We had the pleasure of interviewing Brendan Smith, Co-Founder of The Raw Botanics Co.
Can you share with us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I have been an entrepreneur focused on mobile and online advertising for over 20 years. I was always interested in expanding into natural health and wellness just never found the time. The stress of COVID increased my PTSD and sparked a desire to move into this industry quicker.
While attending college I was stabbed in the chest and hands in a random act of violence. I was lucky to survive but it changed my life forever. Many years after this horrific experience I still suffer from PTSD. When COVID started the stress increased my symptoms: nightmares, disrupted sleep, and anxiety.
I started thinking about my mental and physical health and how natural products could help ease the stress I was feeling as well as boost my immunity during a pandemic. I started to experiment with natural remedies that combined hemp derived minor cannabinoids (CBN, CBG, CBC, CBD) with adaptogens and functional mushrooms.
In short, I needed something to help me, and I ended up building something to help so many others.
The first product that we developed was a sleep aid called REST and it is an absolute game-changer for me. I now sleep without nightmares and wake up feeling refreshed and energized.
Most hemp-based sleep aids contain Melatonin or Valerian Root, both ingredients cause nightmares and vivid dreaming – something that is not good for someone with PTSD or any sleep issues. Furthermore, these ingredients will make you feel groggy the next day. Finally, and this is very important, Melatonin is not safe to use on a regular basis. Melatonin is a natural hormone that is produced by the pineal gland in the brain and then released into the bloodstream. Melatonin helps regulate your sleep cycle. When you ingest “Melatonin” that you buy at the store you are ingesting a synthetic artificial compound (made in China) that basically acts like Melatonin tricking your body into believing it has enough Melatonin. Consequently, it stops or slows your natural production of this important hormone. You are messing with your body’s hormonal balance and that my friends is a very dangerous game, one that I’m not willing to play.
As I explored the CBD industry, I found almost all companies selling CBD sleep aids were using this synthetic lab produced melatonin, yet they all claim their products are natural. Moreover, these companies are charging $50-$100 for a 30-day supply of CBD with Melatonin. What consumers don’t realize is that the Melatonin is what is helping them sleep not the CBD, and they could have purchased 100-day supply of melatonin for under $10! We feel this is nothing short of highway robbery, and consumers deserve better.
We created a 100% natural sleep aid that uses the minor cannabinoid CBN from the hemp plant. It works with your body naturally to improve your deep sleep, regulate your immune system, and relieve pain and inflammation! For many people CBN is a more effective sleep aid than Melatonin and its 100% natural.
You can read more about my PTSD story here
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
When we started looking for product manufactures, we learned that most brands are white labeled and offering nothing unique. They literally just slap a logo on off-the-shelf Tincture, Softgel or Lotions. All of our products are 100% custom formulas. It took us a year of research and development and was much more expensive to start. We feel this is a huge advantage for us and we were shocked when we entered the space how prevalent white labeling is.
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?
Well, it’s funny to look at now because it worked out. However, it was not funny at the time because it cost a great deal of money. From the beginning, we had a mission to be 100% natural and free of sweeteners of any kind. When I was testing our first batch of oil, I noticed it was a little sweeter than I remembered. The scientist working on the formula mentioned it had a tiny bit of stevia, a natural sugar alternative. I approved the run and we went to production. I’m not someone who typically uses any sugar or sugar alternatives, so I was not educated enough on this. When I did my research, I decided we did not want to use stevia or anything to sweeten the product and instead use a custom terpene profile to get our flavors. Consequently, we had to dump thousands of dollars’ worth of product as it did not align with our mission and goals as a company. It was a costly rookie mistake but at the end of the day we got the product we wanted to bring to market.
Are you working on any exciting projects now?
We have an amazing sleep product that uses the minor cannabinoid CBN and is extremely effective. We are working on a project that expands our sleep aids into different strengths and uses minerals like Magnesium to strengthen the sedative effect.
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?
My parents are my inspiration. They raised 6 kids while juggling entrepreneurial endeavors. They taught all of us the value of hard work and how to think outside the box, they also encouraged us to use natural products and holistic wellness. I have a unique and very creative approach to starting businesses and I learned that 100% from them.
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 a very patient and slower growth plan when it comes to marketing. Google and Facebook are still reluctant to fully open to CBD ads. The result is brands are gamming the system, which leads to confusion for consumers. We want to always be transparent and honest with consumers so gamming the systems is not really an option. My advice to all companies is to keep honesty, integrity, education, and the consumers best interest as the top priority when marketing. This is far from the norm in CBD.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Cannabis industry? Can you share 3 things that most concern you?
Can you share your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Leading a Cannabis Business”?
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
Treat them with respect, give them the space to make an impact on your business and never micromanage. Focus on a culture of inclusion and respect and worry less about trying to create the next cool start-up vibe.
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 create a movement of tolerance and respect. We live in a country that continues to appear more divided than ever. I would start a movement that encourages people to accept the things that make us different. After all, it’s these differences that have truly made the United States an amazing country.
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