Louisville, KY – Dan-O’s Seasoning founder, Dan Oliver, recently sat down with Louisville Business First to discuss the growth of his Louisville-based seasoning business and his success with social media marketing. The article covers everything from Dan starting his business, to the changes it underwent during COVID 19, to his unique partnership with Louisville’s Crosby Interactive.
Dan was interviewed by By Haley Cawthon, a reporter for Louisville Business First. Louisville Business First is published by Bizjournals.com, a division of American City Business Journals, the nation’s largest publisher of metropolitan business news.
You can read Haley’s story and interview with Dan Oliver (Dan-O) below:
When he lost his job in manufacturing sales, Dan Oliver knew he wanted to do something different with his life.
Oliver took a job in the kitchen at Diamond Pub & Billiards in Louisville and eventually worked his way up to becoming a bartender. After about four years, he wanted to strike out on his own with a new venture.
The idea for that venture hit him “like a ton of bricks” after bringing in some seasoned chicken to work.
“Some guy said, ‘Man this is the best chicken I’ve ever had, why aren’t you selling it?’” Oliver said.
Dan-O’s Seasoning was born. It took about two years to get the product packaged and FDA-approved and Oliver began selling Dan-O’s in 2016.
That first year, Oliver said Dan-O’s total revenue was about $16,000. By 2019, that revenue had increased to $210,000 and he was expecting that to increase to maybe half a million in 2020. But then the global pandemic hit in March, derailing Oliver’s sales strategy as he had been traveling to trade shows and other conventions.
“I basically told myself, ‘If I can do $200 in sales a day, I can survive [Covid-19] as a business,’” he said.
To boost his sales and showcase his seasonings, Oliver turned to social media. He had made several Facebook and Instagram videos before, and in March, he started making videos on TikTok. Several flopped, but one video where Oliver made crab cakes with Dan-O’s Seasoning exploded.
“It was actually a negative video,” Oliver laughed. “People from Maryland, especially, were like, ‘That’s not how you make a crab cake.’”
Dan-O’s started with just 300 TikTok followers in March, and that has since grown to more than 1.1 million followers and 18.4 million likes.
Those video views have translated into incredible growth of Dan-O’s online sales. Oliver said the company has topped $2 million in revenue this year, and has resulted in a unique partnership with Crosby Interactive, a local marketing company.
You can read more from Oliver in the Q&A below:
What are your future plans for growth, both for Dan-O’s Seasoning and your new partnership with Crosby Interactive?
Our future plans are to expand Dan-O’s product line to offer more products and also look to partner with others to develop food products. Crosby Interactive will help us develop and build these other brands.
Who has been one of your top mentors? Why?
I can’t think of one specific mentor off the top of my head, but I will say my motivation stems from all the jobs I had leading up to starting Dan-O’s. I knew that working for someone else was something I wasn’t interested in doing for the rest of my life. I wanted to build something that could make an impact, and also create a business around what I love to do.
Dan-O’s Seasoning is just that — it has allowed me to combine my love of cooking with my passion for building a business and brand that will change the world.
What the best piece of advice you could give to other entrepreneurs looking to market and their product via social media?
I would say to stay consistent and don’t stop creating content — keep going even though there are times it may seem that it isn’t working. You have to stay persistent, and TikTok was surprisingly a real game-changer for me.
Describe your most-liked (or most-viewed) video — what recipe did you use and how long did it take you to film?
My biggest video, with over 20 million views, is the bacon-wrapped jalapeño, or the “Jalapeño Popper.” It’s one of my favorite things to make, and it’s pretty easy. The video only took 20 minutes to make with 45 minutes of cook time.
What’s the best thing about starting and growing a business in Louisville? What’s been the most challenging part?
Being a big city/small town, I already knew a lot of people and had some good connections to network with. That helped with getting the word out about my product and helped to get Dan-O’s Seasoning off the ground. It took a lot of hard work traveling the country to really build up the business, but Louisville was a good platform to launch.
Will you ever go back on the trade show circuit after the wild success you’ve had with e-commerce?
Probably not me personally, but I do believe in them and will probably send someone from our team to represent Dan-O’s. We certainly don’t want to lose sight of our roots, and trade shows and state fairs are where it all started.
By Haley Cawthon – Reporter, Louisville Business First
Jan 11, 2021