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Surf City Resident Launches Distilled Spirits Company

RAK Spirits has launched a line of distilled spirits inspired by a popular European fruit brandy called rakija.

Native to the Balkan area, rakija is made by distilling a variety of fruits and adding water.

“There’s no added sugar or artificial flavoring, so all the flavor comes from the actual fruit,” Karina Saranovic-Wukelic, founder and CEO of RAK Spirits, told the Business Journal.
RAK Spirits’ drinks are 33% ABV and come in four different flavors: plum, pear, apricot and grape.

The company’s warehouse and base is in Los Angeles, but Saranovic-Wukelic is focusing her efforts on Orange County distribution with plans to expand into LA and San Diego after.
RAK is currently offered in the Lawry’s prime rib restaurant in Corona del Mar, as well as several stores in Long Beach shopping center at Belmont Shore 2nd Street.

Fashion Line

Huntington Beach resident Saranovic-Wukelic drew from her heritage as a first-generation American with Montenegrin-Polish parents when she came up with RAK Spirits.

Saranovic-Wukelic says her knowledge of sales comes from her experience in commercial real estate.

For the last eight years, she has been CEO of brokerage and advisory firm Producre Inc., which specializes in leasing to clientele in fashion, entertainment and tech.

Sayenza Biosciences Aims For $3.5M Seed Round

Irvine-based medical equipment manufacturer Sayenza Biosciences is raising a $3.5 million seed round to complete product development of its automated fat and stem cell processor.

Sayenza extended its investment deadline into 2024 due to investors being unable to free up liquidity until the first or second quarter of this year, according to the company’s end-of-year update.

The company says it is on track to getting 510(k) clearance in the next couple of months, having already completed a pre-submission meeting with the Food and Drug Administration in December.

The clearance would enable the company to finish building its device by the end of this year and commercially launch by 2025 per its timeline.

Regenerative Cells

Sayenza aims to automate the process of separating stem cells from fat, which contains regenerative cells that can be used for cosmetic enhancements such as Botox
or disease treatments for issues like knee osteoarthritis.

Current fat grafting devices on the market require manual input and are time-consuming, according to Sayenza founder and CEO Derek Banyard.

“Our device has the potential to reduce the amount of manpower and time needed in the operating room,” Banyard told the Business Journal.

Prior to Sayenza, Banyard was the chief scientist at the Center for Tissue Engineering at the University of California, Irvine.

It was during his time at UCI that he learned that fat possessed the same stem cells you’d find in bone marrow.

He then partnered with two UCI professors at the time, Jered Haun and Alan Widgerow, to start Sayenza.

“While there are several competitors in the space, none of them have the intellectual firepower that our company has, which really gives us a true competitive advantage,” Banyard said.

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Sonia Chung
Sonia Chung
Sonia Chung joined the Orange County Business Journal in 2021 as their Marketing Creative Director. In her role she creates all visual content as it relates to the marketing needs for the sales and events teams. Her responsibilities include the creation of marketing materials for six annual corporate events, weekly print advertisements, sales flyers in correspondence to the editorial calendar, social media graphics, PowerPoint presentation decks, e-blasts, and maintains the online presence for Orange County Business Journal’s corporate events.
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