You’ve got to kiss a lot of frogs before you find your prince.

I’m not a fairy princess, but I am a sucker for funny analogies.  And this one works.

There is no lack of companies in the nutritional supplement space.  Based on raw numbers, you’d almost think they churn out nutritional supplement companies like nutritional supplement companies churn out pills.

As Smart Drug Smarts became better known, a lot of companies reached out to me with a wide variety of business offers, ranging from ads to sponsorships to co-promotion deals to “board of directors” seats to wearing funny T-shirts in public and taking more selfies than seems dignified.

Researching which companies were credible was in many ways similar to researching which means of cognitive enhancement work best.

It started with asking questions.

Fly by night, gone by morning…

One common element among many of the companies that reached out over the years is an ominous one: they’re not here any more.  Websites gone, doors closed, founding partners moved on to other things.  Not just a few companies — the majority.

The turnover of companies in the supplements industry is huge.  Not quite as fast as restaurants, probably not far behind.  (Because many of these companies are Internet-only, there is no easy way to track this data.  Anyone can toss up a web store in a matter of hours, with no industry watchdog taking notice.)

Most of these companies disappear for a few common reasons:

  • They weren’t really a “company” to begin with.

    Instead, they were an online experiment to “see if the business model was viable.” Their founders dipped a toe in the water, got cold feet, then bailed out.

  • They were in and out for a quick buck.

    Sometimes people smell (or create) a health craze, and marketing experts reap some cash and then move on as the fad-passion cools.  These companies aren’t so much “companies” as web pages.  You can spot them by their ALL-CAPS 100-POINT FONTS.  And because this exact same lady works for all of them:
    "How can I help you?"

  • The supplement industry is not easy.

    Many companies make an honest try to make an honest product, but they can’t get all the gears to connect between customer service, logistics, shipping, marketing, legal compliance, finance, and the rest.  In a well-oiled machine, a lot is happening under the hood.  Some folks get a stern warning letter from the FDA, or from their CPA (or both) and decide to move on to greener pastures.

The common meme is that “taking a pill” is comically easy.

It turns out that making a pill really isn’t.

Why I trust VitaMonk.


VitaMonk: Still waters run deep.

I was making the Smart Drug Smarts podcast and learning the ins and outs of the supplement industry for more than three years before I heard of VitaMonk.

When I heard about it, it was more an idea than a company.  The team wasn’t all in place yet… but I knew the founders.  I knew they were not only extremely smart, but also competent — real get-things-done types.  And if they put this thing together — bringing in knowledge from multiple industries, on-staff medical doctors, and a Quality Assurance team that actually knows and does what the FDA says (gasp!)…  they would really have something.

Still, it was more than another year before Smart Drug Smarts formally got involved with them.

But all that time was good, because the length of the relationship was further evidence that VitaMonk was not a fly-by-night operation, and the founders weren’t just looking to make a quick buck.  They wanted to build a broad product line of nutritional supplements catering to a wide audience — including, but not limited to cognitive enhancement, the Smart Drug Smarts mainstay.

That matched up perfectly with what I wanted: a retail partner with a deep product line I could recommend with confidence, knowing they were ticking all the boxes for a supplement company doing things right:

  • Not just a Quality Assurance policy.  A Quality Assurance staff.

    VitaMonk has real people whose jobs are focused on making sure their products follow health code and legal codes and best practices.  I’ve talked to them, I know them by name and I’ve sat in on their conference calls.  They talk about things like ethical ingredient sourcing, GMP manufacturing best practices and FDA compliance.  Boring stuff, but important stuff.  Stuff you want in your pills.

  • The Opposite of “Set It and Forget It.”

    We’ve all seen videos of pills on a conveyor belt, getting manufactured in repetitive, seemingly infinite quantities.  (If you haven’t seen it, check this out.) Some supplement companies fall too in love with pill manufacturing as a metaphor for their whole business: “Set up the process, and never change it.”  By contrast, VitaMonk reviews its formulas continuously — even tweaking ingredients from one manufacturing run to the next — using input from their on-staff medical doctors, customer feedback, and the latest scientific research.

  • Natural by Preference.  Pure by Necessity.

    VitaMonk chooses all-natural compounds whenever possible, avoids artificial fillers, and seeks out places where Mother Nature wins in controlled studies.  (But if a synthetic compound beats Ma Nature in a fair fight, what ya gonna do?) One thing is always true: ingredients are scrupulously quality-checked for purity meeting or exceeding GMP standards.

  • Cost-Competitive by Sheer Size.

    Not all start-ups start small.  VitaMonk entered the industry as a big enough company to manufacture its products in volume and pass the savings on to its customers.  That’s an economic advantage it’s hard for Mom-and-Pop Supplement Co. to compete with — and VitaMonk has the pricing to prove it.

Okay, so maybe I didn’t actually kiss the frogs…

But at Smart Drug Smarts, we do love a good experiment.  (It was really more like frog-licking.)

After several years reviewing the supplement industry for a partner featuring a broad line of products, I am extremely happy to have signed on with VitaMonk.  It wasn’t a short term hook-up or something I entered into lightly, but more of a go-slow, long term thing…

And that’s exactly how we should make choices about health and nutrition, right?

It has been a great fit, and VitaMonk is a company I’m proud to represent.


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