All views and opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and are not endorsed by or reflective of SUCCESS. As a reader-supported publication, we may receive compensation from the products and services mentioned in this story. Learn more about how we make money and our editorial policies.
With the evolution of science and technology, our ability to analyze various problems and create innovative solutions increases exponentially. While many of these innovations may typically be associated with consumer-facing technology, the health and wellness industry has been a great beneficiary of such advancements. From smart devices to inventive at-home fitness products to effective dietary supplements, scientific achievements have been integral to the recent growth of the health and wellness industry.
In a post COVID-19 world, consumers are caring more about their mental and physical health, spending more money on health and wellness products and services than ever before. Similarly, the Gen Z and millennial generations care deeply about making holistic, healthy and sustainable consumer decisions—and companies are following suit. Economic forecasters expect the health and wellness market to reach over $6 trillion by 2025.
One of the most exciting submarkets within this industry are products making use of functional mushrooms—including supplements and energy drinks. From powders and capsules to jerky, foods and beverages, products powered by functional mushrooms are taking the world by storm. This consumer interest is reflected in the market as the global functional mushroom market size reached $24.97 billion in 2021.
Functional mushrooms positively impact health in so many ways. This is due, in part, to the nootropic, adaptogenic and beta glucan compounds they contain. Nootropics can enhance brain function and mental performance, helping to increase memory, concentration, alertness, mood and attention span.
Adaptogens are naturally occurring substances that help the body to adapt to stress, counteracting the negative effects it can have on our endocrine, neurological and immune systems. At the cellular level, adaptogens work through balancing the adrenal, pituitary and hypothalamic glands, which are key to the body’s stress response. Research suggests that these amazing compounds may help to reduce symptoms of fatigue and depression while increasing attention and work capacity.
Found in the cell walls of mushrooms like cordyceps and lion’s mane, beta glucan is a natural polysaccharide (or type of soluble fiber) that can do wonders for human health. It has the potential to lower cholesterol and blood pressure, boost immune response, inhibit tumor growth, fight against harmful bacteria and improve bone health.
When running his first health and wellness company as the CEO of a Hemp CBD company, Frohman became intrigued with the health benefits functional mushrooms offered. At the time, Frohman and his team were avid consumers of popular mushroom-based drink powders. After selling his CBD business, and smack in the middle of the COVID pandemic, Frohman decided to pursue a new venture that he was truly passionate about.
As founder and CEO of Odyssey Wellness, Frohman keenly identified a white space in the industry and seized the opportunity. Frohman realized that most mushroom products were stuck in the dietary supplement aisles—and tasted terrible. He came up with the idea for a mushroom-based drink that harnessed the transformational health benefits of mushrooms while also providing the refreshing and flavorful drinking experience missing from products on the market. There was one problem. He could not mask the bitter taste and gritty feel inherent in the mushroom products he had tried. He began a research and development process that spanned over a year and a half and resulted in countless prototypes, until Odyssey Elixir was born.
Frohman worked with an organic functional mushroom supplier that utilized an innovative extraction method. By removing the insoluble fiber, the extract becomes a concentrated dose of all the active compounds in each mushroom. The real bonus was that this method removed that bitter, muddy taste most people associate with mushroom-based products. This was a game changer, which allowed him to create the beverage he had envisioned with a taste profile that is unparalleled in the functional mushroom space.
The timing of Frohman’s realization was the perfect storm. COVID was gripping the nation and Netflix had just released a highly popular documentary on mushrooms titled Fantastic Fungi. This documentary helped consumers understand the holistic potential of mushrooms, garnering interest for the fungi and products heralding their benefits, including immunity. It also helped facilitate public awareness and acceptance at a consumer and commercial level across North America.
With versatile applications and a wide array of health benefits, health professionals across the globe are coming to realize just how potent and beneficial mushrooms are. Professionals such as Jillian Kubala, MS, RD, state how valuable mushrooms are for increasing mental clarity, focus and endurance; producing sustainable energy levels; improving overall immunity and facilitating positive moods, among other health benefits.
Consumers around the country, in all demographics, are resonating with Odyssey Elixir’s sparkling beverages due to their great taste and ability to deliver clean energy, improved focus, enhanced moods and boosted immune health. Odyssey Elixir emphasizes organic ingredients and low-carb natural sweeteners with an impressive dose of 2500 mg of fruiting body extract from mushrooms exceeding what most commercial products deliver.
Frohman never puts unnecessary chemicals in his drinks. There’s only 85 mg of natural caffeine from green tea and he uses natural fruit extracts like passionfruit, blackberry, dragon fruit, lemon, orange, guava and ginger. The sparkling elixirs are a hit and Frohman is working on adding more flavor-forward profiles to the line as well as caffeine-free options.
“We like to think of Odyssey as a new functional energy beverage that is sweeping the nation right now,” Frohman says. “We believe consumers are drifting away from typical energy drinks that have dominated the market for decades and are really gravitating toward a beverage like Odyssey that traverses that gap between energy and functional beverages. We know we are on to something big and the market trends are reflecting that shift as well. We are positioned at the intersection of the $86 billion energy drink and $118 billion functional beverage market; we believe that is what is giving us our edge and our rapid acceptance into the market.”
The holistic health benefits of Odyssey Elixir particularly resonate with the Gen Z and millennial generations’ conscious consumer philosophies. It is also a hit with the baby boomer generation because of its ability to help preserve and improve brain function, focus and memory in an aging population. Frohman also looks to serve other consumer trends and market subcultures, such as E-Gamers and sober-curious individuals. Frohman believes that Odyssey Elixir is perfect for those looking to switch from heavily caffeinated, sugar-laden, artificially-sweetened, and alcoholic drinks to healthier, cleaner beverages that only deliver side benefits, not side effects. It is also perfect for individuals sticking to a wide variety of diets as the drinks are lower in carbs.
Odyssey’s footprint is growing rapidly in just a little over a year with major milestones including signing on with key distributors like UNFI and KeHE, making the product available in thousands of stores nationwide. Odyssey Elixir can be found in more than 5,000 stores across the country including Erewhon Market and Lazy Acres in Los Angeles, Central Market in Dallas, Nuggets in Northern California, Publix in Florida, Fresh Thyme in the Midwest, and many other independent and chain stores. It is also available in select GNC Stores, in more than 350 CVS stores and on Amazon as well as Thrive Market
Frohman is now a leader amongst other mushroom-based product entrepreneurs. One of the true signs of the growing popularity and consumer demand for this niche is the increase in celebrity endorsements of mushrooms. Kim Kardashian and Gwyneth Paltrow have shared how much they rely on mushroom-based drinks for their health; some are even pursuing their own brands in the industry! In addition to Odyssey Elixir, brands like FreshCap, Four Sigmatic, KOS, MUD/WTR and Rize are helping to push the industry forward.
Frohman is committed to educating consumers as a thought leader in mushroom health benefits and entrepreneurship. To give his take on the market and discuss his expertise, Frohman is hoping to engage and help educate consumers on the health benefits of mushrooms, with his products recently featured on GoodDay NY (FOX5), Bloom TV, ShroomBoom magazine and other trade industry publications. Frohman also ensures the Odyssey Elixir blog has a wealth of educational content and constantly updates it with new information and studies.
Drawing on his knowledge of the science behind the transformational benefits of mushrooms, Frohman seized an opportunity to create greater access to mushroom power. Leveraging his entrepreneurial savvy and past entrepreneurial experience in the health and wellness industry, Frohman threaded the needle and executed his vision. Honoring his passion for mushrooms, health and wellness, Frohman and his team are scaling his company across the country while staying true to his mission and having fun.