How to Use Packaging to Delight Cannabis Customers

Garett Fortune

Garett Fortune, CEO of Funksac, walks us through where packaging is in the cannabis industry. He delves into how Funksac not only protects your cannabis but also how it can be used to effectively build a cannabis brand that customers love. Visit http://www.funksac.com

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FunkSac is helping to fill in a very critical hole in the cannabis industry. FunkSac provides safe secure bags that keep cannabis fragrance in while keeping children out. FunkSac also helps dispensaries customize their packaging to ensure they get the most visibility to their brand. I'm pleased to welcome Garett Fortune, CEO of FunkSac to the show today. Welcome Garett.

Garett: Hi. Thanks for having me.

Matthew: Garett, so let's get a sense of your geography. Where are you located in the world?

Garett: Right now I'm in Ohio. So we have offices here in Cleveland, Ohio as well as in Denver, Colorado. So I split my time between those two mainly, but with the growing industry, I'm finding myself in Washington, Portland, and every other airline around the country.

Matthew: And why did you decide to get into the cannabis packaging industry?

Garett: Well, unfortunately, my brother passed away last year of cancer. And then by the time they found it, it was stage 4, and I started looking into different remedies. And it was the only thing that really helped him with his pain and getting him through those last couple of months.

And then on top of that, I served in the military with some folks that were suffering from PTSD. So I was aware of the studies that they were doing. And when I started researching on both fronts, I found there was no real packaging leader with this emerging market that was coming out in the cannabis industry. And I had a background in odorless packaging and in plastic. So we decided to go into that opportunity and expand, and start a business, and go after child resistant and odorless packaging to fill a void in the market.

Matthew: Great. And what exactly does the FunkSac do? How would you introduce to someone that has never heard of it before? It's childproof, it's puncture proof, what are all the things that it does?

Garett: So we've got about 50 different skews right now, and FunkSac has become the brand. The original FunkSac is an odorless technology, and we have a patent pending on that. It doesn't allow oxygen to transmit through the bag as well as smell. But it also has a UV protectant to protect the contents, and the original version was for storing cannabis and keeping the odor in whether it be at the cultivation side or the dispensary or the home-use side. And then that expanded into child resistant packaging that was required by compliance issues for the state of Colorado as well as other states that are adopting.

So we developed our own proprietary locks called the FunkLoc, which expanded into child-resistant packaging. So we have lines of odorless packaging for storage, security, and compliance, as well as tamper evidence, and then we also have child-resistant packaging.

And we're launching a bunch of new lines just based on what our customers need out there with the expanding market and the different forms that are out there whether it be vaporizers, or edibles, or just expanding lines based on what their requirements are.

Matthew: I love the name FunkSac. How did you come up with that?

Garett: Well, it was actually very quickly. I've got a few companies, one called Commodigy, and one called OdorNo. And I've always been good at coming up with names. We were brainstorming around a bunch of people at the office and saying I'm going to go to this market, and what are we going to do. And we just sat around the room on the bean bags and going over different options. FunkSac came pretty quickly. It was to the point. It was fun. Part of our brand is be relaxed but also be professional. So we want to have a fun name and everyone knew exactly what it would be just by saying that name, but also be relaxed and reflect the culture of our company.

Matthew: Troy Dayton, CEO of the ArcView group mentioned FunkSac, and how you're serving a critical role because he said packaging just doesn't exist in the industry. So you're coming on the scene providing the packaging. Where do you feel like there might still be holes and opportunities to fill?

Garett: Well, we have. We're finding stuff everyday. With the regulations changing on a regular basis, and it's state by state. We have to keep on every individual state what those issues are as well as it's expanding. People are coming up with new forms. There's edible. There's flower. There's oils. And there's lots of different forms that are out there. There was no real package that was out there to keep them secure from children as well as keep them odorless. So that's why we went into that pair. In the future, I see those coming down to single use bags. We're offering a couple of more lines that are coming. There's a huge opportunity in packaging not only on the security side, and the odorless side, but also the branding.

Branding is a big thing that people are starting to realize that on top of that compliance issue that really differentiates your product and brand from the others that are on the shelf. So the edibles that are there are in a very competitive space want to have good packaging to draw attention to those packages just like any consumer products that are out there. So there's a two-fold approach on the marketing and branding side as well as a the security.

Matthew: Great point. I mean, if you're a dispensary owner, you can have one contact where a patient or a customer comes in and gets some cannabis, or why not have them think of your dispensary every time they open the bag. So you're getting this touch over and over and over instead of just one time. So I see that as a big benefit. I agree with you there.

Garett: And I think if people see you with an exit bag for instance with your brand on it, they know where that came from, and that's a little more appealing than just a plain white bag. And also, everyone is looking for differentiators in the market, and there are certain brands that stand for certain things. And having a quality package that's your first impression to those end users and always leaves a good impression. On top of that you're going to get repeat business. People are going to want to come back and utilize your bags over and over again in your space.

Matthew: Great point. And that's actually a theme of the show is that at some point in the future, dispensaries are going to be more of a commodity and they need a way to set themselves apart. Is there any examples that you've seen of dispensaries or brands that they've done a really good job of presenting themselves in a unique way in customer's minds?

Garett: I think there's a few out there. Take Dixie Elixirs for example. We work closely with Dixie, and I think that is an excellent brand. The team there has done an incredible job on their packaging. Everybody knows what their brand is based on the packaging as well as their content. And you're looking at something that they've done it the right way. There's other packages out there that just sit on the shelves, but theirs always jumps off of the shelf. And they've realized that it's more than just having a great product, it's also having a great brand and making aware the market for those people out there.

Matthew: Great point. How are FunkSacs different than a traditional plastic bags. I'm just playing devil's advocate here. So I have a Zip Lock bag that's potentially odor proof but it's not puncture proof, and there's no lock. Is there any other differences?

Garett: Well, first off on your regular Zip Lock bag, it's a lower quality product. It's just going to be a resealable bag. It doesn't meet compliance. So you can't utilize that bag and be compliant in the state of Colorado, and the other states are adopting that. So you have to have a child resistant lock that's gone through the government testing and passed to meet ASTM guidelines, which are set in the laws. That plain plastic bag is not going to have any of that. Also the material that we make our bags out for the odorless side also stores materials better. It's puncture resistant. It's got that proprietary odorless lock on there. And if you put some cannabis for example, in a regular Zip Lock, you're going to see it. It can puncture the bag. You're going to smell through it right away.

Whereas an odorless bag - we also have tamper evidence that hit on the cultivation side. So we've talked about the dispensaries, and we've talked about some of the edibles out there. There's also the requirement for cultivators. For example, in Washington everything comes to the dispensary already packaged, and they need to have tamper evidence requirements. So they just use our bags with heat seal, and then it stores it. It doesn't allow that smell, and it also meets compliance.

Matthew: Right. So great point. So if a wholesale cultivator is getting the cannabis to a dispensary or some other venue, it's a good idea to - 1) that odor free as you mentioned, because if you have enough cannabis being transported, that's a huge smell risk, I imagine.

Garett: It is. It has actually opened up a new market for us - the security company. We've been in line with a couple of the top security companies because first off, they're transporting cannabis that has to be tamper evident. Also, they're transporting money, and the banks won't take that money if it smells like cannabis. And a lot of the dispensaries out there store their cannabis as well as their money in the same safe, and it allows for that transfer of smell. Our bags allow it so you can keep it separate, keep it tamper evident. It doesn't smell. It allows for that transport and security aspect.

Matthew: And for someone that's considering FunkSac, can you give them an idea of how much it costs to get into some of your most popular products?

Garett: So our child-resistant packaging now depending on the volume is anywhere from $1.75 to $2.15 I've seen on the market. And that's a printed exit bag with the lock. And they usually sell those to the consumers for $3.00. So the dispensary usually makes about a buck. Then on the odorless bags we sell the two gallon, which are equivalent to a turkey-bag size, and those sell for $.50 a unit or a bag. And that's cheaper than what's out there on the cultivation side and the turkey-bag size business.

Matthew: Now you presented at the ArcView Conference; is that correct?

Garett: I did last year in Las Vegas.

Matthew: For people who aren't familiar with what that is and how it works, and maybe they're a hobbyist of some kind that has some product or service in the cannabis industry, and if they could hear your story about how you presented and were successful, it might inspire them.

Garett: Yeah. I love ArcView Group. I think it's been great for our business. I'm a big fan of Troy and Dayton as well as the organization and what they've set up. What it is a shark tank specific for cannabis.

We went and presented on stage, and we had evaluators just like the shark tank you see on TV with the exception of there were 120 investors in the crowd as well. So you give your five minute elevator pitch. They ask some questions, and then everyone has the opportunity to follow up with you. We had a huge success on follow up not only on potential investors and people that we allowed to invest, but also people in the business and the industry. The networking there is invaluable. All the industry leaders are there. All the big investors that want to get into it just putting their toes in. So it brings that network together of entrepreneurs, financial people, and industry experts all in one location.

Matthew: Where do you see the future of packaging? I mean, it seems like innovators are coming up with endless ways to provide cannabis to customers. It just amazes me. Where do you think this industry is going to be in five years?

Garett: It amazes me as well. Everyday we're seeing new things. And now with our brand growing, we're getting approached by other products that want to work with our brand to take to market. I see a lot more secure smaller sizes packaging. Like our locks are very secure, and they're big and bulky. And you can tell that no kid is going to get in there. And I think that is a big thing to show that there is secure. There are some products on the market that haven't gone through proper testing, or they just look really flimsy, or if we test them we can see that they are not really compliant.

We have some smaller zippers that are coming out that are going to make it a little more sexy and sleek. We see the brand increasing hugely as well as future advertising. Advertisers are coming in and they are going to be packaging and branding on their packaging, so that they can send it out to the market place. But I think everything is going to be getting smaller, sexier, sleeker, more efficient, and cost-reduced.

Matthew: Now you mentioned sexy. Most people don't think about sexy and packaging, but I guess there could be a sexy aspect. Can you tell us a little bit about the tactile response that you consider when creating packaging because it's not just a visual. It's also a touch. What you think about when you touch something. What's the first thing that comes to mind? Does this feel like quality? Does this feel like security? Can you tell us a little bit about that?

Garett: Yeah. We've gone out of our way where we've produced, for example, our exit bag and our child resistant has a more space in it. It's gusseted. There was one competitor that had a tight package that met compliance, but was squishing the contents. And it does no good if you damage the contents. So you've got to look at what you're putting into it.

For the outside, the textile feel, we like to have a smooth feel that if someone's holding it, they don't want it feel as though it's not pleasant. So it's a matter of having a good material. We make all of ours here in the U.S. as well, which is a good advantage because we can turn around quickly.

Not only having the brand name but also having that safe secure feel, and people want it smaller. They also want to make sure that the contents of that package are not damaged in any way. And that's what we've gone out of our way and that's why we keep developing new packages in different forms as well because there's so many different forms going into it whether it be flower, edibles, or anything. So we want to make sure that we have the right package that fits it well, as well as presents it well for the public and keeps it secure.

Matthew: Now everybody's had the experience where they take a potato chip or a sandwich out of a Zip Lock bag, and you can smell kind of like an off-gassing of the bag or it's like a scent of the plastic. Does that exist with FunkSac?

Garett: I've never heard of that and I've never experienced anything like that. I think that the plastic that we use isn't that strong polyethylene that is normally out there. And ours doesn't submit an odor or anything. And I can actually continue everything with that. Even if you smell the outside of the bag, it doesn't smell like a real plastic bag.

Matthew: Garett, as we close can you tell listeners how they can learn more about FunkSac?

Garett: Sure. Our website is FunkSac.com funksac.co. And we're also available at 844 GOT FUNK. And we're always in the market and at the trade shows, and it's pretty easy to find us.

Matthew: I love that telephone number. Well, that's so much to Garett Fortune for being on the show today. We really appreciate it Garett.

Garett: Thanks for having me.


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