One of the best perks of being a Santa Monica-based startup is that we get to see firsthand what’s becoming popular and trending in Los Angeles. Sure, we spend nearly all of our time perfecting Buddytruk, the mobile app that will change the way folks move and haul their stuff, but it’s also important for us to keep a tab on the local business and startup trends as well. We’ve seen both Lyft and Uber (who has an office just downstairs from us) grow to become the companies they are today, we’ve seen Tender Greens become one of the bigger and most popular lunch spots on the West Side, and we’ve noticed that organic juices have become more popular than the Lakers. It’s not too difficult to understand why it’s become so popular – it’s ultra-healthy (excellent as a snack before and after a day of moving or hauling!), comes in a ton of different flavors, and fits in perfectly with the Southern California active lifestyle.
It’s clearly not news to say it’s become very popular with us Angelenos. But how about in Dubai? This brings us to Chris Vahanian, a UCLA graduate, and his Dubai-based, cold-press organic juice startup Organic Press. We spent some time chatting with Chris about his startup that’s bringing organic juice to the Middle East.
Hey Chris, thanks for spending the time to talk with us! Our co-founder Brian survives mostly on organic juice and chicken. Tell us about Organic Press!
Chris: The idea of Organic Press started not too long ago when my brother visited me in Los Angeles close to a year ago. Being health conscious individuals, we noticed the growing trend and popularity of pressed juices in Los Angeles. My elder brother, having had plenty of work experience in Dubai, discussed with me whether the “Pressed Juice Concept” in Dubai would be successful. When I had recently visited Dubai during Christmas vacation, I had noticed that the general public was starting to lean more toward a healthier and more organic lifestyle. With this in place, it secured our decision to launch Organic Press.
Organic Press is Dubai’s first ever raw, organic, cold press juice bar that specializes in raw juice blends, raw nut milks and juice cleanses. Having spent my entire life in Dubai, I decided that after high school I would move to the U.S. – specifically Los Angeles – to gain new experiences. I attended UCLA as an undergraduate and after a short lived career in finance my brother and I decided to launch Organic Press.
What makes you guys different from other organic juice companies?
Chris: The fresh fruits and vegetables are pressed using a hydraulic press juicer that applies a tremendous amount of pressure to extract the nectar directly from the pulp. That pressing action, instead of blending or grinding, won’t oxidize or degrade the fruit and vegetables and helps keep the nutrients and enzymes intact. With a blender, the fruits and vegetables are being cut and ground by a blade and are exposed to heat, which removes many of the essential vitamins, enzymes, proteins, and minerals that we want from our juice. Pressed juice is simply the closest thing to raw, pure fruit or vegetables, and allows you to get a concentrated amount of nutrients that would otherwise be difficult to achieve just by eating raw fruits and vegetables alone.
Most of us stateside don’t know much about Dubai. What’s it like to run a business there?
Chris: I would assume running a business in Dubai is much like running a business in the U.S, as I have never really experienced running a business elsewhere. But I can tell you this much: it’s no walk in the park. Running your own business requires constant attention 24 hours a day. My brother and I are currently the only ones part of the business as of now, so we are basically running the entire show in terms of managerial duties, running the kitchen, accounting, financing – basically the whole nine yards. What personally brought me back to Dubai was the vision that I had for Organic Press in the future. I am still to this day very confident that this concept will succeed in Dubai, and hence revolutionize the juicing industry here. Honestly, the best part of working in Dubai is that I am back home, my family and old friends are here, and most of all my brother is my partner. He has stood by me through thick and thin and I couldn’t think of a better person to do this with. I can’t really say what the worst part of working here is, as we haven’t hit any road blocks as of yet, and hopefully not any time soon
Where can folks purchase Organic Press juice?
Chris: As of now, we are currently providing free home delivery service in and around the Dubai area, until our store opens up in a couple of months. They can contact us through firstname.lastname@example.org
How are the sales going? Are you looking for investment to expand?
Chris: Given that we haven’t officially launched or spent a dime on advertising, sales have been doing really well. We’ve been receiving plenty of traction solely through word of mouth and through Instagram and Facebook. We are not looking for any investment as of now, as we are putting in most of our own capital.
Where do you get your materials for Organic Press? Where is it all prepared?
Chris: Our Organic Press materials are acquired through certified farms in Abu Dhabi, Fujairah and all around the U.A.E. All of these farms are certified organic. The machinery was acquired through the United States.
Did you ever envision yourself running a startup like this?
Chris: To tell you the truth, I never really envisioned myself as an entrepreneur, at least not this young. If it weren’t for my older siblings always guiding me through the right path, I probably wouldn’t be here doing this.
What’s the best part of running a startup? The worst?
Chris: The best part of running your own startup is that you’re doing something that you enjoy and that you are your own boss. I would rather do this job 24 hours a day than any 9-5 paying job.
Where do you see Organic Press six months from now? Two years? Ten? In six months time, we are aiming to start retailing our products all over the Dubai area, and have several mall kiosks in the shopping malls in Dubai, in addition to our own retail location. We aim to educate the general public here to consume their fruits and vegetables in a healthier way rather than the current juice markets here that add tons of artificial flavorings and processed sugars just to make their juices taste better. In two to ten years time we hope to revolutionize the juice industry in Dubai and hope to expand all over the Middle Eastern countries.