Mandi Ventures’ bet on vitamin gummies
Fund led round in French Les Miraculeux, which will expand business to Belgium and the United Kingdom
Those who lived their childhood in the late 80’s remember the magic potion of the Gummi Bears, a mix of berries that made the characters of the TV show hyper-vitaminized to fight enemies. Created by Disney, the inspiration was the sweetened jelly bears that already at that time attracted children. To get an idea of the size of this market even today, the German Haribo, leader in the category, manufactures 160 million gummy bears a day worldwide.
But in the current times of heightened awareness of food and nutrition, a number of digital native companies have sought precisely the vitamin connection of teddy bears, moving them away from the candy and candy category and closer to the adult consumer. In Brazil, Gummy Hair and The Men’s are among the companies that launched gummies lines aimed at hair strengthening or sleep quality. In France, Les Miraculeux was a pioneer – and attracted capital from Brazilians from Mandi Ventures, managed by Antonio Moreira Salles and Julio Benetti.
In an institutional round in June, founder David Gueunoun raised €5 million to internationalize the brand and increase its portfolio. For the French market alone, Les Miraculeux manufactures 4 million gummies a month, with 10 different functions – the most traditional for sleep, hair and skin, and stress are the sales leaders, and there are others more innovative for the effects of menopause, for PMS, blood circulation and the recently launched that promises to help with weight loss.
Gueunoun left a position at Coca-Cola to return to college, this time switching from finance to medicine. “We talked a lot about nutrition in the company, but I decided to work with something good for health, in fact, that crisis of conscience hit. In college, I started to study the universe of supplements and how obesity surgeries had results below expectations because patients did not comply with the treatment”, says the founder of Les Miraculeux. “The pills are unpleasant to take, some patients have difficulty swallowing, and the result is that most forget to take them three days later. They run out of necessary vitamins and waste money.”
There, in 2018, the industry of jelly candies for different treatments was already on the rise in the United States, as a way to combine pleasure and efficiency in daily treatments. “But in Europe it was still very uncommon and there was nobody doing it in France,” he says. He pooled his own capital and financing from development institutions to found the company, which launched its first products in 2020, when it raised an angel fund of 800,000 euros.
“We heard about Les Miraculeux from consumers, friends of ours who got to know the brand in France and introduced us to it”, says Benetti, who lives in Belgium, looking for global investment opportunities for Mandi. “The product is very practical, it does not need refrigeration, it is easy to consume, and it fits our nutrition thesis.”
It is these attributes, according to the partners, that end up attracting newbies to the category – about 25% of Les Miraculeux’s sales are for customers who did not consume vitamins and supplements. According to the founder, 60% of sales are online, a proximity to the customer that helped Les Miraculeux to make adaptations of flavors and textures in its products, according to the feedback received.
“France is a small market, where the category has gone from zero to 5% of the supplements segment in two years and is expected to double in the next two. We are going to start expanding in Belgium, the United Kingdom and then Germany”, says Gueunoun. He estimates that in the US market, vitamin-packed gummies account for just over 10% of the supplement category.
Two months ago, the company also started a subscription model. According to the entrepreneur, the entry of large pharmaceutical groups in this category has helped to publicize the product, as they pour millionaire budgets into advertising. “This category marketing is positive for us, and we believe that we have a differential for being specialized in this, and not just a portfolio product, which gives us speed and innovation in launches”, he argues.
The French fund Aquasourca also participated in the round. Mandi joins the startup’s board, which also includes Hubert Patricot, former president of Coca-Cola in Europe, and François Videlaine, a partner at McKinsey. Executives had invested in the angel round, which also featured capital from Marc de Beffort, former VP of energy brand Monster, and football coach Guy Stephan.
Source: Value Pipeline