At Vella, women come first.

We’re scientists, business leaders and beauty industry experts, building a better, more empowered present. Where women’s sexual wellness is a must have and a must do.

Press releases

Launch press release

May 1, 2021

Launch Press Release

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Vella fundraising press release

May 1, 2021

Science Fact Sheet

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Vella seed funding press release

May 13, 2021

Seed Funding Press Release

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Media inquiries

What is Vella Bioscience, Inc.?

Vella Bioscience, Inc. is a femtech company driven to put the science in service of every woman’s sexual empowerment.

Why now?

Vella is arriving on the market at a pivotal moment, where major changes in the cultural acceptance of female sexual pleasure are happening. Vella Bioscience, Inc. is leading the charge of exemplifying that women’s sexual wellness is an integral part of women’s health, of women’s happiness, of women’s right to pleasure.

How has the booming sexual wellness market received Vella Bioscience, Inc.?

Vella Bioscience, Inc. is in its final stages of a seed II funding round that will provide a post money valuation of $50 million. This level of investment is a true testament to the market’s enthusiasm for category expansion amid an increase in consumer receptivity and the power of a science-based approach led by industry titan Dr. Padma-Nathan.

Tell me more about the Vella Bioscience Inc. core leadership.

Vella Bioscience, Inc. was formed under the vision and leadership of Chief Executive Officer Nial DeMena, who brought co-inventors and industry pioneers Dr. Harin Padma-Nathan, as Chief Scientific Officer, and Dr. Michael Frid, as Chief Product Officer, together to lead the development of Vella Women’s Pleasure Serum.

The team’s fierce commitment of putting women first and propelling a sexual empowerment movement is evident from the strong women representation in leadership. Vella Bioscience, Inc. is led by Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Carolyn Wheeler and Brand Creator and Chief Marketing Officer Bulbul Hooda, who both bring undeniable business and luxury product prowess.

The company is also bolstered by a Scientific Advisory Board and Board of Directors composed of remarkable women who are highly respected in their respective medical fields and the beauty industry, including Nicole Prause, Ph.D. and Lily Garfield.

With women at its core, Vella Bioscience, Inc. aims to break the labels and cultural limitations that have prevented women from claiming their fundamental right to sexual satisfaction.

Vella Women’s Pleasure Serum was originally sold under Manna Molecular Science. Why the formation and shift to Vella Bioscience, Inc.?

Vella Bioscience, Inc. is a spin-off of Manna Molecular Science, a research-driven company that creates cannabis and CBD transdermal patches, serums, lotions, and other modern delivery systems for specific dosing.

Upon developing the technology for what is now Vella Women’s Pleasure Serum, Manna’s leadership recognized the need to establish a company, brand and long-term product portfolio with women’s sexual wellness at its core. With a shared vision, the leaders formed Vella Bioscience Inc., a femtech company that puts science in service of good sex.

Will Vella Bioscience, Inc. be expanding its product line?

Vella Women’s Pleasure Serum is a first-to-market product and is one of the many future innovations to come from the femtech company – further strengthening the promise of sexual empowerment for all women.

Vella team

Nial C. DeMena, Co-Founder, Chief Executive Officer

Nial C. DeMena

Co-Founder, Chief Executive Officer

Nial C. DeMena

Co-Founder, Chief Executive Officer

Nial C. DeMena is co-founder and chief executive officer at Vella Bioscience.

He is a serial entrepreneur and founder, playing prominent executive roles in four companies in the cannabis space in the last six years. These businesses have raised a combined $40MM, hold a collective 14 state medical and recreational licenses, and earn in excess of $42MM in gross revenue annually.

Nial is co-founder and executive chairman at Manna Molecular Science, a Boston-based biotech company and the original developer of Vella. Under his leadership and vision, Nial oversaw the development of Vella alongside Dr. Harin Padma-Nathan and Dr. Michael Frid, and, in 2020, successfully spun-off Vella Bioscience from Manna, effectively multiplying the value of invested capital by close to 50x.

He holds a master’s degree from Virginia Tech and a bachelor’s degree from Colby College.

Nial was raised by a single mother, and is an enthusiastic supporter of women’s empowerment and a strong advocate for female-driven business leadership. He lives in Worcester, Massachusetts, with his wife Julia and their cat Ernest.

Carolyn Wheeler, Co-Founder, Chief Operating Officer

Carolyn Wheeler

Co-Founder, Chief Operating Officer

Carolyn Wheeler

Co-Founder, Chief Operating Officer

Carolyn Wheeler is co-founder and chief operating officer at Vella Bioscience.

Her interdisciplinary background encompasses design, media, and operational oversight at rapid growth stage companies, including serving as chief design officer at Manna Molecular Science. She has a record of success in collaborating with cross-disciplinary groups to execute, from concept to completion, a diverse range of projects, including consumer packaged goods, publications, exhibitions, and public built works.

Her work in critical studies has been published by Harvard University, Princeton University, & Routledge, with awards from Harvard and the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.

Carolyn has a master’s degree from Harvard University Graduate School of Design and a bachelor of arts degree from Colby College.

She is the mother to two daughters, and a proud supporter of Planned Parenthood.

Dr. Harin Padma-Nathan, MD, headshot, Co-Founder, Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Harin Padma-Nathan, MD

Co-Founder, Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Harin Padma-Nathan, MD

Co-Founder, Chief Scientific Officer

Dr. Harin Padma-Nathan is co-founder and chief scientific officer at Vella Bioscience. He, along with Dr. Michael Frid, is the co-inventor of Vella.

He is a board-certified urologist and was the lead principal investigator for Viagra and Cialis.

Dr. Padma-Nathan has published extensively, including three articles in the New England Journal of Medicine. Additionally, his research has been cited on the front pages of The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The Sunday London Times Magazine, as well as in Newsweek and People magazine.

Prior to this, he was a professor of urological surgery at the Keck School of Medicine of the University of Southern California and chief executive officer of NuRx Pharmaceuticals, a bio-pharmaceutical start-up focused on delivering retinoids and rexinoids for oncology.

Dr. Harin Padma-Nathan received his Doctor of Medicine degree from Dalhousie University, and interned at St. Michael’s Hospital at the University of Toronto. He returned to complete a surgical residency at Dalhousie University and was an AUA Scholar at Boston University, where his research was dedicated to smooth muscle physiology and pharmacology and the subsequent clinical development of pharmacologic therapies for erectile dysfunction.

Having led the development of almost a dozen products for male sexual dysfunction, Dr. Padma-Nathan felt it necessary to balance the legacy of his research and innovation, particularly after the birth of his daughter.

Bulbul Hooda headshot, Brand Creator, Chief Marketing Officer

Bulbul Hooda

Brand Creator, Chief Marketing Officer

Bulbul Hooda

Brand Creator, Chief Marketing Officer

Bulbul is brand creator and chief marketing officer at Vella Bioscience.

She has nearly 15 years of experience building & growing award-winning brands by devising their strategic positioning and creative vision along with  commercial strategies for long-term revenue growth with a strong commitment to product innovation. Over the course of her global career at powerhouses like L’Oreal, Unilever, and Shiseido, Bulbul has proven success in assessing and meeting consumer needs, engaging target demographics, and directing powerful multi-channel campaigns.

Bulbul holds an undergraduate degree from Delhi University, along with an MBA from MICA, a top business school in India, and a master’s degree in Cosmetics and Fragrance Marketing & Management from the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York.

Bulbul is a fierce advocate of diversity and inclusion. As a woman of color, raised in a military family that fostered in her a strong sense of self & individuality, she understands that the privilege of her upbringing requires her to support and uplift other women’s voices and experiences, particularly in the beauty and wellness industry.

Dr. Michael Frid headshot, Co-Founder, Chief Product Officer

Dr. Michael Frid

Co-Founder, Chief Product Officer

Dr. Michael Frid

Co-Founder, Chief Product Officer

Dr. Michael Frid is co-founder and chief product officer of Vella Bioscience, Inc. and co-inventor of Vella Women’s Pleasure Serum.

Dr. Frid is a formulation chemist with expertise in drug development, from late discovery to early clinical. He has more than 15 years of experience in pharmaceutical development, including discovery, lead optimization, lead selection and proof of concept in humans.

Formerly, Dr. Frid served as vice president of Felicitex Therapeutics, a preclinical stage Boston-based pharmaceutical company developing treatments for highly resistant, recurrent cancers. He has also served as a lead scientist at Wolfe Laboratories and Minerva Biotechnologies.

Dr. Frid holds a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a BS in chemistry cum laude from New York University.

Dr. Frid is an advocate for gender equality and meritocracy, and believes in advancing new, unorthodox approaches for the development of solutions for long-standing unmet personal wellness needs, such as female sexual wellness.

Lily Garfield headshot

Meet Lily Garfield

Lily Garfield is a beauty industry leader and pioneer, and the Founder of Cos Bar, the original multi-brand luxury beauty retailer. Lily started her career working at a Bloomingdale's beauty counter, and quickly understood the importance of prestigious selection and service. She founded Cos Bar after moving to Aspen and has grown the luxury retailer to nearly 20 stores which have become synonymous with quality, personally selected skincare and makeup from the world's finest, most esteemed collections. Lily now joins Vella as a part of the Board of Directors and will play an active role in guiding the team with her expertise and experience.

Brand assets

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Product info

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Product leaflet

Everything you need to know about the product, how it works, payoff, ingredients etc.

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What is Vella Women’s Pleasure Serum?

Vella Women’s Pleasure Serum is a first-of-its-kind pre-play topical serum that promotes more frequent, intense, and satisfying orgasms for every cis woman – whether solo or with a partner.

How does Vella work to increase arousal?

Developed by expert scientists and medical professionals with an in-depth understanding of the female sexual function, Vella works deep beyond the skin to relax vaginal and clitoral smooth muscle tissue with its proprietary nano-encapsulated CBD technology making cis women orgasm ready – no matter their age, sexual orientation or life stage.

How is this different than lubricant?

Unlike lube, Vella encourages arousal. With three pumps applied topically, it works locally to increase blood flow and engorgement for natural lubrication.

Does Vella work for every woman?

Vella works for most cis women – at any consenting age or stage of life. Whether women are experimenting to learn what they like, medication is making orgasms infrequent, or hormones are making it hard to stay wet – Vella makes every cis woman’s body orgasm ready.

Why is Vella important for women’s sexual health?

For the past century, men have had powerful medical support for their sexual wellness yet support for female sexual wellness has been viewed as too complex.

Dr. Harin Padma-Nathan, whose research led to the development of Viagra® and Cialis®, and esteemed chemist Dr. Michael Frid, saw the opportunity to simplify female sexual wellness strategies to put power over pleasure in women’s hands. The pioneer industry experts created Vella, sensual intelligence in a bottle for every cis woman.

Does it have any effect on men?

No. It does not affect men.

Is it condom compatible?

Yes! Unlike many other topical products on the market, Vella is water based which does not degrade latex or polyisoprene condoms.

How long does it take to start working?

Vella works within 15-25 minutes, and in some cases within 10 minutes, after three pumps are applied topically.

Is there THC in the product? Can it get me high?

No. Vella uses a CBD isolate meaning there is no THC or psychoactive compounds.

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