Industry

Focus on Product Strategy as Opposed to Marketing Strategy, with David Elias

I try hard not to give advice. It feels like a setup to sound like someone I wouldn’t want to take advice from. I would rather share my experience. My experience has been to get your team fully on board with the vision, you need to lead by example. And in my case, the example is simple, I would rather die than lose, we are laser-focused around our mission to change the way people view cannabis. Working at Lowell is life changing. Our team proves every single day that the impossible is possible, and this work environment extends to their personal lives as well. When you are around like-minded people that all share that same energy, what you can create is only limited by what you can imagine. I truly believe that. We are a group of people that understand that the laws around cannabis were unfair. We are working hard to change the global perception about the plant. Our mission is clear, and we all work towards it every day with focus and drive. We take our fun product very seriously.

I had the pleasure of interviewing David Elias, CEO & Co-Founder of Lowell Herb Co. David Elias has built a successful and varied background in marketing, technology and finance, and is now focused on building the first great American cannabis brand. In 2000, Elias founded Noise Marketing, acquired in 2010, and later founded TraderOS in 2011, acquired in 2015. He brings a unique mix of talent and hustle with an ability to assemble the very best teams to execute on his vision. In 2017, Elias founded The Hacienda, the parent company for Lowell Herb Co., which has become the #1 brand in California. Lowell Herb Co. is one of the fastest growing, most talked about cannabis companies in North America. Its signature product, Lowell Smokes, is the number one selling pre-roll in California. Available in over 300 dispensaries, Lowell cultivates and sources flowers grown by award winning farms that grow only with organic fertilizer.

Thank you for joining us! Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Our original vision for the Lowell brand was to stay on our small family farm and offer our boutique product to a handful of the top retailers in the state. We had our farm staff helping to curate our first blends and roll our pre-rolls. At some point, a few months in, I decided to weigh them. As it turned out, our first packs of Lowell smokes were significantly overweight, our six gram packs where closer to eight grams. I learned two valuable lessons. Lesson one, scales are important which is comical now. And the second lesson, which is much more important, quality control would become a constant theme as we have scaled our business. Today, almost two years later we are proud to say we now roll almost 35,000 joints a day, and we have quality control on every part of the process.

Are you working on any exciting projects now?

The team at Lowell is always working on exciting projects. We recently purchased a 63-acre farm in Santa Ynez Valley. It’s an absolutely breathtaking property, and we have plans to grow our first harvest this summer. At the end of the 2018, we were awarded an on-site consumption license in West Hollywood. We are currently working diligently towards opening the Lowell Farms: A Cannabis Café — the first of its kind in California. To round out 2019, we are currently launching our Hemp CBD Smokes that will be available on our website, nationwide and in Europe and Australia in the coming months. It’s a very exciting time at Lowell.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I don’t have a person, but I do have people that I am grateful towards. We are all so fortunate to be in this position and we have to pay homage and give thanks to all of the people that opened the door to legalization. People that were growing cannabis for decades here in California, and the real pioneers who opened up the first medical dispensaries in CA. People in states like Colorado that pushed for recreational legalization before any of the other states were willing to consider it. And finally, to the politicians today, that are vocal about reversing their outdated ideas about cannabis.

This industry is young dynamic and creative. Do you use any clever and innovative marketing strategies that you think large legacy companies should consider adopting?

We have been able to find tremendous success with one simple strategy. Create products that people love. We put everything we have into product strategy as opposed to marketing strategy. From there we leverage word of mouth by getting the product into the hands of people who appreciate craft cannabis products.

What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?

I try hard not to give advice. It feels like a setup to sound like someone I wouldn’t want to take advice from. I would rather share my experience. My experience has been to get your team fully on board with the vision, you need to lead by example. And in my case, the example is simple, I would rather die than lose, we are laser-focused around our mission to change the way people view cannabis. Working at Lowell is life changing. Our team proves every single day that the impossible is possible, and this work environment extends to their personal lives as well. When you are around like-minded people that all share that same energy, what you can create is only limited by what you can imagine. I truly believe that. We are a group of people that understand that the laws around cannabis were unfair. We are working hard to change the global perception about the plant. Our mission is clear, and we all work towards it every day with focus and drive. We take our fun product very seriously.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I would like to see this industry create a system whereby people affected by nonviolent cannabis crimes can get jobs in this new industry. I would like to see anyone battling with pain or opioid addiction have access to cannabis to see if they can move off of opioids to a much safer option. And finally, I would love to see more people in power speak to the fact that our old ideas around cannabis were not based in fact, and that we created a policy about cannabis that has nothing to do with the plant and its risks. Let’s look at this fact, cannabis as a Schedule One drug means that the federal government currently thinks that cannabis is more dangerous than cocaine and Fentanyl — you must be kidding me.

Thank you for these great insights!

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