Stemtech International Review: Stem cell nutrition
When I think stem cells I envisage dark and mysterious research labs slaving away to perfect cloning techniques so that we can grow our own body parts from existing body cells.
Ultimately the goal appears to be to develop rejuvenating cells that can be grown to replace failing organs. For more information, we turn to Wikipedia;
Stem cells are biological cells found in all multicellular organisms, that can divide (through mitosis) and differentiate into diverse specialized cell types and can self-renew to produce more stem cells.
In adult organisms, stem cells and progenitor cells act as a repair system for the body, replenishing adult tissues.
Pluripotent adult stem cells are rare and generally small in number but can be found in a number of tissues including umbilical cord blood.
Bone marrow has been found to be one of the rich sources of adult stem cells which have been used in treating several conditions including Spinal cord injury, Liver Cirrhosis, Chronic Limb Ischemia and Endstage heart failure.
Now I’m not a doctor but, being cells of the body I’d have thought stem cells would replenish themselves within the usual nutritional avenues made available to the rest of the body’s cells.
Turns out that whilst that might be true, there’s one company who believes there’s still room for improvement. Enter Stemtech International with their patented brand of ‘one-of-a-kind stem cell nutrition products’.
Read on for a full review of the Stemtech MLM business opportunity.
Stemtech International was founded in 2005 by Christian Drapeau and Ray Carter (photo right) and operates out of the state of California in the US.
According to the company, Stemtech came about after years of research into freshwater plant “Aphanizomenon flos-aquae” (AFA) and its consumption leading to our bodies ‘naturally releasing more stem cells‘.
Drapeau now serves as Stemtech’s Chief Science Office and didn’t have a history in MLM prior to the company’s launch. Drapeau’s company bio states he is a ‘research scientist and neurophysiologist‘ with ‘more than 15 years of research experience in the fields of natural foods and nutrition‘.
Ray Carter on the otherhand serves as CEO and President of Stemtech and is credited as having ‘more than 20 years of experience in direct sales and marketing‘.
Prior to the launch of Stemtech, the only information MLM wise I was able to tie to Carter was his involvement in Amway as a distributor.
The Stemtech Product Line
Stemtech claim that their products target adult stem cells and are ‘designed to support your body’s adult stem cell physiology‘. Within the stem cell nutrition niche, Stemtech offer a variety of products they claim are ‘composed of natural botanicals and other ingredients that have been clinically documented to support the performance of your own stem cells‘.
StemEnhance is Stemtech’s flagship product, with the company billing it as being ‘the world’s first all-natural supplement documented to support the natural release of adult stem cells from the bone marrow‘.
StemEnhance is made from ‘a patented all-natural concentrate of an edible aquatic botanical known as Aphanizomenon Flos-aquae (AFA) that includes naturally-occurring Mobilin‘.
Stemtech claim that StemEnhance can increase ‘the number of circulating adult stem cells by approximately 3-4 million‘.
StemEnhance features on the Stemtech website as the company’s flagship product but doesn’t appear to be for sale (at least in the US). I was unable to find any pricing on it.
SE2 is also billed as ‘the world’s first ALL-NATURAL supplement documented to support the release of adult stem cells from bone marrow‘.
Stemtech claim SE2 ‘helps the body maintain and repair tissue and organs‘ via a “patent-pending, proprietary formula” that ‘releases millions of stem cells in the bloodstream‘.
Apart from being listed as an “advanced formula”, I’m not entirely sure how SE2 differs from StemEnhance.
SE2 comes in a monthly supply bottle and retails for $63.95.
Targeting the flow of adult stem cells, Stemtech state that StemFlo ‘is a cutting-edge mixture of antioxidants and special enzymes that support optimal blood flow, even to the smallest capillaries‘.
StemFlo comes in a monthly supply bottle and retails for $59.95.
ST-5 with MigraStem
Offered as a “proprietary blend of plant-based ingredients” nutritional supplement, St-5 with MigraStem ‘provides all the balanced daily nutrition you need for optimal health (via) vitamins, minerals, high quality protein, enzymes and fiber‘.
ST-5 with Migrastem comes in a monthly supply bottle and retails for $59.95.
Combining StemEnhance and StemFlo, StemSport is designed to help “bodily renewal” by ‘increasing your circulating adult stem cell count and impacting your speed of recovery‘ as a result of participation in ‘activity and sport‘.
StemSport comes in a monthly supply bottle and retails for $129.95.
Similar to what StemEnhance does nutritionally for adult stem cells, StemPets is a ‘patented stem cell enhancer for pets which have been specially formulated for the needs of small to medium-sized domesticated animals‘.
StemPets comes in a monthly supply bottle and retails for $39.95.
I don’t know why horses aren’t considered pets (perhaps because they fall outside of being “small to medium-sized”), but StemEquine is ‘the world’s first and only all-natural stem cell enhancer‘ specifically formulated for horses.
StemEquine comes in a monthly supply bottle and retails for $39.95.
DermaStem is an oil based product that ‘ includes dozens of natural ingredients that rejuvenate the skin as they fight oxidative stress and the signs of premature aging’.
Stemtech claims ‘just one or two pumps of the mocha-hued fusion of natural oils applied to delicate areas of the face increase firmness, elasticity and tone‘.
DermaStem is sold as a serum and retails for $130.
The Stemtech International Compensation Plan
The Stemtech compensation plan pays out affiliates a series of commissions and bonuses using a unilevel compensation structure. Added to this are various membership levels, a car bonus and the potential for retail sales commissions.
Stemtech Membership Levels
Within the Stemtech compensation plan there are five membership levels, with each being used to rank a member within certain components of the compensation plan.
PV is personal volume and includes personally generated sales volume (including autoship). GV is group volume and includes downline generated sales volume (including autoship).
Along with their qualification requirements, the Stemtech membership ranks are as follows:
- Associate – 100 PV a month
- Supervisor – 100 PV and 250 GV a month
- Manager – 100 PV and 1000 GV a month
- Senior Manager – 100 PV and 2500 GV a month
- Director – 100 PV and 2500 GV a month
Retail commissions are defined within the Stemtech compensation plan as company affiliates ‘buying (products) from the company at wholesale prices and selling (them) retail to (their customers)‘.
Stemtech state that ‘the percentage of retail profit differs from country to country‘, with the provided figures ranging from 5% at the “Supervisor” membership level, to 20% at the “Director” membership level.
Residual Commissions (referred to as the “autoship program”) in StemTech are paid out using a unilevel commissions structure.
A unilevel structure places an affiliate a the top with every directly recruited affiliate under them (forming their level 1). Any new affiliates their level 1 recruit form their level 2 and so on and so forth.
Using this commissions structure, Stemtech offer a monthly residual commission when ‘a retail-direct customer or Distributor in (an affiliate’s) organization purchases products on the monthly Autoship program‘.
There are six levels within the Autoship Program and along with their qualification requirements, are as follows:
- Level 1 (recruit one customer or affiliate on monthly autoship and $50 in personally generated autoship orders) – 7% on levels 1 to 3
- Level 2 (recruit three customers or affiliates on monthly autoship, $100 in personally generated autoship orders and be generating 1000 BV through your unilevel team) – 7% on levels 1 to 5
- Level 3 (recruit five customers or affiliates on monthly autoship, $200 in personally generated autoship orders and be generating 5000 BV through your unilevel team) – 7% on levels 1 to 7
- Level 4 (recruit seven customers or affiliates on monthly autoship, $200 in personally generated autoship orders and be generating 50,000 BV through your unilevel team) – 7% on levels 1 to 7 and 1% on all other levels under that
- Level 5 (recruit ten customers or affiliates on monthly autoship, $200 in personally generated autoship orders and be generating 100,000 BV through your unilevel team) – 7% on levels 1 to 7, 1% on level 8 and 2% down all levels under that
- Level 6 (recruit ten customers or affiliates on monthly autoship, $200 in personally generated autoship orders and be generating 250,000 BV through your unilevel team) – 7% on levels 1 to 7, 1% on level 8, 2% on level 9 and 3% on all other levels under that
Note that for unilevel team BV qualifiers, up to 50% of the required BV can originate from any one unilevel downline leg (someone you’ve recruited and their subsequent downline).
Fast Start Bonuses
Fast Start Bonuses are paid upon the recruitment of new Stemtech affiliates who sign up purchasing a ‘FastStart Pack’ ($299).
Stemtech’s Fast Start Bonus is paid out as follows:
- $50 to the recruiting affiliate
- $25 to the first qualified “Director” affiliate in the upline
Note that if the recruiting affiliate is at the Director membership level, they earn the full $75 Fast Start Bonus.
The Stemtech compensation plan material also states ‘larger bonuses are also available on Leadership Pack purchases by personally enrolled downline. In looking at the signup options for new Stemtech affiliates, these “leadership packs” range in price from $900 – $3000.
I couldn’t find any information indicating what the Fast Start Bonus payouts are upon new members joining and purchasing a Leadership Pack.
Stemtech does state that the Fast Start Bonus ‘amounts are based on 50% and 25% of BV‘ generated by the sale of Fast Start Packs, but do not mention how much BV each pack generates.
Dubbed the ‘Fast Start Bonus Pool’, Stemtech put ‘10% of the total BV of all FastStart Packs sold globally during (a) calendar month‘ into a commissions pool.
Affiliates earn ‘one share of the pool for every five new Distributors you personally enroll during the calendar month with a FastStart or Leadership Pack purchase‘.
The Teambuilder Bonus isn’t presented all that well in the Stemtech compensation plan documentation and seems to incorporate one too many components under the one bonus.
As I understand it the $50 blue circle is referencing the Fast Start Bonus as described above.
The purple circle is the Teambuilder Bonus, which is paid out after an affiliate recruits three new affiliates who purchase a Fast Start Pack and signs up for a monthly autoship order.
These three affiliates count as the recruiting affiliate’s “Foundation Team”, with payments of $80 then being paid out. This Foundation Team has to be locked in within 8 weeks of a new affiliate joining Stemtech.
The recruiting affiliate also earns this $80 Teambuilder Bonus on the first three affiliates their “Foundation Team” recruit who purchase a Fast Start Bonus and sign up with autoship.
This is described as being paid out ‘down all levels 3×3‘ but being a unilevel compensation structure, exactly what this encompasses is ambiguous (3 levels down on the Foundation Team or 3 wide and 3 down?).
Finally the red circle is the Teambuilder Matching Bonus and kicks in once five new Fast Start Pack with autoship affiliates have been recruited.
The Matching bonus is paid out at 50% of all $80 TeamBuilder bonuses an affiliate’s Foundation Team (the three initially recruited members) earn.
New Director Pacesetter Pool
The New Director Pacesetter Pool is made up of ‘12.5% of the total BV of all FastStart Packs sold globally during the calendar month’.
New affiliates are able to earn a share in this pool by enrolling as a new affiliate, purchasing a Fast Start Pack and signing up for autoship, qualifying as a Distributor by the end of the month following the month you joined (if you joined in May you have until the end of June to qualify), recruiting at least 5 new affiliates who purchase Fast Start Packs themselves, have ten personally recruited retail customers or affiliates in your downline.
For each share an affiliate qualifies for, their direct upline also qualifies for half a share. Payouts of shares are capped at $3000 per share ($15000 per half-share).
Step Up Program Commissions
Stemtech’s Step Up Program is a generation bonus that rewards affiliates for having ‘Director’ level affiliates in their downline.
Within the Step Up Program, each unilevel lineage leg is treated independently, with a generation defined as a Director qualified member being in a particular leg. The first found Director in a leg is your first generation, the second found Director your second generation and so on and so forth.
Using this commissions structure, there are ten ranks within the Step Up Program and along with their qualifications and payouts, they are as follows:
- Director – 2.5% on first generation Directors
- Senior Director (1 Director qualified unilevel leg) – 5% on first Director generations
- Executive Director (2 Director qualified unilevel legs) – 5% on two Director generations
- Sapphire Director (5000 GV and 3 Director qualified unilevel legs) – 5% on three Director generations
- Ruby Director (10,000 GV and 4 Director qualified unilevel legs or 20,000 GV and 3 Director qualified unilevel legs) – 5% on four Director generations
- Diamond Director (15,000 GV and 5 Director qualified unilevel legs or 30,000 GV and 3 Director qualified unilevel legs) – 5% on five Director generations
- Double Diamond Director (25,000 GV and 6 Director qualified unilevel legs or 50,000 GV and 3 Director qualified unilevel legs) – 5% on six Director generations
- Triple Diamond Director (50,000 GV and 7 Director qualified unilevel legs or 100,000 GV and 3 Director qualified unilevel legs) – 5% on six Director generations and 1% on all generations thereafter
- President’s Club (at least 10 Director qualified unilevel legs (3 of which must be Triple Diamond Director qualified or higher) or 250,000 GV and at least three Triple Diamond Director or higher qualified legs) – 5% on six Director generations, 1% on generation seven and 2% on all generations thereafter
- Chairman’s Club (at least 10 Director qualified unilevel legs (5 of which must be Triple Diamond Director qualified or higher) or 500,000 GV and at least three President’s Club or higher qualified unilevel legs) – 5% on six Director generations, 1% on generation seven, 2% on generation 8 and 3% on all generations thereafter
Stemtech’s Car Bonus is paid out on four levels at up to $1200 a month total.
- $300 a month – 10 personally recruited customers or affiliates, 25 affiliates or more on level 2 of your unilevel organisation and 75 affiliates or more on level 3 of your unilevel organisation, generating 10,000 BV a month via autoship
- $600 a month – 20 personally recruited customers or affiliates, 50 affiliates or more on level 2 of your unilevel organisation and 125 affiliates or more on level 3 of your unilevel organisation, generating 12,500 BV a month via autoship
- $900 a month – 20 personally recruited customers or affiliates, 50 affiliates or more on level 2 of your unilevel organisation and 250 affiliates or more on level 3 of your unilevel organisation generating 25,000 BV a month via autoship
- $1200 a month – 20 personally recruited customers or affiliates, 50 affiliates or more on level 2 of your unilevel organisation and 400 affiliates or more on level 3 of your unilevel organisation generating 40,000 BV a month via autoship
Note that organisation BV counts from the third level of your unilevel only and that no more than 50% of the total BV can come from any one unilevel leg.
Joining Stemtech International
Basic affiliate membership to Stemtech International starts at $35.
Much of the Stemtech compensation plan however encourages new affiliates to purchase what are called “Fast Start Packs”. These packs range in price from $299 to $3000.
Product wise I don’t know all much about stem cells or stem cell nutrition so I can only take Stemtech at their word when it comes to their products doing what they say they do.
That said I will point out that marketing wise Stemtech International affiliates might be in for a challenge as stem cell health isn’t something most people would normally think about and pay money for supplements to address.
Let alone for their pet dogs and horses too.
Additionally stem cell health in general isn’t really something that can be measured either. It’s not a like a headache or sore back where you can feel something is wrong. Given this, I’d suggest the niche market for stem cell nutrition would be quite small.
Product range wise there’s a series of products built around the stem cell nutrition niche however there’s a slight problem in how Stemtech define retail sales within their compensation plan.
In defining retail sales as affiliates
buying (products) from the company at wholesale prices and selling (them) retail to (their customers),
Stemtech would appear to require members to purchase product directly themselves before they can sell it. With members buying product from Stemtech at wholesale price before selling it, this creates a disconnect between the retail side of things (at the affiliate level) and company sales (which would count as being 100% wholesale or internal purchases).
What’s even more worrying is that it appears that at the basic ‘Affiliate’ membership level, retail commissions aren’t even payable:
When analysing heavy internal purchasing it’s important to take into consideration the intent behind the internal (affiliate) purchasing of product.
Quite clearly in the Stemtech compensation plan there’s a heavy stacking towards signing new affiliates up, getting them to purchase a Fast Start Pack and signing them up on monthly autoship.
Commissions wise, the entire unilevel residual commissions only pays out on autoship orders, the TeamBuilder Bonus requires autoship and so does the Car Bonus.
Meanwhile what’s left of the commissions are all recruitment based in one way or another. Out of these the ‘Fast Start Bonus Pool’ pretty much allows members to sign up and earn a share in a pool for every five new members they sign up.
With the pool being funded exclusively from the revenue generated by the signing up of members required to qualify (the pool is funded by Fast Start Pack purchases made by new affiliates, with existing affiliates needing to sign up these new affiliates to qualify for shares in the pool), this raises some strong questions about the pyramid like nature of the Fast Start Bonus Pool, what’s required to qualify for it and how it is paid out.
Underscoring all of this is the company’s encouragement for new affiliates to join up, buy a Fast Start Pack, qualify for the Distributor membership level as soon as possible and then encourage their downline to do the same.
Overall, retail sales seems to be a very small part of the Stemtech opportunity and compensation plan focus in general.
For any new members considering the Stemtech International MLM opportunity, apart from trying the products first yourself (although how you’d measure their effectiveness is beyond me), note how the opportunity is being marketed to you.
If there’s little to no attention paid to the retail side of things and the Stemtech affiliate you’re in contact with seems all to eager to sign you up with a Fast Start Pack and place you on autoship, you might very well consider that will become your focus should you join the company.
Overall I see Stemtech as having a decent enough, if not limited in potential, product line with some worryingly shaky aspects of their compensation plan. These aspects definitely need further work applied to them if Stemtech was to steer clear of potential pyramid scheme territory.
As it stands right now there’s nothing stopping me from treating it as a $299 a pop + autoship pyramid scheme and that in itself is worrying, if not indicative of what’s involved in working Stemtech International as a business opportunity and more importantly, being succesful at it.
Update 4th February 2017 – On February 2nd, 2017, StemTech filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.