While its first product is its probiotic line, Seed has greater ambitions to delve deeper into human health and rethink the way most people think about the microbiome. The microbiome is technically the community of microbes that live inside an organism, but it is more commonly referred to as a generalized term for the human intestinal health that supplements such as probiotics help support.
This week on the Modern Retail podcast, co-founder and co-CEO Ara Katz talks about the company’s growth and its big plans for the future. It raised $40 million in Series A in 2021 and announced a new partnership with a Swiss research institute to help develop a new range of home and personal care products. Its first product, Seed, comes in two versions — adult and pediatric — and are daily nonprescription probiotic supplements that go for about $50 a month. The overall goal of Seed Health, Katz said, is “to realize the potential of the microbiome to improve human and environmental health.”
But with such a massive mandate comes a lot of work – and some of it has to do with branding and marketing. For example, the concept of the microbiome may be foreign to most people. For someone like Katz, who works with scientists and influencers, this means figuring out the best way to explain a company’s message.
According to Katz, this means wearing a bunch of hats and finding the best way to communicate to an audience. “We write Nature papers and we write Instagram posts,” she said. “And they’re wildly different.”
With this comes the task of tracking sales growth. For now, most of Seed’s sales come from its website, but it is branching out into brick-and-mortar retail. For example, seed supplements are available for purchase on Erewhon. But it’s also not a straight wholesale partnership — because Seed relies on a subscription model, Erevon and Seed have an affiliate relationship so that the store gets a cut of sales even after the first in-store purchase.
The Erewon partnership, she said, “is working out better than we thought.”
For now, Seed Health’s focus is on increasing the research that will go into its new products. “We now understand what we believe – and we know the efficacy of our first few products,” she said. She is now figuring out “how we measure them that produces the greatest amount of health impact.”
Here are some highlights of the conversation, lightly edited for clarity.
On the Difficulties of Marketing a Microbiome Health Company
,[The] The microbiome is not only misunderstood—it is subject to misinformation and opportunism on a daily basis. So, for us, therefore one of our core company and brand values is to meet them where they are. And I think everybody is going to have a conversation about anything scientifically — or from a health perspective — from a place that is an amalgamation of their own life and experience, their own understanding of something, their Their own biases and their own level of understanding of science. And so, depending on whether you’re talking to kids or not… [and] We also talk to leading immunologists… There’s a beautiful quote that we talk about all the time and we reference internally all the time, which is that the science is not finished until it’s communicated go. And I love that idea because it really forces the people who are doing the science to not only think about the science, but to take accountability for how it is communicated and to whom.. Its really not just the words that say but it also depends on where they are hearing about it but how and from whom. And, also, in what format – words aren’t always the right way to echo something. And so, for us, we communicate about the microbiome; We write Nature papers and we write Instagram posts. And they differ wildly.
Why seed membership
“There are many reasons [why we’re mostly subscription-only], One of which is that probiotics are transient. They can really only do their job if they’re constantly consumed, contrary to popular belief, which is the idea that you take them and they just colonize, and then it’s done. Most probiotics are actually working their way through your GI system. And then within a few weeks, they kind of wash away if you stop taking it. So there is also a biological basis to the business model in terms of why we do this.
next generation of drugs
“Companies like CVS are starting pilot stores that are oriented around the need state, which I think is fascinating. And I think they’re seeing a lot of early success with that, which I think is human design thinking.” a little bit more from the point of view of. And I think that’s incredibly exciting – you need to disrupt the planogram and you need to disrupt the underlying assumptions that go into the planogram. Like, there’s no path to pain . Pain looks very different to different things. So I really love the way you think about CVS, which makes me think ahead. It feels like you’re thinking sympathetically who’s running What is their need situation, how it should be decided for them.