TechCrunch Disrupt 2019 attracted thousands of technology startups and companies. While many demoed AI powered solutions and machine-learning algorithms in startup alley, OLEO, Inc., a leading Seattle-based CBD drink mix company, provided attendees with numerous samples of CBD enriched water.
“Given OLEO’s unique mix of food technology and branding, it was the perfect fit for the health-tech section of TechCrunch Disrupt’s startup alley. We had our booth setup to provide tasting samples on site, as well as to hand out samples of on-the-go packets for people to enjoy. Reactions were overwhelmingly positive, and we were excited to share the benefits of OLEO with so many visitors at the event,” Skyler Bissell, OLEO’s co-founder and CEO, told Grit Daily.
Prior to exhibiting at TechCrunch Disrupt this year, OLEO secured $1.5 million in funding from angel and small intuitional investors, including Seattle’s Alliance of Angels and San Francisco-based Uniwell Ventures. The company has raised a total of $2.65 million in funding to date.
According Bissell, another funding round is planned for 2020, which is aimed at accelerating the company’s expansion through product innovation, strategic new hires and facility improvements.
“Given the close of our funding round in August, we’re very focused on execution and driving the business forward. This means key hires, continuing to grow sales, and preparing for future fundraising in 2020.”
Understanding CBD And Health-Tech
Both technology and health benefits have played a large part in designing OLEO, which uses proprietary and patent-pending micro-encapsulation technology. This allows OLEO to convert 100% THC-free, pure CBD into a water-soluble, taste-free powder. The micro-encapsulation process also removes the bitter hemp aftertaste associated with CBD, allowing OLEO to offer a variety of drink mixes like coconut, three flavors of rooibos tea and an original mix, which is a flavorless CBD boost.
Yet while the taste and benefits of OLEO drink mixes appeal to their consumers, Bissell noted that there is still a lack of education when it comes to terminology and the health benefits that CBD can provide. For instance, hemp CBD is often associated with recreational or medical marijuana. In turn, there is a challenge to raise awareness of the recovery benefits CDB can provide.
“The main challenge is simply consumer education on the terminology and difference between hemp CBD and recreational or medical marijuana. We find that many people still don’t know that CBD is non-intoxicating and can be used as a part of a fitness routine or any time of day, therefore our biggest effort is person to person education and explaining of the ways OLEO and CBD in general can play a part in someone’s active lifestyle,” Bissel said.
While this may be the case, statistics show that the growth of the cannabis industry is being fueled by product innovations, such as CBD-infused beverages like OLEO. According to Zenith Global, the U.S. cannabis-infused drinks market will reach an estimated $1.4 billion by 2023. As a result, there has become increased interest from both investors and consumers for CBD-infused drinks, even though some remain skeptical.
“Our investors, many of whom are based in OLEO’s home in the Pacific Northwest, are excited to invest in not only an emerging brand setting the industry standard for quality and taste, but to also influence the CBD industry, which is the most rapidly growing consumer products segment in North America. OLEO is excited to announce several big product launches in the coming year,” Bissel said.