Dr Asli Tanugur Samanci is the CEO and Founder of BEE & YOU, an innovative 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. Her ultimate goal is to make Propolis a consistent product harvested from all the beehives available in the world and introduce the natural healing power of Anatolian Propolis to the world.
BEE & YOU products (Royal Jelly, Propolis, Pure Raw Honey) are antiviral, antibacterial and they are natural energy boosters. They are effective in fighting allergy symptoms naturally and they support the immune system. They are 100% natural; Gluten Free; Non-GMO; Pesticide Free; Free from additives & colourants & preservatives. Bee and you products have innovative taste options for kids and adults. And they are on sale at 3000 CVS stores nationally and at Amazon.
Dr Asli share’s her story
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 incredibly valuable products since graduation. When I began learning more about beekeeping and their useful products, I understood that I made the right choice. Once you become acquainted with the world of bees, you admire how purposefully they live. As I learned more about their fascinating harmony in a hive to survive, I’ve become more interested in beekeeping.
Consequently, I devoted myself to doing research and adding value to bee products. For instance, in my research thesis for my M.Sc. degree, I evaluated the best methods to detect the origin of honey. It is very crucial to understand the authenticity of honey as it is one of the top ten most adulterated products in all over the world. My research was the first of it’s kind study in identifying the authenticity of Turkish mono and poly-flora honey.
When I was working as an R&D and Quality Director, I struggled with a significant problem. I had a 5-year-old son who occasionally developed a fever condition. The doctors prescribed antibiotics each time this happened, causing him developing allergies for antibiotics. I desperately visited many doctors to find a solution to this problem. After a long search, a physician told me that the only cure was to improve his immune system. So I started looking for natural ways of strengthening his immune system. Then I came across propolis and royal jelly in numerous literature I browsed. At that moment, I thought it was the most promising chance for my son’s health. While I was so happy with the idea that my son would recover, I had no time to waste to get pure propolis. Since I have been in the honey industry for many years, I could contact some honey producers, and I asked them to produce propolis. They used to throw propolis away. Because propolis is not edible in its raw form, and it has to go through extraction for human consumption. So I developed an extraction process in the lab, and I started giving this propolis extract to my son. The result was fantastic. I was giving him the propolis extract alone and also as a mixture with honey and royal jelly every day. As a result, my son had not become sick for months. Based on this experience, I decided to produce propolis as a natural immune enhancer for all the children and mothers who had similar problems.
In the beginning, I convinced Taylan Samanci (Agricultural Engineer), who is my husband and my academic adviser Prof. Dr. Dilek Boyacioglu (Food Scientist), to start our business. So, we started producing propolis and other bee products for the first time in Anatolia in 2013 at Istanbul Technical University Technology Development Area. The extraction process that I developed for propolis won a prestigious award for innovation from Research Institution. Eventually, I could build up the first plant for propolis extracts in Anatolia. I am so proud that flavonoid and antioxidant contents of propolis extract are at least three times higher than any other competitors’ brands in the market. My company aims to produce these unique products worldwide with our brands BEE&YOU and BEE’O, serving those who suffer health problems and want to improve their immunity in natural ways.
I love my job, beekeeping. The bees and their medicinal products from their unique world are exceptional for me because they helped my son recover. The most valuable part of my job is to provide a healing option to people. Thousands of encouraging messages I receive from our customers receiving medical treatments and people with increased life comfort. I love what I do with every person we touched. I am directly managing our business system that is based on many sub-functions on a daily basis. 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 analyse 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 as domestic sales and exports. Our sales function includes on-line channels and pharmacies and retailers, either locally or internationally.
Furthermore, we care about being honest and sincere to our customers. Through the years we’ve been building our brand from scratch, we always believed in the power of truthfulness and reliability, and we targeted to keep the natural power of those products. We communicate with our customers all the time. We follow through their questions and commit to answering quickly and clearly as we value their opinions very much. Since the backbone of our company relies on science, we provide our customers with scientific research findings in beehive products. That is how we could have managed to become a family with our customers based on trust, honesty, and scientific facts.
Currently, our activities are carried out by a dedicated team of food scientists, researchers, agricultural engineers, sale team, marketing experts, and beekeepers who are deeply devoted to their mission to create nourishing and delicious products with health benefits. Using proper technology, we extract all biologically active compounds from propolis and save raw honey and royal jelly in their purest form. There are currently 100 employees on our staff, and we are Turkey’s largest producer of propolis with our 35,000-sq ft facility and with our expert team. 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 strongly 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.
We began our journey as a start-up 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 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 ever, 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 to trust in this model. In the beginning, we started organising many seminars and giving briefings to them in various locations. Eventually, we could start with about a hundred beekeepers who would provide us good quality 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 deals 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.
Moreover, the customers were only aware of certain bee products such as honey, pollen, and royal jelly. It was a great challenge to introduce propolis, of which many did not even hear what it was. Hence, we focused on using digital communication channels, gave presentations in many national and international conferences, and created interview opportunities on many TV channels. We aimed to provide scientific information about the health benefits of propolis and other valuable bee products. Another significant challenge was to introduce raw honey without the application of any fine-filtering and heat treatment to the customers in Turkey. Because all significant honey packaging companies preferred to apply pasteurisation process to honey for increasing its shelf-life, we needed to tell customers why raw honey is superior to those products such as losing its pollens and decreasing health benefits. Raw honey was a new concept in the beekeeping sector in the region at the beginning of our journey.
I firmly believe that our in-depth knowledge and applying scientific facts are the most significant factors in our success.
In the beginning of my journey, I was somewhat discouraged. Many people said that having a business is a different and challenging game, and my qualifications may not be enough to succeed. Some even criticised my decision to leave the corporate life and a fixed salary. But I kept up with my dream. Still, they never scared me, and I never gave up even when I was in difficulty. I believe that knowledge is essential when growing your business. I overcome most of the problems with the help of my network and by utilising my expertise in the beekeeping area and working hard. I do appreciate my family, who supported me through my entrepreneurship story. Of course, when you work at a busy pace, the support you receive from the family becomes even more critical. For an entrepreneur, it is crucial to have the trust of your partner. My husband, Taylan Samancı, Beekeeping Expert, Agricultural Engineer, is also my business partner. He’s always been my biggest supporter. I believe a woman can be very successful in business if flexibility is provided to take care of the needs of the family while working smart and efficient. I personally experienced the difficulties in raising two boys while running after my dreams in business. Looking back on what I’ve lived in the last seven years, I accept that it was very challenging for me as a mother of two.
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