Image: James Banasiak for mg Magazine
Elias used lessons he learned as a mainstream serial entrepreneur to co-found a cannabis powerhouse.
For all the talk about vertically-integrated companies with deep pockets moving in to dominate the cannabis industry, leave it to a lean-and-mean upstart with a simple idea to steal the show: Lowell Herb Co.’s pack of fancy-pants pre-roll smokes is one of the first iconic, must-have products in the most competitive weed market in the world.
When the company launched in 2017, Lowell worked with one farm, employed five people, and harbored a grandiose plan to become one of the first household names in the United States. Two years later, it’s well on its way. With a 35-percent market share in California’s pre-roll market, 350 dispensaries on its distribution roster, and 135 employees across the state, the company named for “Indian hemp” pioneer and proto-counterculture dissident William “Bull” Lowell is staking a claim far and wide.
Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer David Elias, who shares a certain amount of nonconformist ideology with the company’s namesake, is no stranger to startups and competitive business environments. With an uncanny ability to create buzz around a brand, he’s built and exited two successful startups over the past twenty years. His guiding philosophy boils down to this:
“It’s more about the product being loved than the money being spent to convince people to love it.”
The cannabis industry’s origin story is largely a tale of renegades and hippies-turned-farmers going back to the land and growing some weed along the way to help support their maverick, off-grid lifestyle.
Elias is from a different planet altogether. Raised in Long Island, New York, he ran documents around Wall Street as an ambitious teenager, then spent several years as a trader at securities brokerage firm Bear Stearns. In the 1990s he launched his first startup in his pint-sized West Village apartment. The concept was ahead of its time: viral marketing. He said the influencer marketing idea was a natural outgrowth of his lifestyle, which included DJing at various clubs in the city and hanging out in the intermingled arts communities. Connecting artists and other influencers—or “creators,” as he prefers to call them—with aspiring brands turned out to be a great business in the capital of all things hip and marketable.
Published: May 29, 2019
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News