Olive Oil Feud: The Social Media Spat Between Graza and Brightland

Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but not in the world of start-ups.

There was drama this week in the olive oil business — and it unfolded on LinkedIn, the online haven of start-up feuds, oversharing and self-mythologizing odes to #founder culture.

An angry post by the olive oil entrepreneur Andrew Benin caused a stir in a small corner of the internet food world, in part because it raised a slippery question: Who owns the squeeze bottle?

Mr. Benin is the chief executive and co-founder of Graza, a direct-to-consumer start-up launched in 2022 that sells olive oil in squeezable, forest-green plastic bottles designed for optimal drizzling and Instagramming. Whole Foods sells it, Bon Appétit gave it a rave, and Food & Wine magazine called it a “cool kid olive oil.” As The Wall Street Journal noted this year, Graza struck a “sweet spot” in the market with its two extra-virgin olive oil bottles, the Drizzle ($20) and the Sizzle ($15).

After quality and shipping issues last holiday season, Mr. Benin apologized to over 30,000 customers in an unusually heartfelt and detailed email. That gesture, along with posts on Graza’s blog (the “Glog,” as the company calls it), painted a picture of an enthusiastic founder.

“Get used to it,” Ju Rhyu, the chief executive and co-founder of Hero Cosmetics, wrote in a tweet about what she called “olive oil copycat-gate.” She attached four photos of products that appeared to mimic one of her own company’s products, the Mighty Patch.

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