Cannabis & Consumer Goods: A Conversation between Zak Normandin (Founder & CEO, Iris Nova) and Phil Toronto (SVP, Special Projects & Investing, VaynerX)
Zak Normandin, Founder & CEO of Iris Nova, the parent company of DIRTY LEMON and the brand behind the first nationally-available CBD-infused beverage that launched in Summer 2018 and Phil Toronto, Gary Vaynerchuk's business partner and SVP, Special Projects & Investing at VaynerX who led a major investment in a cannabis-focused branding agency based Green Street, will discuss their first hand experience as pioneers in the cannabis-space. Normandin will speak candidly about how to effectively market a CBD product as a non-cannabis brand and the challenges facing consumer brands in the CBD space (DIRTY LEMON discontinued their CBD beverage in November 2018 due to legal obstacles). Toronto will dive into the motivation to invest in a cannabis-focused agency during a time of regulation uncertainty and how product branding plays a major role in the success of modern day cannabis products. Normandin and Toronto will explore how they see the future of cannabis-infused products progressing and the exciting cannabis-related developments in their respective companies.
About Phil Toronto
Phil Toronto is Gary Vaynerchuk's business partner and SVP, Special Projects & Investing at VaynerX. Phil works directly with the entrepreneur and media personality on his personal angel investing as well as running the day-to-day operation of their $25m fund, Vayner/RSE.
To date, Phil & Gary have invested in 215 companies. Phil led one of their most recent investments into the cannabis industry with a major investment in a cannabis-focused branding agency based in LA, Green Street. Phil has extensive first-hand experience in the cannabis space, working daily with Gary across all aspects of the agency. Green Street features multiple business arms:
Green Street Agency - traditional creative/branding agency for cannabis clients of all sizes
Green Street Brands - cannabis brand incubator including co-owned brands with 2 Chainz, The Game, Sublime with Rome and Broken Lizard Productions
Hall of Flowers - b2b, highly curated cannabis trade show
Green Street DTLA - Green Street purchased a 7 story, 67k square foot building in DTLA which will serve as a cannabis epicenter. The first GS building will feature a restaurant, art gallery, co-working, a high end membership-based smoking lounge, traditional office space, a cannabis brand showroom and event space on the roof complete with a liquor license
About Zak Normandin
Founder & CEO, Iris Nova (DIRTY LEMON, The Drug Store)
Zak Normandin is an award-winning entrepreneur disrupting the way businesses create, communicate and deliver consumer goods. He has over ten years of experience as a product designer in the food and beverage industry and is credited with branding more than 50 nationally-sold products.
Zak has a unique understanding for the way people, brands and technology interact. As Founder and CEO of Iris Nova, the parent company of DIRTY LEMON and The Drug Store, he is reinventing the traditional CPG business model. Iris Nova utilizes a direct-to-consumer SMS-based ordering platform to bypass existing distribution inefficiencies and improve how consumers find and purchase beverages. Normandin is building the beverage company of the future, expanding and applying the proprietary platform to a portfolio of innovative beverage brands that meet the rapidly evolving preferences of the modern consumer.
Backed by A-List celebrities and business leaders alike, Iris Nova and its brand properties are recognized nationally by media outlets such as The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, Bloomberg and Vogue.