Ebony Costain, Cofounder/CEO (Appomattox, VA)
Rodney White, Creative Director (Augusta, GA)
Meet The Founders is a series of interviews with our Fall 2017 class founders. Each team is working to bring a product or service to the cannabis industry through the Canopy accelerator (and in some cases, are currently operating in the space), helping to alleviate the pain points in this growing industry. Want to know more about how to launch a cannabis business? Canopy's JumpStart Conference for Entrepreneurs & Startups is on October 19th in Denver, CO. This FREE half-day conference is packed with panels on brand trends, the regulatory environment, cultivation best practices, dispensary operations and more. Space is limited - register now!
What is BDTNDR, and what problem does your product/service solve in the cannabis industry?
Our company BDTNDR incentivizes Budtenders (retail staff) to engage in a proprietary learning management system and become experts on new products and brands in the cannabis industry. Brands have a hard time training the thousands of Budtenders responsible for selling their products and they don’t have the time or resources to train an entire sales force. Brands pay us to help solve their training dilemma and Budtenders feel empowered by their measurable knowledge.
What is your professional background?
(Ebony) I received my degree in Fashion Merchandising and have a strong background in Production/Product Development with 10+ years of corporate retail experience. This is my first cannabis business and I'm excited to bring my skillset to this industry.
(Rodney) I started off as Art Director/Designer in 1999. I eventually found poetry and art and began a successful Art Career while still in Advertising. I began self-publishing my art that is widely distributed and sold. The I launched another clothing line, my third, to give voice to my more sociopolitical views. Before all of this though, I moved to NYC where I met Ebony. A few years later Ebony approached me about being My THC Guide's Creative Director because of my background. This is my first foray in the cannabis industry. It should be exciting.
What brought you to the Canopy Accelerator?
(Ebony) I first learned about Canopy when I started exploring the industry last May, but it wasn't until our friend and board member Sirita Wright of EstroHaze (Spring '17 cohort) gave more insight into the program pushed us to apply before the early application deadline. We're looking to lean on the expertise around us to refine our company and build a strong data technology company. The network that Canopy offers is invaluable and we're excited that we are now part of that network.
(Rodney) We are also excited about allowing this experience to shape who or what we think the company was we came in. You don't know what you don't know. The network of people figuring things out along side of us is a camaraderie that will long lasting.
What is one prediction you can share in regard to the future of the cannabis industry?
(Ebony) I believe that federal legalization will happen within the next 5-8 years and when it does there's a strong possibility that it will be highly regulated. In my past life I worked at a retail organization that experienced an enormous amount of regulatory hurdles that threw a serious blow to operations. Hopefully with the massive tax dollars that would be coming in this would be incentive to not disrupt operations.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
(Ebony) When I'm not working on my company I'm working on raising an amazing 5-year old daughter who has the combined energy of three children. I look forward to having some free time and picking back up my bikram yoga practice during the program.
(Rodney) I love being with my family and creating for my other businesses. Art is life for me. I enjoy reading and learning and traveling. We will scoop the whole family up in a heartbeat and bounce.
Indica or sativa?