“The single most important aspect of my business is the people I invest in. My goal every single day is to set up my employees for success so that I’ll ultimately have to fight at the end of the year to keep them. If I’m in a position where I have to consider what it will take to retain an employee because they have other great opportunities, I’d consider that a success.”
I had the pleasure of interviewing Garrett Perdue, founder and chief executive officer of Root Bioscience, has helped businesses operate in complex regulatory environments for decades. He is a staunch advocate for enhanced regulatory standards to ensure proper consumer protections that protect public health in North Carolina, where Root Bioscience is based, and throughout the South. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Juris Doctorate from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share with us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?
My co-founder Neil Bagchi and I started Root Bioscience when we couldn’t find hemp products we could trust on the market. Our family members began using hemp products to address ailments ranging from night terrors to life-threatening diseases, so even before officially starting the company, we were dedicated to ensuring our loved ones had access to safe and effective products.
In 2017, we formed Sensible South, a 501(c)(4) non-profit, to advocate for state regulations that allow patients to access cannabis for medical purposes. As Sensible South’s reputation grew, we built relationships with executives at the top of the United States and Canadian cannabis industries that allowed us to better understand our unique opportunity to manufacture products in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, home to some of the world’s top universities, health systems, life science companies and agribusinesses. It also provided a great opportunity to educate consumers in our home state, where adequate regulatory standards aren’t in place to protect public health.
With access to a North Carolina-based manufacturing and supply chain process, a network of established industry leaders, and our legal backgrounds operating in complex regulatory environments, we knew we were in a prime position to provide families access to hemp products they could trust.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
It’s been amazing to see how people have reacted to the business. There’s still a ton of misinformation surrounding CBD products and the health benefits they provide.
What’s been especially interesting to me is how my mom has responded to these products over time. She is a former North Carolina Governor and was the Director of Geriatric Services at a community hospital, and her position on the benefits of CBD products has changed drastically over the years — as it has with much of her demographic. She long embodied what would best be described as an “old south mentality,” with very conservative views regarding hemp. Over time — and even since I started Root Bioscience — it’s been amazing to see her perception change with greater education. She now considers cannabis-derived products a part of any sound wellness program.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When I first started the company, I was completely surprised by the breadth of people that were interested in CBD products. I made the mistake of assuming our target demographic was much narrower than it actually was, when in reality, people from all walks of life purchase our products for an array of applications. Once sales take off and you can see the extent to which your products are being used, your entire market strategy changes to cater to your customers.
Are you working on any exciting projects now?
We’re currently ramping up for a new product launch in early May, adding broad spectrum options to our catalog. To date, we have focused on manufacturing best-in-class full spectrum products, but we understand a substantial percentage of consumers do not want exposure to THC, even in minute amounts, so we’re excited to introduce new offerings to meet their needs. We’re also adding soft gels as a different delivery platform for ingestibles, in addition to our current offering of tinctures and topicals.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
It’d be hard to imagine Root Bioscience without our Chief Operating Officer, Miles Wright. Miles brings a wealth of experience from his science and engineering background that are invaluable to our day-to-day operations and overall strategy. Miles has run multiple businesses over the course of his career and has been a great mentor for me as Root Bioscience continues to grow. Our production capabilities have skyrocketed over the past six months and it’s a testament to all that Miles brings to our manufacturing process.
This industry is young dynamic and creative. Do you use any clever and innovative marketing strategies that you think large legacy companies should consider adopting?
Sure I do… but I can’t give away our top-secret marketing strategies!
What I can tell you is that our overall strategy — in every aspect of the business — is focused on the female voice. I sincerely believe women are the future of this industry, and much of our leadership team is made up of incredible women who have been instrumental in the success we’ve had so far. Understanding that mothers and female caregivers are frequently the primary household decision makers when it comes to health and wellness, investing in women to lead strategy and operations will only help our business in an industry that’s already being spearheaded by female executives.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Cannabis industry? Can you share 3 things that most concern you?
I’m very excited for:
1. The upward trajectory of the market.
2. Increased consumer education and the resulting change in perception.
3. The ability to redefine how consumers interact with cannabis.
We already know CBD products can benefit families. What we don’t know is just how much they can help! As consumer education increases and more research is conducted, I truly believe the possibilities are endless for this industry. As a materials science company, we are excited about the seemingly infinite product formulations that can be developed to help people with different ailments.
I’m concerned about:
1. The lack of clarity in the regulatory environment.
2. Existing product quality for what’s already on the market.
3. A general lack of professionalism in the industry.
Without enough regulations in place, there are many products on the market that are simply unsafe. This will change over time, but for now it’s on us to educate the public on what to look for so they know how to identify misleading products and source solutions that are truly going to meet their needs.
Can you share your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Leading a Cannabis Business”? Please share a story or example for each.
1. Everyone is an expert. Brokers, processors, farmers, brand leaders — everyone thinks they know more than anyone else.
2. No one is an expert. Even those who know the most don’t really know much at all.
3. Today’s experts won’t necessarily be experts tomorrow. Technology is changing rapidly as the industry industrializes. Gospel today will be heresy tomorrow.
4. Expertise isn’t as important as aptitude. Many of our best people have transitioned into cannabis from corollary industries.
5. You aren’t starting a cannabis business… You are starting a materials science business. We are a materials science business that happens to look at cannabis as host to more than 120 health and wellness molecules. We aren’t a cannabis business.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
The single most important aspect of my business is the people I invest in. My goal every single day is to set up my employees for success so that I’ll ultimately have to fight at the end of the year to keep them. If I’m in a position where I have to consider what it will take to retain an employee because they have other great opportunities, I’d consider that a success.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
No human should have difficulty accessing quality food and water. The global community should do anything necessary to address this as a first action in raising humanity’s minimum quality of life. Addressing shelter, security, education and health concerns should follow on.
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