SEASON 8 EPISODE 18
sustainable plant-based supplements
Will Smelko and Ronald Chang
$375,000 for 5%
Ora Organic breathes new life in the world of supplements. Founded in 2015 by Ron Chang and Will Smelko, and Erica Bryers, Will’s wife, their original goal was to make nutrients, not supplements. The three of them created the company out of love for ethical sourcing, quality nutrition, and helping others be well.
All Ora Organic supplements are plant-based as they believe the process is more sustainable, healthier, and more ethical than supplements that use animal-based ingredients. The word Ora , in the Maori language means ‘life, health, and vitality’.
Ora’s protein powder has no added sugars, fillers, artificial colors, or preservatives. It’s also soy and gluten free and made from non-GMO sources. Not only that, but their compostable packaging contains sunflower seeds. When customers throw the box in the garden, the box breaks down and sunflowers grow in its place.
Chang, Smelko, and Bryers wanted to create supplements based from natural ingredients, such as fruits and vegetables. They realized that other companies were bottling synthetic chemicals and animal-based ingredients that weren’t necessarily healthy for consumption. On top of that, other supplement companies use unsustainable packaging that negatively impacts the environment and doesn’t break down.
Ron Chang, a chef and flavor matchmaker, combines ingredients for the best combination of nutrients. One example is the turmeric pills with black pepper. Curcumin, an element to turmeric has strong antibacterial anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and antioxident properties, but isn’t absorbed that well in the body. Piperine, the active ingredient in black pepper, increases the bioavailability of Curcurmin by 2,000%.
Ora Organic started exhibiting in the fall of 2016 with the Natural Products Expo East before growing 400% in 2017. In 2017, Ora Organic won the NBJ Small Company Growth Award. In 10 months into the business, they had $415,000 in sales and already had a $150,000 investment at a $2.2 million valuation
Ora Organic aired on the Shark Tank on February 24th, 2017. Will and Ronald asked for $375,000 with a 5% stake. One of the sharks mentioned that he wasn’t into the supplement business and that he was out. Another shark didn’t like the valuation offered and thought the two founders were unrealistic, while a third thought they were going into the food business and licensing to food companies, which meant he was out.
A fourth shark liked the products, but not the packaging, while Kevin didn’t like the valuation either, but for a different reason. Kevin asked for 20% stake, and then 17%, but the two founders didn’t want to give up that much equity, so they left without a deal.
Ora Organic After Shark Tank
Ora Organic may have left the Shark Tank without a deal, but luckily for them, there were several investors watching that particular episode. They were willing to work more closely with Ora’s investment desires, particularly those who understood supplements, sustainable farming, as well as organic nutrition. Their email list grew seven times after the episode aired and they had their best month ever with three times more sales.
As of 2018, Ora is valued at about $10 million, and since appearing on Shark Tank, Ora Organics has won two NEXTY awards at the Natural Products Expos.Buy on Amazon Visit the Ora Organic website