Meet rmdy: The New Chewable for Digestive Health
One of the less satisfying parts of eating that cheesy slice of pizza, or burrito with extra beans, or even a leafy kale salad is the digestive issues that often ensue. It’s basically accepted that certain foods can cause stomach pain, gas, or bloating.
However, Wharton MBA students Kate Kim and Ryan Morgan wanted to change that. One year ago, they set out to find a way to put an end to digestive discomfort triggered by everyday foods with their brand rmdy. Kate and Ryan just launched chewable Daily Digestive Essentials and I got to sit down with them to ask about their new product and the story behind rmdy.
Kate was born in Seoul, South Korea, and moved to Madison, Wisconsin when she was nine years old. She studied journalism at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and worked in advertising and marketing after college. She later pivoted, trying out retail and tech by working at a Google Ventures backed, AI-fueled brand incubator. This experience gave her insight into the pain points of consumers and she discovered that her passion lies in designing consumer products to address those consumer pain points. She came to Penn for an MBA to pursue this passion of hers even further.
Ryan is from Kansas City, Missouri and went to Penn for his undergraduate degree, studying Russian and Finance through the Huntsman Program in International Studies and Business. After college, he worked in finance for a few years, and then worked in venture capital (VC). Last year he returned to Penn for his MBA in search of more hands-on business experience and new people – one of them being Kate!
What brought you two together and what led you to start thinking about digestive wellness together?
(RM) We actually sat next to each other on the bus on the first day of school. We were on a bus to an outdoor leadership venture with a ton of MBA students on our first day at Wharton and we started talking about health problems we experienced. We soon began talking about consumer health as a category and how it is fundamentally broken. If you walk into CVS, you have brands like Gas X that feel overly medicinal but actually contain ingredients that are scientifically proven and work. But then you also have all sorts of vitamins and supplements that have interesting marketing, but you don’t actually know if they’re really moving the needle on digestive help. There’s little trust in brands and a lot of stigmas surrounding different vitamins.
(KK) We had an electrifying conversation that day and left exchanging numbers, saying we have to find a solution. That led to starting rmdy. Ryan actually didn’t know about my marketing background and I had no idea about Ryan’s VC background. We were both just fervently passionate about starting something to combat digestive issues and we found out along the way that our experience is quite complementary.
How did you start creating rmdy?
(KK) We started with a desire to research, curate, and simplify health and wellness solutions for everyday ailments. One in three people experience experience stomach discomfort after eating common foods. Shockingly, most people aren’t doing anything. They are just living with it. In this day and age, we knew there had to be a better solution. We spoke to everyone and anyone who would speak to us for free. We ended up serendipitously getting to speak to Dr. Robert Kapel. He was our classmate’s uncle and also coincidentally my friends’ Gastrointestinal (GI) professor at Yale.
(RM) Every GI specialist we spoke to prior to Dr. Kapel was like, “Oh, we’re dying to solve this,” but didn’t act on it. But what set Dr. Kapel apart was that after we reached out to him, he spent seven hours combing through pages of research to find a scientific solution to daily digestive ailments.
How did your ideas and research become a product?
(KK) Ryan has spoken to every manufacturer in the country who can do anything remotely close to what we were thinking. We’ve identified the only manufacturer who can create the kind of product we’re looking for. This manufacturer was also unique since they could truly partner with us on the research and development for the formula and put the formulation into a chewable product.
(RM) A lot of our actions came from doing user interviews. We would ask anyone and everyone who would talk to us. We initially thought we’d have to pull teeth getting people to speak to us about digestion but we quickly learned that people are actually dying to talk about what foods upset them. People really aren’t shy to open up about it. Being a co-ed team also helped because men and women both felt like they had a safe audience to speak to.
From these user interviews, a big takeaway was that people buy vitamins and then they don’t take them. We wanted to make something that people are excited to take. What good is it if vitamins are just hiding in your medicine cabinet? We need to take something that people will actually enjoy taking, which is why we turned to a chewable formulation. Even our travel cases come in a ton of fun designs, making people feel like they want to take out their rmdy supplements in restaurants or kitchens and put them to use.
Has digestive wellness always been a big part of your life?
(KK) In the last ten years it’s become a really big part of my life. I realized that you could be doing everything “right” food-wise, but still feel negative consequences after eating. My body just didn’t have the right tools to digest foods that are really healthy. Your foods shouldn’t have to punish you and you shouldn’t feel bad after eating.
(RM) I never really trusted the consumer health industry. When I walk into CVS I see an overwhelming amount of solutions and so much complex marketing language. This motivated me to bring simplicity and efficacy into the solution. With rmdy, we don’t want to have one thousand SKUs and product types. We want to keep it simple with select products that work.
What was raising funding to launch rmdy like?
(KK)We secured funding from all the student-focused VC funds on campus by pitching our ideas and our brand. What was really interesting about presenting this idea to VCs was that digestive health doesn’t usually get a lot of love. However, people were excited to hear from us that there would finally be a scientifically-backed solution to digestive ailments that was engaging and approachable.
(RM) Yes, and it related to almost everyone we pitched to. 70% of Americans are actually lactose intolerant to some degree but don’t know it. It makes sense since our bodies gradually produce less and less lactase, the enzyme that breaks down dairy, as we grow up. We’ve identified these gaping holes in our digestive health and rmdy is supplementing them.
What’s in the Daily Digestive Essentials product?
(KK) It’s a combination of probiotics, prebiotics, digestive enzymes, and herbal ingredients such as ginger and peppermint. These ingredients were choicefully selected to serve a purpose. They really run the gamut on the spectrum of science. Our product has clinically-proven digestive enzymes at the same rate that Lactaid’s product has. The probiotics and prebiotics in our product are rooted in a lot of scientific research. Using ginger and peppermint for digestive health is rooted in thousands of years of anecdotal evidence and emerging research.
Who should take rmdy’s chewables and when?
(RM) It’s really for everyone. You take the supplement at the start of your meal, right before you take your first bite of food so the digestive enzymes break down the hard-to-digest nutrients in your food. We made it a priority to create a product for everyone, regardless of differences in diet or age, since one-third of our population is missing out on the sufficient digestive enzymes.
How has using rmdy changed your own digestion?
(KK) I’m super passionate about this. Since when Ryan and I were embarking on this journey, I wanted to create something I’d personally benefit from and resonate with. Certain cuisines that I love really upset my stomach. For instance, cuisines high in dairy or big salads would fuel me mentally but really pain my digestive system. Integrating rmdy into my personal day gives me peace of mind. I feel like I’m eating for performance and don’t need any downtime after meals.
(RM) I found it surprising that if you take rmdy regularly for 5 days or so, you actually start to feel some of the probiotics and your baseline digestion is improved. For my wife, she’s had a love-hate relationship with pizza, but now after starting to take rmdy pizza is back on the menu for her, which is awesome.
Where can rmdy be bought?
(RM) rmdy can be purchased on our website (https://rmdyco.com/) and we’d love to offer a 20% discount to Penn Appetit readers with the code PENNAPPETIT20. It’s shipped direct-to-consumer and when you receive your package, it’s made up of a reusable bottle with sixty chewable tablets, a travel tin in a design of your choice, and a welcome booklet.