Do you remember your first smoking contraption? I remember mine. It was a cut up water bottle with an aluminum foil top that held herb. It was precarious and gross and probably kind of dangerous (are you supposed to ingest aluminum?) It worked for a time, I guess, and my lungs still work, so that’s a plus.
That seems like lifetimes ago and, in cannabis industry years, it kind of was. Cannabis has been legal in some states for adult-use for almost 5 years now. And in that short time, we’ve seen a lot happen - as was to be expected. For the first time in history, consumers and businesses alike are looking at cannabis consumption and asking - “but, could we do this better? Could we make it safer or more accessible or simpler?” And, overwhelmingly, the answer has been yes.
Now, while my water bottle contraption was particularly pathetic, the issue still remains that the industry is growing and changing so quickly that what used to work may just be antiquated. Or, perhaps, we just have an opportunity in this new and legal industry to actually look at those technologies and iterate them to create something better.
Regardless of the reason, this is exactly what JAEB Designs has been doing. And if that name doesn’t ring a bell, it may be because you’re more familiar with their initial product, PenSimple, a grown-up grinder and storage solution for cannabis. But, they’re called “Designs” (plural) for a reason; The company’s mission is to use R&D and rapid prototyping to solve cannabis consumers’ problems. Whether it’s a device for a specific type of herb or just creating accessible tech at reasonable price points, JAEB offers a more sophisticated way to partake.
It all began when co-founder Brian Seckel spilled his grinder, losing all of his cannabis to the ground. In his frustration, he set out to find a solution, pulling in mechanical engineer and eventual co-founder, Jesse Gruber, to create a grinder that could store and dispense product without human hands interfering. The two worked together to design and test a prototype, finally 3D printing the first working model in 2015.
Having started two businesses previously, Seckel was familiar with the investment landscape for start-ups. He knew that in order to take advantage of the fast-growing industry, the team needed to be able to focus full-time on the business and the only way to do that would be with funding. He also knew that he needed an investor that understood not only the start-up life, but also the new world of cannabis. CanopyBoulder, the only accelerator for ancillary businesses in the cannabis industry, was the obvious choice.
JAEB Designs joined the spring 2016 class of CanopyBoulder; and while funding had been their initial driving force, they realized quickly that the community and the connections to the industry that CanopyBoulder offered were just as valuable. Seckel explained that being surrounded by other entrepreneurs in the same position, all working 12-hour days, shoulder to shoulder, really helped the team put in those extra hours.
And, man, did they ever. While in the accelerator, JAEB focused its energy on market research and refining their prototype. They took advantage of all the CanopyBoulder events, getting feedback from attendees on their product. This led to a final prototype as the accelerator was winding down and, only a few months later, taking their first orders.
Fast forward two years later and the company is doing big things. They’re still selling their flagship product, the PenSimple, as well as a mini version and various accessories. They’ve also been working hard on R&D, working on a PenSimple 2.0 as well as an adjustable one-hitter with the slimmest dugout possible.
They’ve also been raising capital, recently closing a deal with Canadian investor, CBi2 Capital, for a series of investments tied to R&D goals that add up to $500k over the next 12-18 months.
It’s safe to say that JAEB Designs is on the forefront of the changing cannabis landscape. The days of makeshift smoking devices are behind us (let’s hope the next generation never has to inhale heated aluminum foil). Now, it’s time for consumers to help shape their consumption experience. If you have any great ideas of products you’d like to see or problems you face during consumption, make sure to message JAEB on Facebook or Instagram or email them at firstname.lastname@example.org.