Ryan Lee is the co-founder of Los Angeles based CBD and cannabis brand Alive & Kicking. Prior to launching, Ryan was an advertising creative director where he led integrated marketing campaigns for many Fortune 100 brands. He saw an opportunity to bring his experience from a complimentary industry into the rapidly growing space of cannabis and CBD. Ryan and his partner started Alive & Kicking to offer a unique experience for CBD and cannabis consumers. They launched with a uniquely small pre-roll that created a light “sessionable” experience for both experienced cannabis users and the canna-curious. In a sea of homogenous products, Alive & Kicking stands out as a brand that doesn’t just speak marketing but behaves as a true brand.
Where did the idea for Alive & Kicking come from?
Alive & Kicking came out of our absolute hatred for being too stoned. I enjoyed the experience of cannabis, but the majority of the products in dispensaries are geared towards people with a higher tolerance. My partner and I wanted to make products not only for us, but also the many others just like us. We wanted a product that didn’t make us sleepy or hungry and we definitely didn’t want a product that would put us into another dimension. We wanted a product that made us feel Alive & Kicking.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
A typical day usually boils down to 2 things: Making sure we have enough inventory to sell and finding more ways to make noise out to the public. To be honest, it’s a constant challenge but what works for me is taking a “leap” forward with each task at hand rather than a “step”. Even if it’s the wrong decision, that’s fine. I don’t look at it as a failure but I see it as progress and learning.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Without any fear of the outcome. If the strategy and execution is sound, then it’s worth the effort to try and launch your ideas. I think too many people judge success by how others define it. One single idea rarely makes that huge of a difference. It’s usually a collection of well executed ideas that make something interesting for people.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The growing awareness and excitement around CBD and cannabis is infectious. I’m glad to see people opening up to this industry and see how it can be a great alternative for healing and entertainment compared to other vices out there. And it brings more awareness and action for social justice to the thousands that have been incarcerated for something that we are all capitalizing on now. It’s not fair and we can all try to help.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I’m constantly looking at how everything works. Whether it’s how a particular manufacturing equipment operates or how to execute new/different photography techniques, I’m always looking at the inner workings of everything. It’s something that I can’t turn off. It also provides inspiration and ideas. When you know how something works, you know how to use it efficiently and hack it.
What advice would you give your younger self?
To start an online search company and call it Google. Just kidding. I’d say nothing. Obviously that would be a huge breach in the space time continuum.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Ghostbusters 2 is slightly better than the first.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
The one thing I do is constantly make myself NOT think too far down the line. People have a tendency to let the future burden them and I’m no exception. I focus on the short and medium term. Alive & Kicking is a young brand and in this modern landscape, you need to react quickly and respond to culture. Hence why we focus on the now.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Media outlets are a powerful force. One strategy is constantly trying to align ourselves with like minded media channels. And in this day and age, I see A LOT of media channels.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
There’s too many, how do I pick just one? If I had to list a single failure, I would say it’s delaying anything because of minor things. I’m neurotically obsessed with the presentation of our product and our brand. Sometimes, actually A LOT of the times, new companies don’t have the funds to create their exact vision. Rather than delay and hold a product back, it’s better to release it and let the people dictate to you how they feel. I overcame this by actually letting go. I was pleasantly surprised when so many people responded with insane amounts of positivity for Alive & Kicking. Our CBD pre-rolls have been a hit with its unique form factor and perfectly dosed CBD.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
A collection agency for the cannabis industry.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
America The Beautiful National Park Pass. We need to get out there. It’s good for you whether you like it or not.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Adobe Photoshop. This obvious tool has single handedly made life so much easier. I’m very particular with everything and mocking things up creates very little room for error. Showing people exactly what you want helps everyone and saves time.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Tibor Kalman, Perverse Optimist. Legendary designer who’s unique perspective brings a lot of inspiration. It gives us all a sense of how high concept design is a vital necessity to not only a company but also to life.
What is your favorite quote?
“I went into television because I hated it….” – Mr. Rogers
- Failing is subjective. Define what “failing” means to you.
- Have a dialogue with customers instead of selling at them.
- Your brand is how your company behaves and not just visuals slapped over a product or service.
- I don’t care what people say. Ghostbusters 2 is better than 1.