GetHempButter.com: One Year After The Marijuana Show

Kyla Hill, Chief Hemptress, Creator and CEO of GetHempButter.com, took the last of her startup capital and flew to Denver to audition for The Marijuana Show. This was October 2014.

She made it onto the show, met the challenge she was given of introducing her product in 100 new stores and then was onto the second round of pitching to investors. Not the big cash prize winner, she nonetheless went home with a distributorship deal. The deal fell through.

Hill is philosophical. As she told MJINews,

The show was definitely an experience. It enabled me to make a lot of great of contacts and to receive a good amount of mentorship from people within the industry and even people who are just business oriented. I actually didn’t win any money or anything, but it gave me a chance to go back and reevaluate my whole business plan so that I could pitch to investors in a way that my margins, my numbers were more on point, more precise. I had never written a business plan before, and it gave me the tools I needed so that I could plan for mass production and be able to look at the possibility of using different packaging.

GetHempButter.com survived, though it still lacks a distributorship arrangement. Hill’s products, Hemp Butter All-in-One, a topical for hair, face and body, and Hemp Balmz, for lips, are available through the company’s website. They can also be found in some stores in Washington, D.C., including Capitol Hemp, Union Kitchen Groceries and the Watering Hole, and at hemp and cannabis events in D.C., Virginia and Maryland. The business, like many fledgling D.C. cannabusinesses, is not yet where it could be.

The District’s situation is unique. Medical marijuana is legal, though shortages persist. Adult use and limited private cultivation are legal, but recreational sales are not. It has made for a strange give-and-grow economy in which ancillary businesses that support medical and home growing and private consumption can take root, but may not get to full flower.

Lee Hopcraft, Vice President, Business Development of Let’s Grow DC, offered the following insights to MJINews about the District’s cannabis market: “It’s a virgin market. It’s all still done in a community vibe.” His main focus is in building the community including building the businesses that will bring the people in and support broader legalization.

It is tempting to compare the business trajectory of GetHempButter.com with that of Therabis. Both are wellness products, one designed for itchy, allergic dogs, and the other initially as a more natural approach to hair care. Both contain natural ingredients in addition to trace amounts of CBD derived from hemp in concentrations so low as to be exempt from state regulation.

But while Therabis will roll out on Nov. 1 as the product of a partnership between Dixie Brands Inc., and TBSK LLC, Hill is still working the festival circuit. What’s the difference?

Three things stand out. The first is growing business sophistication. An entrepreneur’s first business plan is generally not as strong as the second or third.

The second has to do with the role of investor pitch competitions. They can be good entertainment. They may have an educational role for both the audience and the competitors. The business benefit for participants, whether or not they win, may be iffy. It is not something to bet the farm on.

The third issue has to do with the interrelationship of capital and legal structure. Capital flows more freely to enterprises operating within a broadly enabling legal framework. More investment is likely to happen in Colorado than in D.C., despite the potential of the Mid-Atlantic market, at least until recreational sales become possible.

Hill is still optimistic, still looking to the future. GetHempButter.com is re-positioning itself to appeal to a more upscale market, and D.C. ancillary businesses build outward around a central hole as if in the shape of a doughnut ring.

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