Exclusive Interview with Weller Co-Founder Matt Oscamou
CBD brand Weller is built with the strength of its team’s in-depth experience in the natural food and beverage CPG space. Co-Founder Matt Oscamou spoke with New Cannabis Ventures about creating the Weller brand, the importance of transparency and how he sees his company growing. The audio of the entire conversation is available at the end of this written summary.
Weller Team Members
Oscamou started his career as a civil engineer. In 2010, he founded the snack food company Frontier Snacks. His business partner John Simmons also started his own company, Third Street Chai, and grew the brand for more than two decades before selling it to another tea company. Together, they decided to leverage their CPG experience and start Weller in 2017.
Since then, the company’s team has brought on additional talent. Oscamou highlighted Vice President of Sales Megan Jansen and Director of Operations Jeff Kenyon. Jansen previously worked with a number of natural food and beverage brands, including free2b foods, Bhakti Chai and Third Street Chai. Kenyon also had previous experience in the food industry, which he uses in his role executing on production and fulfillment with Weller.
An Omni-Channel Approach
Weller has close to 2,000 points of distribution. The company takes an omni-channel approach, distributing into the natural grocery outlets, convenience channels and the foodservice space. The company seeks retail environments with high product velocity and the opportunity for consumers to make repeat purchases, according to Oscamou.
The company has found success in its home state of Colorado, distributing across the state. It has also found success in Texas and the Mid-Atlantic region. Weller is carefully tracking how state and federal regulations around CBD are developing.
Big beverage and alcohol company partnerships continue to pop up in the CBD space. Oscamou sees value in developing distribution relationships with companies like this. Partnering with regional beverage and alcohol distributors opens the doors to additional retailers interested in adding CBD beverages to their offerings. Developing relationships like this is a distribution diversification tool for Weller.
CBD Product Quality and Consistency
The quality and consistency of CBD products can vary widely across the industry. Weller has developed rigorous R&D and testing processes to ensure its products support a trustworthy and transparent brand.
CBD does not necessarily work if added with other ingredients. Weller tries new product ideas in its R&D process to ensure its products are backed by research. The brand also tests its raw inbound materials, tests again during the production process and tests before and after canning its beverages. The company is also conducting long-term testing to ensure its products maintain their potency.
The company is also committed to transparency. If consumers are curious about a Weller product, they can scan a QR code on the packaging to learn more. The company also posts product test results on its website.
Weller is working in an industry that has come under scrutiny due to reports of inaccurate label claims. Maintaining that quality and reliability for its products is essential to building a lasting brand. As CBD continues to become accepted as a functional ingredient in food and beverage, testing and transparency become even more important. Weller is aiming to position itself at the forefront of embracing those principles, according to Oscamou.
The Weller Brand
Whether it is the company’s sparkling drinks, coconut bites or drink mix, the packaging does not explicitly link the products to cannabis or hemp. The Weller brand is designed to be inclusive and focused on the consumer’s wellness journey.
In addition to its CBD products, Weller has launched a line of immunity products. These products do not contain CBD. Rather, they contain core nutrients for the support of the immune system. These products are designed to support the brand’s wellness mission alongside its CBD products.
Reacting to COVID-19
The Weller team has shifted to a remote working model due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and the company has had to manage supply chain disruptions. Some of its customers have closed for periods of time due to shutdown orders and uncertainty. Additionally, other beverage companies, including beer and soda brands, have increased their demand for cans, stressing the supply chain for aluminum cans, according to Oscamou. The Weller team has come together to creatively manage these challenges and continue forward.
As retailers and distributors shifted to the new environment created by the pandemic, sales for Weller increased. The brand has had record sale months during the pandemic, according to Oscamou.
Weller, which participated in CanopyBoulder’s 2019 accelerator class, has raised a little more than $4 million since its inception. The company has developed a diverse group of investors that includes tech-focused investors as well as traditional CPG investors, according to Oscamou. The company has yet to see institutional investors come into play, but Oscamou is pleased with Weller’s active group of investors.
As the company grows, the team tracks key metrics like velocity, gross margin and brand growth within each of its channels. Weller focuses on making its growth and operations transparent to help build an accountable and invested team. The company also looks at its customer service ratings to ensure it is connecting with and serving its distributors, retail partners and customers. As a holistic business, Weller focuses on more than the just top and bottom-line sales, according to Oscamou. While the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic continues, Oscamou is still excited about expanding Weller’s product portfolio beyond its core CBD line and the potential to explore other minor cannabinoids, like CBG and CBN. Ultimately, Weller wants to become the brand that comes to mind when people think of CBD beverages.
To learn more, visit the Weller website. Listen to the entire interview: