You may have amazing credit, but as a company, there is zero chance you will get a loan. Most businesses have credit lines or SBA loan options…not in the space. You’re shut out of any typical business financing and if you grow, it needs to be with a debit card. You may find some high-risk lenders, but they expect 20%+ interest and we don’t advise working with foreign banks.
As part of my series about “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Leading a Business” I had the pleasure of interviewing a veteran of technology startups, Dave DiCosola. Dave has experience leading teams to growth and transforming organizations from proof of concept to industry powerhouses. Single-handedly, Dave grew one startup from $20,000 in Monthly Recurring Revenue to more than $600,000 in less than one year. Shortly after earning a Bachelor of Science from Miami University, Dave developed and refined his salesmanship skills brokering industrial plastics deals and then selling Google services to small businesses. In 2011, Dave joined Cars.com where he helped acquire and manage strategic digital partners and collaborated with marketing teams and external agencies to distribute a $6 million per month lead acquisition budget. In his role as Franchise Director at Outcome Health, Dave was responsible for sales strategy, execution and commercial operations across North America for the Oncology, Cardiology and Primary Care verticals. While managing a team of as many as 40, Dave’s energetic and creative leadership style inspired others to consistently surpass sales goals and deliver superior customer service. Leveraging his experience in the healthcare industry, Dave partnered in January 2019 with Kameron Norwood to launch the Half Day brand under the company Snowbird Distribution. A visionary with the entrepreneurial drive, Dave recognized the potential of the CBD market and seized the opportunity to bring high quality products to consumers seeking alternative therapies. He understood both the revenue potential and the potential to make a positive impact on people’s lives through the emerging hemp industry. Half Day offers products to help manage, pain, anxiety, sleep and stress. Half Day oils, gummies and topicals are available online at HalfDayCBD.com and in retailers throughout the Midwest. Dave resides in Chicago with his wife and two sons. His go-to Half Day CBD product is the 1,000 mg Full Spectrum Hemp Oil, Peach Flavor, for managing fatigue.
Thank you so much for doing this with us, Dave! Can you share with us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I’ve always had a career in either disruptive start-ups or alternative healthcare alternatives, so the leap to the industry felt natural and right. My experiences make me uniquely qualified to be operating in the space. The technology around and its health benefits speak to my passions.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
When we first started Half Day, we wanted our positioning and products to be different from others in the space. We researched packaging options and found hardly any companies used a spray bottle for their oil. We quickly found out why. This spray bottle was our signature packaging, but it never worked right. First, it was very difficult to use. Second, it would leak. Third, it would create inconsistency in dosing. Looking back it was a mistake and probably cost us our customers at the beginning.
Are you working on any exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?
The industry presents so many interesting opportunities on a daily basis. One of the more exciting projects we’re working on right now is forging collaborations with Illinois hemp farmers. This is the first year they have had a harvest, so there is a lot for them to learn. We’re bringing our expertise in hemp sourcing to the farm, and it’s going to commercialize more than 50,000 pounds of hemp. That’s money in a farmer’s pocket. Something they desperately need after a few rough years with corn and soybeans.
This industry is young dynamic and creative. Do you use any clever and innovative marketing strategies that you think large legacy companies should consider adopting?
At Half Day, we have found one of most effective strategies has been to establish a strong presence at street festivals. Being onsite at these popular events has enabled us to talk directly with potential customers and build the trust that is needed in this crowded, confusing category. The festivals have been a significant growth driver for our business. So many people buy onsite, make repeat purchases on our website (HalfDayCBD.com) and refer friends.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the industry? Can you share 3 things that most concern you?
To us, the most exciting aspects of the industry are:
1. Demand: It is hard to find a new industry that already has a $50B market demand.
2. Health Benefits: The future of science and connecting to disease states has potential to be game-changing for people’s health and well-being.
3. Potential: Small businesses can thrive. We feel the biggest players in this space have trouble adapting fast enough.
Our three greatest concerns include:
1. Bad actors. Just like in Hollywood, they are out there and have the potential to damage the industry’s reputation.
2. Too much hype. The inflation of “pot stocks” and gross valuations give the industry the feeling of a “bubble” at times.
3. Regulation is coming. We welcome regulation, as we feel it would help consumers understand the risks and benefits and also ensure consistency and safety across products, but we are concerned legislators may overdo it based on a lack of understanding.
Can you share your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Leading a Business”? Please share a story or example for each.
1. You may have amazing credit, but as a company, there is zero chance you will get a loan. Most businesses have credit lines or SBA loan options…not in the space. You’re shut out of any typical business financing and if you grow, it needs to be with a debit card. You may find some high-risk lenders, but they expect 20%+ interest and we don’t advise working with foreign banks.
2. Everyone has a personal experience….they just may not discuss it openly. It is rare to find someone who has truly never dabbled. Some people have a “crazy time” in their life while others have experimented just once. Through our marketing strategies, we have a lot of contact with consumers, and people open up to us about their opinions and experiences with. It’s actually one of the best parts of the job.
3. There are a lot of passionate people when it comes to. Some are averse to pills and traditional medicine, some mistrust the government and the pharmaceutical industry, and others are searching for a healthier way to live. These passionate people are eager to share their thoughts on the current laws and how illogical they feel the policies are. As the leader of a company, you will meet these very passionate people on a daily basis.
4. Before you launch or business, you may worry about how people perceive you, but when you get going you’ll realize others want to take part. The growth potential is massive and the product can truly help people. This combination makes the industry an incredible new career path. People want in, but the brave are beginning now. Don’t wait around if this is your dream.
5. Your target market is uncomfortably wide. Advisors tell us to focus on our target customer, but our e-commerce analytics can be confounding. We have 85-year-old customers in Central Iowa and 21-year-olds in Chicago who are buying the same exact product from us. Before we started, we wish we knew the best, most cost-effective approaches to pinpointing our customer. We’ve learned, but it has taken time.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
Diverse workforces perform better. It’s been proven in Fortune 500 and it should be a key pillar of your business.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!