5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started a CBD Business: “Education is key.” with Brent Agin and Fotis Geogiadis

Education is key. This industry is expanding fast, but not without many uneducated people making it difficult. What I am observing is that the innovation and creativity is a bit more aggressive than the education. Those that are focusing on the best ways to educate will have the fastest way to market dominance.

As part of my series about “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Leading a Cannabis Business” I had the pleasure of interviewing Brent Agin, M.D., the founder and CEO of Trim ® Nutrition. Early in his career he co-authored Healthy Aging for Dummies (Wiley Publishing 2008) and Superfoods for Dummies (Wiley Publishing May 2009) while he was establishing himself as a respected wellness physician within the medical community. His commitment to excellence and genuine compassion for his patients is reflected throughout his medical practice in Clearwater Florida. After receiving both his undergraduate and his medical degree at Michigan State University he completed his internship and residency at the University of South Florida in 2002. Dr. Agin excelled as a Division-1 scholar-athlete at Michigan State University and was named Academic All Big-Ten Team while playing soccer for MSU. As a health and wellness visionary, Dr. Agin has been interviewed on numerous radio shows, featured in various magazines and is a regular speaker for nutritional seminars and workshops. With a resilient passion for sports and nutrition, he developed a tireless commitment to the research and development of products that promote a healthier way of living. This passion naturally evolved into the inception of Trim ® Nutrition where he developed a superior line of both oral and Injectable nutrient supplements. His proprietary blends have been utilized in support of diagnostic weight loss, disease prevention and treatment, drug detox, anti-aging, and sports performance enhancement. Under Dr. Agin’s guidance, Trim Nutrition was selected as #706 of the Inc 5000 fastest growing privately held companies and #55 of top 100 health companies in 2012. Trim Nutrition has also recently expanded product development to target retail markets. Trim has established itself as a premium brand with customer loyalty and an extensive network across the country and abroad. With the health and wellness industry expected to show impressive growth over the next 5–10 years, Dr. Agin will continue to expand Trim into both the retail and medical health markets. Dr. Agin co-created the multifunctional Carb Revolution™ Program to act as a dietary guide for those looking to maximize energy, lose weight, improve performance, or aid in the treatment and prevention of several diseases. Carb Revolution uses intermittent fasting, low-level ketosis, carb cycling and exercise to provide a sustainable lifestyle approach to eating and exercise.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share with us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?

When I got into medicine I immediately got “outside the box” of traditional medicine and focused on how I could help people look and feel the best they can. Traditional medicine has a focus on treating people when they are sick, while non-traditional doctors look at ways to not only treat disease but prevent it along with other medical therapies to improve vigor and vitality.

Traditional medicine uses mostly prescription pharmaceuticals for their treatments. Non-traditional doctors are able to use a wide range of supplements, dietary strategies and lifestyle as a large part of their therapies.

CBD is a natural fit for doctors with this approach to medicine. We use many herbs, vitamins and other natural occurring products with health benefits in place of pharmaceuticals to reduce chances of unintended side effects and drug interactions. CBD is a natural occurring chemical that has several established health benefits and a welcomed addition to our supplement line.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

My company has a focus on providing wellness products and services to those with wellness needs. It has been very interesting watching the way medicine has changed over the last 15 years. When I first started my company, a large percent of doctors and the general population were skeptical about us focusing on this niche they call functional, wellness, integrative or natural medicine.

Doctors did not agree with our approach nor did they believe that it was legitimate medicine. I went through years of criticism and questioning while building the business. We stuck to our principals and pushed onward. What is interesting is the shift in attitude that has occurred over the years with a huge interest in more natural therapies. Many doctors now believe in the power of these alternative therapies and are looking for ways to quickly change their practice models to include them.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

The funniest mistake I made was trying to do too much early in my career. In the beginning I was developing many products that worked great with our clients so I kept looking to what I could do next. When deciding on what products to make I always consider making products I will use myself. One product that popped into my head was to make my own protein bar. This is a tough and crowded space in the nutritional supplement market.

I went ahead and worked on a couple flavors of protein bars that took me almost a year to finally reach a recipe I liked. We went ahead with production and had our 50,000 bars packaged and delivered. We really worked hard to market these healthy bars and get them into consumer’s hands, but we quickly found that we had a lot of bars and were not selling them fast enough.

This is was not easy and we ended up having to give 11,000 bars to our local homeless shelter. This did not happen once but twice then I finally gave up on the protein bar industry. It ended up working out because we were able to help out many people that really could use healthy meal replacements, but learned right away that you cannot just makes something, put a label on it and it will sell…it is very hard work.

Are you working on any exciting projects now?

As a doctor I am watching the alarming rise of mental illness and realize that finding more natural ways to treat it has to become a priority. Our company is working on an exciting project that targets mental health with a big part of that targeting our military and first responders that deal with high stress and increased diagnosis of mental illness. By using various medical therapies, lifestyle modifications and nutritional supplements we are seeing exciting results.

With consumers finally becoming educated on CBD and its health benefit along with how it is different from regular medical cannabis that contains THC, we have the opportunity to create really innovative and effective CBD based products. One of the promising benefits of CBD has been its effect on sleep, anxiety and depression. This is becoming a powerful component for us as we look to help improve mental health with the use of less medications that can have several unwanted side effects.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

Success in business is rarely achieved alone. There have been so many important people that have helped me along the way. Much of my team has been with me for 10 or more years and have supported my mission, which has allowed me to explore and grow. Our growth is like many other great companies starting with little money, a couple of hard workers and hope. Looking back there are so many great stories surrounding our success and failures it is hard to pick one. It is true that you can achieve strength in numbers when you find the right team and it is so much more fun finding success with others.

This industry is young dynamic and creative. Do you use any clever and innovative marketing strategies that you think large legacy companies should consider adopting?

Education is key. This industry is expanding fast, but not without many uneducated people making it difficult. What I am observing is that the innovation and creativity is a bit more aggressive than the education. Those that are focusing on the best ways to educate will have the fastest way to market dominance.

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Cannabis industry? Can you share 3 things that most concern you?

Excitement

1. Health benefits that are clearly documented and clinically supported.

2. Cost effective options for those without insurance

3. Ongoing research

Concern

1. Lack of education

2. Lack of control on certain cannabis products — edibles

3. Greed

Can you share your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Leading a Cannabis Business”? Please share a story or example for each.

1. Timing

I am glad that we have our foot in the door, but I saw the writing on the wall many years ago and wish we would have started our research and development earlier.

2. Education — Widespread lack of education on the industry even with the power of the internet and social media.

Everyone from my mother to current patients thinking that we are pushing marijuana at people by us supporting and offering non-THC based CBD products.

3. Regulations

When looking to expand our CBD based products, we are finding different interpretations of the laws both federally and state wide. There can be stiff penalties if you do not understand the laws, but the laws are changing so fast. We have been working months on regulatory issues with some of the companies we intend on working with slowing our progress.

4. Money

There is so much money being thrown into the industry that it can be hard for some smaller companies with good products to find success. Companies with deep pockets can advertise and market the small guys right out of the industry…similar to my protein bar experience

5. Greed

With every thriving industry comes greed. I can already see the signs of people trying to take short cuts and succeeding by finding cracks being formed from the speed of growth and confusion of regulations. False claims and poor manufacturing could really impact the industry and credibility.

What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?

Make sure your company mission is supported by the team. This industry should excite companies and employees as it is an opportunity to help people live better. We are at the infancy of the fastest growing industry so companies that are serious need to cultivate the right attitude to support potential fast growth. Pick the right people from the start that are educated on the business and ready to work hard.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

We are in a critical point in our society’s health. Disease is on the rise in all areas of health. Mental illness, including substance abuse are at epidemic numbers. My mission is to get people to feel the best they can mentally and physically. To achieve this, we need less medicine and more discipline and focus on healthy lifestyles. If society as a whole would just work on improving sleep, diet and exercise we could take a major chunk out of disease. For consumers, this should be their focus because for the most part lifestyle is free! Medicine is too focused on waiting until people are sick and prescribing too many medications rather than preventing disease through healthy living. Seems logical but yet we keep getting sicker.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

I am off the grid! I have never found the time to keep up with social media so never got started. Readers can reach me through our company’s social media or email.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!