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Two brothers enter the multi-billion dollar antacid market with their new start-up

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Austin-based brothers Lucas and Noah Kraft have an ambitious vision to create cleaner, healthier medicines for your gut. They start with one of the most common over-the-counter medications: Tums, or antacids.

miracle belly, their new startup, is launching today with the first of their offerings — a non-GMO antacid made without talc, dyes, and other unnecessary chemicals. However, it’s just the beginning for the duo, who plan to release a range of over-the-counter digestive medications.

Lucas Kraft, now 31, has a personal connection to the company. He battled an eating disorder for more than a decade, which led to him developing GERD and Barrett’s esophagus, both of which he had to remedy with antacid medications. After consulting dozens of gastroenterologists, he felt alone and unrested on this journey, he says. “Some doctors are more empathetic than others. But for the most part, they can’t do much more for you than prescribe antacids. Not much information is given either. So I realized I had to do this on my own and educate myself.”

It’s been about five years since his diagnosis of Barrett’s esophagus, a condition that results in the formation of precancerous cells in the throat. Fortunately, Lucas has been able to keep it at bay and is showing signs of improvement. But it cost one thing: bottles of food and bottles of antacids, namely Tums.

That prompted him to do some research on the multi-billion dollar antacid market† Not only is it dated with little innovation, it can also contain some unhealthy ingredients hidden in the formulations, such as talc. “I was aware of the Johnson and Johnson case regarding talc and knew it could cause cancer. So I didn’t want to eat that for the rest of my life,” Lucas says.

In 2020, he saw that the stress of the pandemic was causing more people to experience acid reflux and digestive problems, including a relapse in his own condition. So he turned to older brother, Noah, with the idea of ​​a company that would remove the problematic ingredients in common digestive medications.

“If you think about it, this is an industry that hasn’t changed much in a long time. So not only was the idea a good one, and I’m glad it would help people like my brother, but it also made sense from a business perspective. People don’t want to talk about these issues in public. And we’re here to change that,” Noah says.

They went to the same manufacturer that makes America’s leading antacids and asked for a cleaner product. They were told no. And when they demanded it was non-GMO, they were laughed at. But the two persevered and defied expectations. “We were actually told it can’t be done,” says Noah. “Yet here we are with a non-GMO antacid.”

The same provision is applied to the packaging. Since they have to take into account the FDA regulations and a large number of guidelines, they could not just choose an environmentally friendly alternative to plastic. “Paper definitely wouldn’t pass the moisture test,” jokes Noah.

So they chose aluminum cans that can be easily recycled. “As you walk down the aisle, you realize that everything is wrapped in plastic. We didn’t want to be a part of that. It’s literally thousands of containers of plastic, and that doesn’t even include prescription drugs,” added Noah.

They are plastic-free and the shipping packaging used to ship the products is made from recycled paper.

To build this new business, Kraft departments also consulted multiple experts and brought on board many, from renowned gastroenterologists to the former head of a leading herbal supplement brand to Johanna Hunter, a pharmaceutical industry veteran who serves as their VP of Product and Production.

“We were very clear that we wanted to create a product that was as effective as its conventional counterpart, and to do that we needed experts to help us do that,” says Lucas. “I have tried many of the natural alternatives on the market. And unfortunately they don’t work that well. So we’re launching a product that we know is just as good and effective, but we’re open to adding more natural ingredients.”

While for Lucas this was a personal health journey that led him to start Wonderbelly, for his brother and many others, reflux and heartburn are weekly ailments that Lucas says are growing among millennials. “Spicy food has become very popular, and then there is stress. I don’t have to tell you that. We all have that in our lives. So a lot of younger people are dealing with it now, compared to the past.”

And that’s what they want to emphasize with their marketing: bowel disorders are not taboo, especially when so many Americans experience them. They have launched a blog on their website, aptly titled “Guts and Butts,” which is defined as “a community that isn’t afraid to talk about the hard shit.”

Noah hopes Wonderbelly is to antacids what Casper was to mattresses, or Warby Parker to eyewear — direct-to-consumer brands that have changed the image of otherwise static industries. While they hope to one day sit side by side with conventional OTC brands at retailers across America, they are starting with the direct-to-consumer model to better connect with their customers.

Although their product is more expensive, it’s the ingredients, explains Noah, that force them to price it higher: “When the big brands look at the cost, they talk about a penny difference, or even a cent. Because it’s a game to the bottom and who can make it the cheapest. It’s about the ingredients and the impact for us, so we’re looking at an extra dollar instead of a few cents, for example.”

And they think it’s worth the extra expense, especially for something that’s routinely taken. Wonderbelly comes in three flavors, which Lucas attests to be far tastier than any other antacid on the market. Noah hopes that in the future, these will be easier to find where heartburn starts — at your favorite taco stand or burger joint.

“Again, it’s about normalizing these problems,” he repeats.

We know that heartburn and reflux occurs. But are we ready to talk about it as a society? Wonderbelly strives to start that conversation.

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