When Matt Gray finally decided to pursue his dream of getting into the cannabis business, he started by sending emails. Lots of them. Over 2,000.
Emails with industry insiders turned into coffees, further conversations and, eventually, a trip to New Zealand. That’s where he connected with the guys behind The Stoner’s Cookbook, a website devoted to providing marijuana-infused recipes. Together, the group of weed aficionados spent the next couple of months backpacking, and Gray learned about them and their vision before rebranding, redesigning and revamping the site to what it is today: Herb.
“The vision for Herb was to create this one-stop shop for everything cannabis related,” said Gray, founder and CEO.
After graduating from the University of Western Ontario’s Richard Ivey School of Business in 2011, Gray became a sales representative with Kraft Foods Group before co-founding Bitmaker, a technical education company offering web development courses. Gray served as CEO of Bitmaker, which trained more than 2,000 software engineers over the course of three years. The company was ultimately acquired by General Assembly. After leaving Bitmaker, Gray decided to finally delve into a topic he’s “always” followed, both personally and politically: weed.
For Gray, part of launching Herb a little more than four years ago came down to understanding his audience, which is more diverse, he said, than the preconceived notions surrounding marijuana users. “We’re a community of entrepreneurs, doctors, lawyers, mothers, fathers and ordinary people that are consuming cannabis to elevate our lives and have a good time at the end of the day,” Gray said. “This is a mainstream plant consumed by mainstream people.”
Gray built the business traveling to locations like Thailand, Peru and Denver to study the ways people view and consume the plant, he said. “I think we’ve been able to use those nuances in coverage for cannabis enthusiasts that are coming to us to find other like-minded individuals,” he added.
The Toronto-based publisher now posts hundreds of videos and articles per month, covering cannabis-infused recipes, explanations on different strains and strain recommendations depending on pain levels. Herb also has a shop that sells bongs, pipes, vapes, rolling papers and grinders.
“I couldn’t have done this without the team around me,” Gray said. “It’s a world-class team of people that are doing big things in this industry.”
Founder, CEO, Herb
February 2013—October 2013
Herb garnered over 300 million video views in January. The company has grown to 40 people across technology, design, marketing and creative production. The website produces more than 200 articles and over 200 videos a month.
How He Got the Gig
After exiting Bitmaker, Gray sent thousands of emails across the cannabis industry, eventually connecting with the co-founders of a website called The Stoner’s Cookbook. That led to Gray rebranding and revamping the site into Herb.
“At the end of the day, it all comes down to the consumer themselves,” advised Gray. “It’s getting to know the community and the actual patient or consumer, so you know exactly what they’re looking for. It’s all about helping and building something that’s impactful.”