This week’s article is going to be dedicated to CEO of our company and founder of FeelOXY product – pure oxygen in a can – Alenka Vrečko. Alenka, by profession a lawyer decided to start her company in 2014 and until today she rebutted a lot of prejudice in relation to oxygen. Although nobody knows what the future holds, Alenka’s hope for product is to become well know not only in Slovenia but as well abroad, especially in Europe, Russia, South America, China, Japan, India and Australia. For sure, this article opens anybody eye really wide, since she explained everything about FeelOXY in the smallest details.
A lawyer who decided to put her profession aside, undertake her own brand and the production of pure oxygen in a can. Certainly an interesting and daring venture. What brought you to decision like that?
I’ve always wanted to experience business world, to have something of my own, develop my own product and succeed in the global marketplace. FeelOXY came by itself. Yes, I am a lawyer, the nature of business requires a lot of concentration, something you constantly examine and times in urge. By nature I am quite amrestless creature, I have to be in constant drive and I cannot stand still for a long time. In my head there is always a lot of thoughts, which is why concentration and fast way of life usually get me down. At a time when the idea of making my own brand and the production of pure oxygen was born, I kept pursuing my profession as a lawyer and, in addition, I carry out postgraduate studies commercial law, preparing for the bar exam, in addition to everything else I could not stand without my favorite hobby – sports for every day. I started to run out of energy, I was more and more tired and began to run low with concentration, for this reason I drank enormous quantities of coffee and thus did not have much sleep. Because I like to keep my schedule very full, I did not want to put any of above aside, but I started to investigate how could I gain extra energy and concentration. I do not like and do not accept the energy drinks, thus I was looking for a natural ‘booster’. Given the fact that my father is engaged in the gas industry, moreover he also participated in the construction of only the oxygen company in Slovenia, I increasingly began to study the properties and effects of oxygen. I knew that abroad (mainly US) athletes are using oxygen a lot, but in the larger cylinders. In the world and already in Europe, there are oxygen bars, where people walk to breathe pure oxygen, but in the case of sports activities, and at the time of reduced concentration it can be rather impractical, primarily because of the limited accessibility, as well as for reasons of efficiency, since it is necessary to add oxygen breathe in the moment when it is needed (ie intense sports activity, lapses in concentration, etc.). I was thinking how to put oxygen in a convenient portable bottle / dose, which would have been able to continue to carry, and to inhale pure oxygen at a time when it is needed. As a result, the idea of the production of pure oxygen in a can was born. When we ordered first samples and found out that breathing supplemental oxygen really helps a lot, I have decided that I will put it on the market and offer it to people because I was sure that others will also recognize good effect of supplemental oxygen. I decided to start my own business, which would take over all activities in connection with oxygen, invite people who have supported me to participate and began the story of FeelOXY. Since the establishment of this kind of company takes a lot of work, I put my profession as a lawyer aside, but certainly my kind of knowledge became very beneficial and continues to help me out during professional decisions.
We all know that lawyers do not have small paychecks and we know that putting a new product in the market extremely expensive and hard. Do you like challenges, believe in achieving the objectives you set for yourself?
Yes, indeed, much needed to be invest in such a project. Before I started with FeelOXY, I have a lot of work and I mostly gave all of financial assets aside, because I wanted create my own company with a global reach. At the beginning of the entrepreneurial path is impossible to expect that someone will give you cash to start a business and you definitely have to have your own. When you begin on your own, you have to get used to much less than you had before, because for a few years in particular you need to invest, so most of the time, as well as money. You have to sacrifice a lot, there is almost no time for socializing, traveling, shopping, etc., however if you’ve got a goal in front of you nothing is difficult to give up, you just amend the wishes, expectations and change the view on the things. The most important for me is that I very enjoy my work, no matter what, and yes, I like challenges. If there were none, I would be bored since I do not like routine. I fully believe in the realization of my goals. On the question why I did as I did, regardless of the fact that I had a ‘safe’ environment, employment, profession, which is really enough for all living conditions, the only answer is: I really believe in my product and in the fact that it could actually bring great effects on others. But you cannot make a great story if you do not you risk.
Oxygen in a can. How would you convince a skeptical Slovene in a few sentences said that, there is no harm but a useful story?
The problem is that at the beginning of most of people laugh, they do not even let you to describe a product to them, they do not want to test it and have their own opinion and are suspicious. I am mainly talking about the Slovenes. The problem with us is that we all like to put someone something under the knees, everyone wants to express their opinion before they test it and people tend to follow them. Abroad, the story is fundamentally different. The funny thing is that this same man, when gets recommendation from someone else, he comes back and then he is fully excited. Usually everyone said that they do not require the oxygen and that the oxygen is in the air, etc. The fact is that today’s way of life demands of us a lot of energy and concentration, due to the rapid way of life we are often under stress, we are becoming increasingly depleted and a crowded working hours make us to loose concentration. On the other hand, more and more people are becoming engaged in recreational sports with greater physical activity (cycling, running marathons, heavy fitness training, etc.). In the crowded days, where in addition to the daily business duties and increasingly intense sporting activities, we need something to refresh us, give us new strength and reassures extra energy. Another factor which contributes to the exhaustion and fatigue is also increasingly polluted air, the lack of oxygen, leading to headaches and drowsiness. In all of this the inhalation of supplemental oxygen helps a lot. We introduce product to the people, they have the opportunity to buy and try it and then decide themselves whether they like it or not. Personally I do not put up with the negative reviews before people ask about the product and before they test it. In our county previously criticizing unfortunately became quite a habit. I am pleased to present the product as a Slovenian product, but I have noticed that in our country many people would bought the product likely, if they thought it were from any other northern European countries. Given the fact that in Slovenia there are no real support, my proud of presenting FeelOXY as Slovenian product passes me slowly. The above description was otherwise a more extensive, but it needed to be understood at a glance, however: due to the fast and busy way of life the saturation of oxygen in the body decreases, which felt like a slight fatigue. With a few breaths of supplemental oxygen, the oxygen saturation rises and gives us extra energy, acting as a ‘booster’. Then we will continue again for some time to function normally. The drop in oxygen saturation (strenuous physical training, mental effort, long a flight, at altitudes above 2000m) therefore feel like a slight fatigue, we can measure with oximeter. Maximum oxygen content in the blood give us enough energy and concentration to a well-functioning and enabled us to move fast and hard rhythm of modern life. Well, this was not very short. With less is not that, but you can easy-: Try! 😉 At this point I would like to add that people is constantly asking me to prove them with some studies. There are a lot of things written on the internet, however, it is particularly important how oxygen works on ourselves and how we feel. On some the effect is bigger on some lower. I am always wondering why the studies are so important for the people- you have to try it yourself, no matter if there is written if it works or not. Anyone who asks me for the studies I tell them that there is a lot of studies available in the internet, several articles, professional studiers etc., I also asks them if they read so many articles before they drink coffee. The same stands for the various energy drinks and plates. People are fed in unlimited quantities, without checking what exactly is in them, how they body will accept them, how they work. But when talking about the oxygen they are extremely demanding, which is really interesting, because it is completely natural matter and nevertheless it is vital element for life.
How long did it take you to come to the final product that goes by the name FeelOXY?
Approximately one year. It was necessary first of all to study how to get started with such a product and get it to the market, then of course all technical matters, material properties, charging mode. Finally you start thinking about the appearance of the product. The hardest at the beginning is to get small amounts, since the companies with which we work, they work for the world’s biggest brands in various industries, and it is difficult to obtain material or a small initial amount to start. They do not take this seriously. Then, when you finally make deal, there are so many things to be resolved before you offer product, put it on the market, so yes, one year of preparation with a lot of time invested.
Apparently you yourself draw the first packaging?
Yeah, but all non-design and design masters laughed. I imagined it as the bubbles from below the light blue (the color of the oxygen in the liquid phase), stained in white, like going up in the form of spring. Well, then, together with really good designers we shaped appearance, as it is now, and I’m crazy about it.
Do you always have FeelOXY with you?
Of course, for me it is indispensable.
Oxygen is in fact intended for everyone from athletes to beauty care, elderly, etc., how it actually effects the individual?
It is primarily dedicated to persons active in sports, business people and the pilots and passengers of small private, sports, business aircraft and gliders, those with unpressurised aircrafts and those working on higher altitudes. Physically active people use it before and during exercise for power, strength, but after it contributes to faster regeneration. The positive effect of the additional oxygen will be best recognized when we are cycling uphill, running out of energy or at time when we would prefer to stop. In the moment like that breathe for example five deep breaths, in this way we give our body ‘boost’ that will wake us up, give us new energy. For physically active people the supplemental oxygen is also effective for interval training and exercises for strength between sets.
For businesspersons the inhalation is most appropriate when we are running out of concentration, having indoor meetings, driving longer distances by car and are under stress. It is also appropriate to reduce the jet-lag effect, on airplanes the oxygen concentration is lower than on the ground, so we after long flights became tired because the oxygen saturation drops.
Supplemental oxygen is also great addition for pilots and passengers, especially when they rise at the altitude between 3000 and 4000 m altitude (FL100 – 120). The atmosphere is composed of 78% nitrogen, 21% oxygen and 1% of other gases. Even at high altitudes, such percentages remain the same, however, the air pressure decreases when rising. Partial pressure is thus reduced, although the proportion of oxygen in the atmosphere is the same. At some point the pressure is so low that oxygen can no longer effectively migrate into the bloodstream, so we begin to experience symptoms of hypoxia, a condition in which the body or body part become deprived of adequate oxygen supply.
Additional oxygen applies also to women for feeling better and fresher look. Over the years we absorb less oxygen, so the skin begins to curl, which we especially for women, is not much fun. Oxygen makes the skin age slower.
Breathing oxygen is highly recommended also in the mountains above 2000m, especially when we go to trekking in the mountains and is also suitable for climbers.
Use of supplemental oxygen is and will be increasingly important for residents of large cities, where there is more and more polluted air. So far, we have in mind the Asian cities, mostly in China and India, but unfortunately it is becoming increasingly polluted air already in European countries where Slovenia is not excluded.
Finally, the inhalation of supplemental oxygen has positive effects, if we too deeply look into a glass, so to cure next day’s effects.
You also cooperate with some famous names from the world of sports in particular. Who is part of the FeelOXY family?
Until now, we have cooperated and continue to cooperate with the female professional cycling team BTC City Ljubljana, with professional road cyclist Luka Mezgec, with teaching pros Daniel, with a professional snowboarder Tim Mastnak, MTB rider and participant of the biggest mountain bike stage races in the world Peter Vesel, former holder of Olympic medals Sadik Mujkić, former top skier and Olympic medalist Jure Košir, member of the Slovenian ski team for alpine disciplines Maruša Ferk. For cooperation with professional athletes, of course, the most important fact is that supplemental oxygen is explicitly excluded from the list of prohibited foods World anti-doping organization and is not considered as doping.
Do you plan to expand the family? Who do you want to make the next target?
In Slovenia, there are still many top athletes and who would not want to convince Peter Prevc, Philip Flisar, Goran Dragic?
Among the foreign athletes we would like to focus on cyclists who are on top of the world rank so, Nibali, Aru and from other sports someone like Rossi, Messi and Djokovic. Since the question is addressed to me, of course, I would prefer members of the male sex. However, it would be great to convince anyone else outside sports like. David Garrett (my favorite music artist, without listening to his music I cannot imagine everyday life;)), Ashton Kutcher, George Clooney, Jude Law. Fotoshootings would naturally take hours with them 😀
How does FeelOXY works? How do you feel?
FeelOXY should start working in ca. 20 seconds. The problem is, because the gas is odorless and tasteless people do not have a feeling that they absorb something. If it were a liquid, it is sufficient to have this feeling they drink something and thus have effect (eg. In coffee). When people inhale the oxygen they expect to be completely full of energy. First of all, is a very important single breath, breath must be really deep that oxygen reaches our lungs. Then travels through the lungs into the bloodstream and the blood is enriched with oxygen going through the body. That is why we actually feel it after few minutes. In the case that we ran out of concentration, we gain it back when oxygen enriched blood reaches our brain, in sports activities when the oxygen-filled blood and binds us together with other nutrients to energy. The fact is that after the correct breath additional oxygen should give us the concentration back, additional energy, etc. The problem is that people expect something drastic to happen in those seconds when breathed the oxygen and after a few minutes, they forget all about that, continue with physical strain and forget that this happened because of the oxygen. For those who do not believe that the inhalation of supplemental oxygen is not really a natural ‘booster’, I recommend to test it with oximeter. Notwithstanding all that, it is important how we feel. If someone is satisfied with the product, someone will use it, if not then it won’t.
Does it have any side effects?
There are no known side effects. For the average active man is advisable to inhale up to 5 deep breaths in one use to twice daily with a longer interval. At this point, I would also mention that people go to two extremes. Some believe that additional oxygen will do you nothing and some that oxygen is dangerous. Both of this is not true. For the first one I have already explained how it works and that it actually has the effect, according to another: Oxygen is a vital element of our existence. First thing, if anything happens to us is to give us oxygen, before it starts to determine what actually is. It is therefore clear that cannot be dangerous. If it was dangerous, there would not be oxygen in every ambulance. Even in an aircraft before each flight we learn, how we will be equipped with oxygen masks, if because of rare air oxygen is decreased. The fact is that it is not to exaggerate with anything. Even if for the example you eat 2 kg of chocolate at one time or half a kg of salt, it would not have a favorable consequences for us. However, it is impossible to say that amount of oxygen contained in a can is dangerous, not in small or in big one. Of course, it is necessary to take into account the recommendations I have stated about FeelOXY above.
Otherwise you are also big sports fan, what is your favorite sport?
I’m excited runner and foremost cyclist. Until this year I rode a mountain bike, I like macadam road and off-road, but this year I started to ride a road bike and I’m very excited, so I think this year I will be mostly seen on the road. Otherwise, there is no sports activity I won’t do. I love sport and I cannot imagine day without it.
Do you travel a lot? Where do you find the most energy for?
I now have a lot of energy because of my product, even more I get when I start riding to the airport. I love flying, no matter where I go. Otherwise, I like traveling, where daily I change locations. Difficult to hold a long time in one place because I get bored quite quickly. As a traveling companion I quite likely difficult, because I need constantly something to happen. Dynamic trips give me even more energy. Even more I got from my half year in France, where I was a postgraduate exchange, and all travel through most of European countries. I learned about the customs and habits of other people, but most of all travelling opened my eyes and awaken the desire to conquer countries in terms of business.
What is for you complete disconnection?
That I do not think about anything, that I’m completely unburdened. In general, at least for a moment, trying to completely disconnect on a daily basis, be absolutely without thought what I always succeed in sports activities, no matter what (mainly jogging and bike). Then I really enjoy, I am with myself and completely disconnected from everything. A similar effect is achieved even when I play the violin or visiting the nature.
If you had the opportunity to go somewhere far away and only take three things. What would you take with you?
The first answer, without thinking, would be this:
Running shoes, FeelOXY and … um third thing is already difficult to find. Very few things I really miss.
Are you sometimes tempted to go back to lawyer business?
I am particularly interested in commercial law or the contract lay, but because the current business I am keeping in touch with it. I got what I wanted from the law, if I need anything immediately I know where to look, how to make it and that’s it. Better could not be.
If you were not a lawyer, what would you be? Have you ever dreamed about what other profession?
Probably this will be funny to read, given that I do not work on ‘real’ Lawyers’ field anymore, but if I would decide again, I chose the same. As the base it is great. I am more interested in specific areas in which I always dig deep like when I started working with oxygen, I was very interested in how it is obtained, all the technical characteristics of the actual performance and production. Other things I like to talk about may be somewhat atypical for a woman, but it is primarily about aviation, automotive, etc., but I would not study neither of this. The law is general, is all around us. Ever since I started thinking seriously about what do I want to do, I always said that I want to be a business women. For this I had no idea that it can be studied, like management to me is more specialization, upgrading, rather than primary study. As a little girl I fantasize that would become the astronaut (crazy I was interested in space) or actress. Last thing I quickly abandoned when I noticed that I was embarrassed to speak in front of people.
Is oxygen the future, especially in terms of the regeneration of human bodies?
In this I am sure. The fact is that more and more people are saying that they feel poor, like sponges, they do not have energy, but nobody asks why. The fact is that as we have mentioned several times, the oxygen saturation in the blood decreases, due to various factors. Factors which reduce the amount of oxygen in the body are air pollution (which reduces the amount of oxygen in the air), smoking (which reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood), alcohol (greater quantity of alcohol reduces the amount of oxygen in the blood- main cause of ‘hangover’ is e.g. reduction of oxygen in brain cells), emotional stress (which causes release of the hormone adrenaline, the body’s defense is trying to reduce the stress hormone), harmful substances (our body is daily exposed to a large amount of harmful substances in water, food and air). Thus for the metabolism oxygen is urgently needed.
But it is of course supplemental oxygen also important regeneration of the body. Body with oxygen regenerate much faster. This can be seen especially in intensive sports activities. Maximal oxygen saturation in the blood is 100%, when we have intensive physical effort, for example sprint, a saturation falls for example to 93% up to 91%, when inhaled, supplemental oxygen oxygen saturation rises and we quickly came to its initial level we had before the physical strain, even if it slightly dropped, will not fall at exactly the same level as it was immediately after intense training. With the additional oxygen, regeneration time significantly lowers, because even if a complete regeneration is achieved entirely with oxygen, the body will itself start the regeneration of a higher level than would completely without supplemental oxygen. In the event that a saturation falls from 99% in the example 93% the body would only be needed much longer to bring about the desired level of oxygen to achieve previous level. The fact is that through major physical exertion the body does not get in the air quickly enough to get oxygen and to keep up with it produced as much energy as it consumes, so the saturation of oxygen in the body begins to fall. Therefore, supplemental oxygen for faster regeneration is really very important. This is important both for professional athletes, as well as recreational.
Do you also plan to break into foreign markets?
Absolutely. Slovenia is too small. Given that we are a manufacturer and yet there are not many providers, we have opened a whole world. We are mainly interested in European countries, Russia, China, Japan, India, USA, N. America and Australia, with which we already establish contact.