Walking into the new West Loop office of Vital Proteins, the Chicago startup making increasingly popular collagen supplements, employees and guests alike are greeted by large letters reading “Live The Vital Life.”
Heading up a flight of stairs to the second floor, where the office really begins, the company’s airy, modern and beachy persona begins to shine through.
“Chicago winters are tough, so I wanted to create this Santa Monica, Newport Beach or Laguna Beach type of vibe,” says Vital Proteins Founder and CEO Kurt Seidensticker. “You feel like you’re in Southern California.”
The new office, which the staff moved into at the end of June, is much different from its first office in 2016, which was in a WeWork down the street. From there, the startup moved west to a repurposed dance studio in Wicker Park before returning to the West Loop to occupy its third office.
Now in this latest office, Seidensticker said his employees have plenty of space to continue building the collagen supplement empire.
The company’s products, made from varieties of bovine hide collagen peptides, marine collagen and beef gelatins, promise to improve the health of joints, ligaments and tendons, as well as hair, skin and nails.
Just this year, Vital Proteins inked a partnership with Kourtney Kardashian after she approached the startup to make exclusive products based on its collagen blend. Vital Proteins has also received anecdotal endorsements from Jennifer Aniston, Carrie Underwood and Jennifer Lopez. Even the Chicago Cubs took Vital Proteins during their 2017-2018 baseball season.
When Seidensticker first launched Vital Proteins, the company was primarily selling its product through its website.
“We were really focused on e-commerce and I ran the organization like a software company,” he said.
But that retail model has totally flipped. Now, the majority of Vital Proteins’ sales are happening across more than 20,000 brick-and-mortar stores, from Whole Foods and Costco to Sephora and Urban Outfitters.
Vital Proteins raised $19 million in venture capital funding from CAVU Venture Partners in 2017 to accelerate its growth but doesn’t plan to raise any more. Seidensticker said Vital Proteins is profitable and on track to make more than $200 million in revenue within the next 12 months.
To keep this wellness and beauty business growing, Vital Proteins employs 280 people across its Chicago, Los Angeles and Amsterdam offices. Locally, Vital Proteins employs 240 people, about half of which work at Vital Proteins’ manufacturing space in Franklin Park, Ill. The other half work out of the new corporate headquarters in the West Loop.