Let’s face it: it is hard to be a cannabis consumer on the go. Federal prohibition makes it difficult to travel with your cannabis pipes; and even if it was legal on the federal level, would you trust your pipe with the TSA? Most people wouldn’t, and neither would Lauren Ely, CEO of disposaBowls.
DisposaBowls is a company based in Colorado that makes, you guessed it, disposable pipes for the cannabis consumer on the go. In its first iteration, the disposaBowl is a heavy cream colored pipe that bears a striking resemblance to a valve or gasket. On the front end of it is a child-safe cap that keeps your cannabis fresh and the tell tale smell out of your pockets, which is a huge plus for the discreet cannabis consumer.
The idea for disposaBowls, like many other great inventions, came from hazy memories of college past. “My friend used to make these marvelous, handcrafted bowls, with ground flower, honey hash oil, kief, whatever we had, and they were glorious,” Ely said.
As Ely and company enjoyed the artisanal handiwork of her friend, they would often joke that someone should make cannabis style K-Cups; and that’s when inspiration hit. “We decided that ‘someone’ should be us; it’s not often an entirely new industry comes along,” Ely said. “When opportunity knocks on your door, you should really answer.”
Aside from being discreet and easy to use, one of the goals for the disposaBowls design was to be as environmentally friendly as possible, which is why, aside from the plastic cap, the entire pipe is made from ceramic. “We chose ceramic as an earth friendly material, so if a consumer needs to throw away the pipe before crossing state lines, it’s completely non-toxic,” Ely explained. “It’s like throwing away a rock. “
Because convenience is one of the pillars of disposaBowls’ selling point, the company’s target demographic is the 30+ cannabis consumer on the go. This age group tends to be comprised of professionals with a disposable income and the need to be discreet with their cannabis consumption.
Another market that the company wants to shift toward is the tourism and event industry. “We plan on launching a campaign promoting cannabis for gifting for various holidays or special events like weddings, since we are at the perfect price point for a small gift for the cannabis lover in your life.”
The price for an unfilled disposaBowl is $15 and a filled one costs $25. Going forward, Ely hopes to build relationships with dispensaries and growers by designing branded pipes for specific strains or dispensaries.
Unlike other cannabis startups, Ely and her team are not venture capitalists or industry insiders. Ely comes from a background in education and her COO, Rachel Fazio, is a small business owner and has a background in human resources. The company’s team may not be full of Warren Buffets, but their experience affords them a unique view of the market, which can be an invaluable asset.
Taking a page out of the book of companies like CDx, disposaBowls will be launching a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo starting May 11, 2015.
According to the company’s Indiegogo page, the goal is to raise $5,000 to produce its first branded disposaBowl, which will be a rainbow colored pipe meant to express the solidarity of the LGBTQ community and to celebrate Denver Pride on June 20. Eventually, the company hopes to raise enough money to develop K-Cup style pods for the disposaBowl.
As a female entrepreneur in a male dominated industry, Ely said that she has found her gender to be more of an asset than a liability. “There is a feeling of camaraderie among the women I [have] met … [we want] to make sure this industry is as welcoming to women as to men. Women Grow has been an invaluable source of ideas, connections and inspiration,” Ely said.
For male entrepreneurs trying to capture the female demographic, Ely has two points of advice. “One, so simple but so profound: Have both men’s and women’s t-shirts available … and second, If you have a ‘booth babe’ at your booth (aka a young girl hired simply to look hot and hand out samples), I can promise you I will be avoiding it. Such sales tactics tend to drive women away.”
Indeed the industry still seems plagued by companies that lazily resort to bikini-clad women, covered in cannabis leaves, handing out samples and smiles to loud electronic dance music, which makes it even more refreshing to see companies like disposaBowls working hard to make the industry more inclusive.
This bootstrapped startup may lack the deep pockets and vast resources like others in the industry, but with hard work, a little luck, and the right investors, that may not always be the case.