Graeme Gordon invented SneakGuard, a humidity controlled hand-held mini vault in response to his daughter that almost found his stash. This device is really very clever.
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[2:00] – What is the SneakGuard
[2:31] – Graeme talks about his background
[3:17] – Functions of the SneakGuard
[4:53] – Graeme talks about a former name for SneakGuard
[7:58] – Specs of the SneakGuard
[8:46] – How does SneakGuard defend its contents
[10:27] – Graeme talks about the optimal moisture levels for cannabis
[12:47] – Why is vacuum a key benefit in storing cannabis
[13:31] – Feedback from customers
[13:54] – New product development
[15:54] – Graeme talks about working with manufacturers
[18:20] – Graeme talks about his experience at Arcview
[20:32] – Graeme answers some personal development questions
Other industries with high value, sensitive materials have a lot of security options available to them to secure their goods. Cannabis is starting to have more options as well. I’ve invited Graeme Gordon to tell us about his product called the SneakGuard that can help you secure cannabis. Graeme welcome to CannaInsider.
Graeme: Hi Matt. Thanks for having me.
Matthew: Sure thing. Give us a sense of geography. Where are you in the world today?
Graeme: I am in lovely Tampa, Florida.
Matthew: Oh good. I’m in Austin, Texas today. So what is the SneakGuard?
Graeme: So SneakGuard is the only smell proof cannabis storage container on the market that combines a lock with a vacuum fresh sealing lid.
Graeme: So it’s mainly designed to prevent ingestion of cannabis but it can also be used for traditional medication. So it’s got a good mainstream appeal.
Matthew: Okay. What’s your background? How did you get into this industry and developing the SneakGuard?
Graeme: Well my background is actually rooted in corporate America. I was a creative entrepreneurial marketing executive for about 20 years. I worked a lot in global manufacturing and I know retail marketing so that was my past background, but I have always been a serial inventor. Kind of followed in my grandfather’s footsteps. So I’ve always enjoyed inventing products that make our everyday life easier.
Matthew: Good. Yeah so dive into the SneakGuard a little bit for me because when I looked at it initially I thought I was looking at a safe, and it does have a safe function, but there’s other things going on there. Can you just describe those a little bit more?
Graeme: Sure. So I actually invented SneakGuard out of necessity. I caught my four year old daughter snooping around in our bathroom and she was able to open one of those push and twist medicine bottles. Yeah it was a scary experience. Luckily she wasn’t hurt but it certainly could have turned out a lot worse. So I’ve always been inventive and decided to see if I could look around and find something to solve the problem and there really wasn’t anything on the market that suited my needs. So I did a lot of research and decided this was something that I wanted to do.
I felt like the push and twist had been invented and patented in the late sixties. So I thought this is something that could be improved. It would actually keep my kids safe and would be easy for adults to use while maintaining a good sense of security which I thought I had from the push and twist, but apparently my kid could open it.
Matthew: At four did you say?
Graeme: Four years old, yeah.
Matthew: That’s pretty amazing.
Graeme: Yeah. You know it’s remarkable, when I did my research I found out that there were plenty of cases out there of children even much younger than that that were able to do this. So it’s fairly common problem.
Matthew: Okay. You formally had a different name for SneakGuard. Can you tell us about that?
Graeme: Sure. So as I had mentioned I had caught my daughter snooping. So as a marketer and a brander I was trying to come up with a name for the invention. I did a study of several different names and came up with Snoop Guard because I thought it had addressed what the product solved which was snooping. So I proceeded down the normal entrepreneurial path. Block and tackle. You get your patents and your trademarks in line and I trademarked the name Snoop Guard and the US Patent Office actually granted me the mark. So at that point I owned the mark and moved forward into production and actually took orders.
This was back in October of 2015. We attended a trade show and about two weeks after that we received a cease and desist from a well know rapper or this rapper’s attorney and we sort of hit a brick wall.
Matthew: That’s kind of a funny thing though because you got the trademark legally and then it just becomes a battle of lawyers and who is willing to spend the most on lawyers essentially is what would happen. I imagine this rapper who everybody probably knows who it is would just have a lot of resources to throw at this compared to your average startup entrepreneur.
Graeme: Yeah it certainly hit me hard as a person because at that point I was really trying to affect children’s lives. I had a safety product and that’s what I thought you know, that was my focus. Safe, responsible storage, and I had to quickly put on my CEO cap, if you will, and think more about a business decision. Did I want to slug it out in the courts which would take up a lot of time and certainly a lot of financial resources or do I want to pivot and stay true to what I was trying to do which was follow the mission of safe and responsible storage. So I ended up with a quick pivot and we branded the company, changed the name to SneakGuard.
Matthew: And a karma would have it this rapper is in a trademark dispute with the Toronto Maple Leaves right now over his first cannabis product. I don’t know if you’ve read about that.
Graeme: Yeah. It’s amazing.
Matthew: It’s interesting how that goes around.
Graeme: It is.
Matthew: I do enjoy his music so I’m not going to be too hard on him.
Graeme: That’s okay. These things happen for a reason and we made a quick, fast recovery so things are actually going very well now.
Matthew: Let’s dive into the specifics. What’s the approximate size of the SneakGuard. If I was holding it, what would it look like and feel like?
Graeme: Okay so it’s a round container. It’s about 6.5 inches in diameter and 6 inches tall. So it’s got a stainless steel wrap. It’s really solid. It’s double walled so it’s got a lot of insulation. It can be stored in the refrigerator. It’s got a plastic lid that’s BPA free and it’s got a really cool design but it’s a very ergonomic design, very easy to grip and grasp and very simple to use.
Matthew: Okay. So it protects visually as people can’t see into obviously. That’s kind of the first line of defense, but how else does it defend your cannabis or other medicines you might hold in there?
Graeme: So the two major categories, most people have problems with cannabis storage is really either the safety or the freshness aspect of it. And the cannabis safety it’s a key point of pain among the public, the media, the industry and even the government. It’s actually one of the eight priorities listed by the Department of Justice. This is the safety side. So we got a resettable lock that’s actually built into the lid, and then of course like you mentioned the opaque stainless steel exterior which they both sold for the safety side of this.
With any sort of medication it’s always good to keep it out of the reach of children and adding a lock is just basically buying you insurance. So with the safety side taken care of we kind of started to look into the storage. When you’re storing cannabis you’ve got heat and moisture, light air and then handling that can all cause problems with cannabis. So we took the aspect of storage and took it a step further than just your normal air tight container and we added the vacuum pump and then the humidity control capability. So we’ve basically combined the two to control the environment from a freshness standpoint and the security side.
Matthew: Okay so let’s go into a little bit about the moisture. Why is moisture so important and what is the optimal moisture level for your typical consumer or cannabis enthusiast out there that wants to keep their flower at kind of the right moisture level?
Graeme: Okay well moisture in general when you’re talking about interacting with anything that’s organic including cannabis, moisture can cause mold and bacteria growth. So what you want to do is you want to control the humidity in a similar fashion that you would look at Sagora [ph] if you will or a Humadore [ph]. And each substance has a different requirement for humidity and cannabis, the general range you want to be in is between 55-65 percent. That’s a relative humidity percent. This is very easy to control with a closed system and what we use are Humidican packs [ph], and they are basically plug and play. They’re like little, if you will, sugar packs that you would find in a restaurant. You just drop them in and they automatically add or take out moisture as its needed. So it keeps it at the relative humidity based on that pack and you can buy it in that 55 percent or you can buy them at 65 percent. Either way they really work really well to stabilize your cannabis. You don’t have to worry about it going too dry or going too moist. It’s just automatic, put it in and you’re set.
Matthew: That’s pretty clever. I mean I can visualize this taking out or putting in, but how does it achieve doing both? Do you know about the specifics of that?
Graeme: Absolutely. There are different manufacturers that have similar processes. The ones that we use is a gel pack. It’s food safe. You can actually touch the material. You don’t have to worry about it. In fact there are some of the reps for the brand that we use which is Integra Boost who actually put it on their tongue. It’s harmless, but it’s a gel. Some other products use a salt type of substance and it’s literally a gel pack that’s in a paper wrapper and it automatically takes it in or out based on the chemistry of the gel.
Matthew: Okay. And what about vacuum. You mentioned the vacuum nature of sealing. Why is vacuum key or important benefit?
Graeme: Okay. Again, it goes back to anything that’s organic and this applies obviously in the food industry. We know oxygen is the enemy of freshness so by removing the oxygen your cannabis is protected from the deteriorating effects of the oxygen. That’s the purpose of the vacuum really is to remove that accelerator of decay and by doing that you can maintain freshness and you can maintain how long your product is going to last and the potency because over time everything decays.
Matthew: What’s the feedback been like from the early adopters?
Graeme: It’s been terrific. Once customers have this thing in their hands and they actually feel it and touch it and see that it’s substantial and something that they can use every single day and they don’t have to worry about anything, it’s really been tremendous.
Matthew: Are you working on any other cannabis security products at all?
Graeme: We are. Actually we have two products that are in the pipeline. One is about 80 percent through development and it’s an exciting skew. What we’ve done is the current model of SneakGuard uses a combination lock that you can reset. It’s a full wheel combination lock, and we have developed a biometric version which replaces the combination lock with a biometric fingerprint sensor and it holds up to 300 passwords or fingerprints that is. So what this does is it creates a chain of custody if you will because we’ve added a smartphone app via iPhone and the Android operating system which allows the administrator to open and close the container with their iPhone but also administer all the fingerprints. So you can tell who has accessed the container and when they’ve accessed it. This is something that we’re really excited about. I’ve seen the prototype. It works. It’s fantastic and we’re really excited about releasing that hopefully in 2017.
Matthew: What are the price points for both the SneakGuard and your new product here?
Graeme: So the SneakGuard, we call this the CombiFresh for the combination lock. It retails for $119.99 and the BioFresh which is our biometric version we haven’t actually priced it yet but we know it’s probably going to be in the $200 range.
Matthew: What’s it like working with manufacturers to bring your vision to reality because I know it’s sometimes difficult to iterate and to get them to see your vision and to trust them and to source the right materials. Just to do everything just the way you would want it done? Can you tell us anything about that journey?
Graeme: Well yeah it’s an exciting journey. I’ve worked in manufacturing in China for many years, but despite that fact it remains a journey and a challenge for anyone regardless of your experience. You always have to build a relationship with anyone that you’re working with, but when you’re working on a product that’s never been done before you really have to take a lot of time and energy to translate your vision. In our case with SneakGuard it’s such a complex solution even though it seems like it would be very simple. Just simply combining a lock with a vacuum, but working in a vacuum presents a whole set of challenges and also the usability.
You want something that’s going to be very easy to use. So again it was a lot of relationship building. Looking at a lot of factories that have different strengths. I always go back to the product never existed before so I couldn’t exactly go out there and say okay I want to find a factory that makes a container with a lock and a vacuum. There was no such thing. So I really had to work hard to find the right one that would work with me and also take the risk. You’re talking about a product that is not a toy. It serves a purpose that has to deliver on safe responsible storage. So I had to be very picky.
Matthew: Has there been any dispensaries that have shown interest in carrying this?
Graeme: There have absolutely. We’ve got dispensaries in Washington and Oregon, that area. Those seem to be doing very well. It’s sort of early in the game with the dispensaries. I think a lot of dispensaries are very preoccupied with moving the product that they’re there to sell. But in my opinion as prices settle down, they’re going to need to find margin dollars and ways to differentiate themselves and I believe that non-plant accessories will become a big part of their assortment.
Matthew: Sure. You recently presented at the Arcview Group. What was that like?
Graeme: The Arcview Group, that was amazing. It was such a terrific experience for me. First of all it was really exciting to see the energy and the sheer scale of the industry. It was so concentrated. The level of expertise and the knowledge all in that one area. I don’t know for your listeners who aren’t familiar with Arcview they do a really good job of qualifying perspective products and services for investors. So they know the industry ins and outs. They know the data. It’s sort of an industry that’s so new and there’s so much room for opportunity. Unfortunately there are a lot of opportunists out there when it comes to investing in the business, but they are one of the few that are really professional. They’ve got a lot of integrity. So for me it was a great honor to be selected and it was just a lot of fun to be there.
Matthew: Graeme where are you in the investing cycle post Arcview?
Graeme: We pitched Arcview the week before Thanksgiving. So we’re in our Series A right now. We’re definitely seeking investors. Our current round close is at the end of January and we are generating revenue. We started our sales in April 2016 with our launch and we are distributors, sorry, we have a distribution in 26 states, Canada and the UK. So we’re off to a great start.
Matthew: Great, great. And investors that are interested in connecting with you, what’s the best way to do that?
Graeme: The best way to do that is to reach me directly at my email address. It’s email@example.com.
Matthew: Graeme I like to ask a couple personal development questions to give listeners a sense of who you are. Is there a book that has had a big impact on your life or way of thinking that you would like to share with listeners?
Graeme: Sure, absolutely. One of the books that I’ve really enjoyed, I’ve read it a couple of times is Insanely Simple by Ken Segal. I was in the advertising business in corporate America all of my life, both on the agency side and the retail or client side. So I’ve always been a fan of branding and companies like Apple. So this book was written about Apple and really how Steve Jobs worked on the basic premise of keeping everything simple. Ken worked for an advertising agency that did a lot of work for Apple. So he was alongside of Steve Jobs the whole way, and he brings a really interesting perspective into the word simplicity and how you can use these principles that he lays out to guide you not only for your product but your advertising and really throughout your entire organization.
Matthew: I haven’t heard of that one. It sounds really interesting. Apple’s certainly done a masterful job of that.
Graeme: Yeah absolutely. For me it really hit a chord, especially with the simplicity side because simplicity is really important but it’s not easy to sit down and be simple. I think things that are intrinsically really simple or products have a lot more complex work behind them to get them to be simple versus some products or organizations that truly are very complex. Now Steve Jobs was a very complex person but everything that came out of there and to the point today still has that same feel of being very simple and for me that was really important for what I did and still do with everything. Not just product design but everything that I have as a touch point with a customer and my wholesalers, my distributors, my media partners and things like that. I think keeping it simple is key.
Matthew: I hope they can continue that radical simplicity with the car. It just sounds like they’re acknowledge developing the iCar. That’s a big jump from a phone or a computer to make a car, but I think it should be interesting to see them jump in and compete with Tesla in that domain.
Graeme: Absolutely. I can’t wait to see what they come up with. It’s exciting stuff right.
Matthew: Is there a tool web based or otherwise you consider indispensible to your day to day productivity that you would like to share?
Graeme: Yeah for me it’s a general tool. If I look at what I do I’ve developed a new product and kept a very flat organization through development and production because I want to scale the company but I like to be very nimble and I use a lot of outside vendors where possible. So for me my go to is actually the Adobe Suite which now resides in the cloud because content, I’ve got a new product and a lot of what I do is about education. Educating people why safe, responsible storage is important which means I need a lot of content and for me Adobe fits me very well. I use their entire suite all the way from web to audio, getting ready for pitches and things like that.
Matthew: Very cool. Is it the Adobe Cloud Suite then?
Graeme: The Adobe Cloud Suite right.
Matthew: Okay got it. Well Graeme thanks so much for coming on CannaInsider today. I really appreciate it and good luck to you with SneakGuard.
Graeme: Absolutely, thank you so much.