Prateek Agarwal and his wife, Shreya, founded Calgee in 2020. During a routine check-up that year, Prateek received surprising news—his cholesterol levels were classified as “very high.”
Despite his young age and overall good health, his levels were higher than expected. Compounding their concerns, Prateek and Shreya discovered that their family histories increased their risk of cardiovascular diseases.
Given the circumstances of 2020, the couple prioritized their health. They diligently adjusted their diets and intensified their exercise routines, but these efforts proved insufficient.
Seeking further advice, their doctors recommended fish oil supplements. However, as vegetarians, Prateek and Shreya hesitated to compromise their principles for their health.
Driven by the belief that there had to be a better, natural solution, the couple came across vegan omega-3 oil supplements as an alternative to fish oil.
However, they soon discovered that many of these capsules contained carrageenan—an ingredient known to cause stomach inflammation. This lack of suitable options on the market left them frustrated.
Motivated by their experiences and determined to find a solution, Prateek and Shreya Agarwal developed a Sustainable Vegan Omega-3 product: Calgee.Tweet
Duo also pledges 1% of its annual sales to environmental nonprofits to help create a positive impact on people and the planet.
What inspired you to build Calgee?
Determined to develop something pure, sustainable, and environmentally friendly, we established Calgee.
Today, Calgee is a mission-driven health and wellness company committed to using its influence to impact the environment positively.
How have your priorities changed from when you first started?
We realized that while customer acquisition is important, it is equally essential to prioritize product development and enhancement.
We recognized the value of investing our resources and efforts into refining our product to meet our customers’ evolving needs and preferences.
By shifting our focus to product development, we have deepened our understanding of our target market and gathered valuable feedback from our existing customers.
This has allowed us to identify areas of improvement and implement necessary enhancements to make our product even more valuable and user-friendly.
Is there anything you would have done differently when starting?
Reflecting on our startup journey, one aspect we would have done differently when starting is engaging in discussions and actively seeking advice from others.
While we believed in our idea and were enthusiastic about its potential, we now recognize the immense value of collaborating and seeking insights from experienced individuals.
Discussing our idea with others could have gained diverse perspectives and valuable feedback that may have helped us refine our concept from the early stages.
Conversations with mentors, industry experts, and potential customers would have given us a broader understanding of market dynamics, potential challenges, and untapped opportunities.
How did you decide where to establish your company?
When deciding where to establish our company, California emerged as an easy and natural choice for us.
Several factors influenced our decision, with familiarity with the state’s business practices and establishing another business being significant considerations.
What challenges did you overcome at the beginning of your journey?
High MOQs and logistics were significant challenges we faced at the beginning of our journey.
However, by adopting a proactive and innovative approach, we were able to navigate these obstacles, find cost-effective solutions, and streamline our operations.
These experiences taught us valuable lessons about resource management, strategic partnerships, and the importance of adaptability in the early stages of building a successful business.
What is unique about your business?
What sets our business apart and makes us truly unique is the integration of sustainability into every aspect of our product, packaging, and business practices.
We firmly believe that companies are responsible for prioritizing environmental stewardship and contributing to a more sustainable future.
What advice would you give to someone trying to become an entrepreneur?
- Things take time – you must stay patient, remain focused on your goals, and persevere through challenges.
- Keep learning – to become an expert in your field, you must spend a few years learning and absorbing all the information you can.
- You will fail a hundred times – learning from your mistakes is the only way to succeed.
- Take a break – there are always things to do that can be overwhelming. Sometimes to be more productive, you have to switch off from work and take a break.
- Decide when you want to make an impact – it’s easier to be a sustainable company at a scale where your volume makes economic sense. You can reach more people and do more as an operating company than as a super sustainable and bankrupt one.
How did you raise funding?
We are self-funded!
What’s your favorite quote?
One of my favorite quotes is
The greatest threat to our planet is the belief that someone else will save it.Robert Swan
I feel this is more relevant today than ever before. We are collectively responsible for addressing climate change, but we often hope someone else will do it for us.
I, too, believe that technology and science will come up with an answer. While that may be true, we still need to do our part. Our collective micro decisions can eventually have a macro impact.
That’s why I wanted sustainability to be a core business principle and a factor in every decision we make.
What strategies did you first use for marketing your business?
In the early stages of marketing our business, we focused on utilizing Google Ads as a key strategy.
Through extensive keyword research, ad creation and optimization, strategic ad placement and targeting, budget management, and continuous testing, we aimed to reach our target audience, drive brand awareness, and generate conversions.
This approach allowed us to establish a robust online presence and lay the foundation for further marketing initiatives as our business grew.
How do you define success?
Success, to me, encompasses a combination of personal fulfillment and business achievement. It goes beyond conventional measures of success such as wealth or status and delves into a more holistic and meaningful perspective.
On a personal level, success means living a balanced and fulfilling life. It involves nurturing meaningful relationships, maintaining good health and well-being, and continuously growing and learning.
It means having a sense of purpose and aligning my actions with my values. Success in this context is about finding joy and contentment in the present moment while striving for personal growth and self-improvement.
Regarding business, success revolves around creating a positive impact and contributing to the greater good. It means running a company that generates profits and prioritizes sustainability, ethical practices, and social responsibility…
It involves delivering products or services that benefit customers and society.
What’s your favorite book? Which and Why?
My favorite book from which I’ve gained tremendous value is “Shoe Dog” by Phil Knight. This memoir, written by the co-founder of Nike, has been an incredible source of inspiration and insights into entrepreneurship.
Through Knight’s captivating storytelling, “Shoe Dog” provides a firsthand account of the challenges, triumphs, and lessons learned during the early years of building one of the world’s most iconic brands.
It offers valuable lessons in resilience, leadership, innovation, and the power of unwavering determination. “Shoe Dog” has given me a deeper understanding of the entrepreneurial journey and motivated me to embrace risk-taking, overcome obstacles, and pursue my passions with unwavering dedication.
What have you enjoyed most about starting your own company?
Starting our own company has been an exhilarating and fulfilling experience, and there are several aspects that we have enjoyed immensely throughout this journey.
1. Entrepreneurial Freedom: One of the most enjoyable aspects of starting our own company is the freedom it brings. We have the autonomy to shape our vision, set goals, and make decisions aligning with our values. This sense of independence allows us to explore our creativity, take calculated risks, and pursue exciting opportunities.
2. Building Something Meaningful: Creating something from scratch and watching it grow is incredibly gratifying. Starting our own company has allowed us to build a business that aligns with our passions and values. Witnessing our ideas come to life, and their impact on our customers and the community brings a profound sense of fulfillment.
3. Learning and Personal Growth: The entrepreneurship journey is a continuous learning experience. We have had the chance to develop new skills, acquire knowledge in various domains, and broaden our understanding of business operations. This constant learning and personal growth have been both professionally and personally enriching.
4. Making a Positive Impact: Starting our own company has allowed us to impact the world positively. Whether it’s solving a problem, providing a valuable product or service, or contributing to a cause we care about, the ability to create meaningful change is deeply gratifying. Knowing that our efforts have the potential to improve the lives of others brings a sense of purpose and motivates us to keep pushing forward.
5. Building Relationships: Starting our own company has allowed us to connect with a diverse range of individuals, including customers, partners, and fellow entrepreneurs. Building relationships and collaborating with like-minded individuals who share our passion and vision has been a gratifying aspect of the journey. These connections provide support, inspiration, and the opportunity for mutual growth.
Starting our own company has been a rewarding and enjoyable experience. The freedom, fulfillment, learning opportunities, positive impact, and meaningful relationships are just a few of the aspects that have brought us immense joy throughout this entrepreneurial journey. While challenges are inevitable, the highs and rewards of building and growing our business make it all worthwhile.
What are the qualities of a good entrepreneur?
A good entrepreneur possesses a combination of vision, passion, resilience, adaptability, strong work ethic, risk-taking ability, leadership skills, financial understanding, and a commitment to continuous learning.
These qualities empower them to navigate the complexities of entrepreneurship and maximize their chances of building a successful and sustainable business.
How long did it take you to find success?
Finding success as an entrepreneur is not a linear journey with a definitive timeline. It is a continuous process of growth, learning, and overcoming challenges.
In our case, success is not solely defined by reaching a specific milestone or achieving a certain level of financial stability.
Instead, we view success as an ongoing pursuit that manifests in various forms as we progress on our entrepreneurial path.
What are you working on now?
Our primary focus is expanding our product line by introducing 1-2 additional high-quality, sustainably made supplements. We firmly believe in providing our customers with various products that align with their health and sustainability goals.
To achieve this, we are dedicated to thorough research and development, sourcing the finest ingredients, and ensuring that our manufacturing processes adhere to the highest sustainability standards.
We aim to launch these new supplements by the end of the year, bolstering our offerings and providing our customers with even more options to support their well-being while minimizing their environmental impact.
This expansion reflects our unwavering commitment to continuous improvement and innovation as we strive to meet the evolving needs of our customers and contribute to a healthier, more sustainable world.
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