LA Business Podcast

10. Naram Khoshaba, CEO, EXO CBD

Naram Khoshaba LA Business Podcast
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We talk to Naram Khoshaba, CEO of EXO CBD, about Cannabiz & manufacturing various CBD products!


Intro: [00:00:00] Welcome to the LA Business Podcast, a forum for business owners and senior executives to share the experiences about the elements that drive their success. Your host is Robert Brill, CEO of, an Inc 500 company delivering the power of hyperlocal advertising. Robert writes for Forbes, Inc and add trade publications.

Our goal is to bring you the stories about successes and failures of people who are making big things happen in marketing, entrepreneurship, and management.

Robert Brill: [00:00:43] Hey, everyone. Welcome to another episode of the LA Business Podcast. Today our guest is Naram Khosaba, Founder and CEO of EXO CBD. Thank you for being on our podcast. And Naram, can you tell us a little bit more about you and EXO CBD?

Naram Khoshaba: [00:00:58] Well, thanks for having us on the show. EXO CBD is a B2B solution provider in the CBD market. We started six years ago and bio-science research that eventually evolved us in selling to different types of university programs or research programs with hemp and CBD products.

Which grew us into wholesaling products. that then made us into really understand the consumer market. A lot of people were asking us about Tincher’s and gummies, and so we decided to launch a white label division that’s been quite successful. And we’ve worked with a number of different brands and helping them launch a consumer good product in the CBD market.

And so, we have a good understanding of building brands. we do this quite often. We also provide unique solutions, including merchant banking services for online eCommerce and retail stores to be able to sell your product. we believe that not only we manufactured product, but we also help you sell your product by using the tools and business solutions that we’ve created through our company.

Robert Brill: [00:02:11] So, Naram, if I want to build the Robert Brill or the Brill Media CBD brand, you’re the person I would go to. we talk, you get some idea about what we’re looking to do, what our strengths are, and the output of it would be, product, CBD product to sell that, matches our goals and intentions for the business. Is that right?

Naram Khoshaba: [00:02:36] That’s absolutely correct.

Robert Brill: [00:02:38] So expand on that. Tell us a little bit more, because what goes into manufacturing, like from soup to nuts, like what does it take to start a CBD brand of product?

Naram Khoshaba: [00:02:50] It’s, really, a unique opportunity in this space. So what we’ve been able to do is work with entrepreneurs, including influencers, celebrities, we’ve worked with enterprise companies, national brands.

we have a really unique team. Our team comes from a wealth of knowledge and consumer products. we’ve built formulations or we work with different manufacturers who can help us create a specific formulation, that helps create custom, really intellectual property products. So any type of ingredients, any type of unique type of feeling that you’re looking to create with your products. We can help actually build that for you through formulation. But what we’ve been successful with has been off the shelf solutions. basically, we have manufacturers that have a number of different products that are available. We can simply take your brand or logo and attach it to a label and then deliver a faster solution instead of an actual custom formulation.

Custom can take up to a few months up to about six to eight weeks, but off the shelf can take up to two to four weeks to deliver. So there are faster solutions to helping building a CBD Brand.

Robert Brill: [00:04:02] So, in two to four weeks, if I wanted to make one of our advertisers is a, is a CBD brand. And I don’t want to compete with them.

and I’m not interested in actually doing this, but like it in the back of my head as an entrepreneur, I’m like, man, it will be kind of cool, I think there’s a lot of opportunity there. If I want to create a CBD brand of, let’s say, like tablets, oil filled tablets, that kind of like calm me down and, and like it the way to like chill and go from working in lots of frenetic energy to, I’m going to chill for the rest of the evening and watch some TV and like, get ready to go to sleep. You could in two to four weeks create something for me that I can then go to the market and sell.

Naram Khoshaba: [00:04:52] Yeah. So, with something that you need. So for example, if you wanted to design a capsule, let’s say a full spectrum capsule that had. A few unique characteristics, like for example, like you mentioned, relax. Or we can create a capsule, actually can give you energy, or we can create a capsule actually lets you out sleep. So we can actually take different levels of, your formulation and help add unique type of features to help create different types of skews.

So not only you can create one type of focus product, but you can also create other types of skews that can help you sell your gel caps or your capsules that you’re creating.

Robert Brill: [00:05:37] Wow. And so that sounds like it’s custom and it’ll take a little longer.

Naram Khoshaba: [00:05:42] Yeah. That can take up to about a few, let’s just say about six to eight weeks, but there are some solutions that we can help you with.

So for example, if you want to just do a regular calm, that’s traditionally, you could use a full spectrum. you know, type of capsule or gel cap that we already have designed before, and gel caps really help you calm throughout the day. similar to taking a tensioner. It’s just a different way that your body accepted by bioavailability.

and so it’s, it’s, it’s been a very popular product. A lot of people like having gel caps, but there are so many other solutions that your brand can create so you’re not competing with your customer. And so if your customer has, let’s just say a gummy bear, you can produce a different type of gummy that has vitamins in it, or it has minerals in it.

So it’s still a gummy bear, but you don’t really compete with your customers. You can create something that’s unique for yourself, but no one else has.

Robert Brill: [00:06:38] So it seems like you, told me an interesting story and I don’t know if you want to talk about that or something similar where, I guess my question is I’ll go a different direction.

My question is, it sounds like you’re able to start with the marketing idea in mind. Like, what’s the story that I want to tell in the marketplace? And you’re able to backfill that entire story into the product.

Naram Khoshaba: [00:07:09] Yes. So if you have a brand that, and you have a specific story or vision, so let’s say if you’re designing your product for the sports industry where you want to target, you know, athletes or people who are training or working out, so that.

We can actually design products that can fit that two to go category. or you can change that. You can do something even, you know, very unique and go after a market that’s kind of up and coming, which is a lifestyle, a lot of the, you know, yogis and training and all the types of different unique environments that are happening right now. You can create lifestyle products that aren’t so sports specific, but more health oriented for relaxation, for meditation. so it just, you can change it up. You can’t really kind of, whatever voice that you have with can help you create those products to fit that brand.

Robert Brill: [00:08:12] So if I want to create entrepreneurs CBD, I could totally do that. That’s the marketing story. And go to Market. I haven’t done the research on this, but it’s like I would go to market and say, this is the only CBD product made engineered specifically for entrepreneurs, business owners, senior executives, people living a very stressful life.

Naram Khoshaba: [00:08:33] Yeah. I mean, that’s something that’s really happening right now. It’s a hot thing. It’s new tropics, you know, all the new brain. You know, type of, ingredients that are being created right now for the tropics. So you can actually incorporate that with CBD. And we’ve been working with some unique labs right now that can help you not only create something that focuses, but helps you to retain more information or be a bit more, in tune or focus to continue doing what you do best.

It was a perfect example for helping a writer to go through things. Obviously I can focus so. Oh yeah, we got a product that you can create from nootropics and CBD allows them to focus better. That could be something that can help your entrepreneurs to grow.

Robert Brill: [00:09:16] And so what is the, what is the market opportunity?

Not, not the industry necessarily, but like, if I want to sell this, like what kind of margins can I, expect all in, um. From like the first batch that you develop?

Naram Khoshaba: [00:09:32] Well, it really comes down to your market and it comes down to your costs. depending on how unique your product is. So the more ingredients, the more unique identity that you create, the more expensive.

So depending on what type of price point you’d like to be at the market today, most of the products are in the market are really depending on the brand. and we’ve seen amazing, amazing products out there that aren’t big national brands, but have created unique, select our traditional type of solutions and products, that are really unique in that space so CBD that is just coming up, but in the, in the realm of pricing. what we typically advise our customers when they’re building a brand to typically have enough margins to get the product from a distributor, from a manufacturer cost to a distributor, to a wholesaler or a retailer. So basically you’ll have, you know, a good amount of margins to really be creative.

but if you like to make all the money, basically you’re getting manufacturing costs and that you would just have to go direct to consumer. And that’s a very unique way of being able to scale your business. You can either find a distributor that can help you distribute your products and sell it to them at a wholesale cost, or are you going to actually do all of your fulfillment and sell your product directly to the consumer on your website or your storefront, however you choose to sell it and make all the money.

So there’s a lot of opportunities and how we price our white label solutions for our customers to make sure that there’s enough money. For them to actually either wholesale the product with a distributor or, you know, really hold on to everything and be able to sell it directly to the consumer.

Robert Brill: [00:11:23] Amazing. I love that. And direct to consumer is so such a big opportunity. I mean, there, there are brands all over the, you know, so not talking about CBD now, but just like Facebook has, I don’t know, seven, 8 million different advertisers and the vast majority of them are small businesses that are spending exorbitant amounts of money on like Facebook or Google ad words just, you know, self-service ad buying platforms and they’re making massive businesses for themselves.

So, I mean, you know, when we run cannabis ads, we run them outside of Facebook and Google on, on other platforms, and, you know, USA today,, Buzzfeed all except cannabis advertising. Let’s talk about, the difference you know, I’m, I’m still sort of, there’s, there’s hemp versus cannabis.

Then there’s psychoactive versus non-psychoactive. Can you break that down? The difference between hemp and cannabis and the psychoactive versus non-psychoactive?

Naram Khoshaba: [00:12:28] Yes. Yeah. That’s, that’s something that we just love working on that and making sure that we educate our customers and be able to. Put that back out to their consumers as they’re some our products.

We manufacture everything with zero THC, so none of our products have any THC product in them. but, you can get creative if you choose to have a, a unique type of product that can have, some THC in it. And I believe that’s up to about. 0.3%, which is a legal limit specific States, and I believe out of the country, I think in Europe and some other parts of the world, don’t accept that.

I think there were less than that at 0.02 or, one. So it’s really unique what’s happening in the space here in the United States and worldwide. but the difference between, hemp and cannabis, and when you mentioned psychoactive meds, like active THC is the psychoactive aspect. It’s, it really gives you a different perspective.

It gives you, visuals. It gives you more of a, a likeliness and your mindset. And so you can really use cannabis for a different type of relaxation. Compare the hemp, hemp gives your body a relaxation. It’s a whole different type of disconnect instead of your, your mindset, it actually gives your body a whole different feeling.

So I think hemp is kind of the, solution that makes your body feel better. and we believe what we’ve seen now with, with CBD and all the research that’s happening in Israel and Canada, South American, United States, and we see a lot of it working with universities for years now that CBD and THC together are the most effective.

That is what we call a true entourage. And so when you combine those two together, you’ll see a lot more benefits, but unfortunately some people cannot consume THC. So CBD gives you enough of the active ingredient to help your body go through, the issues that you’re facing. If it’s pain, if it’s anxiety, if it’s just normal life, I think CBD really helps you get through that.

But again, it’d be very active really, CBD doesn’t allow you to have to sit down and chill out like you would with a THC type of product. So I think, for the sports world, for the active world, for the daily life, I think CBD is a great product. and for THC is always a wonderful product, but putting the two together is what makes it such a unique relationship.

What science has really taught us. As we’re starting to see that the body reacts to many different ratios, and what you’re going to see in and dispensaries right now are these one-to-one ratios, two to one’s 10 to one 20 to one, which is, I believe if you were really trying to figure out how to build CBD and THC in your body, is to learn what best ratio works for you.

I think that’s the uniqueness of this, of these two, you know, cannabis and hemp together.

Robert Brill: [00:15:39] That’s, that’s super interesting. So, what are some of the success stories? And, I’ll preface this because what I really find just super fascinating about what you do is that as a marketer, I don’t know. I don’t, I’m not manufacturing product, whether it’s a digital product or a physical product, I’m not manufacturing it. I, what I’m really good at is reaching an audience, telling the story, driving the business results. So I love this idea that I can go to someone, I can go to you. I can in two to four weeks or six weeks or eight weeks, have a product that I can sell. And then I have the ability to use my own marketing and advertising capabilities to do something here. Like it’s super interesting. And so like what, what have you found in terms of success as like, there’s a, there’s a line, right?

You manufacture, the product goes out to the, to the, to the warehouse or whether it goes. And then you’re done. You don’t do any of the marketing or advertising or branding, none of that. so I have two things here. The first is like, what success stories have you seen and how have brands or your customers, how have they been like maximizing the heck out of this?

Like what do they do? What’s the right recipe, not for the product, but what’s the right recipe of storytelling and branding and combination with the product that really works. if you could share some examples of people who are just killing it, building on top of what helped for them.

Naram Khoshaba: [00:17:20] You know, and it’s like, it’s handing off a baby back to a parent. Basically, once you babysit and create this amazing product, which is a child and you hand handed over at you, hope that the parent takes care of it and sells it and presents it, announce it well to the world. entrepreneurs are always going to be honest. I think that’s the beauty of what we’ve experienced working with so many brands and what we’ve experienced and, successful brands are the ones who.

Really understood how to incorporate tools into their business. And these tools would be really the most important aspect is user experience. You know, making sure that user experience really knowledges your brand, your vision, and your products. And that’s going to really kind of set the pace is, you know, what that experience is going to be.

If it is a website, if it’s a retail store, but content marketing, social media. Email marketing, I think are the most three most powerful tools in the space is building your own content, your own newsletter group, or you’re own, network of leads. I think those are the most successful, having to buy traffic or having to buy media.

There’s a lot of CBD brands out there. the ones that have been really successful in building brand have really focused on content marketing, social media marketing, and email marketing that they really honed into their target market. What we would like see, in our space is allowing a lot more media vehicles like Facebook and Instagram being open to it, but there are alternatives.

There are other forms of marketing platforms you can go out and market your services and your products. and we typically can help assign a few different agencies that are very good at creating the, the message, delivering the message, but doing it really in a fashionable, in a sensible way that gets to the right, audience.

And so we work with some unique agencies that can help really help guide your brand and be able to sell your products. But it all comes down to, you know, I think as an entrepreneur is having a business plan. Unfortunately, we have a lot of people that come to us with no business plans and we always ask them, make sure to have a business plan prepared because that allows us to help build that vision, that brand of products to be able to sell your brand a lot better.

but you know, again, the big thing that we’ve always talked about is figuring out how to help you get the right tools. merchant services, very critical. If you don’t have a payment gateway to accept payment, you won’t be able to just constantly accept cash. So if you’re willing to grow your business and scale, you have to have, you know, a banking solution, client relation management tools.

I mean, how do you keep track of all your sales? How do you get your customers? To be acknowledged of your, you know, new sales or, or if you do a subscription-based model, you know, how do you keep those accounts knowledgeable about your merchant services, knowing that you have an expiration on these cards, that you’re not under subscription, you know, to constantly update those.

So we’ve built these tools with partners who provide us these solutions that we can put back into these CBD companies so then they can succeed. But just having a basic, you know. Product or idea is not going to make you successful. You have all the tool sets. I think if you can build upon those, just as I had mentioned, you know, having the websites, having an email marketing campaign, social media, and really kind of pushing your vision and your voice.

And that’s what I believe brands are being built on right now that are successful.

Robert Brill: [00:21:26] You told a story briefly of, one of your customers who is doing it kind of like the old school way, they’re going to like farmer’s markets and they’re just killing it.

Naram Khoshaba: [00:21:40] Yeah. So you know, we’ve seen so many different entrepreneurs that come to us, ones that have built websites, some who’ve built stores, and some have actually ventured out and worked with these amazing opportunities like festivals and farmer’s markets. And, the most recent that’s been a client of ours for about a year.

They started off with just one farmer’s market, and now they’re in a total of eight farmer’s market. I’m producing an exuberant amount of money because they’ve created a message and their branding really fits to the consumer at these markets. And so we made sure when they produce products that would really hone into the consumer age group, demographic location, and that’s what made them succeed.

I think. You don’t have to have a retail story. You can get product into people’s hands by doing events or hosting parties. I mean, there’s so many different ways that this industry is about to evolve. and you know, we’re seeing it at just the grassroot level with working at farmer’s markets.

Robert Brill: [00:22:49] We’re still in early days of cannabis. Yes? Like, I mean, there’s a lot of opportunity, it seems like.

Naram Khoshaba: [00:22:56] I believe we have started just scratching the surface. The cannabinoids from the actual plant in today’s, and we’re talking just about turn 2020 we’ve only been able to tap into 130 different types of cannabinoids. The plant has over 280 times of cannabinoids.

We don’t even have the technology to even understand what’s in this plant. And what’s even more unique is markets and countries are starting to evolve to really become the next, you know, hemp space. And so we believe as a company, when we’ve experienced different markets, California in reference to Napa as being in the wine belt, we believe California become the weed belts.

And it will become an iconic state throughout the United States that will be creating innovative technology solutions in this space. And as you can see it, I mean, it’s just one of our, you know, Los Angeles and, and some of the other cities in California are huge when it comes to the centuries and retail.

So big brands are starting here, Med Men being one of them, Cookies. these are all major brands that are just starting to evolve in States like New York. and so the evolution is happening. California has, you know, I believe started the trend and I think a lot of us States are just starting to catch on.

Robert Brill: [00:24:26] Yeah. I see a lot of Med Men, EAZEs on billboards. In fact, there’s a, there’s a big billboard on, on Roscoe Boulevard, for Kush Alley. and I’m like, man, that’s great. Like it really just default. You know, I’m thinking about the business bottle that that particular retail location, right?

Like they’re like, okay, I’m thinking the conversation goes something like, well, we have this great location, but it’s like often some small side street that, no, there’s no foot traffic it’s a cul du sac okay, fine. Let’s, let’s just own that billboard. I think that billboard that they’re buying month in and month out for four years has to be probably their best investment considering the amount of traffic that goes down on Roscoe Boulevard, like it’s a, it’s a cost of doing business.

It’s probably actually one of their best investments ever to advertise in marketing and telling the story because years from now, anyone who’s been driven past, they will know the name Kush Ally. And it’s just going to become a brand freaking name, and it’s so. The power of marketing. Just let it resonate with people or ruminate or, or simmer a little bit.

Let it nurture the relationship with people who drive down Roscoe Boulevard off Bolba and man years from now, and I’m sure they’re doing great already, but like I love that they’re just branding the heck out of their business and I’m sure they’ll continue to grow. Lots of opportunity in billboards.

Naram Khoshaba: [00:25:57] I think too. All types of media is always good media. So I mean, we believe what we are seeing right now with a traditional media being billboards. That’s a huge thing. most recently we’ve noticed a few different television channels. The stations around the United States had been promoting investments in CBD.

so it’s really unique. you know, we as a company are more of a data company now. We get a lot of customers. We get a lot of business plans. We got a lot of ideas given to us. that’s one of the big parts that we enjoy of our business is learning about the future of this space and what these companies are looking to build.

And, you know, I think if. you can put a message out there as powerful as Mike Nike has done with your brand, and you can support your brand with your mission and vision, I think you can really succeed in this space. And like you said, the billboards do it, you know, just do it, put it up there and make it happen.

there’s a lot of opportunities for a lot of these CBD brands to really get recognized in 2020. I think there’s just, again, like I said, there’s a wealth of wealth of opportunities because as a THC market and what we’ve envisioned is that it’s a one lane super highway, which is a really good one, but for the CBD market. There’s a 10 million super highway, so there’s way more opportunities in this space and not only in the United States, but worldwide.

Robert Brill: [00:27:23] Yup. So, Naram final question for you, on a completely different subject. I’m a big foodie. what do you like to eat? What’s your favorite like thing to eat in LA or where wherever you might travel?

What’s the first thing that comes to mind? Good food.

Naram Khoshaba: [00:27:40] Ah taco, taco, taco, taco for me you can’t beat them. You’re in Los Angeles. This is the epicenter of the best Mexican food and tacos you can ever get.

Robert Brill: [00:27:51] Yup. Any place in particular, I’ll start my, my favorite. When you say tacos and Mexican food, my favorite place is near Dodger stadium on Figueroa and like the 110, it’s amazing.

Naram Khoshaba: [00:28:02] Mexicali? Yep.

Excellent spot. Guerrilla Tacos downtown’s amazing, you know, as one of our favorite spots. another one that’s just down the street from our office. We have instead of taco Tuesdays, we have taco Fridays are, it’s a little booth called Pablos Tacos that’s right on the corner of, believed Picos and LA Cienega and a, they just make an amazing borough taco and they’re usually there Friday through Sunday.

So, we don’t get to see him during the weekday or we just on Fridays.

Robert Brill: [00:28:38] Well, that sounds great. Naram. How do our listeners find you?

Naram Khoshaba: [00:28:42] So you guys are always reach out directly through our website at my direct email is [email protected]. And, you can definitely hang us up if you have any questions via email.

we also have a one 800 number. You can reach out to us with 8333 396 223, and that number dispatchers to all of our sales and marketing teams. So if you have any questions or if you wanna reach out to us, feel free to do so. and again, this has been a pleasure.

Thank you for having me on the podcast.

Robert Brill: [00:29:17] Thanks Naram.

Talk to you soon. Bye.

Naram Khoshaba: [00:29:19] Bye. Take care.

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Intro Music: Echegoyen Productions

Created By: Brill Media