BeeAlive is probably the largest and most reputable supplier of Royal Jelly supplements in the US, and maybe the world. I recently did a review on three of their products, and have always been a fan of the company. I’ve always considered Royal Jelly one of the most remarkable foods, and try to consume RJ regularly in one form or another.
The company itself has grown from a mom-and-pop operation about thirty years ago to one that has worldwide distribution and does about 10 million in gross annual sales. So the opportunity to interview the CEO of the company Jason Balletta was an exciting opportunity for me.
Here he answers questions about how the company started, its growth process, and advice for other aspiring entrepreneurs.
1 – How did your company get started?
Almost 30 years ago, a close family friend gave my mother, Madeline Balletta, a product called Royal Jelly. Royal Jelly made such a positive impact on her life that she wanted to share it with all of her family and friends. Soon, they too began to notice great results and experience the energizing benefits of Royal Jelly. So, in 1984, Madeline started her own company – and BeeAlive was born! Madeline dedicated her life to learning as much as possible about nutrition long before it was “trendy.” She truly wanted to encourage others to experience the benefits of Royal Jelly and to discover how a nutritious diet could lead to a healthier and more abundant life.
2 – How many employees do you have today? What are your gross sales?
Currently, we have 75 employees working at our headquarters, “The Hive,” and in our distribution warehouse. Our annual sales are $8 to $10 million.
3 – What’s been the biggest obstacle you’ve had to overcome to get from where you started to where you are?
We recently took on the challenge of revamping our brand to appeal to a younger audience and secure the next generation of customers. For years, our audience has been the same age as my mother – the “baby boomers.” Since she retired from the company, we have redirected our branding to appeal to the next generation, while retaining our valuable present customer base. It’s been a very exciting and worthwhile process.
4 – What’s the one mistake you wish you could have avoided?
As a nationally known company that has been direct-to-consumer for nearly 30 years, I do wish we had entered the retail arena earlier than we did. However – what is it they say? – ‘Everything happens for a reason.’ In 2012, we made the decision to expand BeeAlive products to retail. It has been an ongoing learning process, but we are very optimistic about our future.
5 – What distinguishes your Royal Jelly from your competitors?
BeeAlive’s Royal Jelly is fresh, never freeze-dried. Scientific research has shown that the process of freeze-drying removes a significant amount of moisture from Royal Jelly, reducing it to a crystallized powder and compromising its quality; whenever you remove the moisture content from something, you clearly change its overall composition. Our fresh, non freeze-dried Royal Jelly is straight from the hive, the way nature intended. At BeeAlive, we take great pride in our quality control, as well as demand for perfection in all of our departments, to ensure the finest Royal Jelly.
6 – How do you source it? You say you source Royal Jelly from Thailand? Why is this superior?
Since proper handling and storage of Royal Jelly during and after harvesting is essential, we only work with professionals who are experts in bee keeping and understand Royal Jelly’s precious and fragile composition. BeeAlive purchases only recently-harvested Royal Jelly from a premier supplier in Chiang Mai, Thailand, one of the greatest places on Earth from which to harvest Royal Jelly. Thai Royal Jelly is strictly controlled and tested to ensure only superior quality.
7 – What are the challenges in sourcing fresh Royal Jelly? (As opposed to freeze-dried). How does it affect costs? How do you prevent degradation since you use fresh Royal Jelly?
Because non freeze-dried Royal Jelly is not dried out during a freeze-drying process, it maintains a high moisture content. Therefore, it takes longer for our most popular, BeeAlive Feel Good Formula Royal Jelly capsules, to dry. Our manufacturers have to carefully dry the capsules under optimal conditions and controlled temperatures for a lengthy period before they are ready to be packaged. This is not a quick, simple or inexpensive task, but we are committed to taking all measures that ensure our Royal Jelly is top quality.
8 – What do you recommend for a daily dosage of Royal Jelly? Why?
The most important thing about taking Royal Jelly is to take is to try to remember to take it every day consistently. It is a natural food substance that can take time to work optimally in your body. Some people notice a difference in their energy level more quickly whereas others may take a little longer. This is why we suggest a three month supply of Royal Jelly - to give you the best opportunity to optimize Royal Jelly benefits through consistent use of the product.
9 – Do you manufacture your products in-house or is it outsourced?
While we work with well-known manufacturers to ensure superior quality products, a majority of our operations are in-house; we fill, package and store BeeAlive products at our very own distribution center located a few miles from our headquarters. We are a largely self-sufficient company.
10 – What are your next goals for the company?
It is BeeAlive goal to reach a younger generation and gain a greater position in the national retail arena, as well as to promote our products outside the United States in international markets. We are eager to share BeeAlive with the global community. And most importantly BeeAlive main goal has always been to help people physically, spiritually and financially through our message, education and unwavering commitment to provide the best products in the marketplace.
11 – What is your favorite BeeAlive product and why?
It’s tough to narrow it down to just one! We offer four different forms of Royal Jelly to satisfy all tastes – I love Pure & Natural Queen’s Royale for a high-potency punch in my smoothies, Sweet Energy Formula for the kids’ and my sweet tooth, and Feel Good Formula capsules when I’m on the go; I must say, however, that I am most excited about BeeAlive Energy SERJ, not only because I am the father of active three-year-old triplets and can always use a surge of energy, but also because it’s a great product for younger generations frequently on the go and in need of a healthy boost of energy. Unlike harmful energy drinks, BeeAlive Energy SERJ contains no caffeine!
13 – What advice do you have for other aspiring entrepreneurs in the health food industry?
Stick to your vision, adhere to your brand’s values and to keep following your dreams!