More than 68 percent of all Americans are considered overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The health of Americans is seriously challenged by the American diet, which has become fatty, oversized, and unbalanced. Life Equals, a graduate of the Class of 2014, aims to change how Americans think about a healthy life and diet with their health, vitamin, and lifestyle company.
The Standard American Diet (SAD) is overloaded with convenience and processed foods. The average American eats less than half of their daily recommended fruits and vegetables and consumes far too much processed food high in saturated fat, simple carbohydrates, refined sugar, salt and preservatives. Americans are faced with a preventable disease epidemic, but lack access to convenient, easy-to-understand, high quality, and affordable solutions.
Life Equals is a progressive company of equal parts biological innovation and honest, simple living. Committed to fixing the American Diet, Life Equals is introducing the nutrients nature has always provided back into daily life by creating supplements and foods that are nutrient rich, taste great and are extremely convenient to use. Life Equals is empowering people to live healthier, balanced lives as they positively transform how they eat, live, and love…a formula that will change society as a whole.
Now over a year out of the SparkLabKC accelerator, Life Equals, began our program with the idea that “a better you creates a better world”, and their growth since proves that they're on to something special. Co-founders Kyle FitzGerald and Chris Thowe also embrace a "one-for-one" business model, which taps into a growing consumer trend that helps a cause with every purchase. With each purchase, Life Equals gives one month of essential children’s multivitamins to a malnourished child in need.
One of Life Equals early successes was getting their product on the shelves at Whole Foods Market, a major force in organic specialty products. Kyle and Chris went through an intensive, two year long vetting process with the Whole Foods Market’s regional office before becoming the only local vitamin brand sold in Kansas City-area Whole Foods stores. As an industry leader, Whole Foods Market endorsement is a valuable validation of the Life Equals product and brand, and sales through the retail giant have been very strong. Their sights are set on expanding their distribution to the twenty Whole Foods Market locations in Colorado.
"The structure of the program was great. We had different pieces of business strategy explained and received expert advice. Also, learning to communicate about our business and encapsulate it into a 5 to 10 minute spiel was a big step for us. We gained the confidence to get up in front of a whole room of important people and make a strong pitch."
The SparkLabKC Advantage
Kyle and Chris applied for SparkLabKC's Class of 2014 just as the deal with Whole Foods came together. Their acceptance into the program provided a great boost at a vital time in their development. The initial investment from SparkLabKC allowed Chris to start working full-time on Life Equals.
SparkLabKC’s mentors are experts in their fields and provide valuable advice to the companies that go through the program. Life Equals used the advice and resources they were given to advance the scientific rigor or their product line, better understand the Millennial market, and build a brand ambassador program to grow their sales.
"The quality of advisors in Kansas City was really powerful for us. We are able to start on a different trajectory."
Although they started with a single product, Life Equals has since expanded to offer multiple health supplements and vitamin products. Most recently, they developed a new product line, which is set to roll out in September 2015. The new line willhelp fill in the gaps left by the Standard American Diet and is backed by months of research and product development. It willbe manufactured right here in Kansas City and will offer a completely new solution to meeting daily nutritional needs.
Kyle and Chris have identified a great customer base in the active lifestyle and yoga communities. One of the keys to their success in that demographic is the implementation of a brand ambassador program, which has become their main marketing and sales plan. Life Equals is partnering with Holistic Health Coaches to get their product more exposure and help people across the globe make improvements to their nutrition.
Life Equals’ "MVP" (Minimum Viable Product) approach allows them to put their ideas out there for customers to interact with at an early stage. If something isn't a hit, it gets withdrawn. When something resonates with their customer base, they develop it further. In this way, they focus their time and effort on the products and strategies that demonstrate sticking power.
Advice for Future SparkLabKCers
"Embrace a fail fast philosophy. Work concurrently, do as many of the things you can at once so you can figure out what works and what doesn't as quickly as possible."