Julia Olayanju

Delegate as much as you can as this will free up time for you to focus on what really matters.


Julia Olayanju PhD is the Chief Innovation Officer at GrubEasy Interactive Lab. In 2015, she founded FoodNiche, a company driving innovation in the food industry through thought-leadership and strategic partnerships. FoodNiche events include: Disrupt Food Summit and Food Health and Technology Summit. These events connects hundreds of food industry leaders, entrepreneurs, investors, scientists and nutritionists to facilitate networking, learning opportunities and ultimately shaping a better food system.

Prior to embarking on entrepreneurship, Julia spent several years in biomedical research. Her doctoral dissertation focused on understanding the anti-cancer properties of a specific compound found in cruciferous vegetables.
She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Genetics and a PhD in Molecular Genetics from Rutgers University, New Brunswick.

Where did the idea for your company come from?

The idea came from a personal pain I experienced while taking care of my late father who was on a special diet. It was important for me to make meals that work for his diet and enjoyable for him as well. I found myself spending time looking for food products and recipes online. This experience opened my eyes to the problems millions of Americans face everyday.

What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?

My day start really early around 4:30 am with a 2 mile jog on a treadmill and a devotional/reflective time. I run a few family errands every morning before heading out to work.

I spend my morning working on my most important task of the day, where possible I push taking meetings or calls till afternoon.

Planning my day hour by hour help me make the most of my day. I am a morning person, I prefer getting my most difficult task done in the morning. Getting rid of the distractions makes it possible for me to focus, so I created a habit of turning off specific notifications on my computer & other devices.

How do you bring ideas to life?

When I think of any idea I always ask myself a series of questions. Answers to these questions may lead to further questions which creates a series of small actions that eventually brings the idea to life

What’s one trend that excites you?

A shift in the way people think about food is an exciting trend. This trend has led to a significant changes in the food industry, several food & beverage companies have emerged targeting the health conscious consumer. Even the leading food industry companies are either starting food accelerators or venture funds to invest in companies that have emerged as result of this trend.

It is absolutely exciting to see a trend that favors good health and sustainability for the environment.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Investing in myself daily makes me a more productive person. By this I mean investing in myself spirit, soul and body. Sticking to my morning routine of exercise, prayer and listening to inspirational messages sets me up for a very productive day.

What advice would you give your younger self?

Don’t be anxious about anything, everything will work out well.

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

Being busy does not always translate into being productive.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Read great books! Reading creates an opportunity to learn from other people’s experiences. Audio book makes this even easier today. Using tools such as audible or hoopla makes it possible to make the most of commutes

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Delegate as much as you can as this will free up time for you to focus on what really matters.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

When we first started out, the development of our prototype was outsourced to a technology company in Arizona. After several months of meetings and hard work, we had to admit that we outsourced to the wrong group. The company we outsourced the task to outsourced to another group abroad, after several months we realized that the product developed cannot be taken to market. We had to return to the drawing board, and analyzed what we could have done differently.
Eventually hired a team in house and built the prototype and eventually the product in-house. It turned out to be a great learning experience.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Can someone design close toe high heel shoes that are very comfortable?

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

The money spent speaking to an expert who provided valuable advice on specific business strategies we are working on. I believe we as entrepreneurs can spend years learning something or learn it quicker from people who have gone through the same experience ahead of you. You can learn by reading their books or consulting with them. For me I learnt by consulting with an expert for an hour and it was money well spent.

What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?

Slack is one communication tool I find very useful, we use it for team communications. It makes communication across multiple teams very easy

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

I highly recommend “Measure what matters, How Google, Bono, and the Gates Foundation Rock the World with OKRs” by John Doerr

The book highlights how to get a team to work together to accomplish key objectives using OKRs. The book shared stories from several successful founders who have applied the principles taught in the book and built very successful organizations

What is your favorite quote?

Winners Never Quit & Quitters Never Win – Vince Lombardi

Key Learnings:

  • Invest in yourself, making time to add value to your self is crucial to high performance
  • Delegate, free up time on your agenda for what really matters
  • Read great books
  • Remember “Winners Never Quit & Quitters Never Win” – Vince Lombardi