In 2020, Andrew Remlinger and Jenne Moore introduced the world to Sourse, a vitamin infused chocolate crafted with plant-based ingredients proven to revitalize how people look and feel. In the fall of last year, they brought Sarah Hyland, superstar actress from hit TV show, Modern Family, on as a cofounder and creative director. This week we sat down with Andrew to discuss the process behind bringing on a celebrity partner, why Sarah is the right fit and what she unlocks for the business.
A Silent Majority. The American Hospital Association (AHA) estimates 133 million Americans (roughly half the population) suffers from at least one chronic illness – a statistic that is almost impossible to believe given how little attention it receives. A major reason why we don’t hear about this is because people are not typically open about their health conditions as they fear potential backlash or appearing weak. We refer to them as the silent majority.
For Andrew and Jenne, the story starts with their own health journeys. Like most Americans, they have been quiet about their personal health and faced a lifelong struggle. Lifelong pill fatigue and a lack of innovation around vitamin intake formats was exhausting. As Andrew put it, “We weren’t exactly sure how many people felt the same way we did. For us, we wanted to solve our own desire for more efficient vitamin delivery mechanisms, but we became were curious if others would also purchase this.”
On August 2020, Jenne and Andrew produced a small batch of dark chocolate infused vitamins. They used an UpWork freelancer to design the product packaging and set up an online store without any advertisements. What happened next was shocking. Orders flooded in and demand for their product surged. What started out as a little experiment to test the market, quickly turned into a legitimate business with serious product-market fit. Within one month, they did $50K in online sales. As they individually hand-packed away for days and nights to fulfill each order from the original test run, they knew they were onto something bigger.
Andrew believes Sourse’s success is due to its “ democratization of wellness.” In other words, people can have something they actually want. Consumers have largely been left with overly clinical vitamin intake options available in local drug stores. Sourse was built on expanding optionality. By infusing chocolate into vitamins, their products becomes a delicious treat that people can look forward to ahead of time.
Casting a Sarah Hyland as Co-Founder. Sourse was a bootstrapped business when it first started. The decision to bring on Sarah as a cofounder did not start with the question of “what celebrity best suits Sourse?” Instead the question started as one about who the right investors would be.
Andrew explains, “When we started thinking about raising money, we want to build a strong cap table. Jenne’s network had some investors that we wanted to bring on. It turns out that one of them, cased Sarah on the set of Modern Family. He explained to us that she has been extremely vocal about her health journey. Our the kind of product we were building, we had to talk to her at the very least.”
After connecting with Sarah’s agent, it became very clear she was going to be a massive value unlock for the future of this business.
When describing what value Sourse recognized, Andrew explained, “We had somebody ready to join us who had a massive following and was not afraid to vocalize what a majority of people are. Most people don’t know this, but Sarah had two kidney transplants while filming Modern Family – both of which were donated by members of her family. It was very emotional for her. When we explained to her what we were building, she was all in for it. Her story had a natural connection to Sourse.”
What’s unique about the way Jenne and Andrew approached their relationship with Sarah is that it was more about how a relatable story can amplify their cause at scale. The way Andrew puts it, “Yes, building a brand is getting more expensive and competitive. But for us, we had a door open to get loud and more relatable.”
In October 2021, Jenne and Andrew both walked through that door and announced Sarah Hyland as the cofounder and creative director of their brand.
Brand or Celebrity. For Sourse, it has always been about one goal: innovating for their customer’s health. Since launch, this idea has been the bedrock on which Jenne and Andrew have made decision. Andrew shared, “Our relationship with our customer has not changed one bit since Sarah joined us. We had made it a point to focus on letting the brand have its own legs.”
The biggest mistake we see is founders make with a new celebrity partner is attempting to turn them into a distribution channel with an over fantasized misunderstanding of how talent influencers commerce. What the founding team at Sourse seems to understand so well is Sarah does not need to be (or should not be) a “buy our product” type of partner.
Andrew explains, “Sarah is very talented as an actress, but I can not stress how well she understands our customer. We wanted to leverage her to amplify our story. She has found tons of innovative ways to help us tell that story, since joining us.”
Sarah has been on the Ellen Show and other talk shows to help provide visibility to Sourse. However, that is not to be mistaken as her sole purpose on the team. Wether on Tik Tok or Instagram, you can find Sarah talking about her personal health journey, assuring millions of people they are not alone.
What’s Next. Andrew mentioned the Sourse team will be expanding into many retail doors in the near future. While he could not provide specifics, he explained, “Being able to make the mission behind our company the focal points has served us well. We’re deeply committed to building a strong relationship to our customer. We want to get more relatable and accessible to people who could use our product.”
Andrew predicts Sarah is going to help the business continue to be more relevant. With a fast growing, loyal customer base Sourse is capitalizing on their existing momentum to reach more customers. The team has scaled their business to 17 strong full time employees and who are working tirelessly behind their cause. You can find Sourse products online at their website trysourse.com.