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Supplements brand Thesis raises over $13M

Illustration: Rae Cook/Axios

Thesis, a New York-based DTC supplements brand, has raised $13.5 million, CEO Dan Freed tells Axios exclusively.

Why it matters: DTC supplement brands are having a moment as they raise money and expand into physical retail.

Details: The total includes a $5.1 million seed round, which was previously raised but not announced, and a recently closed Series A of about $8.4 million.

  • Participants in the seed included Unilever Ventures, MBX, Trust Ventures and Redo Ventures.
  • Investors in the Series A included Unilever Ventures, Redo Ventures, Alive VC, Break Trail, NBA player Kevin Love and model Kate Bock.

Context: Proceeds will go toward funding clinical trials, building out the executive team and partnerships, and creating content and a community around the brand, Freed says.

  • Unilever is an ideal partner, providing expertise in manufacturing and research and development, Freed says.
  • Thesis is profitable, according to Freed.

Of note: Executive hires will include a COO, a talent recruiter, a head of digital product and a head of finance.

  • In all, 10 roles are being filled with three of those prioritized. Executives will then get to build their own teams, Freed says.
  • Currently, the company has 30 employees, but that will double over the next year with added roles in customer experience, product development and marketing.

Between the lines: Because it is lightly regulated as a food rather than as a drug, the growing supplements industry poses risks to consumers.

  • Brands like Thesis, however, see themselves as part of a new generation of supplement providers, committed to creating products that purport are clean and effective.

Flashback: Freed got the idea for his startup due to his struggles with ADHD.

  • Though he was diagnosed at an early age, his family decided not to treat the condition with prescription medicine.
  • Later in life, after dropping out of high school and then becoming a chef, Freed decided he wanted to resume his studies.
  • He tried various remedies to help him focus, but nothing worked until he experimented with nootropics and discovered a combination of ingredients that he says worked for him.

How it works: Nootropics include ingredients such as lion's mane and ginkgo biloba and are billed as "cognitive enhancers."

  • The entrepreneur realized the same nootropics are not effective for everyone, so he created a product to help consumers find the ingredients that worked for them that saved both time and money.

What's next: Product development will also be a priority and the company may eventually enter new categories such as sleep, Freed says.

  • For now, Thesis will remain DTC to build out the category, with omnichannel at least a year away.
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