Santa Barbara-based supplement company gains $2 million in new financing
Last month, local supplement company KOS received $2.1 million in additional financing from Austin, TX-based businessmen and companies like venture capital firm Springdale Ventures, Whole Foods CEO Walter Robb, and Horizon Bank chairman Jim Schneider.
Specializing in plant-based supplements like protein powder, capsules, and nutritional blends, KOS will use its recently acquired funding to expand its line of products, with 10 new products expected to hit the shelves of Whole Foods stores, according to KOS co-CEO Tony Stahl.
These new products will include a full meal-replacement protein powder coming in two flavors, chocolate peanut butter, and blueberry muffin, as well as a line of sugar-free gummies that serve as supplements for sleep, immunity, and as multivitamins. Whereas most gummies utilize sugar cane or sucralose, KOS gummies will not utilize any sweeteners and instead use chicory root, which Mr. Stahl said is naturally sweet. Also, rather than making gummies from gelatin, KOS is going to make them from pectin, which occurs naturally in the cell walls of fruits and vegetables.
This expansion of products comes just a few years into KOS’ history as a company. Mr. Stahl started KOS in 2018 with his co-CEO Allan Stevens, with whom he had previously been partners in an electronic and IT components company called OTIMO.
Circa 2009 or 2010, when the duo was still running OTIMO, they had an employee named Tucker who became gravely ill with stage 4 pancreatic cancer and died just three months after his diagnosis. Mr. Stahl recalled that he and Mr. Stevens at the time were “pretty unhealthy for the most part,” and learning of their employee’s diagnosis made them realize that they “could be doing different things in life helping people.”
Though the two CEOs had somewhat of an interest in health before their friend’s cancer diagnosis, finding out about his fatal illness brought their interest from a curious 7 out of 10 to a full 10.
“This event really hit home with us and told us that we need to make some changes. We wanted to give back,” Mr. Stahl said.
To help address food-related health issues like the overconsumption of meat, not eating the right foods, not eating enough, eating too much, Mr. Stahl and Mr. Stevens started KOS, named after a Greek island in the Dodecanese chain that was the birthplace of Hippocrates, also known as the “father of medicine.”
“Tucker sort of spawned the inner KOS in us,” Mr. Stahl said.
The company started with just one product, a chocolate and vanilla protein powder, and by 2019, just a year after it began, KOS products started appearing on the shelves of Whole Foods.
Because of the current pandemic, KOS has started doing its own shipping. Prior to the onset of the COVID-19, Amazon was handling all of KOS’s shipments, but the pandemic overwhelmed Amazon and negatively impacted KOS’s customer experience. In order to bring the buyer experience back to where it needed to be, KOS acquired a warehouse in Anaheim six months ago to ship out wholesale orders.
Though the company has gone through many developments as of late, Mr. Stahl told the News-Press that it is not yet looking to expand its physical locations into other states and countries.
“As of now, we’re just going to maintain our roots. We’re starting to expand globally as far as selling our products,” he said.
In addition to the states throughout the U.S., KOS ships its products to international territories such as Canada, South Korea, and Japan.