Q&A with Female Founder Jessica Postiglione
Jessica Postiglione is the Co-Founder & CEO of OLIKA. She started her career in finance as an M&A investment banking analyst. Post business school, Jessica held a number of corporate strategy roles later returning to finance. However, she always wanted to be a part of an entrepreneurial venture and jumped at the opportunity to start OLIKA. Jessica is a graduate of the University of Chicago and the Harvard Business School.
Can you tell our readers about your background?
I started my career in finance as an M&A investment banking analyst. Post business school, I held a number of corporate strategy roles later returning to finance. However, I always wanted to be a part of an entrepreneurial venture and jumped at the opportunity to start OLIKA.
What inspired you to start your business?
OLIKA originated out of a trip to the emergency room. My co-founder’s son went to the hospital with a knee injury, and while they were waiting he noticed that the doctors were using a lot of hand sanitizer to protect their hands. That sparked an idea... Why couldn’t there be a better hand sanitizer? I developed and built OLIKA and Birdie to be just that.
Where is your business based?
Our primary nest is in New York City.
How did you start your business? What were the first steps you took?
Through extensive research, we recognized that the hand sanitizer category was ripe for disruption. Next, we found partners and investors who loved our idea for a design-centric brand and product. Once capitalized, we sought out vendors who were excited to work with a brand with personality and help us bring to market “the world’s most beautiful hand sanitizer.” (Fast Company’s words and we don’t disagree.)
What has been the most effective way of raising awareness for your business?
Our name OLIKA, means “differently” in Swedish. We take this to heart in how we build a brand and create consumer products! While we launched at the beginning of 2017, our momentum and industry reception has been nothing short of amazing with the help of online marketing. OLIKA is a digital-first company and with the assistance of a dedicated marketing & PR team, we’ve brought OLIKA to life with numerous notable press outlets including being featured in Business Insider, Allure, Fast Company, Forbes, Inc. Magazine as well as on The Today Show.
What have been your biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?
We started as an unknown brand and it has been a challenge to educate consumers on the availability of a better-for-you hand sanitizer. However, once anyone meets Birdie they fall in love. Focusing on brand awareness tactics such as social media marketing and public relations has been a way to overcome the initial challenge.
How do you stay focused?
My vision has always been to bring to market a sophisticated hand sanitizer. Our product represents the physical manifestation of more than a year of research, design, and engineering. The support from consumers, influencers and buyers keep me focused on fulfilling that vision.
How do you differentiate your business from the competition?
Before OLIKA, the experience of using a hand sanitizer was not a very pleasant one. We researched, revised and tested more hand sanitizers than you can count. We married the data we collected on hand sanitizer usage with imagination to create a final product that goes far beyond just a formula update. From this, the concept of Birdie was born. Birdie is an adorable 2-in-1 hand sanitizer with a natural sanitizing spray and 10 dry wipes housed in his base for additional cleaning. He doesn’t look, smells or act like your average hand sani.
What has been your most effective marketing strategy to grow your business?
At OLIKA, we create products with personality. Birdie is most definitely a “he” and our customers enjoy following his travels and learning about his life. We look to truly engage with the community in an authentic and meaningful way through social media and as evidenced by our cheeky video series “Give’em the bird,” which was a finalist for a Best Branded Integration in a Web Series award.
What's your best piece of advice for aspiring and new entrepreneurs?
Always have a plan B, C, D, and E ready because your “plan A” rarely works out, whether it’s due to financial constraints and/or bandwidth issues. Being able to react quickly, remain nimble and stay flexible is a huge competitive advantage.
What's your favorite app, blog, and book? Why?
Instagram and Bored Panda because both the app and the blog serve as creative platforms. The Catcher in the Rye because it is a timeless classic that I find something new in each time I read it.
What's your favorite business tool or resource? Why?
HARO is an amazing free resource that connects individuals/businesses with media sources looking for help with their stories.
Who is your business role model? Why?
Jeff Bezos because he is a risk-taking visionary, who isn’t afraid to fail. Amazon is an example of how brands can stay relevant and fresh in this ever-changing, on-demand world.
What do you have planned for the next six months?
We are introducing a new product line in early 2018, and are very excited to share the newest member of the OLIKA family with our bird nation.
How can our readers connect with you?
You can meet our bird at OLIKAlife.com or find us on social at @OLIKAlife.