From the 'Oh Fs' to Success: Building a Leading Cannabis Brand with Peter Barsoom

Vangst/May 24, 2023

hero-graphic-From the 'Oh Fs' to Success: Building a Leading Cannabis Brand with Peter Barsoom

Changing the Game – How 1906 is Redefining the Cannabis Industry

Peter Barsoom is the CEO & Founder of 1906, and he believes in the transformative power of cannabis. He is proud to work in the cannabis industry because he sees it as an amazing plant medicine that can heal and bring about positive societal change.

Before 1906

Before entering the cannabis industry, Peter worked in finance in New York for 20 years. In 2014, he decided to leave his job and embark on a journey to revolutionize the cannabis industry. At the time, legalized cannabis markets were just opening up. However, instead of finding a well-functioning market with a diverse range of products, Peter discovered that the industry was still catering primarily to heavy male cannabis consumers. He questioned why there weren't brands and products that spoke to a broader demographic like himself and his co-founder, Gita. Despite initial doubts about the industry's readiness for his ideas, Peter pressed on.

The Conversation That Changed It All

During a pivotal conversation with Christian Sederberg, 1906's lawyer, Peter realized that there was room for growth and innovation in the cannabis industry. Previously, the Colorado market had focused on cheap, high-potency flower and gummies. Peter recognized the limitations of these products and sought to create a cannabis experience that was approachable, fast-acting, and customizable, similar to alcohol. Christian validated Peter's vision and encouraged him to pursue his ideas. This conversation, which took place in January 2015, marked a turning point for 1906.

Experience Launching in Colorado

Although 1906 produced its first R&D batch in April 2015, it took over a year and a half to officially launch the products in the market. This delay was due to the challenges of obtaining a license and securing a location. Despite the unexpected hurdles, Peter remained committed to bringing his vision to life.

Initial Funding of 1906

Peter initially assumed that obtaining funding for his company would be easy, given his background in finance. However, many individuals and institutions were hesitant to invest in the cannabis industry due to the uncertainty surrounding it. As a result, Peter and Gita had to bootstrap the company for the first year and actively seek funding from various sources. This experience taught Peter the importance of continuous fundraising.

The Success of 1906

The core mission of 1906 was to make cannabis accessible, safe, and effective for individuals who were either flower enthusiasts or seeking alternatives to alcohol and pharmaceuticals. The company aimed to address two major problems in the market. First, edibles took too long to take effect, leading to impatience and potential overconsumption. Second, existing edible products were often comprised of weed and sugar, lacking specificity and quality. Peter wanted to create a fast-acting, reliable, and effect-specific cannabis experience.

The Launch of 1906

When 1906 launched, they introduced three products: Go, Pause (now Chill), and Midnight. These products were packaged as individual-sized truffles. However, the launch was not initially deemed a success. The packaging lacked clarity on the effects of the products and struggled to stand out among the competition. Dispensaries were also skeptical, considering the products overpriced and requesting a lower dosage option. Convincing budtenders to stock 1906 on their shelves was a challenge since they predominantly catered to heavy cannabis users.

The Shift to Success

In February 2017, national magazines Cosmopolitan and Penthouse featured 1906's newest product line, Love. This exposure brought 1906 into the mainstream and significantly boosted the company's growth. It sparked a discussion about the difficulties of advertising in the cannabis industry. Peter acknowledged the positive impact of national press in changing perceptions and opening doors for the brand.

While 1906 initially pursued a licensing and white-label strategy to expand into new markets, they soon realized the importance of maintaining control over their production and sales processes. Peter believes that maintaining ownership over manufacturing and distribution is essential to ensure consistency and quality across different markets.

The Future & Predictions for the Industry

Peter envisions a future where 1906 is a household name and cannabis is easily accessible to all. He hopes to see advancements in dispensary sales and online availability to maximize accessibility. Peter also emphasizes the need to overcome regulatory hurdles, expand the number of dispensaries, offer delivery services, and embrace a free market approach.

Advice for Entrepreneurs

Based on his experiences, Peter advises entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry to anticipate longer timelines and higher costs. The regulatory environment, along with the challenges of fundraising and building a brand, requires patience, resilience, and strategic planning.

Proud to Work in Cannabis

Peter Barsoom's journey with 1906 exemplifies the determination and innovation needed to succeed in the cannabis industry. By identifying market gaps, addressing industry challenges, and advocating for accessibility, 1906 continues to make a significant impact. Listen to the full episode of Proud to Work in Cannabis to gain valuable insights from Peter's experiences and learn more about the future of the industry.

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