“From an entrepreneurial perspective, you almost have to be a little bit crazy and say ‘You know what? I’m going to take the leap of faith and I’m going to throw in everything I’ve got at this and there’s no other option. I have to make this happen because I’ve put everything into it.’ And that’s what both me and my partner did.”
– David Lluncor
Jason and Joel welcome David Lluncor, Co-Founder of White Rabbit OG, to his first-ever podcast. In an action-packed 50 minutes, David covers a lot of ground quickly – just like his company has done since launching their plant-based, all-natural, vegan gummies in July 2020.
Having made a career out of helping brands to thrive in the food and beverage retail industry, David credits his success to building strong connections and relationships wherever he goes. In this episode of The Extraction Insiders, David talks about a familiar shift from food and beverage to cannabis, how he thinks that educating consumers and “bud-tenders” alike can evolve the industry, and his mission to elevate and transform what consumers expect from a cannabis edible. David also delves into White Rabbit’s R&D process and teases some delicious new flavours coming soon.
Despite the challenges and obstacles of entrepreneurship, all of David’s hard work feels worth it when consumers get what the brand is all about: “You guys are Alice in Wonderland!”
[0:00] TEASER: How many products never see the light of day? Lots! Though an Alice-in-Wonderland-inspired turkey-flavoured gummy would have been fun…
[2:00] Joel and Jason welcome David Lluncor of White Rabbit OG to his first-ever podcast. David talks about his background in food and beverage sales. He was quickly drawn to natural foods, and when CBD came onto his radar, he saw the opportunity for innovation in Canada. Edibles were David’s way of tying his cannabis startup experience back to food and beverage.
[5:58] What gaps did David see in the edibles market? There were a lot of products with gelatin and not a lot with plant-based or natural ingredients. David and his team differentiated themselves in the market by making edibles for people interested in eating clean.
[8:57] How do you figure out what consumers want, and expect? For one, a lot of (non-infused!) sampling. For another, keeping up with industry trends in the food and beverage world.
[9:45] What an unusual year to break into the Canadian market and blaze a trail – a challenge David describes as both fun and interesting. How did COVID change the usual entrepreneurship process and the competitive space, for the worse and for the better?
[12:50] How do cannabis conversations differ from food and beverage? Ultimately, it’s about proving why your product deserves space in the store. But unlike drinks, or candy, most stores don’t have entire aisles for cannabis…
[14:18] David has worked with a lot of businesses, in a variety of different roles. He talks about his biggest takeaways and his key to success: relationship-building. “Always treat everybody the way that you’d like to be treated, because you never know where that individual’s going to be in their life.”
[16:13] Consumers are becoming increasingly savvy about what’s in their products and how their products are made. It’s no longer about the highest amount of THC for the lowest amount of dollars. Packaging restrictions aside, how does David get the important message about White Rabbit’s quality out to his customers? It’s all about education and knowledge creation among “bud-tenders.”
[18:18] Is it easy to get face-time with bud-tenders and distributors? Not necessarily the first time – but this is why David keeps coming back to solid long-term relationship building. Trust and transparency take time.
[21:45] Booming demand can be a blessing and a curse. David talks about how he has been able to scale his business while still catering to customers’ needs. Without infrastructure to support growth, it all starts to crumble. A key component of this infrastructure is a like-minded team, and connections that span across Canada.
[23:55] The cannabis industry advances in dog years: seven “cannabis years” can happen in one calendar year. Does David have a Plan A? Or is it Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, and more because everything changes so quickly? How does one scale from a benchtop sample to 30,000 cases/month?
[26:30] “How do you guys do what you do?” David talks about White Rabbit’s operational logistics, from extraction to manufacturing to packaging and distribution to provincial sites.
[28:48] Financing can be difficult in the cannabis space, especially raising capital for highly specialized equipment. Investors are increasingly discerning, so to prove themselves, David and Kyrsten invested their own hard-earned capital and started work in a basement. “It was a hell of a ride.”
[31:47] How long does it take to develop a new product? Weeks to months. New formulations are tasted and tested on a weekly basis.
[32:40] David talks about shelf stability and production timelines. How can White Rabbit achieve a one year shelf-life minimum while offering the freshest product possible?
[34:23] Are edibles bringing cannabis to a new market segment that wouldn’t have enjoyed cannabis previously – Joel’s mom and dad, maybe? Absolutely! David relays a recent edibles conversation with a 70-year old customer. Market segmentation data shows that there’s a significant base of people who are intrigued by edibles.
[36:12] If edibles are opening up a new door, is there also a risk? “It’s not doing anything; maybe I’ll have another one…” New consumers – like David’s father-in-law – can have positive experiences when armed with the right information and education.
[39:52] I remember my first time… Edibles can be a great first experience for the cannabis-curious - but can easily become their last experience. David talks about his first cannabis oil vape experience at the movies, and why since then, he recommends that consumers start “low and slow.”
[42:12] What advice does David have for people thinking about moving into the edibles space? How can entrepreneurs figure out how to add value and differentiate themselves?
[44:49] What is it about sales in cannabis that gets David excited? Working with companies from the ground up. Everyone loves to root for the underdog – and White Rabbit is an underdog.
[46:50] What’s next? For White Rabbit, new flavours are launching soon, including raspberry white chocolate (1:1) and Napa valley blackberry (1:4). Exciting things are also happening on the CBD side – stay tuned!
[49:34] If David could go back and change anything about the White Rabbit experience, would he? “No – I love everything the way it happened!” There may have been stumbles, but he wouldn’t change a single bump, bruise, or cut.
[50:18] Get in touch! Contact David at firstname.lastname@example.org; visit White Rabbit OG online at https://whiterabbitog.ca/ and follow the White Rabbit on Instagram @followthewhiterabbitOG.
Or, reach out to the friendly team at Vitalis through VitalisET.com or through Instagram @vitalisextractiontech. Plus, watch more Extraction Insiders episodes on the Vitalis Extraction Technology YouTube channel.
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Hosted by Joel Sherlock & Jason Laronde, Vitalis brings you wise, humorous and sometimes shocking conversations with entrepreneurs and extraction industry innovators on 'The Extraction Insiders'.