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Vegetarian omega-3 brand founders believe timing is propitious for launch

The brand is the work of cofounders Prateek Agarwal and Shreya Celly.  Agarwal said a worryingly high cholesterol reading during a routine checkup had him thinking about his longterm cardiovascular health, as he had a family history of heart disease. His doctor recommended he take a fish oil supplement as a long term prophylactic measure.

Finding an omega-3 for vegetarians

Trouble was, Agarwal, who grew up in India in a family of practicing Hindus, couldn’t fit fish oil into his vegetarian lifestyle. And in any case after years of eating that way the smell of the product was a nonstarter.

“My entire extended family, none of us ate any meat.  Not even any eggs,” ​he said.

Celly, who grew up in the United States, said she’s been a vegetarian since about the 7th grade.  When fish was recommended to her by a doctor  she said she, too, struggled with the fishy aftertaste of the product.

Agarwal, who has a background in marketing and sustainability, teamed with Celly, who has a biomedical sciences background, to look for an alternative. For the foundation of their brand, Calgee, the pair settled on what is perhaps the longest-established ingredient in the space, Life’s Omega from DSM (previously known as life’s DHA plus EPA).

This ingredient came from the Martek patented process that DSM acquired in 2010 in a deal valued at more than $1 billion. Martek had developed a way to cultivate propriety strains of Schizochytrium​ algae in fermentation-style system.

  At the time of the acquisition, Martek dominated the infant nutrition markets with a high DHA ingredient that could easily be incorporated into bottle feeding formulas.  Adequate DHA is helpful in proper infant brain development.