Meet CandyCan, the Functional, Health-Conscious Gummy Brand The Capitalism Fund Just Invested In
Ryan Wiltse walked into a meeting with his business partner, Krik, who was popping candy into his mouth. But there was one thing wrong with this everyday scenario—the sweets were actually multivitamin gummies.
"You can't do that! The serving size is like two pieces man!," Ryan informed his partner.
Overindulging in regular sugar-laden candy might leave you with a stomach ache. Even worse, eating too many gummy vitamins can turn toxic. And after witnessing Krik devour candy-like vitamins, Ryan realized there was a need for a functional gummy you could safely eat in large quantities. They founded CandyCan a year and a half ago to address this growing problem.
The Growing Gummy Trend
In late 2020, PRNewswire reported the global gummy vitamins market size grew to $5.9 billion, and with a CAGR of 12.5%, it should reach 10.6 billion by 2025. What does this mean? People want a tastier, more convenient way to get their supplements. "I think it's undeniable that gummies are more fun to eat than swallowing large horse pills," Ryan explained to Capitalism.com.
"We're firm believers that food can be medicine," Ryan says. “What a person puts in their body should also provide a benefit.” Today's consumers read labels and want companies to be transparent about what they ingest. CandyCan decided to create better-for-you products that taste delicious and provide tangible benefits. And mouth-watering gummy supplements were the perfect product for this health-conscious brand.
Everyone loves candy and gummy vitamins tend to have great-tasting formulas. However, most consumers ignore the measly two-piece serving size. Instead, they gobble them down like, well, candy.
CandyCan solves this dilemma by marrying function and indulgence. It's a low-sugar, low-carb, functional candy brand that lets consumers curb their sweet tooth craving and reap their functional benefits without worry.
The brand launched for pre-sales in mid-July with two plant-based gummy SKUs: FOCUS and SLEEP. "We think consumers are going to go wild for them," Ryan boasts. SLEEP contains melatonin and lemon balm extract to promote more restful sleep. FOCUS incorporates alpha-GPC, L-theanine, and Coffeeberry® coffee fruit extract to support enhanced brain function. Best of all, you can eat more than just two! "You can snack away at your desk while you knock out that PowerPoint presentation."
R&D: A Sticky Process
Finding the right food manufacturer is a long process, and tossing functional additives into the picture only further complicates things. Ryan wouldn't settle for anything less than the best, so he took his time narrowing down the ideal manufacturer for CandyCan. "It's a lot of speed dating," he jokes.
Ryan proposed his idea to a few groups in NYC. Since there is already a lot of science behind gummies, he paid for R&D on existing brands, intending to replicate what worked. Finding a manufacturer wasn't a walk in the park. Since the gummies niche is hot, many were already at capacity.
New brands tend to latch onto the first co-packer they find. But that first one might not work out over time. They may lack consistency, and they may not be able to handle other products you introduce. And since you have to pay for each one, you don't want to choose blindly. Due diligence is crucial if you're going to pinpoint the perfect match. After some trials and tribulations, CandyCan found an ideal partner with best-in-class production and quality control.
Once Ryan secured the manufacturer, R&D took off full force. CandyCan went through many product iterations to fine-tune the formula. Above all, it needed to taste amazing. "If it doesn't taste good, people aren't going to come back to it no matter how good for you it is," he explains.
Totally Unexpected (and Unpredictable) Kinks in the Journey
Ryan started branding and fundraising for CandyCan in March 2020. But before he could really get the ball rolling, COVID hit. The entire world shut down. Not wanting to seem tone-deaf about the situation, the brand paused everything.
And if a global pandemic weren't bad enough, Ryan also received a cancer diagnosis in the midst of the world shutdown. While going through four rounds of chemotherapy, he continued to work on R&D for CandyCan. "It helped me stay positive and productive throughout the whole chemotherapy process." Thankfully, he's since received positive reports from his doctors and continues to be monitored.
No one could have ever predicted a global pandemic or cancer diagnosis. But Ryan didn't let these unfortunate and extremely scary events stop him from launching the brand. Once things started to look up, he and Krik grabbed CandyCan by the horns and took off running.
The Capitalism Fund Takes an Interest in CandyCan
CandyCan signed and finalized all the paperwork with The Capitalism Fund at the end of May. It was an unprecedented move for The Fund, which usually invests in brands once there's proof of concept. CandyCan hadn't even launched yet. But the goals and interests of both The Fund and CandyCan aligned. Taking the risk seemed like a smart move.
In terms of the brand's launch plan, The Fund has been extremely patient. Initially, Ryan hoped to launch on June 15, but that date got pushed back. The brand finally launched in mid-July. He jokes, "As with any startup, what you think will be the launch date many months out is not going to be the launch date."
The Fund invested small for now, and they introduced Ryan to an inventory financing company. Originally, CandyCan earmarked most of its fundraising capital for inventory. But having access to a revolving line of credit makes it possible to grow other parts of the business.
The Capitalism Fund has already proven to be an invaluable asset for CandyCan. There are multiple facets to running a business, and as Ryan explains, "It's impossible to be an expert at all of them." The Fund has allowed the brand to connect with third-party providers who know what they're doing.
The founders have taken an outsourced approach and are engaging third party partners to grow the brand's presence on the major social platforms. Partnering with these experts will help the brand scale at a faster pace. "Krik and I love to surround ourselves with people who are smarter than us."
Focused Goals for CandyCan
CandyCan launched with a website-only, direct-to-consumer model. This will allow the brand enough time to nail down the supply chain, sort out logistics, and sync up with third-party providers. It will also give Ryan a chance to talk to customers and control the conversation.
Ryan eventually wants to expand beyond the website. Amazon is a likely next step forward, as well as controlled, targeted launches into retail down the line.
Funding Advice for Fellow Entrepreneurs
Seeking funding isn't something owners should take lightly. In the end, it involves asking someone for their hard-earned money, whether they are an angel, investor, or a fund. You need to arrive fully buttoned up and ready to take some sharp jabs. It's their job to poke holes in your business plan.
Sure, you'll try to spin the narrative in a positive light, but they probably have more experience than you. Investors have seen things—and they may even see pitfalls in your brand that you didn't know existed.
Ryan recommends you run your funding pitch by anyone who will listen. Let them show you ways to shore up your thesis. CandyCan showed up with just a pitch deck and some R&D samples. In an ideal world, you'd also have a fully-formed product to hand them. Investors like to hold, see, open, and try the product before committing to a brand. This is how you wow them.
Stay Focused and Get More Sleep
CandyCan solves a problem for many of us—tasty supplements that you won't feel guilty about overeating. The Capitalism Fund believes this brand is on a 7-figure+ track to success. Need to improve your brain function and sleep patterns? You can order FOCUS and SLEEP gummies at EatCandyCan.com.