120 E Felix St. South
Fort Worth 76115
TCU students Nik Hall and Garrett Adair don’t have as much time to relax and hang out with their friends as they used to.
That’s because the senior entrepreneurial management majors are preparing to start a business called vitafive, a vitamin subscription service that allows customers to customize vitamin packs to be shipped to their homes.
Adair, 21, and Hall, 22, hope to have the business up and running by December or January.
They have spent the last six months finding investors and raising capital. They have also secured office space in Fort Worth, about 10 minutes away from Texas Christian University.
But there’s still more work to be done. The two are currently ordering products, building inventory and developing their website, among other tasks.
It’s enough to keep their schedules packed. As soon as class is done, the duo heads straight to work on vitafive, Hall said.
“Freshman and sophomore year, we were able to have quite a bit of free time — hang out, play video games if we wanted,” he said. “Now we have to set a pretty strict schedule.”
Adair hails from Dallas, while Hall is from Southlake. The two met in a calculus class during their first year at TCU. They soon became workout buddies and began going to the gym together. When they realized their active lifestyle didn’t coincide with their food choices, they decided to take vitamins to make up for their poor diets.
But Adair’s family friend, registered dietician Connie Guttersen, told them that they had the wrong idea.
“She told us, vitamins aren’t a supplement,” Adair said. “They’re supposed to help enhance your lifestyle. So you don’t eat bad food and supplement with vitamins. You eat good food and take vitamins as well.”
That inspired Adair and Hall, who were always bouncing business ideas off each other, to start their own vitamin business.
With the tagline “Health Without the Hassle,” vitafive is meant to be a more convenient way to take vitamins, Hall said.
Customers go to vitafive’s website and choose from nine different vitamins, including a multivitamin, Calcium and D3, Omega and others. Then, vitafive consolidates those choices into a single pack of gummy vitamins.
Each individual pack comes with three to five different vitamins, depending on the customer’s choices. Every four weeks, the customer will receive a box with 28 individual packs.
Rather than having to swallow multiple pills, people can simply eat a pack of gummies each day, Adair said.
The vitamins have not been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, as the FDA does not require approval for manufacturers and distributors to sell dietary supplements, according to the FDA website. Still, vitamin companies are responsible for testing the safety of their products before they go into distribution, making sure the supplements abide by FDA regulations.
Hall said he and Adair did extensive research to find a trustworthy supplier that would work according to the FDA’s guidelines. While they did not disclose the name of the supplier, Adair said they chose a manufacturer based in California.
Adair and Hall also sought the counsel of Guttersen, who had originally chided them for their food choices. Guttersen, known for The New York Times bestselling book The Sonoma Diet, serves as vitafive’s chief nutrition officer.
Guttersen is in charge of approving vitafive’s products, Adair said.
To raise funding for the business, Adair said, he and Hall spent the summer traveling around the country and meeting with investors.
“We did, like, three Shark Tank presentations,” Adair said. “It wasn’t standing in front of them, but it was sitting down at a table, in suits, going over your presentation and giving them your product.”
For a college student with limited entrepreneurial experience, pitching to investors was nerve-wracking, Adair said.
“There would be times when we’d talk to investors and we’d both be freaking out inside,” he said. “But you just have to go into it with confidence.”
But the presentations were successful. They received funding from five private investors who did not wish to reveal their names, Adair said.
TCU also helped Adair and Hall raise money for the company. The two competed in TCU’s Values and Ventures Competition, winning $2,500. They also received help from the university’s Bill Shaddock Venture Capital Fund.
Brad Hancock, director of the Neeley Entrepreneurship Center at TCU, said Adair and Hall display a passion that makes them stand out.
“Their enthusiasm and their perseverance is just amazing,” he said. “It just comes through when they present their idea. I think the judges were impressed by all of that.”
It also helps to be studying entrepreneurial management, Adair said. Adair and Hall can take what they are learning in classes and immediately apply it to their own venture.
The entire process of starting a company has been a learning experience, Adair said.
And though the amount of work often means sacrificing personal time, Adair said, he’s not complaining.
“We always joke around, ‘vitafive is our girlfriend,’” he said. “It’s something that we want to spend all of our time with.”
About the Bill Shaddock Venture Capital Fund
Inspired by the ABC television show Shark Tank, TCU alumnus and experienced entrepreneur Bill Shaddock started the Bill Shaddock Capital Venture Fund. Much like the show, TCU student entrepreneurs present their business ideas in front of a student committee who determine whether or not the idea will receive funding.
Shaddock, who graduated from TCU in 1973, owns multiple businesses in the Dallas-Fort Worth Area, including Willow Bend Mortgage Company and Capital Title of Texas.