Founder Of Wellness Startup Aloha, Armed With $4.5 Million From Khosla Ventures And Others, Lays Out Big Plans

Jan 21 2014, 2:24pm CST | by

Founder Of Wellness Startup Aloha, Armed With $4.5 Million From Khosla Ventures And Others, Lays Out Big Plans

One thing Constantin Bisanz has learned as a serial entrepreneur: It takes a lot of work and focus to eat and live healthily and in balance if you’re also holding down a fulltime job. Bisanz, 40, sold his fifth company, fashion ecommerce site brands4friends, to eBay for $220 million in 2011. He sees a great business opportunity in making wellness easier to achieve.

His new company, Aloha, raised $4.5 million in seed funding from three main venture capital firms –Khosla Ventures, Highland Capital Partners and First Round Ventures – and about 30 other investors in late 2013. Bisanz’s audacious goal is to create a global wellness brand around Aloha and eventually compete with the likes of Nestle, which has invested heavily in nutrition and healthy foods.

“The main part of our vision is to create a new awareness in the market and challenge the brands like Nestle. It’s really our mission to raise the quality standards,” says New York-based Bisanz during a recent visit to San Francisco. “False claims and companies producing sugar water [Bisanz says that VitaminWater is essentially sugar water] shouldn’t be the norm. We just couldn’t find the right products to feel comfortable putting in our bodies.”

Aloha is starting out by selling a dried green juice powder called The Daily Good and a packet of vitamins called The Foundation. Bisanz began on the road to creating his own powdered juice after learning that a lot of the ingredients in products sold at stores like GNC are fillers and not necessarily good for you. He brought on experts in various fields to create a green juice powder that contains 14 ingredients including spinach, moringa leaves from Africa, berries, various mushrooms and lemon.

Justin Mager, an exercise physiologist and integrative medicine specialist, served as an expert to vet the ingredients for The Daily Good powdered juice. “Do I feel like I am getting good benefit and that [the Aloha products] are part of a healthy foundation? Yes,” says Mager. “Having a good diet, drinking good water and resting the body –those are also important.”

I’ve tried The Daily Good and it tastes pretty good. However, no studies have been done to show that it improves one’s health. Chances are, it’s much better for you than a candy bar. (The company is offering a 7 day sample for free this month at its website, aloha.com.)

Says Samir Kaul, a partner at Khosla Ventures who led that firm’s investment in Aloha, “Every day I’m reading articles about ‘Don’t’ take Vitamin C’ or some other vitamin. People are looking to eat healthier but they are confused.  There’s an opportunity for a trusted brand in this area.”

When I ask Bisanz about recent studies that have shown that certain vitamins might actually be harmful for you and the fact that supplements don’t have to be proven effective to be marketed, he is quick to says that the vitamins and the green powdered juice are just one of 5 pillars that he and Aloha promote. In addition to eating healthy, Bisanz also promotes movement and exercise, relaxation and meditation, being social and connecting with people, and thinking/inspiration.

As Highland Capital partner Bob Davis points out, the market for vitamins and supplement is huge, and growing. “Tens of billions of dollars are spent on everything from one a day vitamins to GNC products to supplements,” says Davis. Bisanz “has a very different approach. It’s not about getting bigger or getting strong. It’s about getting healthy.”

Bisanz picked up the 5 pillars that guide him on a two year journey he took around the world after selling brands4friends in 2011. Along the way, he set a record for kiteboarding: with two friends he was the first to kiteboard across the Bering Strait from Alaska to Russia. He stopped in India to study Ayurvedic principles for several months. He’s now keen on yoga and meditation – and disappointed that at the gym he belongs to in New York , there is no quiet place to meditate after exercising.

He envisions an Aloha “oasis” in Manhattan, where people can go for Ayurvedic and other treatments and gather with friends to eat “healthy food but not crunchy granola.” Scouting for a location has already begun. Eventually, he wants to open Aloha resorts.

And he wants to serve a large market. “Hollywood people have access to health coaches. We want to democratize that,” says Bisanz. “We want to inspire people to live healthily.”

Follow me on Twitter at @KerryDolan

Source: Forbes Business

 
 
 

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