How a Serial Entrepreneur Leveraged His Manufacturing Experience to Enter the Cannabis Industry 

Why serial entrepreneur Grant Cleveland started a cannabis ancillary business after selling themed terrariums and science kits  

With a background in a plant product business of terrariums, why did you decide to launch a new product aimed at the cannabis industry? 

Plants have always been an essential part of my life both as a hobby and as a business. I had a manufacturing company that made about 300 products ranging from themed terrariums to carnivorous plant collections. We had a variety of containers, including a lot of glass ones.

I also smoked a lot of marijuana and had a lot of frustrations with existing pipes.  I have understood and experienced the benefits of marijuana since I was 18.

I always thought that the marijuana pipes I encountered were poorly designed both from an aesthetic and utility perspective so I decided to design a better one.  I worked with my glass factory to produce prototypes, which I refined over a three-year period to finally introduce GatorPipes. I think this new and emerging industry is an exciting thing and want to be a part of it.

Most pipes are impossible to clean, but with the Gator pipe, you just use a paper clip or blow it out when it’s hot. I wanted a pipe that’s not falling over and making a mess. I wanted it to be clean and effective. I designed it eight years ago and over time developed it into a perfect pipe. I have a patent on the pipe.

Initially, I made it to give away to friends. Then a few years ago, I decided to start selling them under a company called Blue Rock Ventures. 

What features does your product have?

GatorPipes have an extra weld between the stem and the bowl of the pipe so it can be tapped out without breaking. It also has indentations in the bowl itself for a glass screen or just to grip the flower itself when smoking. GatorPipes also have two sturdy feet that they sit on and will not tip over. I have thought of every technical aspect of consuming flower and incorporated this into the final design of GatorPipes. 

GatorPipes are light and easy to carry, use, and store.  I think there is a great branding and marketing opportunity in packaging the pipe and imprinting the pipe. The pipe can be used as a promotional item. You can imprint them and stack them.

Why did you create stash boxes? 

I created what I wanted to use myself. All of the boxes that I was able to find had too many compartments or they looked too much like something hippies would want to use with too many colors and weed leaves on it. I wanted a nice black high-quality box to put pre-rolls, concentrates flowers, vape supplies, grinders, and other cannabis implements in.

How do you sell the products?: They’re sold primarily by distributors who sell them to dispensaries and smoke shops. It’s not an easy business to be in though, with so many regulations. One of my customers, Scientific Directs, can’t sell them as “stash boxes” or they’ll get flagged. So they have to sell them under kitchen products.

Gator Pipes can be customized

So what’s next? I’d like to focus on custom packaging of the box and the pipes. It’s a great promotional item and a great way to market a cannabis company. Another idea is to sell prepacked pipes. Dispensaries can sell a small amount of cannabis in the pipe. It’s a great marketing item. Nobody is going to wear T-shirts, but they will use a pipe.

I can sell a branded pipe for the same price as a branded lighter. In bulk they could pay $2 a pipe with their name on it. Gator pipes are a rare balance of affordable glassware that never sacrifices functionality or durability.

If you’re interested in partnering with us or reselling our items, reach out to support@bluerockventure.com.

Describe your work ethic to me in one word?
Persistent

What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
I have been very fortunate to have worked with a lot of executives and business leaders throughout my varied career and have received a lot of great advice.  If I had to pick one, it would be from John Osher, the gentleman behind the smash hit Spin Brush.  His advice to me or anyone on how to overcome anything was “Find a Way.”  It is a simple but powerful thought that leaves no room for excuses and helped propel me to succeed in a number of ventures.

Any advice for someone getting started as an entrepreneur?

I think the age at which one starts really dictates a lot.  I find that as I get older, starting businesses is easier as I have a lot more contacts, more of a track record, and more experience that I can leverage.  As a younger entrepreneur, I had to really rely on ceaselessly working hard, while as an older one, I can work smarter and accomplish more.  I think understanding where you are and what you need to do to succeed is helpful.

What do you do to relax?
I paint abstract paintings, go to the beach, take walks in nature parks and botanical gardens, write, and take saunas. I used to garden when I lived in the North.  I always had houseplants, but now they have to replace my gardens, so I have a lot more of them.  I hang out with my family and friends and enjoy many of these activities with them.   I try to incorporate these things into my day every day with my family to have a relaxing, enjoyable, balanced, and fulfilling life.

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