From new Lincoln digs, Bulu Box launches subscription vitamin service
The Bulu Box team (from left to right) Kate Stevenson, director of brand relationships, Stephanie Jarrett, CMO, Paul Jarrett, CEO, and Adam Choate, director of reporting and analytics.
But earlier this month when they launched the startup, a monthly and annual subscription service that provides sample boxes of vitamins and supplements, it was from their office in Lincoln, Neb.
"Lincoln gave Bulu Box the best odds of survival," Jarrett said in a recent interview.
The company received angel investment funding from the Nebraska Angels network in May. Office space and home prices are a fraction of what they are in San Francisco, Jarrett said. And the company realized they would be able to hire more employees for less money in Lincoln.
"When you add all of those things together it made sense to us to make it happen in Nebraska."
Jarrett got the idea to start a business that would provide monthly samples of vitamins and supplements after working as vice president of marketing for Complete Nutrition. He and Stephanie racked their brains trying to figure out a way to provide samples to customers and receive feedback about the products before deciding on Bulu Box.
Then the couple noticed Birchbox, which sells monthly subscriptions for makeup and beauty samples, and realized they were on to something.
"There's a bit of a buzz around sample boxes right now," he said. "But no one is doing what we're doing in this industry."
Jarrett said a company that sells sample boxes of muscle-building products exists, but none that are aimed at customers who are interested in an all-around healthy lifestyle.
Bulu Box (left) also allows customers to connect with others to read reviews on specific samples or share what they thought of products.
"We hope to really concentrate on our community of users," Jarrett said. "We want to make brand loyalists and ambassadors."
Jarrett said the company is negotiating with vitamin and supplement companies in order to eventually sell full-sized products on their site, as well.
Jim Linder of the Nebraska Angels said there were a few factors that led he and his wife, Karen, to invest in Bulu Box. "Most importantly, we consider the character and experience of the founders," Linder said in a recent email interview. "Paul and Stephanie score high in this regard with their deep connections in the nutrition industry and their marketing experience."
Linder said another plus was the Jarretts willingness to move the company to Lincoln.
"It's gratifying to help grow great businesses in Nebraska," he said.
Bulu Box has three full-time employees, including Paul and Stephanie, along with two independent contractors who work on programming. Paul said the company would be doing more hiring in August or September.
Bulu Box has been in business for a month and its revenue is "in the thousands," Jarrett said. Its subscriber number, which the company is keeping under wraps, is also higher than expected.
"We're doing better than we projected in our business plan."
Here's a BuluBox promtional video providing an overview of its product:
*Updated Aug. 7, 2:45 p.m. – The Jarretts relocated from the SoMa district of San Francisco. A previous version of the story indicated their previous location as Soma, Calif.