CFN Media Interviews Grown Rogue CEO Obie Strickler


Rachelle Gordon

April 29th, 2018

News, Top News


The advent of legal cannabis has introduced the world to a dizzying amount of products using a myriad of plant strains. Grown Rogue offers an innovative “seed-to-experience” approach in brand development, shying away from the traditional cultivar names typically found in dispensaries in favor of monikers describing how the consumer will want to feel. The Oregon-based company is dedicated to crafting quality cannabis with a broad mainstream appeal.

CFN Media spoke with Grown Rogue co-founder and CEO Obie Strickler about the company’s innovative product development and their quest to ensure each consumer has, “The right experience every time.”

CFN Media: What is Grown Rogue?

Obie Strickler:  Grown Rogue was formed as a health and wellness company based on the 15-year history and culture of cannabis cultivation that we created here in Oregon. We have a number of licenses in this state, with approximately 90,000 square feet of cultivation capacity that’s been licensed and constructed. We have a distribution license and we put a lot of emphasis on the relationships we create, not only with our business-to-business partners, inside of the dispensaries, but also with the consumers, as we really focus on a “seed-to-experience” branding concept, that’s really unique and different inside of the current industry.

We’re a group of cannabis experts, but also experts in entrepreneurship, sales and marketing, branding, finance, and accounting. We really put together one of the best teams in the industry across all facets from cultivation, branding & marketing to compliance standards. In fact, we have a full-time compliance officer to ensure that we are providing the proper mechanisms through the seed to sale tracking software.

CFN:  What is the innovative “Rogue Study” and how do results influence the brand?

OS:  Our Rogue Study is a way to systematically categorize strains based on “experience” categories. We test our products through laboratory methods, potency, terpene levels and cannabinoid ratios. Everything we do is also Phylos-certified through a genetic profiling process. Simultaneously, we are working with a world-renowned psychology professor out of the University of California Santa Barbara to help us build a consumer survey for people experiencing cannabis products in the moment. The participants fill out a before and after survey that asks certain questions about the mood, and the effects that were created by the products as well as the “experience” that the product helps enhance. This provides us with qualitative and consumer feedback which we then take back to sync with the lab data.

With this information, we created five experienced-based classifications that coordinate with the letters in our name, ROGUE:  Relax, Optimize, Groove, Uplift and Energize. This way, rather than being confused or intimidated, customers can more easily make a purchasing decision based on the experience they are seeking. What we’re really passionate about at Grown Rogue is making cannabis more appealing and approachable to the mainstream – not just to experienced cannabis users.

The survey doesn’t end in six months. This is something we’ll do for years, for the rest of our career, and our company’s progression in this industry. It’s powerful because the consumer is guiding the product classifications. People today want to be so involved. To make them part of our process internally is really amazing. They’re helping to shape the future of our company’s product development strategy.

CFN:  What are your plans for growth over the rest of 2018?

OS:  We are targeting entry into California in 2nd or 3rd quarter of this year through partnership agreements. We’re also working on licensing agreements in other states on the East Coast with our patent-pending nitrogen sealed pre-rolls and exploring licensing opportunities in Nevada.

We are poised for considerable growth. We are obviously excited about not just building a brand that is popular in Oregon and then in California, but a national and then international presence. We’ve looked at opportunities in Canada, whether through partnership or establishing our own presence in that nation, which gives you export potential. Our ultimate goal is to build a lifestyle and wellness brand. We want people across the world to be able to utilize these products in a way that enhances everyday life experience.

CFN:  How does Grown Rogue promote community and why is it important?

OS:  That is a critical component of why my wife and I decided to actually go full in with cannabis; it was the community aspect. We live in an area of Oregon that has been growing and selling marijuana for years and the industry has  always had this negative perception. We wanted to make sure legalization was done right and therefore are very involved with community politics.

People like us who have a passion for the industry and who are professional, who want to be involved in the community, volunteering, being engaged, going to the events, sitting on local community organizations and boards, to ensure that cannabis has a seat at the table is making the difference.

CFN:  Why should potential investors consider Grown Rogue?

OS:  We’re bringing a unique brand into the industry. Very few people have our breadth of operational expertise, business acumen, and ability to execute at scale. Our manufacturing component is robust. Importantly, investors are really interested in Grown Rogue and what we’re doing in terms of branding. That is, how we’re changing and making the purchasing more simple and more approachable for mainstream consumers just newly entering the market.

We have created a lot of traction. We’re very well organized, we’re very focused on creating great products and shareholder value. And we’ve been able to attract a lot of interest from the investment community and expect that to continue, moving forward.

CFN:  What makes a perfect business partner for Grown Rogue?

OS:  The perfect partner for us is someone that brings a skill set or a product or a perspective that we don’t have. Any time you build something that is getting bigger than one person, you’ve got to find others who can add to the equation. You don’t want to be mono-dimensional.

A great example:  right now, we’re not in the edible space and the reason we haven’t gotten into the edible space yet is that we’re not chefs. We started thinking about this and we said, “Okay, we don’t do food internally very well, but there are people that do great food.” We’ve sourced a chocolatier who’s internationally-acclaimed. He was actually interested in cannabis and he was very excited when we approached him, saying, “I’ve talked to a dozen people in the space. None of them really fit my culture and my vision of what I want to do, but wow, you look like the type of company that I’d love to be part of.”

When we look at partners, we’re looking for a strategic alliance in which they bring a new skill set to the table. There’s a natural cultural fit, culture is so important to us, from our team, to our vendors, to our partners. And this chef fills the skill set that we don’t have. We bring cannabis, he brings chocolate, we put those together and we’re going to create a fantastic cannabis chocolate line that enhance Grown Rogue’s current product suite.

There’s a lot of green rushers coming in. That’s not our team; that’s not what we’re about. We’re building something that’s for the long haul: something sustainable, and we’re going about it the right way. This is not a get-rich-quick scheme. We want to change the way people look at the plant and this product on a global scale and all of this work and effort leads consumers to “The Right Experience, Every Time.”

 

Rachelle Gordon

About Rachelle Gordon

Rachelle Gordon is a Minneapolis-based writer. Find her online at www.rachellegordon.net.


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