Cookies Founder Berner Offers Advice For Cannabis Entrepreneurs

March 14, 2023 · Hall of Flowers

Berner is a boss. As the founder and CEO of Cookies, he’s built the world’s first billion-dollar cannabis empire.

The Cookies lifestyle brand launched in the Bay Area in 2010 and grew into dispensary storefronts by 2018. As a legacy cultivator, Berner’s presence in the cannabis community was beloved before adult-use cannabis became legal in California. Today, the homegrown brand has a massive retail footprint across the world, including its stylish 58th dispensary which opened in early 2023 in Bangkok, Thailand. Cookies also expanded last year into a storefront in New York City, a truly blue show-stopper at 5 stories. Berner is the founder of Vibes, a start-up cannabis rolling paper company, alongside Caps, a line of adaptogenic mushrooms and CBD.

The rapper and entrepreneur is also, fortunately, a cancer survivor. He opened up to his fans on social media and to Forbes about his health battles in recent years. Berner says he’s currently in good health and his cancer is in remission. We asked for advice directly from the founder himself for other cannabis entrepreneurs so you don’t have to.

“The biggest advice is to take your time and find your partners carefully,” says Berner. “There are predators around this industry taking advantage of well-intentioned growers and founders. Pick your partners wisely, and make sure you have a purpose behind what you’re doing, it’s one thing to say graphics. I want to empower breeders. I want to do this because I’m dedicated to it.”

“It’s a stressful turbulent industry, but I’m still here because I love this shit,” says Berner. “I recommend you take your time, find your purpose, finding your partners carefully. There’s no hiding that Cookies built backward. We grew fast. We almost grew too fast. My advice is, it was great for us to do that, but take your time. If I could go back and do it again, I would take my time on expanding. Make sure you expand when you’re ready to expand, and make sure you find the right partners. You can raise hundreds of millions of dollars but make sure your partnerships and your people are right. Take your time.”

On his favorite phenos that Cookies is working on:

“Man, there are literally 174 favors in this building right now,” says Berner. “I’m jumping through a lot of them. One of my current favorites is Gary Peyton x Skittlez, it’s called Velvetz with a Z at the end. It has the most lemongrass kind of funk to it, it’s burning really good to me. It’s speaking to my body. That Velvet is burning all the way to the tip.”

On launching Cookies in Thailand:

“It was the biggest eye-opening experience I’ve ever had,” says the founder. “Asia has been anti-cannabis for a long time, so to see people from Japan, from China, obviously from Thailand, but including France, Ireland, people came in from everywhere after the opening. It just showed that this could change whole industries. Right. Obviously, there was a boost in the restaurants that people are frequenting in the street, food, the malls.”

“I think Thailand is going to lead innovation for Asia,” Berner says. “Some of the stuff we’re working on there next for our brand is going to be game-changing just for the whole industry. Forget just the industry in Asia, but some of the things that, if we pull them off the way I think we can, are going to set the standards of what cannabis and cannabis consumption should feel and look like. I’m so excited for that.”

On cannabis R&D processes:

“Our R&D process takes a long time. Someone has to breed something. That takes a while. Then you have to pop through those seeds, and that takes a while. Then you find something you really like. And then, finding the right home for it doesn’t take as long. But I was kind of holding on to that one,” Berner says. That Badu’s strain is a Lemoncello crossed with Jet Fuel Gelato. “That one was kind of like Lemoncello. I don’t know if you ever tried it, but it’s like this lemony-cherry pie type of flavor. Very, very good on its own. The one thing about it was that it doesn’t really yield the way that the cultivators around the world wanted to yield. It’s a finicky plant. Lemoncello. So when we hit it with the Jet Fuel Gelato, that brought up the yield and made it a little more chunky and still kept that five on the smell and taste, but brought a little more funk to it, a better yield.”

“So when Erykah and I started talking about cannabis, she was like, I want something that just feels different, something that’s different. And I said, ‘man, I got something I’ve been holding that I’ve been waiting to do myself because that’s the kind of flavor I’m into.’ I presented her with a couple of flavors that we had in R & D, and she went right for that one. I was like, fuck yeah. Because I gave her the typical stuff that people are into, like dark purple fruity, gas, lemon cherry-type vibes. And when she went right for the Lemoncello x Jet Fuel Gelato, I told her when I met up with her that it speaks volumes on her palette. If you know, you know, type weed. That’s grown-up weed right there and speaks volumes to her palette and style.”

“As you know, I look at weed like food. No one wants to eat the same thing every day. And people get excited when they go to a restaurant. There are new dishes or specials or different flavors. I think that people have never tried this.” (Full Story)

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