Interview

"It's still really hard for black and brown entrepreneurs to raise capital in CBD" - Tanisha Robinson, CEO of CBD beverage company W*nder

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Earlier this year, Tanisha Robinson quit her role as chief disruption officer at Scottish craft brewer BrewDog to create her own CBD-infused drinks brand. W*nder (pronounced 'wonder') is a CSD that contains vitamins and CBD to provide energy, focus and a "better life balance". Robinson credits herself as a black female CEO that has tapped into an industry that other ethnic minorities may never gain access to.

W*nder CEO Tanisha Robinson is using her CBD beverage company to champion diversity in the industry

W*nder CEO Tanisha Robinson is using her CBD beverage company to champion diversity in the industry

This week, just-drinks spoke to Robinson to learn how her previous employment experiences have influenced her start-up and what the future holds for her CBD drinks brand ahead of next year's launch.

just-drinks: BrewDog is a modern brewer that boasts of its innovation credentials. Was the company heading towards the CBD category?

Tanisha Robinson, W*nder CEO: I could see BrewDog exploring the space. I think there are a lot of folks in the beer industry that are intrigued by CBD but are not working on CBD beverages. I really enjoy the early-stage start-up part of building companies and brands. By going out on my own, it allows me to have absolute agility and build a brand and develop a mission that is more personal to me.

j-d: Is there any bad blood between you and the BrewDog guys?

TR: No. [Brewdog's founders] James [Watt] and Martin [Dickie] both invested some of their personal money in W*nder. 

j-d: Why did you call your brand W*nder?

TR: I think it evokes a lot of positive emotions. I like the idea of somebody saying, 'I had a W*nder last night and went straight to sleep', for example. It's a bit whimsical, but easy to remember and easy to sell.

j-d: What makes W*nder different to other CBD beverages?

TR: I think we can win on taste, I think we can win on transparency. And, this is not just building a product, this is building a brand and embedding it in people's experiences and hopefully within their routine.

j-d: You 're first launching in Ohio, where there isn't a lot of competition in CBD drinks, compared to, say, California. Could this be a challenge?

TR: So far in the mid-west, where I am, there's not a lot of activity. I think there's an opportunity to really lead the market here.

j-d: Your company has committed to setting aside 4.2% of its profits for black and brown entrepreneurs interested in tapping into CBD drinks. Why did you decide to do that?

TR: It's something that's really important. We're seeing this huge growth and capital flowing into the marijuana industry. I consider [black and brown minorities] the original entrepreneurs [in marijuana], but many are going to be left behind.

While some states are expunging [cannabis-conviction] records and setting aside licences for entrepreneurs of colour and for folks that are coming from the communities that have been harmed by previous cannabis laws, it's still really hard for black and brown entrepreneurs to raise capital. So, I feel this can help some of those entrepreneurs jump-start their participation in what I see to be a huge, huge opportunity.

j-d: What inspired this?

TR: It's painful to hear stories of, you know, white dudes on YouTube that have made some machine that can roll 1,000 joints in a minute while there are black and brown people in that same state sitting in prison [because of cannabis convictions]. We need to figure out an equitable path forward in this industry because so many communities have been devastated by the war on drugs.


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