How a former Goldman Sachs banker turned his autoimmune condition into a modern propolis-focused health business
Carly Stein-Kremer never envisioned herself as an entrepreneur while comfortably working as an analyst at Goldman Sachs in her early 20s. But challenged by a chronic autoimmune disease growing up, she Stein-Kremer always knew it was an inner calling to serve her community with more modern and effective food and supplements.
I found propolis when I was in Europe, and it was the first time I solved my ongoing health problems with it, said Stein-Kremer, who later co-founded his entire business, Beekeepers Naturals, based on this resinous compound produced by bees and best known for fighting viruses, bacteria and supporting immunity.
After Stein-Kremer returned to the United States, looking for a propolis-enhanced honey, she found that there was invariably a trace of the pesticide, a major cause of declining bee populations. In a recent study published in Insect conservation and diversity, scientists have warned that this trend could threaten global food supplies as bee pollination plays a significant role in plant reproduction.
This phenomenon, also known as colony collapse disorder, is also driving a large number of food and drink players to increasingly focus their missions on rescuing bees and sourcing pesticide-free ingredients from regenerative farms, including the Beepublic coffee shop in New York City. Founder Jonathan Ledee, who says leading the consumer goods industry by example is critical to their long-term business strategy, points out how he partners with and directly supports high-impact nonprofits in educating, maintaining and preserving consumer products. local hives.
My hope is that, Ledee wrote to me via email, by accelerating our overall environmental footprint, we will disrupt our industry enough to strengthen our supply chains with better agricultural and social practices and increase the affordability of sustainable products at scale. of bee for everyone.
Since then, Stein-Kremer’s obsessions with beekeeping and creating healthy propolis products have begun to flourish.
I started to really focus on the integral role [bees] they play in our ecosystem, and these more nuanced medicinal ingredients come from the hive, said Stein-Kremer, who also hired former attorney Daniel Millar to be his cofounder, and before I knew it, I had designed a product line for myself.
Cultivate a platform of immune support
Since launching Beekeepers Naturals in 2017, the company has developed a range of medicinal and functional food products, including an immune support throat spray, superfood honey, mind fuel and capsules made with pre, pro and postbiotic to support everyone’s complete gut health that are rooted in third-party science, according to Stein-Kremer, a Forbes 30 under 30 alum.
Professionals are actually prescribing our products while furthering our mission to disrupt the traditional medicine cabinet, he said. We are able to make a really big impact on the environment, creating pesticide-free ecosystems where bees thrive and multiply in populations, by partnering only with small-scale, sustainable apiaries globally.
Beekeepers Naturals rapidly expanded from 5,000 retail locations to more than 18,000 across major North American banners, including TargetTGT, CVS and WalgreensWBA, doubling revenue year-over-year, while its online sales, particularly AmazonAMZN, increased by triple digits. Most recently, the company’s propolis throat spray that Stein-Kremer says sells 1.8 sprays per minute ranked number one in the cold and flu category on the e-commerce platform.
We’ve been able to really champion propolis and be the company that brings propolis into so many different mass-market health applications, he said. To some extent, Beekeepers Naturals has become a cult following for immune support enthusiasts, attracting well-known investors, including Cameron Diaz, Nas and Lily Collins.
Raising $14 million to accelerate expansion
For years, Stein-Kremer and his team have focused on reinvesting in sustainability and growing their business, and he emphasized that 2023 could see incremental growth for Beekeepers Naturals.
The projection, along with the company’s future retail expansion, will be supported by a latest $14 million funding round co-led by Devonshire Investors and CAVU Consumer Partners, with additional holdings from VC Vibrant Ventures focused on food as driven medicine by managing partner Jarret Christie, an early proponent of the brand, and Muse Capital.
Commenting on the newly injected capital, Christie said, Carly and Daniels’ vision for Beekeepers Naturals has improved the health of millions of people while providing critical support for bee colonies. Involving CPG industry veteran Dave Jones [current CEO] it was brilliant and provides a blueprint for sustainable consumer goods companies looking to maximize impact.
Beekeepers Naturals answers the call from modern consumers who demand cleaner, better-for-you and effective alternatives to traditional OTC products, said Jared Jacobs, a partner at CAVU Consumer Partners and a member of the Beekeepers Naturals board of directors. We’re proud to partner with Carly and Daniel, along with the strong team they’ve assembled, to reinvent medicine and help build one of the world’s leading, trusted, all-natural brands in health and wellness.
We are thrilled to support Beekeepers Naturals as they accelerate their retail and online growth, Suzanne Agnello, SVP of Devonshire Investors, said in a statement. The company’s propolis and beehive products have broad applications and are helping to reinvent the over-the-counter medicine department. We see significant opportunities for the brand to continue its rapid expansion.
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