At our January lunch, Dan Oliver, founder and CEO of the Dan-O’s Seasoning, shared what it was like to grow his startup more than 3,000% in just one year. Ranked No. 1 on Business First’s Fast 50 this year, Dan-O’s has grown to 65 employees and $6.2 million in revenue in 2021, up from just under $2 million in 2020.

Dan’s entrepreneurial journey began with some chicken thighs he got from his mother when he was in college. Unsure what to do with them, he experimented with an original blend of herbs and spices  — what is now Dan-O’s Original Seasoning. It’s a “dantastic” diet-friendly blend of low sodium, sugar free, all-natural non-GMO herbs and spices that enhances the flavor of any dish.

After developing the first iteration of his spice blend as a college student, Dan tinkered with the recipe for the next 15 years while working various jobs. As a cook and then bartender for a local bar, he’d occasionally run a special of his signature chicken, and it would sell out every time.

After a few years, Dan longed for a more traditional lifestyle, and began looking for his “million-dollar idea.” While figuring out his next steps, he brought some leftover chicken for a bar regular. After one bite, the regular told him, “This is the best chicken I’ve ever had; why on earth aren’t you selling this around the world?” That was the moment the lightbulb went on. Dan set a goal of putting Dan-O’s Seasoning on every table across the country.

After years of product and brand development, the first bottle of Dan-O’s seasoning was sold in 2015. Dan originally was relied on trade shows, flea markets — wherever he could get a table to move his product.

When the pandemic hit, he had to pivot his strategy to social media, which proved to be one of the best decisions Dan ever made. Since then, Dan-O’s has grown a large social media following that supports both Dan and the brand, with over 2.5 million followers on TikTok and 107,000 followers on Instagram. He continues to develop new and exciting seasonings, including a Spicy and Hot Chipotle option, with plans for more on the horizon.

Thank you to Dan for an engaging, informative and authentic presentation!