Purmeo is the world’s first customized vitamin company delivering exactly what your diet’s missing directly to your doorstep on a monthly basis. Launched just two weeks ago in Berlin, these two founders are on a mission to make vitamins effective and relevant, by customizing them to your specific health needs and delivering 30 ready-to-go packages in a stylish box at your convenience each month. Need more Vitamin C but less iron? Want your vitamins to know if you’ve been smoking, are pregnant, will be spending more time in the sun, or have stopped working out altogether?
In order to better understand the mission (and what got two WHU grads to start caring about vitamins), we decided to catch up with the duo behind the brand new company.
The fresh-faced duo: Peter Haag and Nicolas Boldt
VV. Where did you two meet each other?
We met almost four years ago in 2008 during our first year studying business administration at WHU (Wissenschaftliche Hochschule für Unternehmensführung) near Koblenz. During that time studying, we also did sports together and coordinated to organize the Euromasters, an international sports event. From our 4th semester on we started to work together freelancing, in startups as well as industry projects.
VV. How did the idea come about? Who did you share it with?
We came up with the idea while still studying at WHU. The beginning phase was very exciting because we didn’t start pitching it to investors, but to nutrition experts. So we naturally assumed, that it would be difficult to enchant them for a startup idea, but from day one the opposite was the case: nutritionist and nutritional advisors were looking for a customized concept already. After we got more specific and
more precise the doctors followed very soon.
VV. Purmeo sounds like a memory loss drug. How did you come up with the name?
The search for a name was really difficult as we wanted to be clearly different from the majority of brands in the market. We wanted to get away from dusty, esoteric nutritional supplements in the supermarket around the corner and rather show that we offer a healthy lifestyle product. The name itself is a mix from different languages (e.g. French, Latin, German) and simply means “for me.”
VV. What do you each bring to the table? What are your strengths?
In daily business, Pete does most of the analytics while Nicolàs takes care of branding. “The background is really that I’m a perfectionist,” Nicolas adds eagerly. “We screened more than one hundred partners before we found the right production company, the same with the nutrition experts, doctors and designers. The setup of the Purmeo check then took months and so did the development of the supplements. I’m also just as thorough with marketing and the communication of the brand.”
VV. Is a questionnaire really enough to understand a person’s health needs? What about blood samples?
We thought about different solutions. We discussed saliva samples, blood samples and urine samples. None of them seemed convenient nor of higher analytical value. We developed a questionaire with an oecotrophologist who agreed it was the best way to understand the needs of customers over the course of one month. Blood samples only reflect the last 48-72 hours of your eating habits, rather than your overall lifestyle.
VV. You say Purmeo adjusts automatically to the seasons and flu epidemics. What does this mean, exactly?
The Purmeo Autopilot adjusts to changes in the surrounding circumstances over the year like weather and seasons. For example before winter, the amount of Vitamin C is higher in order to support the body’s defenses. Depending on the season, our body faces different obstacles. In winter it’s cold and the immune system is weakened. In summer temperatures exceed 25-30 degrees so people are sweating more (thus losing minerals) and dangerous UV radiation is more intense. Fortunately there are nutrients which can meet these changes.
VV. And who helped with the business model?
When we started talking to nutritional advisors and doctors, we had a great response and interesting feedback which we used to develop the idea of using a questionnaire. In a next step we talked to the mymuesli founders. A first concept was developed and we realized that it was a very solid business model with huge potential. In order to use the mymuesli experience in food and e-commerce as much as possible, we started in Passau.
VV. What made you move to Berlin?
Berlin is the place to be for a striving e-commerce startup. We also chose Berlin, of course, because it’s Europe’s most interesting startup scene. You meet great and inspiring minds wherever you go and, especially for a product as stylish as Purmeo, the creativity and way of life around the office is really helping.
Our office is near Rosenthaler Platz. From there, the two of us work with our designer as well as two developers, mainly for the website and production processes right now. In addition to that we work with our team of nutrition experts when it comes to the supplements and specific customer questions. We are shipping from Passau, so we have part of our team (mainly production) there as well.
VV. Who’s the competition? In Europe, and internationally..
In Germany there is no company doing exactly the same as we do. On an international level we compete with big international pharmaceutical companies like Orhomol or Centrum, which offer standardized products and products aiming for specific medical indications (eyes, heart, digestion, etc.).
“The problem is that standard regimens don’t take into account what vitamins and minerals you get from your food intake, so you’re often ingesting higher than the recommended dietary allowance,” Nicolas adds. “Higher dosages than that can have negative effects, which is why we get to know the customer. That sets us apart.”
VV. What drives you? Why are you in this business?
“I founded a company because I love developing an idea and seeing how it evolves,” Pete said, “to constantly improve it and to find more and more ways of applying it. I love the situations where you don’t know what happens next and to work on something passionately because you are absolutely convinced of its success.”
Nicolas? “I want to build the best product in a market where customization is not only fun, but useful. Also to take nutritional supplements out of the dusty corner where doppelherz finds it comforting and release a product that looks healthy and cool.”
VV. What’s next?
Now two weeks past our launch, the next step will be to optimize the website, and look for further customer demands in order to keep the business sustainably growing. After that, internationalization and new products are planned.