Social Equity Brand Spotlight: Cobra ExtractsSocial Equity • January 19, 2022
We’re sharing the stories behind some of our favorite social equity brands. This month we spoke with Chirag Sadana, co-founder and COO of Cobra Extracts – a social equity cannabis brand producing all-natural, high-quality products including cartridges, shatter, sugar, diamonds, and more.
This month, we sat down with Chirag Sadana, Co-Founder and COO at Cobra Extracts (CA) to discuss his background, starting his business, and what it's like to be a social equity brand in the fast-paced, ever-changing cannabis industry.
On his background and getting into cannabis
The founders, myself included, actually come from a variety of backgrounds but none of us were in the cannabis industry originally. I have a Bachelor’s degree in computer science and an MBA with focuses on entrepreneurship and technology. I spent several years working in social entrepreneurship specifically, building companies that pursued the double bottom line of being profitable and implementing social change. My companies focused on providing free dental care to poor and underserved children as well as providing minority entrepreneurs a way to raise capital for their startups.
My co-founder Jason Boze has a background in financial services and entrepreneurship. He was responsible for founding a non-profit that built a large athletic facility in Englewood CA for poor and underserved children. It provided many kids with a safe place to go to after school and focus on sports rather than getting in trouble. I met Jason at a hedge fund, where we found our work lacked the meaningful purpose of our previous endeavors. We decided that we would quit and jump into the cannabis industry in 2015, where we thought we could make a real social impact and grow a business.
On the inspiration for Cobra Extracts
“Early on, it was just the 2 of us. Extracting all night, packaging in the mornings, and going door to door to do sales in the evenings.”
We were looking at the industry and noticed that concentrates categories had a lot of room for improvement. It was a growing segment of the market, but every brand out at the time had additives, preservatives, or was cut with something. The quality was also pretty low and the experience was inconsistent.
It dawned on us that if we just created an all-natural product that was consistently good, we would be able to beat out a lot of the well-known brands. So we spent 6 months locked in a lab and taught ourselves how to do CO2 extraction and refine the products until they were perfect. We launched in early 2016 and haven’t looked back since.
On Cobra Extracts' mission and set of values
Our tagline is Cannabis with a Conscience.
Our company culture is very focused on radical transparency, idea meritocracy, and continuous improvement. Meaning we want to hear all the feedback, good and bad. Good feedback is nice to hear, but you learn a lot more from the bad feedback. It’s how we make our products better. We are constantly evolving and innovating because of the feedback we receive from customers, employees, and buyers. We also don’t care where an idea comes from, if it’s the best idea or solution, that’s what we are running with.
As a company, we also recognize our responsibility in the industry. We feel that we have a responsibility to those who paid a high price for cannabis to become what it is today. Our success is built on the backs of those who suffered great injustices; so, it’s only right that we make sure that we bring those people along for the ride as we succeed. Many entrepreneurs in the cannabis space face almost insurmountable challenges including access to capital, navigating regulations, and breaking through into established sales networks.
These challenges are magnified for minority entrepreneurs. Stratum is a manufacturing and distribution partner that can remove many of those hurdles for budding brands and companies. By focusing on incubating these companies we are helping launch brands that would never have had the opportunity otherwise. Even with social equity programs, many social equity companies are floundering in the industry. Social equity programs are not living up to their promises, we are doing our best to help fill that gap.
On Cobra Extracts' products and what sets it apart from the market
We offer a variety of concentrate products including distillate vape cartridges, Live Resin vape cartridges, all-natural sugars, all-natural diamonds, and we are one of the only companies in the US producing a non-volatile all-natural shatter.
Our focus on all-natural extraction has been our passion since we founded Cobra Extracts 6 years ago. The cannabis plant is amazing and allowing the plant to speak for itself is our goal. We create products that maintain the full spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes that the plant produces. This allows us to stay as true to the plant as possible, delivering an incredible experience to the consumer.
Of course, we also produce high THC products, but we want everyone to recognize that it’s not just about the THC. The reason the cannabinoids are so effective is that they work together along with the terpenes that create the entourage effect. Together all these components contribute to the experience consumers have.
“The cannabis plant is amazing and allowing the plant to speak for itself is our goal.“
On being a social equity license holder
There are not many advantages to being a social equity participant in California. While there were funds created to help with fees etc, we never received any of those benefits. It costs exactly the same as every other company to get licensed and we continue to pay the same fees and taxes and every other cannabis company. What we quickly realized when we started was that the promise from the government and what was actually being delivered was very different. It has made us change our business model entirely.
We became a social equity incubator because the government was not delivering on its promise to help social equity companies. Because of this, we felt obligated to create something that would actually help. Instead of creating and focusing entirely on our own brands, we have partnered with others and are helping them create and launch their companies as well.
“What we quickly realized when we started was that the promise from the government and what was actually being delivered was very different. It has made us change our business model entirely. “
On advice/resources for other social equity applicants and license holders
Make sure that you are well-capitalized to survive the slow process of licensing and the inevitable uphill battle for shelf space. Most social equity companies have limited resources and will need to make hard decisions along the way. The help you may be expecting because of the social equity updates from the governor and the state will likely not come in time, if it ever does. So you will need to make sure you can make the long haul without it.
There are some programs out there, but I cannot personally recommend any of them because we didn’t find a lot of help. I’m hopeful things have changed over the past couple of years as more programs have become available. But I’ve heard from other social equity companies that are just starting that there weren’t as many resources available as they were expecting.
On emerging trends in cannabis
Cannabis is a fast-evolving industry, it is very similar to technology in how quickly things are advancing. The trends we are seeing right now are concentrate products that focus on the full spectrum of cannabinoids, rather than just on the highest potency of THC. Micro-dosing is going to become much more prevalent as well.
On benefits Cobra Extracts has seen with LeafLink
LeafLink is a great way to connect with buyers and generate both sales and leads. The market in California has changed a lot over the last couple of years since new regulations went into effect, and the sales cycle and method has shifted a lot as well. With consolidations, that trend will continue, making it difficult for smaller brands to gain traction.
This is especially true for social equity brands that have even bigger challenges to overcome. LeafLink helps level that playing field a bit. And hopefully will be able to highlight social equity brands so they can have a better chance of competing with the larger well-capitalized brands.
Get your Social Equity Seller Badge
Want to add a Social Equity Seller Badge to your brand’s LeafLink profile? Click here to submit details around your Social Equity License or Social Equity program. Brands with Social Equity Seller Badges have the opportunity to be highlighted on the marketplace, as well as in marketing emails and on social media.