'It's a Reinvented Multivitamin.' Venice-Based GEM Takes on the Supplement Market

Francesca Billington

Francesca Billington is a freelance reporter. Prior to that, she was a general assignment reporter for dot.LA and has also reported for KCRW, the Santa Monica Daily Press and local publications in New Jersey. She graduated from Princeton in 2019 with a degree in anthropology.

GEM vitamins

Investors are betting consumers will finally take their vitamins.

At $65 a month, Venice-based GEM sells melatonin-free daily sleep supplements made with ingredients like magnesium, rosemary, pumpkin seeds and valerian root.


It's neither a pill nor gummy vitamin but, as founder and CEO Sara Cullen calls it, real food.

"I would think of a protein bar you might know," Cullen said. "It has a nice dark chocolate profile. Nice seeds so it's got a beautiful texture and chewy in that kind of way."

The early-stage consumer fund that backed beauty vitamin brand HUM and the "hydration multiplier" Liquid IV is now behind a $10.5 million seed round for Cullen's L.A. startup selling supplements that will "improve whole body health at a cellular level."

Founded in 2018, GEM is tackling the $140.3-billion supplement market with its line of daily "whole food bites" with names like Sleep, Immunity and Daily Essentials.

"It's a reinvented multivitamin," the CEO said.

A few years ago, after learning she was deficient in a long list of nutrients, Cullen stood in the vitamin aisle of a store and studied almost every bottle on the shelf.

"They were filled with a lot of isolated vitamins, filled with synthetic and artificial fillers, sugary binders," she said. "It didn't intuitively seem right. Like why am I eating a candy for my health?"

Her solution was a California-made supplement that looks more like a small, organic brownie than a vitamin. And she defends the price by claiming that it would cost consumers far more to source these ingredients themselves.

"If you were to go individually buy all those ingredients, it would cost you upwards of $200," she said of GEM's $39-per-month Daily Essential vitamin — made with mushrooms for Vitamin D, chickpeas for bone protection and ashwagandha to fight stress. For reference, a Target 300-count women's daily vitamin is stocked online for $12.59.

The startup says it has sold over 8 million squares since going to market in 2019 online and in Erewhon locations in L.A. And it watched a near 400% spike in sales its second year.

With its first round of capital, GEM joins L.A.'s hub of venture-backed startups selling dietary supplements. In April, Venice-based Seed closed a $40 million Series A round for its daily probiotic that runs consumers $49.99 for a month's supply. The L.A. brand Ritual raised $25 million in 2019 for its $30 per month vitamin service.

Cullen said she'll use the capital to double the team, expand into retail and plan for new products.

The round was led by Pat Robinson of CircleUp Growth Partners with participation from investors, S2G and Pentland Ventures.

Subscribe to our newsletter to catch every headline.

Cadence

Venture Firm Backstage Capital Cuts Three-Quarters of Staff

Kristin Snyder

Kristin Snyder is an editorial intern for dot.la. She previously interned with Tiger Oak Media and led the arts section for UCLA's Daily Bruin.

Venture Firm Backstage Capital Cuts Three-Quarters of Staff
Photo by Jp Valery on Unsplash

Venture firm Backstage Capital laid off nine employees, reducing its staff to just three.

Managing partner and founder Arlan Hamilton announced the layoffs Sunday on her “Your First Million” podcast. General partners Christie Pitts and Brittany Davis, along with Hamilton, are the only remaining employees, TechCrunch reported. The move comes only three months after the Los Angeles-based firm said it would only fund existing portfolio companies.

Read moreShow less

A New Tide of LA Startups Is Tackling the National Childcare Crisis

Keerthi Vedantam

Keerthi Vedantam is a bioscience reporter at dot.LA. She cut her teeth covering everything from cloud computing to 5G in San Francisco and Seattle. Before she covered tech, Keerthi reported on tribal lands and congressional policy in Washington, D.C. Connect with her on Twitter, Clubhouse (@keerthivedantam) or Signal at 408-470-0776.

A New Tide of LA Startups Is Tackling the National Childcare Crisis
Courtesy of Brella

The pandemic exacerbated a problem that has been long bubbling in the U.S.: the childcare crisis.

According to a survey of people in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) careers conducted by the city’s WiSTEM Los Angeles program and shared exclusively with dot.LA, the pandemic exposed a slew of challenges across STEM fields. The survey—which consisted of 181 respondents from L.A.County and was conducted between March 2021 and 2022— involved respondents across medical fields, technical professions and science industries who shared the pandemic’s effects on their professional or education careers.

Read moreShow less

MaC Venture Capital Raises $203M for Its Second Fund

Decerry Donato

Decerry Donato is dot.LA's Editorial Fellow. Prior to that, she was an editorial intern at the company. Decerry received her bachelor's degree in literary journalism from the University of California, Irvine. She continues to write stories to inform the community about issues or events that take place in the L.A. area. On the weekends, she can be found hiking in the Angeles National forest or sifting through racks at your local thrift store.

MaC Venture Capital Raises $203M for Its Second Fund
Courtesy of MaC Venture Capital

While venture capital funding has taken a hit this year, that hasn’t stopped MaC Venture Capital from raising $203 million for its second fund.

The Los Angeles-based, Black-led VC firm said Monday that it had surpassed its initial $200 million goal for the fund, which dot.LA reported in January, over the span of seven months. MaC said it expects to invest the capital in up to 50 mostly seed-stage startups while remaining “sector-agnostic.”

Read moreShow less
RELATEDEDITOR'S PICKS
LA TECH JOBS
interchangeLA
Trending