Dr. Asli Tanugur Samanci is the CEO and Founder of BEE & YOU, a provider of natural bee products.
A food scientist committed to creating natural and healthy products for the educated consumer, Dr. Samanci is a pioneer to combine science and nature for safer, more effective natural bee products. She created a business modal to contract the beekeepers to prevent bees from becoming extinct. This also allowed her to create and patent the Propolis in its healthiest, most natural, and safe form.
Q: What would you like to see your team accomplish in 2020?
In 2020, we will concentrate more on R&D studies and continue to develop new natural, innovative, and value-added bee products. We aim to reach more customers in the US and other countries by telling them the health benefits of propolis and other valuable bee products.
We believe that we can grow our brand by increasing awareness of the customers for 100% natural and environmentally friendly bee products to improve their health. Our goal is to contribute to nature through precious pollination effect of bees on plants, by promoting beekeepers through our contract-based business model, while providing healthy and nutritious bee products to our customers.
Q: What were the most challenging areas in the early stages of the company’s growth?
We began our journey as a start-up company in the technology development area of Istanbul Technical University. We did appreciate many privileges provided to start-ups such as business training, allocation of space, and eligibility for project funds from the state resources for a specified period.
However, the biggest challenge was all about our unique product, propolis. In those days, the beekeepers did not harvest propolis from their hives as there was no market for this local product in the country. Therefore, we were supposed to develop a business model to gain their attention for producing this valuable product for us.
The first time in our region, we offered contract-based agreements to the beekeepers with a purchasing warranty of their products on a fixed annual price. It was very challenging to convince them that this model will work. In the beginning, we started organizing many seminars and giving briefings to them in various locations, and eventually we could start with about a hundred beekeepers who would provide us good quality of propolis. This business model allows the production agreements signed directly by the beekeepers without the middlemen or distributors.
Today, we are so proud that we have agreements with more than 2,000 beekeepers who are very satisfied with doing business with our company, with a total of 350,000 beehives in Turkey.
Q: Who is your role model or hero?
Q: What is your favorite book?
The end of illness by Dr.David B.Agus.
Q: Do you use any specific method or system to run daily operations?
Our business system is based on many subfunctions on a daily run. Raw material supply and quality testing are crucial for us as harvesting time of bee products extends from early May to late November, depending on the regions. It is vital to follow up with the practices of beekeepers and harvest time in the field through our apiculture experts and analyze the quality of the products.
Research and development activities are carried out daily as our most significant difference relies on scientific facts and data. Our sales operations are divided into two functions; domestic sales and exports. Our sales function includes on-line channels and pharmacies and retailers, either locally or internationally.
Q: Why did you choose your present industry at this time?
Following my graduation from the Food Engineering Department of Istanbul Technical University as a food engineer in 1996, I worked as an R&D and quality director at one of the leading companies of the honey business. My entire work and research experience have been all about the bees and their valuable products since graduation. When I began learning more about beekeeping and their valuable products, I understood that I made the right choice. Once you become close to the world of bees, you admire how they live, as each action is a purposeful activity. As much as I learned about their fascinating harmony in a hive to survive, I’ve become more interested in beekeeping.
Q: What is the best/worst moment you can remember in your career?
Well, our products target to make people healthy. My best moments are about getting positive feedback from our customers about our products. After consumers used our products, they immediately shared their observations and experience on their health as feedback, which was very encouraging for me.
Q: Looking back – if you could advise a younger version of yourself to do something different – what would it be?
I am a scientist by education. A technical professional. Years later, I became an entrepreneur with all that technical background. I quickly realized that I should learn more about the sales and marketing side of the business. So, after establishing my company, I had to obtain an MBA degree and learn more detail about running a business. After I became an entrepreneur, I also realized that digital marketing is crucial when growing your business. Every information I discovered later had a cost. If I knew these things at the beginning of this journey, I would be a more planned and fast mover. But I am so happy that I studied business administration degree in spite of my busy schedule, which helped me very much to understand the business dynamics.