Interested in starting your own entrepreneurial journey in food and beverage but unsure what to expect? Then read up on our interview with Ioannis Varellas, Founder and CEO of Olyra Foods, located in Wilmington, DE, USA.

What's your business, and who are your customers?

Olyra, are the first organic and nutritious breakfast biscuits. Made of 4 Ancient Greek Grains (Spelt, Oat, Lupine & Barley), each pack offers 5 grams of protein, 4 grams of fibers, and only 6 grams of sugars and provides sustained energy with organic and simple ingredients!

Our customers are aspirational and actively health-conscious individuals who are always on the lookout for healthier snack alternatives—active, busy parents, travelers, and knowledge-seeking consumers. We have worked hard to offer a product that promotes a balanced lifestyle. It is very important to us to give our customers a tasteful, good-for-them snack that is convenient and gives them a balanced lifestyle, one that balances their personal and professional life, and admire brands that go beyond their product!

Tell us about yourself

I come from a 5-generation flour mill family business in Greece. We have been farming and milling grains for over a century. Moreover, I studied chemical engineering, so I immersed myself in the study of nutrition and formulations. I decided to utilize our family's know-how on quality ingredients, along with my scientific background, to create products that serve our end customers.

Seeing our team's hard work pay off is what motivates me every day. For the past four years, we have worked hard to deliver a product that is uniquely positioned to give our customers a snack that is tasteful, good for them, and convenient to accommodate their busy yet balanced lifestyle.

What's your biggest accomplishment as a business owner?

Seeing our products hit the shelves 3 years after the idea was generated was our first important accomplishment. Another critical accomplishment was when I managed to raise money from angel investors. Raising money at a very early stage was about convincing investors that you can make things happen and you have the skills to grow and scale your business. At that moment, they were not investing in the product or the brand, but they were investing in me.

What's one of the hardest things that comes with being a business owner?

Be fair to your team and be there when they need your advice. Also, have private quality time for yourself to do the things that give you the strength to keep going.

What are the top tips you'd give to anyone looking to start, run and grow a business today?

  1. Be passionate and determined - Be passionate about what you do. The only way of making things happen is to overcome (many) obstacles that you will meet along the way.
  2. Be inspirational and visionary - To inspire people. Create a team of people that enjoy working with each other and share a common vision.
  3. Be curious and humble - "I know that I know nothing" is a saying derived from Plato's account of the Greek philosopher Socrates. I believe a good CEO should be curious and open to learning new things every day.

Where can people find you and your business?


If you like what you've read here and have your own story as a solo or small business entrepreneur that you'd like to share, then please answer these interview questions. We'd love to feature your journey on these pages.

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