Apiceuticals’ Bees Bring Health and Entrepreneurial Buzz
January 7, 2022
Nikos Roumeliotis and his brother Billy are among the millions of entrepreneurs who struggled through the pandemic around the world, among the many thousands business persons who endured Greece’s latest crisis, and two of those people who deeply appreciate the material and moral support of The Hellenic Initiative.
Their fledgling company is Apiceuticals, whose methodology turns the output of bees into skincare products that neutralize free radicals, and which made its breakthrough into the vital American market with the help of THI.
The pandemic had both negative and positive impacts on the company. “For two years we faced major expenses at a time of lower sales, but The Hellenic Initiative helped us tremendously” to survive this period because “they helped us develop and maintain our relationship with clients in the United States at a time we couldn’t develop other markets.”
As for product production and development, the pandemic actually gave them more time and opportunities to move forward. “We were able to give greater weight to the scientific part of our activities, and that made us very happy.”
Another challenge, Nikos said, “is that to expand direct sales through the internet, greater human resources are needed, which we lacked because we did not have sufficient earnings during the pandemic, but that is what we have been focusing in recent weeks – we must also target consumers directly,” to build on Apiceuticals’ success with health and beauty companies.
The main challenge for moving into markets like Europe and Asia is to generate referrals and finding the right partners. “That is how we moved into the United States, Nikos explained. “Through THI, we were referred to one of the United States’ biggest health and wellness companies by a person who really liked our company – a very credible person, Kurt Heiar,” who works closely with THI. He opened the door to OneroRx Inc., a company supported by John Papajohn. “So THI opened the door and then with our own credentials we entered into negotiations, signed contacts, and we ‘got in.’”
Apiceuticals uses bee ingredients to create highly effective potent and antioxidant bee skincare. “We developed the technology and patented it. We use our own bee ingredients in the cosmetics formulas, and independent studies rank us first in the world in antioxidant activity.”
Nikos said, “we have this knowledge from our father, Sotiris, who was the first to introduce organic beekeeping in Greece back in 1981.” He was trained as an electrical and mechanical engineer working for Greece’s national power company ‘DEH’ at coal-fired plants. “He realized this was not the right life for him, and not the right way to treat the environment. He was already fascinated by bees, how they all worked together to produce something very good!”
Billy focuses on the back end: the production side, taking care of the bees on a daily basis, IT management and the website, and company finances. He is also responsible for producing the patented and proprietary products.
Nikos mans the front end. He is in charge of marketing, the commercial side of the website, and promoting the novelty of the Apiceuticals’ patented products. In the beauty industry it is not only about having a product that works – it’s also about how you present that product, Nikos said. “The challenge is to visualize the patent – making the idea visible,” seizing the attention of relevant businesses and consumers. “When people see the living honeycomb in the bottle, they fully understand what it is: it releases antioxidants, it’s something natural, it’s something made by the bees – it communicates a lot about the company with few words.”
The brothers produce the living honeycomb on their own bee farms with their own organically produced ingredients. “We place it in the cosmetic and then it releases the antioxidants. The skin needs anti-oxidants. It is the only way to fight aging.”
The next step for Apiceuticals is the development of food supplements using their own bee ingredients, and they have now reached the initial stage of scientific research. “Again, we want to be the first in antioxidant activity with regard to food supplements. We have begun conversations with Aristotle University of Thessaloniki and are in the process of creating new formulas – but we should not forget about the honey. Our Arcadia Pine honey is a fully antioxidant honey.”
As all entrepreneurs know, however, having great products and services is not enough.
“I dont have words to describe how THI helped our company,” Nikos said. “I also hear stories from other companies they have helped. The key is that THI really understands the problems of startup companies and their needs. They bring real solutions… and THI gives you exposure – they put you in front of the right people and they help you become more financially healthy, creating more jobs.”
He said THI also knows how to provide funding at critical points where banks would not. “THI does that, but they also provide ‘360 support’ including moral support to keep you going, because startups are about trial and error, trying and failing. They are also good at matching you with the right people and mentors.”
Nikos adds that THI does “it in a way that it feels like you are part of a family, because they do things from the heart… they take you by the hand and lift you to a certain level, to the point where you can capitalize on the big opportunities, and if you do that well, then the sky is the limit.”
The relationship with THI began when Nikos met Clio Limberis though a friend. After explaining to her what Apiceuticals was trying to do, she said, “listen – there is THI. We help Greek startups like you and it’s not only about the product but also about the people behind the company and I think you and your brother really fit in with the whole mentality of THI, so why don’t you try.”
In 2019 they entered the Venture Fair competition, making the top 10, then the top three.
“Before I met THI, I never expected Apiceuticals would reach the U.S. – we had the dream, the aspiration to be global brand, but if you don’t get before the right people, nobody knows about you. THI gave us so much exposure – more than in our wildest dreams – and with the Venture Impact Awards we received financial support that was crucial – during the pandemic we had only expenses. It was a very good helping hand.”