Kurt Seidensticker

CEO and Founder | Vital Proteins



Kurt Seidensticker: This Former NASA Engineer Talks Health, Supplements, and How He Prepared for COVID-19 Interrupting His Business

Kurt Seidensticker began his career at NASA designing space exploration missions and training astronauts to fly the space shuttle before moving on to innovate the cell phone and the internet fiber optic networks by creating the early generation of communications still in use today. Also an avid runner, Seidensticker began to notice his joints being worn down, and through researching that the human body needed 20g–40g of collagen a day to repair itself, he created Vital Proteins in 2013. The brand has since evolved into a portfolio of collagen products to address a variety of consumer needs and usage occasions, making it easier for them to incorporate collagen into their daily diets. The brand maintains #1 US market share and created the category of collagen protein which is predicted to reach $6.6B worldwide by 2025.

What are your biggest business concerns surrounding COVID-19? 

The health and wellness of our employees is my #1 priority. We implemented measures much earlier than the public to ensure their wellbeing. We at Vital have always had a direct connection with our consumers, and that is powerful in this time because it enables us to help empower them towards their health and wellness goals. Those goals have become top of mind for all of us recently. We are seeing online subscription sales increase as consumers make commitments to their overall health and wellness. We do our own manufacturing, which has enabled us to keep up with the increased demand. We also developed a new Vitality Immune Booster product to help our customers. This health-related economic impact will change consumers’ behavior for the long-term. People are gaining a stronger health and wellness mindset that will endure long beyond our current situation.

Vital Proteins supplements.

What is your current business strategy for dealing with the situation? 

We’re constantly monitoring our supply chain, inventory, sales and fulfillment across all channels. There’s been a huge shift to online sales both on our website and Amazon, so we’re pivoting our strategy to maximize our digital presence, allocating resources to reach our consumers online. As a vertically integrated organization, we were also able to expedite the launch of our new immunity product,  Vital Proteins Vitality™ Immune Booster. It’s packed full of Collagen, Vitamin C, Zinc, B Vitamins, L-Glutamine, Electrolytes, Wellmune, and Immuno Biotics.  I recognized the need for this type of product back in February and decided then to prioritize its launch over other innovations in the pipeline. Consumers are demanding products with clinically proven ingredients to boost immune systems, and we wanted to take action to help our customers boost their immune system.

Vital Proteins immunity-boosting supplements.

How do you think things will look in your industry a year from that?

It’s important for entrepreneurs and business leaders across sectors to plan ahead and preemptively connect the dots, which, admittedly, is no easy feat given how quickly the realities of our daily lives are rapidly changing. I think that the market for collagen protein-—while it’s already huge—is going to be even bigger next year as more mainstream consumers seek to incorporate health and wellbeing into their daily lives. Collagen is one of the most convenient and accessible ways to achieve this goal. I think our industry should be focused on educating consumers about the benefits of their products as they pertain to an individual’s health and wellness. Identify your most profitable channels and invest in them to ensure the long-term survival of your company so that a year from now you’ll still be able to provide health and wellness benefits to your consumers.

Identify your most profitable channels and invest in them to ensure the long-term survival of your company so that a year from now you’ll still be able to provide health and wellness benefits to your consumers.

What have you learned from other difficult times in the past?

Don’t give up. Persevere with grit. If you’re committed to getting through difficult times, you will do everything you can to achieve that goal by investing your talents, energy, and time into getting through it successfully. The job of a CEO is to scan the horizon with a healthy level of paranoia. You’re constantly looking at information on the horizon and building a scenario of how it could go wrong, and then putting in place all of the actions within your organization that can prevent it from going wrong. I used this technique, and it permitted me to take actions very early and put in place the right actions to benefit Vital and our consumers. Back in February we understood that consumers would shift to Amazon, and we immediately pivoted our strategy to increase inventory weeks ahead of time under the assumption that Amazon would have difficulties getting products into their warehouses in a timely manner. We did not want to be out of stock at a time when consumers were depending on Vital for their wellness.

Vital Proteins CEO and Founder Kurt Seidensticker.

Safe–and entertained–at Home: What business leaders are doing with their downtime 


Morning routine?
I wake with the sunrise, make a fresh cup of coffee, take a Vital Performance PRE workout and go for a 5k run along the oceanfront.  I’m lucky I live on the East Coast, and our offices are in Chicago, so it gives me that extra hour to get going each morning at a nice pace that benefits my mental clarity and wellness.

Currently binging?
Ozark, War of the Worlds, Homeland, The Outsider.

Currently reading?
My masters work was in astrophysics, so I love reading the latest research on quantum physics and cosmology—specifically about gravity, dark matter, dark energy, time, and relativity.

What are you doing to spend quality time with those you’re sheltering with?
I run with friends, and some of my favorite restaurants are still providing amazing take home meals. I stay connected with friends and family over FaceTime and Zoom.

What are you doing to stay healthy mentally and physically?
Running, eating healthy and keeping up with my Vital Proteins routine which includes our Vital Performance products (PRE and RECOVER) and Vital Proteins Vitality Immune Booster (Lemon Grape).  I used to travel almost every day, and now I’m not, and that has been a great boost to my wellness. I’m catching up on sleep, and I have more time for meditation and creative thought. I’m feeling much more grounded and focused on my wellness now.

Where are you dreaming of visiting once things are back to normal?
I can’t wait to go back to my favorite restaurants here in Miami, to enjoy a great meal and wine with friends.  I think we will all have a greater sense of gratitude and appreciation for these things, not when we return to normal, but when we return to a new normal focused on wellness and a deep appreciation for the connections we have in our lives.