In five years, Ritual has grown from one woman’s vision to more than $100 million of subscription revenue based on a simple but powerful proposition: people should know that the vitamins they put into their bodies are made of the highest quality ingredients. Since our investment in the Seed Round, Norwest Venture Partners has been a trusted advisor, collaborating on strategy, identifying key resources, and helping to meet the challenges that come with establishing post-launch critical mass.
Every successful entrepreneur is passionate about their vision for the company they want to build. But for Katerina Schneider, the roots of her company were also intensely personal. When she was pregnant with her first child, she carefully examined every item in her house to ensure that it would be part of a safe environment for her and her baby. The one item whose ingredients she couldn’t validate were her prenatal vitamins.
Many leading brands contained potentially harmful colorants, hidden or misleading ingredients, and unproven dosages. Schneider set out to create the type of vitamins that she as a new mother desperately wanted but couldn’t find. Leveraging a science-driven approach and extensive research, she and a core team at her newly founded company Ritual reimagined multivitamins for women from the ground up. The core principle behind their products was using ingredients whose efficacy is supported by independent science and whose sourcing of each nutrient is entirely transparent for customers to trace.
Ritual introduced its first product, Essential for Women multivitamin, in 2016, followed by Essential Prenatal two years later. Today, Ritual has a line of vitamin and protein products for people of all ages.
Products are sold directly to consumers, and the product line is purposely kept limited to ensure quality and safety.
A Perfect Fit of Brand and Market
Norwest Partner Lisa Wu saw Schneider pitch at a conference in the early days of Ritual, and immediately saw the potential. “There was an authentic founder-market fit. I could immediately tell that she understood the customer and had a deep passion for solving the problem,” Wu recalled.
As an investor in consumer-focused companies, Wu looks for “large markets that are opaque with high customer confusion, which creates an opportunity to build a more transparent and trusted brand.” Wu also says her focus is on companies that “are obsessed with the customer journey and that understand how changing expectations create opportunities for new business models and brands to emerge.”
Norwest invested in Ritual’s Seed Round and the firm has invested in two subsequent rounds of financing. It is currently the company’s largest institutional shareholder.
Along the way, Wu and other members of the Norwest team have made key introductions to talent, advisors, compensation consultants, investors, bankers, and strategic acquirers. “Norwest has become an integral part of our team – a team I didn’t even know I needed – with tailored services for the CEO and the business,” Schneider says.
Wu cites the “authenticity of the brand-market fit” as a key factor in the success of Ritual, along with the decision to employ a subscription-revenue model and the management team’s deep commitment to traceability and to the integrity of the brand while scaling the business. Ritual defines traceability as a deeper level of transparency — the Ritual website features a map for each product showing where every ingredient comes from and why it is used.
Beyond the success of Ritual as a business, Wu values most highly the relationship that has been built between her and Kat Schneider, Ritual’s CEO. “It’s important to me that the founder feel comfortable talking to me about any issue of concern. There are no barriers in our communication.”
The feeling is mutual. “Norwest is made up of good people. They have shown incredible conviction, been there at every turn, and believed in us when others didn’t,” Schneider says. “Norwest has made me a better CEO, and a better person.”