Imitation may be heartfelt flattery, but that’s not the case in the startup world.
There was drama in the olive oil business this week. And it played out on his LinkedIn, an online haven for startup feuds, oversharing, and self-mythologizing anthems to #founder culture.
An angry post by olive oil entrepreneur Andrew Bennin has caused ripples in the food industry corners of the internet. Part of the reason was that it raised the slippery question, “Who owns the squeeze bottle?”
Mr. Benin is the Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of . Glazadirect-to-consumer startups Launching in 2022 They sell olive oil in squeezable forest green plastic bottles that are perfect for a drizzle or Instagrammable. Because Whole Foods sells bon appetit praise it, Food & Wine Magazine They called it “Cool Kid Olive Oil”.As wall street journal Graza said it hit the market “sweet spot” this year with two extra virgin olive oil bottles, Drizzle ($20) and Sisel ($15).
Benin apologized to more than 30,000 customers in an unusually thoughtful and detailed email after quality and delivery issues last holiday season. That attitude, along with a post on Graza’s blog (the company calls it the “blog”), has painted the image of a dedicated founder.
And as he wrote this week, LinkedIn, he faced what he called a “#mimicry culture.” In the post, he singled out a competitor’s new olive oil, which is also packaged in squeeze bottles and sold as a topping for pizza.
“While friendly competition is always welcome, I view this as blatant disrespect and have decided to voice my dissatisfaction,” Benin wrote. he tagged the company, bright landand its founder, Aishwarya Iyer, posted a picture of the squeeze bottle in question. “Founders know this day will come,” he wrote, adding, “Personally, I think it’s okay to be in a bad mood when people rip you off.”
Some Twitter users said Benin’s post had sparked an “olive oil war,” but it should be noted that the conflict was one-sided. Mr. Iyer and Mr. Brightland have not spoken publicly about the call. (Brightland declined to comment for this article. Graza did not respond to a request for comment.)
Benin’s post appeared to be met with mixed reactions, with many comments on LinkedIn accusing him of stirring up unnecessary drama. “With all due respect, you weren’t the one who made the squeeze bottle,” says founder Alison Kane. Heaven’s Kitchen, I have written. “Chefs and home cooks have been using it for decades.” FAQ A section on Graza’s website says the same.
Hero Cosmetics CEO and co-founder Ju Lu tweeted that he should “get used to” what he calls “olive oil imitations.” She has attached four photos of a product that appears to mimic her Mighty Patch, one of her own company’s products.
“I think it comes with territory,” Liu said. “Having imitators means you have some success.
Rhyu said she first learned about Olive Oil Inbrorio on LinkedIn.
Regarding Benin’s mention of Iyer, who founded Brightland in 2018, she wrote in the post, “I’m going to kind of rekindle the category by pointing to another founder who is an entrepreneur. I thought it was in bad shape,” he said. She added that the post was an “overreaction” in her view.
Benin seemed to regret chasing his rival. Hours after his initial remarks, he posted a follow-up on LinkedIn that included an apology to Iyer and the Graza team. “I was agitated and unresponsive, but I learned from the various comments people left today,” he wrote.
For some online, the cold-pressed social media drama was a welcome distraction from more pressing concerns outside the artisanal olive oil niche community.
“Honestly, God bless the olive oil wars. This is exactly the no-stakes comedy drama between startups and brainworms the world needs more right now.” tweeted Helen Rosner is a staff writer for The New Yorker, covering food. She said, “No villains, no victims, just first-rate public ego stupidity.”