Exclusive Interview with Wana Brands Co-founder and CEO Nancy Whiteman
Co-founder and CEO Nancy Whiteman refers to Wana Brands as “the OG of infused product companies in Colorado.” The company started in the state in 2010 and now has about 20 percent market share in the edibles space and 50 percent market share in the gummies category. Whiteman spoke with New Cannabis Ventures about the company’s recipe for success and its plans for future growth.
Whiteman, an MBA and former VP of marketing for a large financial services company, comes from a more traditional business background. She ended up starting Wana Brands because a neighbor was getting into the space. Plus, she had always been interested in creating a product-based business, instead of a service-based business. Whiteman saw infused products as just the right niche for building and leveraging a brand.
Making Colorado’s Favorite Edible
Wana Brands’ sour gummies dominate in the Colorado market. Whiteman credits its products’ success with the hard work that went into creating the recipe. Gummies are sensitive to humidity and altitude and difficult to scale, according to Whiteman. The company invested significant resources and consulted with food scientists to find a recipe that created a stable, well-textured, and flavorful product with quality CBD oil.
The company took the same careful, measured approach to create its other products, including drops and extended-release tablets. For its tablets, Wana Brands partnered with an Israeli pharmaceutical company to develop the formulation.
Building a Brand
The Wana Brands tagline is “Enhance Your Life,” and Whiteman believes the core position resonates with medical patients looking for symptom relief and adult-use patients looking to add another layer of enjoyment to their lives.
In addition to consumer-facing branding, the company works to ensure it put its best foot forward with dispensary partners. Wana Brands aims to be user-friendly to dispensaries by never having back orders, delivering quickly and providing education, according to Whiteman.
Expanding to More Markets
Colorado isn’t the only market where Wana Brands is finding success. The company is also active in Arizona, Oregon, and Nevada, and Illinois and Florida are next. The company has also been exploring international opportunities in Canada and outside of North America. Whiteman expects the company to be in 10 to 15 markets within the next couple of years.
Whiteman projects approximately $18 million revenue for 2018. Thus far, Wana Brands has been able to support its expansion solely through its cash flow. As time goes on, she expects to get a clearer picture of whether future expansion will be supported by the same or call for a capital raise.
Whiteman knows that expanding into multiple different markets, each with its own specific regulatory environment, will be a challenge, but one that will open a lot of doors for the company. Having been in the industry for eight years, she is familiar with the agility it takes to navigate quickly changing regulations and the discipline it takes to direct time and money to the right endeavors.
To learn more, visit the Wana Brands website. Listen to the entire interview: