If you’re not already au fait with the term CBD, allow us a brief introduction. It stands for cannabidiol, which is the main component of the hent plant. This can help ease symptoms of chronic pain, nausea and insomnia, but is most widely used to tackle stress, anxiety and joint pain. Profesor CBD, which was founded by Borja Iribarne in 2018, provides one safe and reliable marketplace for trusted brands to sell CBD oils, flowers and eLiquids. Buyers can read and leave reviews, ensuring a community-based experience. To find out more about this help-fuelled world, we spoke to CEO Iribarne about his experiences setting up such an intriguing startup.
1. Why did you decide to start your company with Demium?
I had just left a Canadian multinational company and I had a moment of reflection. I didn’t want to work for others anymore, unable to make decisions, and I decided it was time to become an entrepreneur. At first I didn’t know how to create a company, I didn’t know a lot about finance or all the legal aspects. Demium helped me get started, they taught me a lot. When I attended the AllStartup weekend I got great vibes and I was lucky enough to meet the project. One thing led to the other and here I am now. I’ve always felt very supported by Demium and in fact they’re one of our partners.
2. How would you define your experience at the AllStartup Weekend?
Very, very intense, because everything happens in just three days. But despite it being intense, it’s also very effective. You’re able to meet a lot of people and see how the startup world is (challenging, ever changing and unstable). The experience was great and I’m still in touch with some of the people I met back then. Overall, I would say it was very useful.
3. What stage are you at with Profesor CBD?
We just closed the second round of financing. The idea is to finish establishing ourselves in Spain and then, later this year, focus on opening in new markets. We’re currently selling in Austria, Germany, France, Italy and Portugal, but through other platforms. We’re pretty much consolidated in Spain, but we still have to keep working on opening up new markets.
4. Are there particular skills you need to be an entrepreneur?
When I talk to my mother, wife or friends, they tell me: “Borja, why did you get into this mess? You could be in corporate, clocking off at 6pm.” I always tell them that this is what I love and I think that is a must if you want to be an entrepreneur. If you want everything to be perfect, then go and work for someone else. But if you’re able to throw yourself into it and live in the mud, so to speak, then go for it. Be an entrepreneur. It’s not easy at the beginning, but as soon as thing start to go in the right direction and you realise all that work is worth it… It’s an amazing feeling.
5. What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced so far?
I would say that our biggest challenge is the same as our biggest success: positioning our CBD flower in the market. Nowadays, if you search ‘CBD flower’ on Google in Spanish, we’re the first result. I get a lot of messages from people who buy our products because a friend of theirs has recommended us. We’ve also had calls from cigar stores telling us that their clients have requested our product specifically.
6. What has been the most rewarding part of your startup journey?
Each time we consolidate a channel – like when we started selling in cigar stores and later on Amazon – I get a special feeling. Consolidating channels means more turnover, which is great. From a more personal point of view, I love when my mother sees me in the newspaper, because she gets so excited for me and what we are doing.
7. Have you had to pivot your product since incubation?
Well, we launched back in October of 2018 and the legislation regarding CBD oil changed in December of that same year. It went from being a dietary supplement to a cosmetic product. After that a lot of CBD companies in Europe closed, but I was sure that if we were persistent, we’d not only survive, but thrive. As we couldn’t advise people to eat a “cosmetic product”, we created a content blog instead. We used social media influencers to tell people about the product and their experience of using it. Essentially, it was a pivot in communication. We kept moving forward and I’m very happy we did.
8. Where do you see yourself in a year’s time?
Where I am right now. That being said, in five years’ time I hope to be delegating to other people working on Profesor CBD.
9. What advice would you give aspiring entrepreneurs?
Work on your interview techniques and attend the AllStartup Weekend, because that’s where you’ll find out how the startup world really works. In the entrepreneurial world you learn by doing things right, but also by making mistakes. In fact, I can confidently say that if something went wrong in the CBD sector and Profesor CBD went bankrupt, I would found another startup. I’m 100% sure about that.
10. Describe your Demium experience in one word…
Changing. Since I joined Demium our situation hasn’t stopped changing. Changing for the better and growing.