When Mark Mueller MS’67 founded Botanic Innovations in early 2000, he was selling plant-seed oils a gallon at a time, largely to home-based skin-care businesses.
Today, Spooner-based Botanic Innovations, LLC has 15 employees, manufactures skin-care products and dietary supplements, sells plant-seed products to manufacturers by the barrel, and has partnered to move its products by the container load into Asian markets.
All of this is thanks to a guy who earned a master’s degree in water resources management from UW-Madison in 1967.
“My experience at UW-Madison helped me develop critical thinking and lifelong learning skills,” says Mueller. “For a lot of people, what they start out doing isn’t going to be what their lifelong career is going to be, so those skills are important.”
Mueller, the firm’s founder and chief technical officer, is proof of that. After a stint as a special operations Naval officer in Vietnam, Mueller’s career took him to hydrology in Vermont and then economic development in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
The Appleton native helped boost Wisconsin’s economy and environment at the Northwest Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, where he eventually became executive director.
My experience at UW-Madison helped me develop critical thinking and lifelong learning skills.
On the side, though, Mueller founded Botanic Innovations. It started with an eye toward developing plant-oil biodegradable lubricants, but when that proved unworkable, the firm reinvented itself.
Today, its products — including consumer product line Immuno-Viva — are made with the firm’s proprietary NatureFRESH Cold Press technology, protected by three approved patents for claims on the use of cold-pressed botanical seed oils.
The firm recently created SO Plus, a ready-to-eat nutrition gel containing its fruit seed powders and oils, and teamed with Singapore-based AXXA Global for distribution and marketing.
“It’s sold in Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan, and, later this year, in other Asian countries,” Mueller says. “There is tremendous opportunity for growth for Botanic Innovations. That’s good for Washburn County.”
And for Mueller — a life-long student of botany — to exemplify the Wisconsin Idea, it’s great for the University of Wisconsin–Madison.