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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 CBDistillery. 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) 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!
Can you tell me the story of your prior successes, challenges, and major responsibilities?
My biggest success before The CBDistillery was Redstone Surgical. Redstone Surgical grew to over 30 employees and $15,000,000 in annual revenue in just over 2 years before it was absorbed by Depuy Mitek, a Johnson and Johnson subsidiary. The biggest challenges during my time with Redstone Surgical was to continue to surpass objectives and create significant value for the company, while in a ruthless and unforgiving space.
Hitting sales goals were tough. Even though we found ways to find grit and hit our objectives, it was a challenge every day. The orthopedic medical sales space is incredibly competitive. The industry is stocked with veteran sales representatives, thousands of competitive companies, and it was a time where most healthcare facilities were looking to cut costs. With persistence, a good team, and great partners we were able to overcome those obstacles and make a great organization which still thrives today within JnJ.
Can you tell me about a time when you almost gave up, how you felt about that, and what you did instead of giving up?
Yes, it wasn’t too long ago- so it’s still fresh in my mind and something I think of often. Silvernest was a struggle at the beginning. We had a lot of difficulties raising capital due to the non-traditional concept (people older than 30 having roommates). We kept getting turned down by investors. That was very draining, and it left us cashless. I wanted to fold everything up, but our CEO- Wendi Burkhardt- talked me off the ledge. We believed in the concept and we needed to keep our nose to the grindstone and be persistent. Not long after that we got funding from 500 Startups… it was a game changer.