JOE: On this episode of the "CBD University Podcast," we're launching our new podcast with Global Widget co-founder and co-CEO Kevin Collins. Education is key for consumers when shopping for CBD products, and we're here to keep you informed and educated about the latest in the CBD industry. You'll hear the story of how Global Widget was founded and has increased its workforce that now contains the in-house manufacturing and distribution teams that all other standards are measured against. Plus learn more about our hemp-derived CBD products, we'll even have some product shots, and how in this ever-changing CBD industry, we are setting the standards as industry leaders. This is the premiere episode of the "CBD University Podcast" and it starts right now.
I'm Joe Agostinelli, and welcome to Global Widget's new "CBD University Podcast." This indeed is the premiere episode, as we set out to educate you the consumer about the CBD industry and how our brands of premium hemp-derived CBD products from Hemp Bombs, Nature's Script, and Pure Paws Hemp are not only leading the industry but shaping the standards in which all other brands are measured against. And on each episode, we'll discuss topics facing the industry, feature members of our teams, our business partners, and industry insiders to get you all the knowledge you need surrounding CBD, and that's why we call this the "CBD University Podcast." And to start things off on episode one, I welcome Global Widget co-founder and co-CEO, Kevin Collins. Kevin, thanks for taking time out of your busy day to join me.
KEVIN: You got it. Thanks for having me, Joe.
JOE: So, first, let's go back to 2016, Global Widget was founded. Just go back in time and take our listeners back to the founding of the company.
KEVIN: Yeah. Let's take it back to about April of 2016, me and my business partner, Donnie, got together, and we did some research on CBD. We noticed that there was a lack of businesses involved, a lack of understanding involved. So, what we did is we tried the product, we both really enjoyed the product, and we looked at the industry in the whole and we saw that there was a gap there. So, you know, being the entrepreneurs that me and Donnie are, we said, "Hey, let's take a shot here." I was involved in real estate. He was actually involved in cars, he had a bunch of car dealerships. We got together and we decided, this is our next endeavor. I sold off all my real estate portfolio. He sold off all of his car portfolio, and that's where we began. Come June, we came up with the name Hemp Bombs, and come July, we had our first product.
It was funny because when we first started, me and Donnie kind of had a motto, right? And it was, Donnie makes it and I sell it. And then that's kinda how it blossomed from there. Started with one product, and as you know now we have probably over 250 to 500 SKUs. So, that's kind of a real quick how we kinda got started, you know.
JOE: And what was the first product?
KEVIN: The first product was capsules. My partner Donnie has some experience getting products into convenience stores. This was probably 10 years ago. So, he understood how to make a capsule-style product. So, that was our first one, we made one product capsules. I started getting on the phone cold-calling any and everybody. And when I mean any and everyone, if someone answered the phone on the other line, I was sending them samples, assuming they had an address, I didn't care who they were, where they were. And our goal was, get product into anyone and everyone's hands, educate on what it is and let's start selling the product. And that's kinda how we started.
JOE: And from now, you know, from then to where we are today, right?
KEVIN: Yeah. I mean, you know, there's a lot of in-betweens, right? But the way I kind of explain is, it started with me and Donnie and one product, it sold, we hired someone, sold more, we hired somebody else. Came up with another product, hired more people it sold more, and it just snowballed. And, you know, you could really just fast-forward to where we are now three years later. I think we're sitting at right at 208 employees just to support these CBD brands, and now we probably have well over 250 SKUs. So, things are going well and, you know, we've got a plethora of products, like I said, 208 employees and that's kind of where we're at now.
JOE: And when we talk about the employees, it's important to note that all of that, you know, just about in-house? Correct?
KEVIN: Yeah. So, you know, one of my strategies was, keep everybody in-house, right? Because the CBD market moves extremely fast. It's an emerging market, it's not a mature market. And when I say moving fast, I don't mean every year, "Let's sit down and look what happened." Every month something changes, whether it's legality, whether it's compliance, whether it's the market, whether it's new brands, whether it's products. And quite frankly now every state is actually taking their own stance. So, there's 50 different rule books going on right now. You know, and what we're doing is navigating through those and figuring out the best way to sell our product and, you know, we're going to be the industry leader and that's what we're really focused on doing.
JOE: And on that note of all the regulations in August, talking about adding staff, you added the first and she'll be a guest on an upcoming episode, Margaret Richardson, but you added the first compliance office into...
KEVIN: Yeah. You know, as you start moving down the different roads of business, you really start evolving. And what I mean by that is, you know, we really went from a small business, we skipped the whole medium business and we went right into large. And now what we're trying to do is move into an enterprise-level business, you know, we want to be the Redbull of CBD. We want to be the 5-Hour Energy, we want to be the Coca-Cola of CBD. So, what I've started doing, and really, you know, my role over the last year has been really focused on hiring, you know, whether it's a data scientist that we hired to help with numbers, a process and analytics director, chief compliance officer, we just hired a food scientist, I mean, I could go on and on about the different people that we've hired that are really good.
And, you know, my big thing is, when you hire these really good people, you've got to let them work and really showcase their skillset and it's fun to see. It's hard as the CEO because I'm doing less and less, right? Because I have all these great people that are doing things, but it's really something to see and as we grow, you could just see the evolution of our business because of the people we've hired. And, you know, it's kinda cliche, everybody says, you know, you watch "Shark Tank" and you watch all these shows. Everybody always says, "Oh, people, process, and product." Well, I could tell you wholeheartedly now I understand what they mean, right? And quite frankly, we have the product, right? And now we have the people. And a lot of what we're doing with all these 208 people that we have employed is putting all the processes in place.
And, you know, I'm not a process guy and that's probably why our business lacks a lot of process. But I can tell you this, over the last year, man, our main focus is putting processes in place and you could just see the fruition of that, right? And whether it's sales, whether it's compliance, whether it's marketing, having all these processes in place, it really pushes the business forward and what it really does is allow you to strategize and plan and be prepared for what's next, right? Because, like I mentioned, the CBD industry, it's emerging and it changes drastically. And, you know, me and Donnie have built this business prepared to, what I like to say is pivot. You never know, I mean, one day a regulation might come out saying this, the next day it's coming out saying that. So, we have built our business to be extremely fluid. And what I mean by that is, we could shift, we could pivot.
So, right now we're really in the midst of waiting for the regulations. We really can't wait for the FDA to set some stringent guidelines because, with how far ahead our business is than all the other CBD companies out there, we're prepared for the regulations and we know that's gonna actually help us, because no matter what the regulations are, if the regulations are A, B, C we're prepared to do A, B, C. If the regulations are D, E, F, we're prepared to do D, E, F. And quite frankly, we're probably already doing A, B, C, D, E, F now. So, I'm really excited about where our business is because we're prepared for anything and we're going to set the industry standard.
JOE: And we talk about the workforce and the team members. In addition to that, with 208 folks, you have to have room for everybody, and this year has now seen the expansion of now more than almost just about 100,000 square feet of manufacturing and distribution space.
KEVIN: Yeah. So, this actual podcast is in our main facility, okay? Off of Sunstate Street, it's about 50,000 square feet. This is where we got about close to 125, 150 employees. And here we have our sales and marketing team, our manufacturing team, our technology team. But I would say, within the first two months of moving into this 50,000-square-foot facility, we ran out of space. So, what we did is we purchased another 47,000-square-foot facility about a mile up the road. That way we could keep, you know, keep it close that way the logistics are a lot easier and we actually shifted our whole entire distribution and shipping team over there. That way we could keep all our finished goods there. And so we were in the midst of getting that building all set up. We already have team members move there, all our finished goods are there, and that building will be done in about three months.
However, we did just invest into a lot of different types of vertical integration, which I could get into some more details later. But we also have a 10,000-square-foot facility, which is actually only 0.9 miles away, again, help with logistics, and that's where we're going to be doing all of our extraction. And, you know, I could go into more depth about extraction later or whenever, you know, you're ready for me to, but yeah, you know, we're up to about 110,000 square feet in facility space and growing, and it's something to be said. And our facilities are impressive, you know, and we actually created a whole entire campaign to say, I want to say about three months ago, and we called the campaign Seeing is Believing, right? And I guess I'll get into some details on that, right?
Because the main point of Seeing is Believing is you got to get to our facility to really see, to really believe what we're doing. Because, like I said, the CBD markets is an emerging market, right? And what's happened is when I got in this 2016, we went to a trade show, there was probably three to five CBD companies in that trade show. No big deal, just getting going. Well, let's fast forward, last month we did a trade show and there was like 300 at this trade show and 100,000 online. But, when you go to these trade shows, when you see these companies online, they might look like a billion-dollar company. They might look like they got their own facility. They might look like they got 500 employees. When really there's three guys making CBD out of their garage. And don't get me wrong, right? Every entrepreneur has to start somewhere, and I'm not knocking them for trying, but quite frankly, CBD is almost turned into like a medicine, and you can't be buying your medicine from two guys that are making it in a garage. So, the reason for the whole Seeing is Believing is, unless you come to our facility, you don't know what's out there, right? Because you could come to my booth and I could tell you all these things, just like everyone else is telling you these things.
But when you come to our facility and you see in person the manufacturing of the gummies, and you see our data analytics team working, and you see our whole entire digital media team working, because, you know, we do, like I said, everything in-house. So, when we partner with a big distribution company, we do joint social media posts, we do marketing together, you know, we have in-housed everything, whether it's graphic designers, content writers, you name it. So we're able to offer the support that these distribution companies desperately need because, you know, when you're buying CBD, the main thing you need to be concerned with is, where are you buying it? How is it made? And what is the compliance stringencies behind that? And we offer those things. But, like I said, unless you see it, it's hard to believe. So, you know, we're really, really focused on trying to get people into our facility, and we're actually running some in-house seminars over the next couple months that should be very good because our goal is to educate, right?
And I've been saying this for years, there's a lot of lack of education with CBD out there, but, that's not the only problem. The biggest problem in my book is, there is some education getting done, but who? Who's giving that education? Because I personally sat in some of these seminars at these different shows and I can't believe some of the things that the people that are speaking at these shows are actually saying, because they're not even educated. So what's happening is, uneducated people are educating with uneducated material. So, it's really making things even worse. And one of the goals of this podcast is to get educated people that know CBD on here, able to help others with knowledge, right? And because to me, education is the biggest gap with CBD, and that's what we're here trying to do.
JOE: And that's also part of the Seeing is Believing whole theme is having a forum with industry leaders and we're talking one of the top attorneys in the industry, we're talking to our third-party lab...
KEVIN: Yeah. And, you know, our seminars aren't going to be just our guys saying, "Oh, buy our products, buy our products." You know, we're bringing in outside people. We're bringing in there's chief scientist officer that works for arguably the biggest accredited lab in the whole entire country. We're bringing in some compliance officers, we're bringing in some legality people, people that have been in this industry since the beginning, that are at the forefront, that could really educate people, and let them understand what CBD is, why they should be taking it, and where CBD is going, right? Because that's another thing. Where are we going? What's gonna happen with CBD? And so, those are some of the things that we're looking at.
JOE: And on that note of where are we going, into 2020. You know, a year from now, what do you hope to be looking back on and saying, "Wow, we did this, this, this, and this." And I know there's some big initiatives underway when we talk about processes, and technology, and manufacturing, and distribution heading down the road. What are you hoping to look back a year from now?
KEVIN: So, yeah, you know, I've owned a lot of my own businesses over the years, nothing to this size, right? So I'm not gonna bs you there. But, one thing I will say is, you know, we can't wait for the regulations, because once those come, there's going to be a lot of people weeded out, a lot of the market confusion will be gone, and then we will be able to put our best foot forward and really be that gold standard, right? And, you know, one of the hardest things for me as the business owner is, I'm used to planning, and generally, you know, you plan two, three, four, five years in advance. Well, this is CBD, man, you can't plan five years in advance. So, one of the hardest things about this industry is, you've got to plan next month, you've gotta plan next year. But besides that, it's really hard to plan because the market shifts so much. You could work overtime creating this plan, but then next month something happens where your plan's obsolete.
So, it's difficult, right? But, the fact that it's difficult is also what makes it fun, right? Because, yeah, everyone's jumping into CBD now and everyone's getting involved, but that doesn't mean you're going to be instantly successful. Just because the CBD realm is successful now doesn't mean when you just jump in it's going to be successful. There's a lot more to it. And one of the things I like to really reiterate is, we have 208 employees to support our CBD brands, you know, we don't have 10 people. And the crazy part about it is, all 208 people are desperately needed. It doesn't matter if it's the customer service person, the social media person, everyone's needed. Because, you know, think about like this, Joe, my mom, your mom, most of the listeners, they don't get to see the hard work that 208 people are putting in. All the strategy meetings, all the next-level planning, but you know what they see? They see a social media post when a consumer calls and the customer service rep answers. That person is giving that customer the basis of what our business does.
So, whatever that customer service rep says to that customer, that's what they think of our business. So, it doesn't matter who you are within our company, you matter and you matter big time. And, I find it hard to believe that, without having these 208 people, we could really be successful. So sometimes I wonder how are these other companies doing it, right? Because we're still hiring. I think we have about 17 different ads out for different hires that we still need just to support our business. So, you know, it's really important that everyone within our company, and I think they do, they understand they're needed and they're important, because it doesn't matter what you're doing, it matters, right? And that's something I like to always tell people. And, you know, even when I'm talking to other distributors, wholesalers, I let them know that, you know, we have a support system. We've really built this business prepared to take on the biggest customers in the industry because capacity-wise, no one could compete with us. Like I said, it's in-house.
You know, you walk to the back of our building, you're gonna see 30,000 square feet of open manufacturing space with 100 workers in lab coats and it's impressive, man. And, you know, with the industry being so new and emerging and things change so much, well, when the FDA says, "Oh, you need to do this and put this on your label." We could walk in the back of our building and we change it on the fly, right? We don't use co-packers. So, we're not tied in to anybody. We're not under anybody's spell. We make our own decisions and we make them fast and that's how we've been so successful.
JOE: And we'll hear more about some of those compliance initiatives on our very next episode of our podcast, so you want to tune into that one also. And speaking of, we talked about vertical integrations too with 208 people. I want you to go back and touch on that a little bit.
KEVIN: Yeah. So, you know, this is really my partner's realm, right? I'm a sales guy, the marketing guy.
JOE: Yeah. Don't steal too much of his thunder because he'll be out in a couple of weeks.
KEVIN: Yeah, I won't. And when he talks he'll get into detail, but, yeah. In terms of vertical integration, you know, what we're set to do here is handle the product from seed to sale, right? You know, in my opinion, the most important thing for a consumer, a distributor, a wholesaler is, where did you buy the product? How is the product produced? How is the product packaged? How's the product grown? How was it trimmed? How was it cropped? How was it seeded? Everything. So, what we've done is, we've partnered with farms, but, we went the step ahead, right? We actually purchased all the extraction equipment and I'm talking millions of dollars worth of equipment. So, what we're going to be able to do is, now that we've partnered with farms, okay, we know where our hemp is getting grown, right when that hemp gets grown, it comes to us and we regulate every process from that until you get your product.
So, you know, we're gonna be creating our own CBD from scratch and that's really important because compliance is going to be everything. Like I said, it's really turning into a medicine, right? And, God, you need to know where it's coming from, you need to know who's making it, how they're packaging it, are they doing the right thing? So, you know, when you come to our facility, within our manufacturing facility, we have labs, and not just QC labs, we have lab testing equipment. We use third-party accredited labs, but we have that same equipment in our own facility and no one told us to go buy that stuff. You know, we're trying to take extra measures, extra precautions to make sure our consumers get the best product possible. So we actually built a lab inside our manufacturing facility. Now, when we get product raw material sent to us, yeah, we test those raw materials.
When our product is getting produced on our production line, we actually pull products off our production line and test it in our in-house manufacturing lab facility before we even send it out to that third-party lab facility. And we're the only ones in the industry doing it. And let me repeat, no one told us to do that. You know, and that's the coolest thing about this industry is, it's all pioneering, it's all trailblazing, and it's all figuring it out. And like I said, we want to be the gold standard, we're gonna be the gold standard. So, in order to be that gold standard, you have to be the ones that are initiating and innovating all these different things in order to do that. And that's what we're doing and that's what we're gonna do.
JOE: And that's what we'll be showcasing as he mentioned to distributors and those who will be visiting our facilities over the next few months. And when we talk about...you can also see a lot of our efforts on the compliance side through videos on our social media networks. And just a reminder that all of our brands, Hemp Bombs, Nature's Script, and Pure Paws Hemp are all on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Twitter and you can go ahead and search for them on the native platforms and also Global Widget at globalwidget.com. And so, people probably want to know, I mean, do you sleep here? Do you get any time off? What do you do for fun? Family around here?
KEVIN: Yeah. I would have to say for the first three years, I don't know if I did sleep, right? But I'm not gonna lie, now, I'm sleeping a lot better because of the people, right? You know, some days I sit in my office and I don't have much to do because I had a list of 50 things to do, but I have 50 different people that are doing them. So, half the time, if I tried to go do something, I'm getting into somebody's way. And that's what I said earlier is, you know, it's so cliche to say people are so important, but it's really not once you understand it. And it's cool because you hire these really good people that have these skill sets and they're doing great because they're better than me at that skill set. Now, I might have some great entrepreneurial knowledge, but I'm not a social media expert, I'm not a compliance expert, I'm not a data scientist. And those are now the things that we need to take our business to the next level, right?
And so, I'm not gonna lie, I am sleeping a little bit more now, Joe, right? And I'm getting used to that, right? Because I'm not, I'm used to the chaos, I'm used to the start-up feel of a business, and I love that kind of stuff. And, you know, now I'm just transitioning into my different role of, you know, managing the good people that we have here and really just setting the upper-level vision and making sure our business moves forward how I think it should move forward, but quite frankly it is. I'm excited for the future. I don't see too many gaps that we have within our business. And, yeah, you know, one thing I've always believed in is, if you work harder than the next guy, you're gonna get farther than the next guy. And I think we've instilled that culture within our company that, you know, we have fun here, right? It's probably the least corporate environment with 208 people that you could build. But, if I can't tell you that, people come to work and they come to work hard, now we want to have fun also, but I'm telling you, if you work harder than the next business, you're going to be better than the next business. And that's what I'd like to, you know, kind of finish on something like that.
JOE: And one last question, talking about the fun piece, the launch of the podcast. Here we are on episode one. And for those who watch on our YouTube Channel, you can see this is actually our in-house studio. But for those who may be listening on their favorite platform of choice, you got your own podcast studio, and why should listeners subscribe to our new podcast?
KEVIN: Right. Yeah. I don't know how many listeners want to listen to me talk, but, you know, the goal of this podcast honestly is education, right? And I mentioned this earlier is, there's a huge lack of education in CBD, and not only that, some of the people that are doing the education, they're not knowledgeable. So, it concerns me what people are listening to and getting educated on. So the main reason I wanted to build this podcast is to build up a following of people that are interested in CBD, that sell CBD, that want to know about CBD, but that can get up-to-date real-time knowledgeable education, so that there isn't as much market confusion. So, you know, over, you know, our podcast, we're going to be bringing in, you know, really good people, and not just people from our business, we're gonna be bringing in outside people that could give their inputs on what's going on in the market and stuff like that. So, you know, the point of the podcast is to educate, but educate the proper way, right? Let's give people what they need and the knowledge that they need, but the true knowledge, right? And that's really why we did this.
JOE: And I look forward to hosting the podcast for many, many more episodes to come, and I'm sure we'll have you back again on another episode in the not-so-distant future. So, I want to thank Kevin Collins, our co-CEO and co-founder for joining me on our premiere episode of the "CBD University Podcast." And I thank you for listening. I do invite you to subscribe to our podcast on your favorite podcast platform of choice. You can also see video of our podcast as I alluded to on our YouTube Channel. And then, as I said, you can subscribe on your favorite platform of choice, get notifications each week when new episodes are published, and to catch up on any of our episodes as we build our library, you can always visit our website at www.globalwidget.com for all of our past podcast episodes. And you can also take a look at some of the most recent news and events that have been going on from inside Global Widget. So, once again, I thank Kevin Collins, our co-founder, and co-CEO for joining me on this episode of the "CBD University Podcast." And thank you for listening to this episode and we look forward to you tuning in once again for a new fresh episode of the "CBD University Podcast" from Global Widget coming soon.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. CBD products are not intended to treat, cure, or prevent any disease or condition. Always consult your personal physician about CBD and using CBD products. CBD should never be used by anyone under the age of 18. This podcast is not intended to provide legal advice regarding the legal status of CBD and CBD products.