Housecall: Urban Remedy delivers healthy juices and shakes to your doorstep

By Michael Carney , written on November 15, 2012

From The News Desk

If there’s something you need (or want), there’s a good chance that the internet can deliver it directly to your doorstep, likely even on a subscription. Santa Monica technology studio Science, Inc. knows a thing or two about the trend having previously launched startups that deliver razors, underwear, and men’s, women’s, and children’s clothing direct-to-consumer. The latest category the ecommerce powerhouses have thrust themselves itself into is wellness juices, with today’s launch of Urban Remedy.

Certified traditional Chinese nutritionist and acupuncturist Neka Pasquale initially created Urban Remedy in San Francisco over a year ago to better meet the dietary and nutritional needs of her clients and friends. The company offers consumers a personalized health assessment and then delivers customized package of healthy juices, shakes, and snacks, all of which contain hand-pressed, raw, and organic fruits and vegetables, and are gluten-, grain-, white sugar-, and dairy free. Since joining up with Science two months ago, the service is now available nationwide.

The company’s “Juices” compete most directly with the packaged cleanse systems that have become so popular as of late (more on competition in a minute) and can be purchased in individual 16 oz servings, or as part of a six serving per day package. The most popular of its three cleanse programs is the Signature, which packs 10 pounds of veggies and a week’s worth of recommended nutrients into a single day through a combination of celery, kale, ginger, beets, carrots, apples, raspberries, cucumbers, almonds, and chia seeds. I haven’t had the chance to try the product myself, but I’ve been told by those who have that it’s actually fairly delicious.

On the meal replacement side, the company offers true to name, filling and nutrient rich drinks (approximately 250 calories each) that also come in 16 oz portions and are available in five flavors: chocolate banana, green berry, chai, pineapple coconut, and PB&J. Finally, the company’s snacks are meant to supplament a healthy eating plan and include coconut brittle, cacao brownies, sesame kale chips, and lemon chia cookies, all of which are 100 percent organic, vegan, and gluten free.

In each case, the products are shipped in freshly-packed, freeze-lined coolers and are delivered direct to the consumer’s doorstep (N. America only, currently). Urban Remedy currently handles all of its manufacturing and shipping internally, but is exploring options to build a larger commercial production and fulfillment facility as the order volume grows.

Urban Remedy is entering an incredibly competitive market and has its work cut out for it to make a real dent. Some products (ahkem-SlimFast-ahkem-Ensure-ahkem) succeed because of legacy brand equity and the millions of dollars of CPG marketing budget behind them, despite the fact that they are full of chemicals and oddly shelf stable without refrigeration. Gross. Others, like the widely popular BluePrint – acquired last week by wellness giant Hain Celestial – operate in the very same organic, natural realm as Urban Remedy and are generally regarded as delicious, and convenient. This is where the startup’s biggest competition will come.

Both BluePrint and Urban Remedy are on the more expensive side, with the incumbent's product costing $65 per day for a six juice per day cleanse, and the challenger’s priced at $59.95. Meal replacement shakes from the startup cost $5.99 each compared to SlimFast’s $2 to $3 apiece. If price is not the differentiator, then Urban Remedy will have to rely on quality, and service to set it apart.

Taste and quality are second to none, but service is one area where the Science-backed company is bringing a ton of additional value to its customers. Pasquale views the Urban Remedy products as equal parts food and medicine, and is seriously passionate about educating people on healthier dietary and lifestyle choices. In addition to the personalized health survey and resulting nutrition recommendations, the company offers a variety of educational content, including infographics, charts, and entertaining stats.

Remedy has raised “just under $1 million” to date from angel investors, according to its CEO. The young company is comprised of 12 total employees, 10 of which work on its kitchen side, and two which focus on the ecommerce. Part of the magic of the Science partnership is the ability for the young company to leverage its resources and expertise in customer acquisition, fulfillment, and other critical functions.

Sadly, millions of Americans go through life feeling tired, ill, run-down, stressed, and lethargic. These feelings are addressable, but are difficult to combat when one is overweight, and overloaded with rich foods and alcohol. Whether juicing and healthy snacking are part of a wholesale lifestyle change, or an incremental improvement, Urban Remedy offers high quality products and education in an approachable and convenient package.

Sadly, despite this, the company will almost certainly face significant challenges, both in combatting the CPG giants that currently own the market and in convincing a largely complacent populace to live better. If Science can turn Urban Remedy into a winner, it will be its most impressive ecommerce feat yet. Moreover, it has the opportunity to have the greatest impact on society. I mean, razors and undies are fun, but come on.