What’s your backstory?
I grew up in Edina, Minnesota. After completing High School, I attended the University of Colorado in Boulder, CO. After graduation in 2008 I went to work for Johnson and Johnson as an orthopedic medical device sales representative in Chicago, IL. After two and a half years working for JnJ in Chicago I was offered a job by a new JnJ distributor in Denver, CO. I promptly moved back and helped start a business called- Redstone Surgical. We were a distributor for a number of companies in the orthopedic space, the most recognized company was JnJ. Myself and my partners quickly grew that business to 30+ sales representatives across 3 states. 3 years after it conception, JnJ purchased the distributorship from us.
I then attended W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University and got my MBA with an emphasis in finance and marketing. This opened my eyes up to a whole other world outside of the medical device space. I quickly linked up with a veteran entrepreneur, Wendi Burkhardt, and helped her start the technology company- Silvernest. My time at Silvernest helped shape who I am today. Silvernest was a fast paced, venture back, struggling start-up. We worked our tails off every day to make it work. This allowed me to learn all areas of the business, something I was not able to do in my previous endeavors.
We were fortunate enough to be funded by 500 Startups, which also had a top accelerator program in San Francisco. Myself and Wendi left our families back in Colorado and moved to San Francisco for 4 months to participate in 500 Startups accelerator program. That program changed my life, and after completion my knowledge of technology and how to run a successful business grew immensely. Wendi was CEO and my title was VP of business development and product. A few months after completing the program I felt that I had to leave Silvernest to do what I sought out to do, become a CEO and lead a successful organization that could change the world. I was lucky enough to meet Lincoln Sorenson and Andy Papilion.
They had started a small company called The CBDistillery. The CBDistillery sold hemp-based CBD Isolate- an ingredient used in many CBD products. They had a great product, industry knowledge, and knack for business. However, they were missing the technical and sales side of the business. After doing some consultant work with them for a few months I was fortunate enough to have them ask me to be the CEO. Since that day a couple years ago it’s been a rocket ship ride. When I started there were 4 employees- now (just a couple years later) nearly 50 and that number is increasing by the day.
There was also one product- now we have over 800. It’s been an interesting past 8 years digging through the trenches, working day-in and day-out to get where I am today. And it’s just the beginning!
I know this is not an easy job. What drives you?
Pretty simple…providing a good life for my wife and kids.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
This is a tough one because there are so many people that helped me get to where I am today. If I had to choose one, strictly from a business standpoint, it would be my Uncle- Bob Zollars. Bob is an extremely successful individual. He has run multiple billion-dollar companies and sits on many distinguished boards. Since college he has been an unbelievable advisor. When things are good and when things are bad, he has led me in the right direction. He has a great way of providing me with just enough advice to lead me to make my own decision, he never says to “do this” or “do that”.
What lesson did you learn from them?
Many, many things. But the first that comes to mind is not something he said, but rather something he showed me. He has shown me how to have a healthy work- life balance. How to be a good father while working long hard stressful hours.
How do you push through your worst times?
Keep my head down and accomplish one goal at a time. If you accomplish enough goals, you will get to where you need to be. Be prepared that sometimes there are setbacks, but keep pushing to the end goal.