What was the inspiration behind Buzzn?
Min: Buzzn was inspired by a mix of my experience as a pharmacist and my love for dogs! When I adopted my rescue, Calvin, he was incredibly anxious and wouldn’t let anyone get near him. I adopted Calvin from Korean K9 Rescue, he came from a dog meat farm. When I saw how traumatized he was from his experience, I wanted to create a solution so no other dogs with his level (or any level) or anxiety would have to suffer anymore.
I also have a passion for educating the public on natural, sustainable wellness. Both humans and pets have an innate endocannabinoid system that allows for our bodies to react well to CBD. As a pharmacist, I’ve witnessed over-prescribing and the side effects of that. It occurred to me early in my career that there is a complete lack of education and discussion around natural solutions. Having found relief with CBD for Calvin, I was on a mission to create sustainable wellness solutions, education and resources for our pets.
The name Buzzn came about because I wanted to make light of the stigma around cannabis. I wanted a playful brand name to destigmatize the centuries of darkness that have resulted from cannabis legalization.
How did you two meet?
Lisa: We actually met walking our dogs. We initially started with small talk about the anxieties of our dogs and how CBD has helped. With more passing time, we started to share our own personal journeys with CBD and how it’s helped us as people. Through our conversations, we realized that we shared many goals and visions on how we want to make an impact.
What inspired you to take the jump and launch Buzzn?
Lisa: I’m a start-up consultant and I met Min when Buzzn was 3 or 4 months old. When we started working together we realized that our skill sets really compliment each other. We had so much fun working together that it didn’t really feel like work. That’s when we decided to become partners.
Min is still a part time Pharmacist but our main focus is always Buzzn.
How do you handle risk and competition?
Lisa: We really embrace competition. We know there are many CBD brands out there and that’s really great to see. We are all working towards the same goal of wanting people to be healthier through natural methods.
We set ourselves apart by having a team of healthcare professionals and pharmacists to review the formulations, understand drug-drug interactions, and be available to answer questions from a medical standpoint.
As an organization, you emphasize sustainability, nonprofit partnerships and transparency. What advice do you have for entrepreneurs trying to build social impact into their company model?
Lisa: We believe that it’s really important to give back and be eco-friendly. One of our biggest pieces of advice is to make giving back a part of the main foundation of the company. Give back to causes that the company really believes in.
Both of us take sustainability and our causes very seriously. Being able to do that is in our ethos and a part of who we are, which translates into the business.
What’s been the #1 (or two) top challenges you’ve faced while launching your company?
Lisa: While launching a CBD business, we faced many issues. In 2019, our biggest challenge was being able to process payments. While we found workaround solutions, it did set us back 3 months into launch.
Today, we would say that our biggest challenge is being able to market the way we would like to. With so many regulations still in place about CBD companies, we still face many challenges that other brands do not have to face.
Have you learned anything new or surprising about each other through this process?
Lisa: When we started, we hardly knew each other. Now, I would say that Min is the brother I never had. I knew Min was great when I first met him, but working with him made me realize what a great partner I have. While every day isn’t sunshine and rainbows, I really couldn’t have asked for a more passionate, smart, and big-hearted partner.
Min: Throughout this process I’ve learned how different we are when it comes to running our day-to-day operations. Despite the inevitable turbulence of entrepreneurship, Lisa has always remained calm, level-headed and driven. I’ve learned that Lisa thrives under pressure and I admire her tenacity and perseverance as a leader. It’s been one hell of a ride and I could not have asked for a better partner.
What has been the most rewarding part of starting Buzzn?
Lisa: For me, I have learned so much by being a part of a company that’s part of the emerging markets. Even when we started Buzzn, there weren't that many CBD companies out there. Everything was new. The challenges we faced were not the norm. To learn to work through problems and launch a company in an incredibly fast-paced and ever changing environment is very rewarding when you come out the other side.
Min: All of this has been very rewarding for me! If I had to pick the most rewarding part of starting Buzzn, it would be the personal connections I’ve made with our loyal customers. To see that we’ve made an impact (big or small) makes me really proud. I’m so grateful for our Buzzn family.
What’s your team culture like?
Lisa: We have a very small team. Most days it’s just the two of us. We have agencies, consultants and part-time help that we work with. When we think about the greater team that we work with, a few words come to mind: humble, adaptable, innovative, respectful, fun. We don’t take ourselves too seriously.
We want to grow this company, so establishing a team built on respect is very important to us. This means internal and external. We treat each other just as we would our customers. Our whole goal is to build relationships. We are a very open team and feel that honesty is always the best policy.
What is your superpower?
Lisa: Strategic and analytical: I love being forward thinking and one of the things that makes me strong in my role at Buzzn and in life is my ability to work with the data that I have been provided in order to make sound decisions and take calculated risks.
Min: Empathy: I believe the ability to authentically connect with a person is such an important critical skill to have. I tend to put myself in the other person’s shoes to be able to communicate that understanding back to them.
What’s your kryptonite?
Lisa: Public Speaking: I have always been a bit on the shy and introverted side. You wouldn’t know it by meeting me but I get very nervous speaking in front of a crowd. But over the years, I have really worked on this so that I could improve as I do believe this is a very necessary skill.
Min: Rejection: I don’t think anybody likes being rejected. Personally, I took it pretty hard in the beginning. Since Buzzn’s conception, I’ve been rejected countless times. Today, I’m able to bounce back much quicker because I’m learning to be constructive and see it as growing pains.
Do you have any unusual routines or habits?
Lisa: I have to eat three different kinds of fruits every day.
Min: I like to strategize in the bathroom first thing in the morning. This sounds totally weird, but my best ideas have always come from my bathroom!
Do you have any other hobbies/things you like to do in your spare time?
Lisa: I love working out and being active. I love driving around aimlessly on weekends and getting lost somewhere new. I also love to read non-fiction books and write.
Min: I tend to read whenever I have spare time or whenever I need a moment of stillness. I also love to take my dogs to the park or walk them alongside the pier.
What’s your #1 piece of advice for aspiring founders?
Lisa: I think I would tell aspiring founders to go after their dreams but don’t beat themselves up if their business “fails.” There is no such thing as “fail” because even if the business doesn’t make it, you learn something about yourself or the industry that you would have never known if you hadn’t taken that step. That’s valuable because that’s how you learn and continue to build and grow. Those are lessons you can’t learn in a classroom or by working up the corporate ladder.
Min: Fall in love with the process and not so much the outcome. We can’t predict the road ahead of us and you never know what opportunities will come from inevitable setbacks. We’re hardwired to think that a positive outcome is the destination, but I continue to learn it’s the journey that is truly invaluable. Remind yourself to appreciate the power of process and be grateful for the venture you have embarked on.