Exclusive Interview with Grenco Science Founder and CEO Chris Folkerts
Vaporizer company Grenco Science has built significant market share and name recognition over the past eight years. Beginning as a lifestyle brand, it has evolved into a technology company with international distribution. Founder and CEO Chris Folkerts spoke with New Cannabis Ventures about the company’s products, partnerships, and recently completed Series A. The audio of the entire conversation is available at the end of this written summary.
Folkerts founded the company with his business partner Anthony Marino, who now serves as COO. Jordan Goldstein and Timothy Patenaude lead Grenco Science’s marketing team, while Ken Sugihara manages all of the company’s factory relationships. Gabriel Alvarez, a managing partner, leads product design and oversees multiple teams. Folkerts stresses that every member of the team plays a vital role as the company grows, and Grenco Science is looking to fill a number of new positions from the C-suite to regional reps.
Vaporizer technology has come a long way since Folkerts first saw liquid inserted into an e-cigarette atomizer in 2011. The Grenco Science product portfolio includes dry herb vaporizers (G Pro and Elite), concentrate vaporizers (Nova and Nova LXE), and an oil vaporizer (Gio).
The company’s early start in the market meant it didn’t have to contend with significant competition. Grenco Science was able to penetrate the market quickly and effectively. Today, the name “G Pen” is big in the vape category. Many people tell Folkerts their first time using a vaporizer or their first time using cannabis at all was with a G Pen.
Grenco Science is on track to steadily roll out new products. Folkerts expects new products to hit the market every 30 to 45 days over the next two quarters–more products launched in that span than in the entire history of the company.
The company’s product design is a collaborative effort. Grenco Science works with design firm Imagemme and teams in New York, Los Angeles, Miami, and China. The company has relationships with five different factories, which allows it to take a best-in-class approach.
Grenco Science is currently in 15 different states, and Folkerts expects that number to increase to 18 or 19 before the end of the year. Additionally, it has distribution in 29 countries.
Over the next six months, Folkerts expects the company’s international distribution efforts are going to be a highlight. Oil vaporizers are set to come to market in Canada in December, and Grenco Science is targeting additional growth in Europe and South America.
Distribution and Retail
For the past five years, Greenlane has handled the company’s fulfillment and distribution, which allows Grenco Science to focus on product procurement and marketing. Greenlane also manages a large portion of the company’s sales efforts. When it comes to retail, the company focuses on brick and mortar stores and online sales.
Folkerts’ business partner Gabriel Alvarez introduced the Grenco Science team to competing company Vapium, a member of Johnson & Johnson incubator JLABS, about three years ago. Over that time, the two teams formed a close working relationship that built a path to the recently announced joint venture. Vapium’s Accudose platform and hardware is a perfect fit for Grenco Science’s multi-state Gio platform. Additionally, the two companies can leverage one another’s hardware development experience.
The company is also working on a partnership with another competitor: Boundless Technology.
Eight years ago, Grenco Science was started with six figures of startup capital. The company just completed its first round of financing this year. Serruya Private Equity and Stable Road Capital led the company’s Series A of undisclosed size. Right now, the company is adequately funded, but Folkerts sees a second round of financing in the future–specifically to support the company’s plans for the Accudose platform.
Looking back to when Grenco Science started and at the vaporizer market today, Folkerts observes just how much higher the barriers to entry have become. He sees companies with unique IP and hyper-focused branding rising to the top of the market.
To learn more, visit the Grenco Science website. Listen to the entire interview: