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One entrepreneur is brewing up a way to make coffee "smart."
"We have smartphones, smart cars, smart water and now, with VitaPerk, you can smart your coffee," VitaPerk founder Brad Kifferstein tells CNBC.
Each packet of VitaPerk packs 15 vitamins and minerals into its powder-based supplement. It dissolves in coffee. Kifferstein says it's the most innovative product to hit the coffee market since the Keurig K-cup.
Brad Kifferstein is an avid coffee fan, and he's not alone. According to the National Coffee Association, more than three-quarters of Americans drink coffee, making it the most commonly consumed beverage in the U.S. after water.
It's a big market, and Kifferstein hopes to capitalize on it. He said his product blends the coffee industry with the multivitamin industry. In fact, he said he's creating an entirely new category that Kifferstein's calling "coffee-ceutical."
"We aspire to be healthy, but we get busy, we forget, and we fall off the wagon, but we never forget our coffee," Kifferstein said.
VitaPerk's four flavors come in single-serve packs that are five calories each. They're naturally flavored and gluten free. The suggested serving is one pack for a 12- to 20-ounce serving of coffee.
A packet sells for 99 cents or a one-month supply costs $19.99. Customers can buy through the company's website, specialty online retailers and a few brick and mortar stores in the Detroit area, where the company is based. The company has also signed a deal with National Coffee, a coffee broker that works directly with offices.
Dietary supplements do not require FDA approval, although the agency can take action if public health concerns arise. But angel investor and start-up advisor Kelly Hoey said she is skeptical of the health benefits for other reasons.
Kifferstein said studies indicate absorption rates are only impacted some of the time. Adding that, "We formulated this for 2 1/2 years, so we ensured that it doesn't really affect the absorption rate."
Vitamin-infused coffees such as JavaFit and Spava Coffee are currently Vitaperk's closest competitors, but Kifferstein said VitaPerk stands out because it's the first company to let people add vitamins to any cup of coffee. So diehard Dunkin' fans or Starbucks loyalists don't have to change up their morning joe.
But Yale School of Management professor Barry Nalebuff, who founded Honest Tea, said it's those deep-pocketed competitors who will most likely create their own versions of VitaPerk.
Kifferstein claims to welcome the competition. "It proves the notion that it's good to add nutrients to coffee. "
Patents can't be filed for vitamins, but the founder said he does have a patent pending on the formula. "It took four years of trials and tribulations before we were able to perfect everything as it pertained to taste, dissolvability and mixability with every type of creamer on the market."
VitaPerk was founded in 2010, and after numerous tests, finally launched its product in February 2015. According to the founder, the company has generated $35,000 in revenue. It has raised $500,000 and have former Keurig founder Chris Stevens sits on its board.
The founder told CNBC he hopes to add new flavors and license the VitaPerk formula for use in other food products.
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