Melissa Snover's boyfriend describes her habit of waking up at 4 o'clock every morning as "seriously sick and twisted." But as the founder and CEO of an early-stage startup, Snover has little other downtime. "That's my hour and a half, maybe two hours that's just for me," she says. "It's my favorite time of the whole day."
The rest of her schedule belongs to everyone else. In January, 2018, Snover founded Nourish3d, a maker of 3-D printed personalized vitamin supplements. And until May she was still working at another company she founded, The Magic Candy Factory, which lets customers 3-D print their own candy in near-limitless designs. That was her second candy venture, following Goody Good Stuff, a maker of vegan candies that she sold in 2015.
Now Snover can dedicate her full time and attention to Nourish3d. Using a 3-D printer, the U.K.-based company creates customized gummy supplements packed with seven vitamins and nutrients based on customers' responses to an online questionnaire about their lifestyle. The final product is sugar free, nut free, allergen free, halal, and kosher. With more than 30 vitamins to choose from, over one billion combinations are possible. The company is set to begin selling in the U.S. early next year, at a price of about $45 for a month's supply.
Snover was inspired to start Nourish3d by what she viewed as the limitations of the candy industry. "You have to be realistic as an entrepreneur when you see that business is profitable and it's lovely and it's tidy, but it's a novelty. How many candies [printed to look like] your face do you need?" she says. "So I wanted to really find a way to create something that would make a massive difference." As a health nut, Snover was able to identify a gap in the health customization market. Her experience with vegan products and customization from her other businesses informed the development of Nourish3d. The company is now in the midst of a seed funding round, which Snover says has already hit its seven-figure target from multiple investors.
By now Snover is a seasoned veteran of the startup world. But things haven't always been smooth. When developing Goody Good Stuff, she says, "I lived on the edge of a nervous breakdown for like three years!" During that period she'd go months without paying herself, and was continually beset by troubling questions: "What if this massive supplier doesn't pay me on time? What's going to happen if a big company decides to make my product under a private label? Am I going to be able to keep my promise to the people that trusted me and believed in my vision?"
When asked about the mistakes she's made along the way, Snover laughs. "How long have you got?" She understands that that's all part of the process, though. "You will have to accept that you're going to fail thousands of times maybe," she says. "But the faster you do it and move to the next step, and learn and move to the next step, the faster you get to your final product."
Eventually Goody Good Stuff caught on, with the vegan gummy candies gaining placement in 40,000 stores globally. That success enabled her to start her other ventures. Now that Snover and her companies are in a comfortable place financially, she looks back on her experience with gratitude. She just wishes she could go back in time to when she was starting out, to assure her 23-year-old self that everything would work out. "I didn't enjoy my journey as much as I should because I was so worried all the time that I wouldn't be able to do it," Snover says. "She'd say, 'You will do it, babe. You will almost die, but you will do it. And everything will be OK.'"