Snack startup BelliWelli is making waves in digestive wellness | 2021-08-12

LOS ANGELES — Digestive well being is a sizzling matter amongst customers; nevertheless, many merchandise marketed as “gut-friendly” miss the mark, stated Katie Wilson, co-founder of a snack model developed for the tens of millions of People who are suffering from irritable bowel syndrome.

“There’s a actual disconnect,” he stated. “You may see one thing that claims ‘intestine pleasant’ as a result of it has probiotics, however that is 1 / 4 of the battle.”

Beforehand a star matchmaker (who additionally held the place of relationship knowledgeable at, Ms. Wilson had endured a collection of colonoscopies, endoscopies, and extra, determined to resolve her persistent belly signs. She developed an internet group that she thought-about her friends with “intestine challenges” to achieve extra perspective.

“I began rising Fb teams for no different motive than simply desirous to be taught extra about this house and discover out what works for everybody else and what does not work for everybody else,” stated Ms. Wilson. “One factor grew to become very clear: nobody had snacks that they may really eat.”

With no prior expertise in shopper merchandise, she and her husband, Nick, knowledgeable mannequin, launched BelliWelli, a line of baked gluten-free plant-based diet bars containing probiotics, earlier this yr. The merchandise are licensed by Monash College as being low in FODMAPs, a time period that’s gaining consciousness and refers to fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols, which may trigger discomfort and bloating in these with sensitivities. Plus, BelliWelli snacks are freed from sugar alcohols, which Ms. Wilson says are onerous to digest.

The pair experimented with greater than 100 recipes, partnering with meals scientists and dietitians to fine-tune market-ready formulations. The principle components are oats, chia, almond butter, and coconut oil. Flavors embody Mint Chocolate, Cinnamon Swirl, Lemon White Chocolate, and Fudge Brownie.

“We wished this to be straightforward, to present folks one thing to say, ‘This would possibly not remedy your issues, however it should positively provide you with peace of thoughts,’” stated Ms Wilson. “You may snack with out worrying, and that is what we wished to realize.”

BelliWelli debuted on-line in March at Ms. Wilson took benefit of the social media following that she created to generate pleasure for the model. The startup offered 800 bars within the first 24 hours, she stated.

“We wish to proceed to develop that sturdy direct-to-consumer base earlier than going to retail,” stated Ms. Wilson. “That being stated, we are able to dive into retail and goal some regional retailers, however we wish to depart massive field retail for later.”

The model plans to launch extra flavors this fall, guided by shopper suggestions.

“We have stated all alongside that we’ll let our prospects dictate what occurs subsequent for us, and that extends to product improvement,” stated Ms Wilson. “They selected our 4 flavors, they selected our subsequent two flavors, they selected our firm title, our brand, our slogan. I’m dedicated to it. … I believe we’ll allow them to determine the place it is most wanted.”

The startup raised greater than $1 million in seed funding from Koreann Webster and Beth Ritchie, executives at SmartSweets; Brendan Wallace and Tyson Woeste, Managing Companions at Fifth Wall Ventures; Andy Dunn, founding father of Bonobos; Easy meals firms; Miroma Ventures; and buyers Cameron and Tyler Winklevoss, Gregg Sulkin and Christina Hirukawa.

BelliWelli Cinnamon Coffee Bars

BelliWelli Cinnamon Coffee Bars

“I anticipated earlier than I went on the market and raised cash that I used to be going to have an uphill battle on the subject of schooling on this subject,” Ms. Wilson stated. “I assumed I used to be going to have to elucidate to everybody that two in three People report day by day bowel issues and one in 5 doubtlessly have IBS. However that was not the case. Everybody I interacted with, no matter whether or not or not they selected to speculate, had a connection to intestine points and IBS… It was a wow second for many individuals and a really fast and painless fundraising course of as a result of everybody They understood the necessity.”

Ms. Wilson used the proceeds to assist manufacturing and advertising and marketing. Not like different manufacturers that handle digestive well being considerations, hers adopts phrases like “bloating,” “constipation” and “diarrhea” on packaging and different content material, a transfer some warned could be dangerous.

“These live, respiratory phrases, so it felt like an enormous hole between the patron dwelling with these very actual points and the folks making the meals,” he stated. “Lots of people instructed me, ‘No, I do not suppose you’ll be able to discuss IBS and bloating and constipation,’ and I disagree fiercely. I believe that is the place the chance is.”