In this week's episode, host Karson Humiston had the pleasure of sitting down with Missy Bradley, Head of Marketing & Sales, and Co-Founder at Ripple. Missy shared her journey of entering the cannabis industry, the growth of Ripple, and the unique marketing challenges faced by cannabis brands. Join us as we delve into Missy's inspiring story and gain valuable insights into the thriving world of cannabis.
Getting into the Industry
Missy's adventure in the cannabis industry began when a childhood friend from New York approached her for help in introducing a cannabis company in Colorado. Initially hesitant due to her lack of cannabis experience and concerns about leaving her safe and established career, Missy eventually recognized the potential of this industry and decided to take the plunge. Starting part-time in 2014 and transitioning to full-time in 2015, Missy embraced the opportunity to learn and grow alongside her co-founders as the industry itself was still evolving.
Ripple's Original Concept
Ripple's original concept revolved around microdosed loose-leaf tea products, specifically designed to relax consumers without intoxication. However, dispensaries initially hesitated due to the perceived high price for low THC dosages. Missy faced the challenge of convincing buyers and consumers that there was a place for products offering a milder experience in a market focused on high-dosage and low-cost options.
Early Days of Ripple
In the early days of Ripple, Missy and her team operated as a small but dedicated group, manufacturing and selling the products themselves. This hands-on approach allowed Missy to understand the intricacies of the business and build lasting relationships within the industry. The team received valuable feedback from buyers and vendors, leading them to pivot and introduce a water-soluble, loose-leaf cannabis powder that could be added to any beverage or food. This expansion of offerings and their unique approach helped Ripple become the top beverage option in Colorado within the first year.
Continuing to Grow the Ripple Team
After a successful first year, Ripple expanded its team, with a particular focus on manufacturing and marketing. Missy emphasized the importance of having boots on the ground, which led them to invest in a core events team. This grassroots approach allowed Ripple to build brand awareness and connect with consumers directly.
Early Days of Investment in Ripple
Missy shared insights into Ripple's early rounds of funding, driven by expansion plans and the introduction of new products, including CBD variants. Finding investors who not only understood the cannabis industry but also aligned with Ripple's mission and goals was crucial to their growth.
Ripple's Expansion into New Markets
Before expanding into new markets, Ripple spent considerable time researching regulations and identifying markets that align with their operational strategies. Their expansion into Michigan, a state with a regulatory framework similar to Colorado, allowed them to leverage existing connections and launch successfully. However, the unexpected crash in the Michigan cannabis market required Ripple to readjust its approach, leading to a partnership with a licensing partner who could carry the business forward.
Cannabis' Unique Marketing Challenges
Missy discussed the marketing challenges faced by cannabis brands, especially the restrictions that prevent targeted marketing and sampling opportunities. She shared an incident where Ripple faced unfair treatment compared to alcohol vendors at a wedding expo. These limitations hinder the industry's ability to reach potential consumers and drive traffic to dispensaries, limiting growth opportunities.
The State of Ripple Today
Despite the industry's current lows, Missy emphasized that Ripple is on an upswing, thanks to their adaptability and consumer-focused approach. She highlighted the company's commitment to product innovation and their ability to pivot quickly to meet market demands. This agility allowed Ripple to introduce new offerings, such as flavored powders and dissolvable tablets, catering to a wider range of consumer preferences. Additionally, Missy discussed Ripple's strong emphasis on education and transparency. They prioritize educating consumers about the benefits and responsible use of cannabis, while also being transparent about their manufacturing processes and sourcing. This approach has helped build trust and credibility with their audience, setting Ripple apart in an industry that still battles with stigmas and misconceptions. Missy also expressed her excitement about Ripple's recent partnerships with licensed distributors in multiple states. By collaborating with established distributors who have existing networks and relationships, Ripple has been able to expand its reach and ensure a consistent supply chain. This strategic growth has allowed Ripple to enter new markets more effectively, overcoming the challenges faced in previous expansion attempts. Looking ahead, Missy shared Ripple's vision for the future. They aim to continue expanding into new states, focusing on markets that align with their values and have supportive regulatory environments.
Proud to Work in Cannabis
Missy Bradley's journey with Ripple showcases the entrepreneurial spirit and determination that drives professionals in the cannabis industry. Despite the unique challenges posed by regulations and stigma, Missy's passion for cannabis and commitment to creating high-quality, consumer-centric products have propelled Ripple forward. As the cannabis industry continues to mature, professionals like Missy Bradley are paving the way for innovation, education, and responsible consumption. Through their experiences and stories, we gain valuable insights into the evolving landscape of cannabis and the bright future that lies ahead.
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