Sold in 9,200 stores across the US, Premama’s line of prenatal products, totalling eight, come in powder and gummy form—anything but pills.
“When I looked into the market, it was a niche market with big players, but really lacking in innovation,” Aziz told NutraIngredients-USA, recalling the time he canvassed outside of a Whole Foods in 2010 as part of a college marketing class project.
“Everything was offered in a pill format—when I surveyed 300 pregnant women, 96% came back saying the same thing: ‘Hate the pill, I wish there was an alternative,’” he added.
He started Premama in 2011, fresh out of college, after he won a Rhode Island Business Plan Competition that gave him the capital to start a company, and according to Aziz, just in time as new technology had been developed to make non-pill nutritional supplements taste good.
Winning over investors
The recently closed Series A and B financing, totaling $4.5m, was raised in the past 18 months, led by Cherrystone Angel Group of Rhode Island for the former, and River Hollow Partners of New York for the latter.
According to Aziz, the company’s growth from just one product to eight in the past five years spurred increased investor interest.
The first product, a powdered drink mix with folic acid and iron, first hit the market in 2012, called the Prenatal Vitamin Drink Mix. The following year, the company launched a version of the supplement powder enriched with omega-3, and by 2014, the products’ distribution had gone nationwide.
“We’re hoping this takes us to profitability,” Aziz said about the investments. ‘We’re also hoping it allows us to add to our team and product line.”
Keeping consumers in the prenatal category
Premama is growing rapidly, according to the company’s rough figures. Aziz said that Q1 gross sales this year was up 250% year-over-year, and the company is aiming to grow another 300% this year.
But there are only so many buyers for pre-natal supplements, and even among them, consumer retention is hard to nail. “We realized that we only have a seven month window with our consumers—nine months in an absolutely perfect world,” he said.
“So we thought of ways to expand on that lifetime value for our customer, so we added products for fertility and lactation, where we saw there was really no supplements out there at the time,” he added.
Recently, the company also forayed into gummies, which Aziz forecasted will become Premama’s most popular product in the near future.He added: “As long as we continue to stay ahead on our R&D and look for new ingredients to incorporate in our products, it helps to carve out our space on the shelves.”