Vol. 127 - NO. 39

Blog Startup CPG

SINCE 2019

A Modern Kid’s Health Brand
for the Developing Gut

Madeline Lauf is the founder and CEO of Begin Health, a San Francisco based nutrition health company. Begin Health builds science-forward nutrition health products that are safe, convenient, and effective. Begin Health’s first product, Begin Growing-up Prebiotics builds and maintains the command center of health in the growing little body — the gut — and uses 💩 as an important biomarker in understanding overall health.

Forming gut health positive daily habits

In 2017 I went through a triple gut punch of picking up a stomach bug overseas, working in a high stress environment and ultimately getting hit with a stomach flu all in a matter of weeks. It was clear my poor digestive health was impacting my immune health. I felt tired and visibly looked unwell.

This all translated into erratic bowel movements that indicated something was “wrong.” Doctors were quick to prescribe lifelong medication without understanding the root cause. Out of frustration, I set out on a three year gut healing and learning journey that included forming gut health positive daily habits that improved my gut without prescription meds (!) and improved my overall energy and health.

🚀 The command center of the growing little body – the gut.

Appreciation for gut microbiome is growing as more studies uncover its importance and role in overall health. Older research suggested that an infant’s microbiota attained adult-like structure by age 3, but newer research now suggests that the microbiota development may take longer. With changes in the composition of the gut microbiome now associated with short and long term health disorders, supporting and nourishing the early gut microbiome is as important as ever.

Modern life is hard on the developing little gut and dysbiosis in the gut is becoming all too common. Examples of poor gut health in kids include milk-protein allergies, chronic constipation, chronic abdominal pain, eczema, ear infections, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), allergies, asthma and urinary tract infections (UTIs). We repeatedly hear the difficulty parents have managing their kids’ bowel movements and constipation.

Parents already have big responsibilities. Now add building, maintaining and repairing the gut microbiome too! We felt that educating parents on abnormal bowel habits and supporting the gut microbiome in the “growing-up years” could present a unique window of opportunity to promote long-term foundational health starting with toddlers and kids.

I founded Begin Health to be a partner to parents on their kids’ health journey starting in the gut — and that starts with promoting healthful, comfortable and regular 💩!

💩 Addressing irregularity and constipation in toddlers and kids

Our team of pediatric nutrition experts, pediatricians and pediatric gastroenterologists developed Begin Growing up Prebiotics to help feed the good gut bugs (the probiotics), that in turn help with more comfortable, softer stooling to improve digestion and nourish and support immune health.

Begin Growing up Prebiotics are the first tasteless and textureless prebiotic developed for toddlers and kids ages 1+ that delivers 3g fiber from chicory root inulin in every serving paired and 2’FL HMO (Human Milk Oligosaccharide)**, a unique prebiotic with the identical molecular structure found in human breast milk. These ingredients have been shown to support digestive health, soften stool for “no more painful poopies” while nourishing immune health.

Parent’s love Begin Prebiotics so much that they now use it too on our family plan.

🏭 Difficulty finding a manufacturing partner during COVID

We struggled to find a new manufacturing partner during COVID. As a new company, manufacturing a new nutrition product, we had started the vetting process at the beginning of 2020. We had found a partner we were excited about and went through all the steps to produce our first commercial batch in early 2020 as the pandemic hit.

We had run trials, had ordered our ingredients, and had built custom packaging for a production run for our manufacturers’ machines, and so on. On the day we were set to produce our first commercial batch, we received an email that our whole project had been called off and that the manufacturer could no longer work with us “due to COVID-19”. No explanation, no heads up, no apology. We were devastated.

In the midst of COVID, when all manufacturers were at full capacity, we had to convince a new group to take a chance on our startup business. We are so thankful to have found a group that worked with us through many of the early kinks of getting a new product made. Inability to travel, long delays in supply chains, limited capacity due to increased demand made the process difficult. Our time was filled with a lot of “hurry up and wait.” We were relieved that after what seemed like every roadblock encountered, we finally had our first successful production run in Fall 2020 for our closed beta cohort.

🛵 Lessons learned, a note to new founders

1. Everything that can break, will. As you get started manufacturing a new product, there is a steep learning curve. Even with experts on your side, prepare for set backs, delays, shortages, and outright roadblocks that seem company ending. You don’t know what you don’t know until you do it, but do not stop. Make it happen. Find a way.

2. Love the problem you solve. The best businesses solve a consumer pain point. No doubt the journey will be challenging, but no challenge is too great if not for the love you have for solving that problem and the impact you know you make. After some of the hardest days, receiving a note from parents on how Begin has been life-changing and that kids’ no longer cry and scream in daily pain makes every hard problem well worth it.

To learn more about Begin Health visit www.beginhealth.com or contact us at care@beginhealth.com.

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