Oleolive started in 2017. Let that sink in, we started nearly 6 years ago, and we are just now launching our first product, Oligen. That timeline is incredibly long in today’s nanosecond launches of startup companies. But we decided to take a path that is not often pursued and fraught with challenges we didn’t expect.
While we aren’t bootstrapped in the purest sense of the word (we have raised very low six figures of angel capital) our growth and business are now being funded through revenue generation, so we have become a bootstrapped company. This is intentional. The work we had to do to bring oleocanthal to the market takes time. Our challenge is not in bringing a new product to the market made of known ingredients, but in bringing a brand-new compound that is relatively unknown outside of the world of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. That means this project is reliant upon education and we know that takes time. Bootstrapping gives us that time.
In 2017 when we started Oleolive, we recognized what oleocanthal could become and started the journey to commercialization. Our milestones looked something like this:
- Is Oleocanthal effective for the epidemiologically indicated indications that have been passed down anecdotally for centuries?
- In order to answer this question, we wrote grants to the National Institute on Aging and the National Cancer Institute to fund research relevant to the cause.
- This research included extensive in vitro and in vivo methods that were properly designed and powered to yield significant results which were then published in respected peer reviewed journals.
- Is there a market for an oleocanthal based supplement and who are the buyers?
- Once again, this is a very tough question to answer with any certainty, but we explored the question by going to trade shows and talking to potential customers. After many months, we concluded that the appetite for an oleocanthal supplement was sufficient and would likely grow over time. Research on oleocanthal is growing every year and that lends credence to our assumption of year over year growth.
- Can we extract oleocanthal at a meaningful scale?
- This milestone started early in the company development as it was mission critical and would likely take years. That assumption was correct as it did take years to fully refine the extraction process to an efficiency that would support long term growth of the company.
Side note* Oleolive’s extraction process of Oligen is patented and completely organic.
- We started at benchtop scale where we were extracting 5 or so liters of Extra Virgin Olive Oil at a time using laboratory glassware and a lot of patience. These early-stage extractions were incredibly informative as they helped us refine nearly every step of the process and dial in ratios.
- Once the benchtop series of experiments were optimized, we began the analysis of how to scale. This was also an interesting problem. Do we contract the manufacturing out to a third party, or do we outlay the capital to build out our own facility where we can control the process beginning to end? Our decision was the latter. We believe this to be the best decision for many reasons, and may require its own blog post, but the crux of the decision was control over our final product, which is most important to us.
- Once the decision was made, we began to build out a facility that could process very large amounts of Extra Virgin Olive Oil. This took time as well but fit perfectly into the development plan.
Side note 2* Huge amounts of Extra Virgin Olive Oil are required to produce meaningful amounts of Oleocanthal. For example, in moderate quality Extra Virgin Olive Oils you can expect to find around 200 milligrams of oleocanthal per kilogram of Oil. Phrased differently, oleocanthal is .02% of the weight of Extra Virgin Olive Oil.
Side Note 3* It may seem that a TON of Extra Virgin Olive Oil is wasted in our process, however since our process is organic, the oil remains safe for human consumption and is resold as refined olive oil, which has many practical uses.
- How do we sell oleocanthal? Direct to consumer? As a bulk ingredient? Both? Once again, we landed on the latter since our goal is not to corner the market for an oleocanthal supplement, but rather have as big of an impact as possible. When you buy Oligen from us, you are buying directly from the source.
This is where our milestones end, and the journey of customer education begins. We have spent time gaining credibility by publishing research and earning the support of government institutions. That credibility is important because we cannot educate you if you don’t believe we know what we are talking about.
Now that we are near the end, I am going to answer the question that is the title of this blog…why did we chose oleocanthal? Because the data says it works. Because we all know how healthy Extra Virgin Olive Oil is but there is no way of knowing if the Oil you are consuming has any oleocanthal in it or not. Because we believe consuming oleocanthal everyday can have a major impact on long term health and if we can affect one life in a positive way then this journey has been worth it.