Herb.co is a prime example of what a good rebranding can do for an organization. Although HERB is now an American e-commerce medicinal cannabis company, it was actually founded by Lucas Young and Daniel Crothers in New Zealand in 2006. At that time it was called “The Stoner’s Cookbook,” and while it was something of a trailblazer, it was nothing like the online behemoth that it is today.
According to Young, the name for the site was a parody of “The Edmonds Cookbook,” a famous New Zealand, erm, cookbook. Although weed was (and still is) illegal in the country, using it remains a popular pastime. Young said the name ultimately came from the realization that, when people got the munchies, they were liable to eat just about anything.
Young and Crothers built the website in 2006, and invited visitors to submit recipes. Although growth was slow at first, The Stoner’s Cookbook became the #1 marijuana recipe resource on the internet by 2009. But it was only then that the duo began taking the website seriously.
The HERB Rapid Expansion
Although the New Zealanders helped grow the website, it was Matt Gray who ultimately helped it become a global leader. He acquired the brand in January 2014 (according to his LinkedIn profile at least), and renamed it HERB. Gray had already co-founded a tech company called Bitmaker, but his dream was to become a major figure in the marijuana industry.
According to Gray, he began by sending approximately 2,000 emails and, through this process, he eventually got in touch with Young and Crothers, and the Toronto-based publisher made the long journey to New Zealand. Gray also traveled to far-flung locations such as Peru and Thailand, and a few closer to home, like Denver, just to study the ways people use and consume the cannabis plant. (Sounds like a pretty killer “business” excuse to travel the world and getting stoned while doing it).
Anyway, after meeting with Young and Crothers, Gray acquired The Stoner’s Cookbook website and rebranded it into HERB. On April 7, 2016, the website announced the change of brand and stated its new goals.
For instance, HERB wanted to bring the plant into the mainstream, and the announcement said that “HERB isn’t just about cannabis, it’s about freedom, enjoyment, and inspiration.”
Gray wasted little time in expanding the enterprise. When he fully took over in 2015, it received an impressive 100,000 unique monthly visitors. However, this was only a fraction of its potential, and Gray knew it.
By July 2017, HERB was receiving five million unique visitors a month, and its videos were viewed over 250 million times in the same period.
This expansion was made possible because HERB raised $4.1 million in seed funding led by Lerer Hippeau Ventures. There were also contributions from Liquid 2 Ventures, Slow Ventures, and money from a couple of high-ranking Shopify members.
According to San Francisco 49ers’ legendary quarterback Joe Montana (leader of Liquid 2 Ventures), HERB was “the most professionally run business for relevant, informative cannabis content.”
Moreover, Eric Hippeau of Lerer Hippeau Ventures said that HERB had filled the void in the marketplace. He continued by saying that the market is still new, and brands are trying to establish themselves and reach consumers by informing them about a wide variety of products, sellers, politics, and a variety of other marijuana-related content.
What Does HERB Offer Users?
Gray has made it clear many times that HERB is no ordinary marijuana website. As was the case with Facebook, Gray said that HERB’s growth strategy revolved around video hits and today, its video content remains among the best in the industry. The site has strived for innovation from the very beginning, and Gray has continued this tradition.
One of its best creations is the “Smoke Sessions” video series, which began back in 2017. Given Gray’s tech background, it is hardly a surprise that he has always seen HERB as a technology platform rather than a mere content/text-based website.
According to Gray, HERB’s online community includes a diverse range of individuals including fathers, mothers, lawyers, doctors, entrepreneurs, and regular people who consume cannabis to elevate their lives — and have a great time while doing it! In Gray’s opinion, marijuana “is a mainstream plant consumed by mainstream people.”
The statistics back Gray up; back in April 2017, around the time HERB received its funding, a survey showed that up to 55 million Americans reported using weed in the previous year. It also said that 35 million Americans used marijuana on a monthly basis.
When you bear in mind that several states have legalized the herb since, these numbers have surely risen significantly. Then there is the small matter of Canada’s decision to legalize weed throughout the nation on a recreational basis. Incredibly, more people now regularly use weed than tobacco!
Fast forward to today, and HERB is a global leader in the marijuana industry. It is based in Toronto, and the site posts hundreds of videos and articles each month. The videos feature informative and useful content, such as tips on how to roll a joint and details on how marijuana is grown, cultivated, and processed into all of its various forms.
HERB.co continually updates its list of marijuana strains, and it stays true to its Stoner Cookbook roots by offering a host of delicious and fun recipes, ideal for occasions when the munchies hit you hard.
As well as publishing interesting articles on marijuana culture, HERB also keeps its finger on the pulse with regards to the cannabis’ legal status, along with details from significant scientific studies into cannabis.
Gray is well on his way to achieving his dream of marijuana entering the mainstream, and HERB.co has an online store that proves it; you can purchase pipes, vapes, bongs, grinders, rolling papers, and much more. At the time of writing, HERB has over 40 staff, and it produces 200+ articles and 200+ videos every month.
Ultimately, HERB is doing its part in helping marijuana become better known and understood. As Gray eloquently put it: “our viewpoint on things here at Herb is that yesterday’s social stigmas [ought to become] tomorrow’s social norms.”
The “potrepreneur” is determined to help build something impactful, and to be honest, he has already achieved that goal — and much more.