Meet Mark Kohoot, founder of Aeroscena LLC
, a developer of Ascents clinical aromatherapy, which works with top medical and aromatherapy experts to develop scientifically formulated essential oil blends.
The goal is to allow those experiencing distressing medical symptoms, such as anxiety, insomnia, post-operative nausea, pain management and attention deficits, to live healthier lives via the use of natural inhalation therapy. The company has three employees, three independent sales reps and a board of 11.
How did you come to be an entrepreneur?
This is my second effort at being an entrepreneur. Previously, I had an export management and technology consultancy -- a solo small-scale business. So I guess being an entrepreneur was in my blood all along.
Aeroscena was founded because the business case was so compelling, and the thought of returning to a Fortune 500 company had lost its appeal. You can do so much more in a startup than you can in a specific role at a large company. For many, this is comforting, but for me, it was constraining because I have a million interests and lots of curiosity, which can be explored through the necessity of a startup. One day I'm doing product design; another day, it's chemistry, another PR, another marketing and web design. Wearing a lot of hats takes a lot of work, but I like it.
What is the biggest struggle or hurdle you had to overcome and how did you overcome it?
The biggest struggle of any startup is funding. Everything takes twice as long, and is three times as expensive as planned. We managed, after a few close calls, to keep focused on our mission. Little victories helped us find generous benefactors who shared our mission and whose investment kept us moving forward.
Where do you source your essential oils from?
We're very careful to source from suppliers whose farming methods and distillation can be verified. A big thanks to Mary Ellen Drewes of Aroma de Terra
, who has more than 25 years of experience sourcing essential oils from all over the world. She helped us get the best, most consistent and contaminant-free pure essential oils.
How is aromatherapy proven to work in clinical settings?
Our Ascents delivery system can be placed in plain white wrappers, randomized and controlled with a placebo. By working with hospitals and following standard medical and scientific protocols. We like to apply the same scientific rigor as would be required of a new pharmaceutical, even though, as a natural product, essential oils are not FDA regulated to the same extent.
On the consumer side, what are your most popular formulas?
Sleep is an easy top seller. Though we know that our formula works well; the possibility that there are simply many people with sleep problems and that their population is larger, creating a bigger pool of customers.
Calm is in second place. While Curb, Energize and Focus are evenly tied for third place.
How is clinical aromatherapy different than traditional aromatherapy?
Clinical aromatherapy is the controlled use of essential oils for specific, measurable outcomes. These effects can occur at a physical or psychological level. Traditional aromatherapy is helpful to many, but not with the consistency, control and ease of use required by medical professionals.
What do you do to blow off steam or relax?
Nothing out of the ordinary, though my wife and I love the Ohio and Erie Canal towpath trail
. Regular fitness does help keep things in balance. For fun, contemporary art has become a big part of my life, and I have even started working with a few local artists to promote their work.
Who is your hero, and why?
My father was very important, and I have had several mentors who have selflessly helped me build a good business. But hero is such an overused term -- until a recent experience with one of our founding shareholders, Dr. Tanya Edwards, who really defines the word.
Tanya recently passed away after long battle with cancer. For years, she worked tirelessly to legitimize and prove complementary medicine as a viable way to treat many diseases. From virtually nothing, she built the Cleveland Clinic Center for Integrative Medicine
, which is now named in her honor.
So, a dedication to others in the face of challenges, strength and graciousness when all was lost, and the fulfillment of life's purpose while being so universally loved made Tanya my first true hero.