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Mar 22, 2019

This episode features interviews with two entrepreneurs that are advancing the conversation for cannabis-infused food and beverage brands: Jonathan Eppers, founder and CEO of Vybes, and Kristy Knoblick Palmer,co-founder and COO of Kiva Confections.

A tech executive-turned-beverage entrepreneur, Eppers joined us for a discussion about the launch and development of Vybes, a CBD-infused water brand that leads with the tagline “Mind + Body Function.” Eppers discussed why he’s embraced CBD, why “borrowing brand equity” has been key to Vybes’ marketing strategy and what’s in store for 2019.

Our interview with Palmer focuses on her budding business of Kiva Confections, a maker of cannabis-infused chocolates, mints and gummies. Launched in 2010, Kiva products are sold at cannabis dispensaries in five states, including its home market of California. In our interview, she spoke about the Kiva’s origins, its branding strategy, how the company differentiates its products and how it drives trial. She also discussed the evolution of the cannabis industry and the mainstreaming of cannabis products, while also offering advice to entrepreneurs looking to break into the space.

Show notes:

1:34: WTF is Smoobucha? -- The hosts riffed on a bunch of new products sent to the office over the past week, including Odwalla’s new smoothie and kombucha blend, and how food and beverage brands are attempting to educate consumers about responsible use of cannabis-infused products.

11:14: Interview: Jonathan Eppers, Founder/CEO, Vybes -- In an interview recorded in West Hollywood, BevNET’s Mike Schneider and John Craven spoke with Eppers about his career prior to the launch of Vybes, which included work with eHarmony and Google and the launch of a startup called RadPad. He also discussed Vybes’ branding and marketing strategy, the company’s thoughtful approach to distribution, and offered his take on isolate vs. full spectrum CBD.

27:10: Interview: Kristi Knoblich Palmer, Co-Founder/COO, Kiva Confections -- Palmer sat down with BevNET’s Mike Schneider and Jeff Klineman at Natural Products Expo West 2019 for a conversation about Kiva and its development as one of the leading THC-infused food brands. Palmer spoke about Kiva’s mission to offer consumers a better edible experience, the rapid growth of the cannabis industry, how the company infuses its core values into packaging and why she believes that food will help expand opportunities for THC consumption. She also discussed effect-based marketing, why “budtenders” often guide consumer decisions, and made a prediction about federal legalization of cannabis.

Brands in this episode: Vybes, Kiva Confections, Odwalla, WTRMLN WTR, Banzo Bites, Smari, Klackers, Kiito, Lumen