Being an entrepreneur means knowing an opportunity when you smell it. For Garett Fortune, that opportunity smelled like…well, bad things people will pay good money to avoid smelling.
Fortune initially made his namesake with the company OdorNo, which specializes in odorless containers for animal and human waste. Tragedy struck in 2013 when his brother was diagnosed with late-stage esophageal cancer. It was caught so late that only palliative care was possible, but Fortune said medical cannabis reduced his brother’s reliance on opiate painkillers and improved the quality of life he had remaining.
That experience revealed the world of medical cannabis to Fortune, who realized there was an industry-wide need for improved packaging that addressed safety and security concerns. When he initially proposed the idea of FunkSac to the OdorNo advisory board he expected resistance but faced none.
With the support of his company, he moved forward with a cannabis-specific packaging company that’s made inroads into the legal market spaces of several states and recently secured an investment deal with Snoop Dogg’s capital investment firm, Casa Verde, as well as an exclusive endorsement deal with the artist.
Cannabis Now spoke with Fortune the same morning Ohio voters rejected a broad legalization initiative. He shared his thoughts about how legislation impacts his business, what motivates FunkSac’s R&D department and just how many bags he’s selling these days.
CANNABIS NOW: Your company is based in Ohio. Voters just rejected Issue 3, which likely would have been a boon for your business. What are your thoughts on that?
Garett Fortune: Well, they were going to have packaging requirements that would have meant more sales, but I had no invested interest in it. I didn’t like the way it was set up. We had a bunch of those guys [Issue 3 investors] try to get us involved and I just honestly didn’t want to associate with any of them.
Why is that? Because of their business plan?
Yeah, I’m an entrepreneur and this industry is founded on entrepreneurs. And when groups come in with big money and try to take over and put in place a monopoly, that doesn’t work for me. I didn’t want to be a part of that. I mean, come on – a monopoly? I think most people don’t think any kind of monopoly is good.
So, I know you’ve told this story a dozen times by now, but your company was already doing smell-proof packaging when you discovered the burgeoning legal cannabis market, right? How did you get involved in all this?
I had an odorless bag company and then my brother got esophageal cancer. He discovered it in its last minutes and passed very quickly. Medical cannabis helped him and his experience introduced me to an industry where I saw a huge need.
There were already a few “smell proof” bags and containers on the market, but FunkSac has built a lot of its branding around child safety.
Absolutely, that’s the premiere selling point – the child resistant packaging. We specialize in what sometimes gets called an “exit bag,” but it turns out that name has some negative connotations attached to it. Really though, it’s just an odorless, child-resistant grocery bag for everything you buy in a dispensary. Just something to put all the other containers inside of.
And the purpose of that is to maximize child safety?
Well, that, sure. Because it’s out of sight and out of mind, right? So the kid isn’t even going to try to get into the bag in the first place. But it’s also a branding opportunity for dispensaries and vendors. They can make compliance part of their branding and draw the attention of the consumer overwhelmed by the options in a dispensary with their packaging.
So, what else sets your containers apart from the multitude of similar products on the market already?
Everything is made in the USA, it’s all BPA-free plastics, all FDA approved – and all the stuff from China isn’t. There’s chemical seepage from some plastic and you don’t know what’s getting into your food or medicine. You can’t get candy or cupcakes from the grocery store without it being packaged in FDA compliant containers, so why should you be allowed to do it with medicated products?
You already had the technology for a lot of this stuff, but are you adapting to the changes in the cannabis scene? Do you have any silicone containers or anything that can efficiently hold concentrates like waxes and shatters?
We’re getting ready to launch something along those lines soon. It’s not silicone but it’s going to be for those specific kinds of concentrate products. We spend a lot of money on research and development.
You said you guys were making a big announcement – what is it? Good news, I hope.
We just inked a deal with Snoop Dogg.
That is good news! An endorsement deal?
Well, that too. He endorsed us exclusively on his social media, but he also invested.
Oh, so a deal with Casa Verde? Not too shabby. Your business is growing, then, right? What are your sales like?
Yes, we’re expanding our marketing as well as our sales force. We’ve got about 12 employees right now, we’ll probably add another 10. We anticipate selling about three million bags this year, we’ll probably do five or eight million next year – depends on the laws that get passed. But, it can only grow. Child-resistant packaging is going to be required across the country as states legalize, it’s a no-brainer.