What’s your backstory?
I grew up in Edina, Minnesota. After completing High School, I attended the University of Colorado in Boulder, CO. After graduation in 2008 I went to work for Johnson and Johnson as an orthopedic medical device sales representative in Chicago, IL. After two and a half years working for JnJ in Chicago I was offered a job by a new JnJ distributor in Denver, CO. I promptly moved back and helped start a business called- Redstone Surgical. We were a distributor for a number of companies in the orthopedic space, the most recognized company was JnJ. Myself and my partners quickly grew that business to 30+ sales representatives across 3 states. 3 years after it conception, JnJ purchased the distributorship from us.
I then attended W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and got my MBA with an emphasis in finance and marketing. This opened my eyes up to a whole other world outside of the medical device space. I quickly linked up with a veteran entrepreneur, Wendi Burkhardt, and helped her start the technology company- Silvernest. My time at Silvernest helped shape who I am today. Silvernest was a fast paced, venture back, struggling start-up. We worked our tails off every day to make it work. This allowed me to learn all areas of the business, something I was not able to do in my previous endeavors. We were fortunate enough to be funded by 500 Startups, which also had a top accelerator program in San Francisco. Myself and Wendi left our families back in Colorado and moved to San Francisco for 4 months to participate in 500 Startups accelerator program.
That program changed my life, and after completion, my knowledge of technology and how to run a successful business grew immensely. Wendi was CEO and my title was VP of business development and product. A few months after completing the program I felt that I had to leave Silvernest to do what I sought out to do, become a CEO and lead a successful organization that could change the world. I was lucky enough to meet Lincoln Sorenson and Andy Papilion.
They had started a small company called The CBDistillery. The CBDistillery sold hemp-based CBD Isolate- an ingredient used in many CBD products. They had a great product, industry knowledge, and knack for business. However, they were missing the technical and sales side of the business. After doing some consultant work with them for a few months I was fortunate enough to have them ask me to be the CEO.
Since that day a couple years ago it’s been a rocket ship ride. When I started, there were 4 employees- now (just a couple years later) nearly 50 and that number is increasing by the day. There was also one product, now we have over 800. It’s been an interesting past 8 years digging through the trenches, working day-in and day-out to get where I am today. And it’s just the beginning!
If someone would want to emulate your career, what would you suggest are the most important things to do?
Work harder than anyone else. Stay competitive in all aspects of business. Learn to listen to people, most are smarter than you. Never stop learning. Be nice to everyone. Finally, nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.
What are the most exciting projects you are working on now?
We are turning our one-brand company into a house of brands, which is extremely exciting. We built CBDistillery into a Goliath in a small amount of time, targeting the health and wellness space. The brand is top-notch, however there is a massive market for hemp derived CBD as a healthcare supplement. Therefore, we are working on building new brands that appeal to individuals who need CBD for a specific ailment, rather than overall health and well-being.