Snacking start-up wants to help you stay skinny

Healthy snacking may sound like an oxymoron, but it's the mission of Guatam Gupta's start-up NatureBox.

"We make snacking more convenient, better for you, and delicious," Gupta said.

The founder had 60 seconds to pitch his idea to the "Power Pitch" panel with Clara Sieg, Revolution Ventures partner; Naval Ravikant, AngelList co-founder; and Nick Marsh, Chop't CEO and FirstMark Capital partner. Will the panel bite? Watch the video above to find out.


Snack Attack

Throughout his childhood, Gupta struggled with his weight. In his senior year of high school he decided to take control of his eating habits, and by graduation he lost 70 pounds.

"I noticed that it was challenging to find snack choices I felt good about eating while I was on the go. So much of what's available in today's market offers convenience but little nutritional value," Gupta told CNBC.

Asiago & Cheddar Cheese Crisps is one of 130 snack choices on the NatureBox website.
NatureBox
Asiago & Cheddar Cheese Crisps is one of 130 snack choices on the NatureBox website.

Gupta and his co-founder Ken Chen launched NatureBox in January 2012. While this is Gupta's first start-up, he's not new to the start-up world. He saw the direct-to-consumer industry firsthand as a venture capitalist with General Catalyst Partners.

Competition chow down

Besides traditional retail stores like Trader Joes and Whole Foods selling so-called wholesome snacks, many e-commerce subscription start-ups such as Savorfull, SweetRoots, and Bestowed are capitalizing on consumers seeking healthier food choices.

Despite the crowded space, a large market exists. According to Packaged Facts, a consumer market research company, U.S. retail sales of healthy ingredient snacks totaled $9.2 billion in 2013. The firm also found 51 percent of the population looks for healthy snacks. That's up from 37 percent in 2004.

Gupta said NatureBox stands out from the competition because it creates its own products. And through the website, customers can filter searches to meet personal dietary needs and taste preferences.

Guatam Gupta founded healthy snack start-up NatureBox in January 2012.
NatureBox
Guatam Gupta founded healthy snack start-up NatureBox in January 2012.

AngelList co-founder Naval Ravikant asked how their start-up's technology could be used to make more money, keep higher margins, and be more defensible.

"We're able to shrink the product development, which in a typical food company is one to three years down to eight to 12 weeks. And that's all because of the technology that we've built, and the ability to have a direct to consumer relationship, and where we receive that data," Gupta said.

Panelist Clara Sieg asked Gupta about the cost of customer acquisition.

"For the last 2 months we've been able to nearly triple our subscriber acquisition … we're seeing many multiples between the cost of acquiring that customer and what they're ultimately worth," Gupta answered.


Gupta told CNBC the company sold 1 million NatureBoxes last year with an average price of $19.95, and it is on track to ship 3 million units this year.

NatureBox is on track to ship 3 million boxes this year.
NatureBox
NatureBox is on track to ship 3 million boxes this year.

"Having shipped over a million NatureBoxes last year and growing our revenue 20 times, we're one of the fastest growing food brands in the country," Gupta said.

So far they have raised $28 million dollars from General Catalyst, Canaan Partners, SoftBank Capital, Plug & Play Ventures, and Redpoint Ventures.


During the Power Pitch, viewers were asked to vote whether they were IN or Out on NatureBox, and 54% were IN. Watch the video to see if the Power Pitch panel agrees!

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