While we can’t report on who the other four are for another month, the Toronto-based direct-to-consumer vitamin supplier Koge confirmed their spot today.
Despite heavy interest from the Boulder, Colorado arm of the TechStars program cofounders Alex Hyssen and Andrew Lenjosek chose their hometown accelerator. About 400 startups applied for the five spots at Extreme Startups.
“At the end of the day Canada is our home market, Extreme is the best program in Canada and Andy Yang is a phenomenally brilliant guy, so it was a good fit,” said the 23-year-old Lenjosek.
Hyssen said that the decision was also based on how much of their market is Canadian, despite plans to launch in the US in the future. By all accounts though the first two weeks of the program have been challenging.
“You think you have positive traction, great reception from the press and a great product online but these guys are masters in their vertical and they know what they’re talking about, said Hyssen. “So to hear from them where you’re screwing up and how to make the customer experience better has definitely been a humbling experience for me.”
According to the pair they’ve been pushed hard from the Extreme Startups team, setting some “crazy hard objectives” including increasing their customer base by 100% over three months. As a result Koge has nearly doubled its product offering in a week and a half, they’ve begun talks with professional athletes and naturopaths to strengthen the brand and they’re building their online customization tool to be released soon.
Last time Koge appeared in Techvibes they were celebrating an anticipated launch that saw the pair of former Bay and Wall Street bankers quit their jobs to tackle a space dominated by huge price markups. The company is the first online-only vertically integrated, direct-to-consumer vitamin company in Canada. They have exclusive access to their own manufacturer and they guarantee that consumers won’t be charged even close to some of the mark-up schemes of established industry players.
For some time now the company has envisioned their online customization prototype where users can enter personal information and instantly receive tailored product advice. Leveraging technology, the company will save people trips to the doctor or the naturopath and provide them with the information they need right from their computer. Koge has been working with a team of doctors to build this prototype and look to release it in beta in a month’s time. For Lenjosek it should be a game-changer.
“We think that if we’re successful we could fundamentally disrupt how people buy vitamins and people’s general practice on getting advice on their diet and nutrition,” said the cofounder. “This is one of the big things that Extreme has enabled us to do and they’ve given us a technical platform to launch this.”