of data, and numbers, of course) told us:
In order to be able to grow at this speed, a company needs to have 1) a perfect product/market fit 2) a perfect timing to come to market 3) have a highly scalable production/distribution model and 4) have a determined management team that can actually manage under sustained pressure (what we sometimes refer to as “extended beast mode”). In addition to that, in most cases, to grow at this speed, a company needs a lot of capital to sustain the ramp up losses. It’s worth noting that air up managed to reach the €100m run rate mark with very little capital.
1. Finally, something that is sexy and effective, for women by women.
When we met founder Chanyu Xu, a serial food tech entrepreneur, we were already convinced of the gut health opportunity as a large addressable market. What we had not realized, is that almost twice as many women suffer from digestive health issues on a weekly basis compared to men. This is an underserved market (and considering that women buy up to 20% more supplements than men, an interesting underserved market). Chanyu’s vision: provide a convenient, effective, and elegant remedy to the problem. This is our first portfolio company where the founder, the majority of the management team and a large part of the company is all female – a true for women by women approach.
2. The product is pretty Gut
Her1’s flagship SKU is called Inner Beauty: a vegan, gluten free and 100% natural powder blend made of locally sourced whole foods and containing specific probiotic strains and prebiotic inulin to feed the gut microbiome to make you feel (and even look) at your best. Customers can mix the powder into a food of their choice such as smoothies, yoghurt or water. her1 worked hard on the packaging to preserve the fragile probiotic strains, as well as their beautiful looking glass and accessories. And with so many customer reviews like: ‘Your products have simply given me back the feeling of life‘ – something is definitely going gut.
3. Building the #1 digital female wellness brand
Her1’s vision is to become the leading digital health impact company dedicated to female well-being. The brand accompanies women throughout different stages of life by providing a variety of safe, natural and sustainable wellness & care products. With over >25k engaged followers on Instagram, more than 54k loyal recurring customers and 100% of its sales direct-to-consumer, and double-digit MoM growth rates, the company is well under way. On top of that, the New Product Development pipeline is full of science-backed, on-trend products to expand into multiple target areas – like recently launched Gut One, convenient capsules that make it even easier to prioritize one’s microbiome, especially with the subscription function. And expect to see many more.
Five Seasons Ventures identified the company after a thorough sector research for supplements, gut health and ingestible beauty in Europe, and proudly led the €5.5 Series A round that closed in June 2021.