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Personalised nutrition startup hopes to replace pills with precision blends

Article-Personalised nutrition startup hopes to replace pills with precision blends

© Riise personalised_micogranule_product_Riise.png
A personalised nutrition startup hopes to make pill-popping a thing of the past, thanks to its all-in-one microgranule nutrient blends that it claims are more efficacious – and convenient – than traditional formats.

Riise uses customer data to create customised microgranule sachets containing up to 25 nutrients, designed to be taken daily, which it delivers via a subscription service.

Vitafoods Insights sat down with co-founders Paul-Antoine Richard and Alessandro Mambrini just weeks after their March market launch.

The Berlin-based pair met through work five years ago, and their interest in sports nutrition was piqued when they started preparing for a marathon together. They came from “two very, very different athletic backgrounds”: Mambrini used to be a semi pro-athlete, while Richard was, in his own words, “on the other side of the spectrum”.

When they started training, he quickly realised that “it's not possible that Ali and I take the same nutrition because we have very, very different bodies”. Not only that, but their preferences differed: Mambrini “doesn’t like pills at all”, whereas Richard was “taking tons”.

And so the idea for Riise was born.

Microgranule technology offers enhanced absorption and controlled release

After learning about microgranule technology, the pair decided to partner with myVeggie, a French supplement manufacturer with extensive experience in the field. This accelerated the product development phase, allowing the startup – which only launched in July last year – to go to market “very fast”.

Explaining how the technology works, Mambrini said the microgranules are formed around a core of actives, with raw ingredients layered on top of one another before being covered in a vegetal veil. Made from hydroxypropyl methylcellulose, this protects the active ingredients from water and digestive acids.

“The big advantage is, first of all, you can mix a lot of [ingredients] together, because they go straight to your gut, so there's no interaction among different granules,” he said.

Each microgranule contains “one and one only ingredient”, he explained, “in separate runners”. This avoids ingredient interactions, while offering enhanced absorption and allowing for controlled release of ingredients.

Mambrini added: “Data usually says that for a powder you absorb and retain 40% of the ingredient, for a pill it's around 60% – and with microgranules, you can ... hit usually 90 to 95% of absorption because of the layered structure and the slow release.”

Personalisation, partnerships, and ingredient provenance  

Riise’s personalisation element is another “core part of our offering”, said Mambrini.

Users answer questions on biological metrics, activity levels, dietary habits, and goals. The results are fed into an algorithm composed of micro-models relating to individual ingredients.

“In some cases, you have a direct relationship,” said Mambrini. “[Turmeric] usually is directly connected to your body weight, vitamin C is related to kilocalories, and so on.”

Respondents’ answers are used to calculate the extent to which their micronutrient requirements are already met through their diet; a blend is formulated accordingly to cover the difference.

Dosages are calculated down to the microgram. Subscribers are encouraged to complete the questionnaire regularly to ensure that the product continues to meet their needs.

Mambrini said the startup had carried out extensive research “ingredient by ingredient – there's no one model fits all”, highlighting the emphasis its website puts on ingredient quality and provenance.

“We're really trying to be very, very transparent. I think this is a core part of our identity.
And that resonates really well,”
he added.

Education is another key component of the startup’s mission. Riise has been partnering with nutritionists, personal coaches, and trainers, among others. When new subscribers sign up, they are connected to a nutritionist for advice and guidance.

“We want this [feature] to become more and more prominent,” Richard said.

Efficacy a higher consumer priority than taste

The co-founders made a conscious choice not to add artificial flavours to Riise supplement blends. But what about nutrients with strong flavours, such as iron?

Richard admitted that it was “maybe a surprising choice”, but it was not an issue for their target audience. He said the vegetable veil protected the ingredients to the extent that taste was not an issue, particularly when mixed into a yoghurt.

He added: “If it was just iron, probably it would not be possible for you to eat. But as it's a blend... you don't really get one of the really strong, bad tastes.”

Mambrini agreed, adding: “One learning that we got is people want their supplements to be able to work properly – and if the cost is not a chocolate taste, it's fine.”

Sustainability and transparency are a priority for both partners and consumers

Sustainability and transparency are a priority for consumers – but they are also values that resonate with partners, according to Richard.

He said the first questions he would be asked when approaching potential partners would be: “Where is it produced? How is it produced? Is the packaging recyclable?”

Mambrini pointed to the relationships Riise is building with athletes and sports teams as a sign they are on the right track.

“Usually when you start onboarding athletes, it means that they feel safe, because they are the ones that are always at risk,” he said, adding: “I think the message about transparency and the ... customer-centric view is really paying off.”