Hey guys! Welcome back to Products Worth Talking About — the show about disruptive physical products and the people who built them. Today, we’re going to take a close at the CBD market that is currently exploding here in Colorado. With so many CBD companies entering the market, you need to find a way to separate yourself from the crowd.

In this episode, we talk about companies that are doing just that — Feals, Equilibria, and Recess. They are using unique packaging, and have great propositions in terms of their positioning.

Let’s put this industry into context; in 2019, the entire CBD industry was about $5 billion. Nationwide, the revenue is predicted to reach $23 billion within the next five years.

Living in Colorado provides a unique view of this business’s farming side, but our focus today is on the retail side. We’ll start with a product review and give our personal opinions about each product’s quality and what we like and don’t like about each product. Next, we’ll dive into their company backgrounds and discuss how they started and launched their businesses. Then, we’ll transition into a discussion about business strategies and marketing methods — something that we entrepreneurs love exploring. Finally, we’ll end with our beer scorecard, showing which company takes the crown for the best CBD products out there.

Before we begin, let’s clarify what CBD entails. There are three kinds: THC, CBD, and hemp. CBD comes from the hemp plant, with CBD producers’ goal to keep the THC threshold below 0.03%. THC is the component that gives people a “high”— anything below that you can sell as CBD.

So long story short, we’re not going to get high today, but we might feel nicely relaxed after experiencing some of these products.

Let’s dive right in with the first of three brands.

Feals Product Review and Company Background

  • Company Background and Mission

Feals started in 2017 by Alex Iwanchuk, Drew Todd, and Eric Scheibling, and LinkedIn says they have 11 employees based in Denver, Colorado. We found the only recorded funding was they raised $800,000 on their seed round about a year and a half ago. The seed round is usually before a company has even made any money or maybe made a little bit of revenue. You’ve produced a little bit of product, but you’re just getting started, so to get almost a million dollars — you’re doing something right.

We also found that all three of the guys that started the company also co-founded a digital marketing agency before starting Feals. You can tell when you look at the packaging and website — these guys know what they’re doing. 

  • Product Quality

Feals have a $20 flight — and it might be our favorite CBD innovation out of the ones we tested! Each flight has a different purpose, and the packaging does an outstanding job explaining this. There is a catalog embedded in the package stating, “let’s begin.” It walks you through CBD basics, why you should take it, and a graph explaining usage for first-timers explaining what time of day works for each purpose. We love the education process that Feals takes you through their packaging. We think that’s smart and are huge fans of this flight.

This flight has three tiny vials — a sample of their 600-milligram bottle, 1,200 bottles, and 2,400 bottles. The packet explains each one’s purpose: the 600-milligram is for productivity (taken in the morning). The 1,200-milligram is for all-day pain relief (taken mid-morning or midday). Lastly, the 2,400-milligram is to help you sleep (taken in the evening). Each of these bottles is available as a stand-alone product.

RT tried all three of these vials, with the higher dose aiding his sleep and even with some back pain from lifting his now 40-pound two-year-old. He just melted away without needing any Advil. It sure made a believer out of him!

Besides the educational pamphlet, there’s also a page that talks about the quality of the CBD, which is everything. There are many misconceptions when it comes to CBD and its ingredients, so this pamphlet was a vital move. An ingenious feature is their QR code at the bottom of each product for you to scan and see the batch number and third-party testing. The QR code brings up a PDF with the first page explaining the tests. The following two pages are a scan from their third party that shows you the tests and what exactly was in them. This one even has a pesticide analysis. The QR code is a phenomenal idea that we plan on using for our own businesses!

  • Pricing

Feals have three different strength vials in their selection. The 600 milligrams is $74.95, the 1,200 milligrams is $135, and 2,400 milligrams is $245.

Depending on the vial dosage, you can take less for the same result. One vial could have 20, 30, 60 days worth of CBD, depending on what dosage you choose. It’s why we think the flight is a great idea!

Equilibria Product Review and Company Background 

  • Company Background and Mission

Equilibria is our next brand. They’re focused primarily on women and have a higher price point. This company was launched in November of 2018 by founders Coco Meers and Marcy Capron- Vermillion.

LinkedIn says they have 15 employees and operate out of Chicago, Illinois. Their seed funding looks to have been $750,000.

Seeding like this tells us the margins are probably pretty good!

Interesting fact, they previously founded PrettyQuick, a service that helps salons fill empty appointment openings. They sold that business to Groupon in 2015, which is pretty impressive. Equilibria forecasts they will probably do about $5 million in 2019 for sales — not bad for a year!

  • Product Quality

Equilibria is a product designed for women, and it’s at a higher price point. They have various products; however, we purchased the daily drops and the dynamic duo-roller. We like their packaging, which tells you exactly what’s inside the box. Each product comes in a pouch, as though you’re getting a nice piece of jewelry — it’s simple and elegant.

They have kits available that stand out, mixing and matching their array of products, which helps drive up average tickets.

Equilibria’s packaging appears less expensive than Feals, but they do a great job nonetheless!

  • Pricing

The price points are $35 for 150 milligrams, $58 for 300 milligrams, and $105 for the 600 milligrams — these are for the one-off purchase; discounts apply for a frequency of every four weeks. These are all regular strengths.

Their extra strength vial is $196 for 1,500 milligrams.

The daily soft gels and their cream both start from $47 for the lowest dose.

Their kits include soft gels, vials, and cream for $160. These will make great holiday gifts for the women in your life! 

Recess Product Review and Company Background 

  • Company Background and Mission

The final company is Recess. It was founded in 2017 by Benjamin Witte. LinkedIn says it has 34 employees based in New York City. Their recorded seed funding is $6 million.

Both those amounts surprise us — the employees and the funding. Fun fact, Benjamin was the former head of mobile advertising at AdRoll for four years, a digital marketing agency. There’s some overlap between all three of these businesses. Each company’s founders have some digital advertising and marketing background, which explains why we liked them so much

  • Product Quality

Recess is essentially CBD sparkling water (with some other natural ingredients). Interestingly, they list the ingredient as hemp instead of CBD. The other three major ingredients are ginseng, l-theanine, Schisandra ingredients —  all-natural ingredients, two of which are adaptogens.

There must be a reason why they’re not saying CBD and say hemp extract. We couldn’t find anything on their website, but perhaps they are trying to get around Facebook’s advertising guidelines. It’s tough to advertise CBD on Facebook, if not impossible.

We tried Peach Ginger and Blackberry Chai, both tasty flavors (the other flavor is black cherry). We couldn’t definitively taste the hemp, which for some is a huge plus. Feals and Equilibria were unflavored and both have a very distinctive “marijuana” natural taste when you put it under your tongue as instructed. 

Recess comes in a sampler box with six cans, two of each flavor, or you can get one flavor with eight cans.

Their packaging is a regular shipping box, which is sure to save them money. We love the colors they use on the cans. Their logo is excellent, and the overall brand feels cool and hip. The color palette is very current, similar to Feals.

  • Pricing

They have six flavors and two options for purchases. The six-pack sampler is $30, or there’s a 12 pack sampler, BUT that’s only available on subscription (cancellation at any time) for $50 — save $10.

All the flavors have an eight pack at $40, or the 12 pack (only available on subscription) is $50 – save $10 again. The subscription periods are two weeks, four weeks, and eight weeks.

It’s $5 a can, which is more expensive in terms of sparkling water, but it’s for a different purpose. Recess helps you feel calm, focus your mind, and reduces stress. If using drops under your tongue freaks you out, this is a tasty alternative.  

Social Media Scorecards

Now, let’s look at their social media scorecards — we run through Instagram, Facebook, and so forth to check out their social media presence and advertising. Only Feals advertises on Facebook; we imagine that it’s simply a five-star review that clicks through to a blog post (called a pre-sale article) due to the strict guidelines. It is becoming a popular technique, and with Feals’ previous online marketing savvy, we’re not surprised they are the only ones using it. 

Tons of people base their buying/investing decisions on what’s on a brand’s Instagram page — that’s why RT spends so much time on Vortic Watches Instagram and Tyler spends time curating Rebl Jane’s Instagram. Social media is usually most people’s first impression of the company. Let’s begin!  

  • Feals has 13,400 followers on Instagram, with an average monthly growth of 780. Their engagement rate is only 0.77%, which is low. Their strategy is a mix of very safe posts.  Perhaps being a CBD company, they don’t want to be too edgy.
  • Equilibria has 14,408 followers on Instagram, and their posts have lifestyle pictures mixed in with real stories called “#myEQ.” They frequently interview customers for reviews which is a great idea. They’re growing at 3,000 people a month, but their engagement is about 0.46%, which is low. It’s interesting to see their low engagement but fast growth.
  •  Recess has 47,644 followers on Instagram, possibly due to being edgier and bolder. We were baffled when it popped up on our feed — “what is this?” The strangest picture of a dog in a Recess sweater and sunglasses that had to be clicked –  and here we are talking about it. Their followers probably love it, and they’re growing the fastest, with 1,200 new followers a month. Their engagement rate is 1.35%, which explains that growth — their fans are sharing their posts.

The Beer Score: Which CBD Product Is the Best?

After taking all of these statistics and our subjective opinions into account, we give our final score — the Beer Score (AKA which founder we want to find and have a beer with).

  • Product and Packaging

Feals product design and packaging was a hit for both of us! RT: 9/10. Tyler: 10/10. We love everything they’re doing.

For Equilibria, we both gave them an 8/10. While the design and packing are good, it’s not amazing.

For Recess, the packaging is just the can. It’s a cool can, but the biggest thing we missed is lack of education about CBD.  RT: 8/10 Tyler: 7/10. 

  • Social Media Strategy

For Feals, RT gave them 8/10 for social media, and Tyler gave them 9/10. They are playing it safe but still showing growth!  

Next, we have Equilibria. RT was a big fan of #myeq and testimonials, giving them a 10/10, while Tyler gave them 8/10 for playing it too safe in his opinion.

Lastly, Recess scored a  7/10 from RT (their pictures freak him out) and a 10/10 from Tyler because of their disruptive appeal.

  •  Sales and Conversion

As far as websites and sales go, Feals got a 10/10 rating from RT and a 8/10 from Tyler. RT gave them a ten because they’re innovative. Their website is getting 135,000 people a month, which generates six-figure level traffic every month. Their website is immaculate and easy to use. A great feature is their $20 “discover your strength” flight. Fantastic idea. The homepage has a great tagline, too: “Finally, a better way to feel better.” 

Their stories tab has customer interviews complete with their name, picture, and a quote, but you can also watch their video. Each testimonial is separated into anxiety, pain, and sleep.

Moving on to Equilibria! RT: 9/10. Tyler: 9/10.  We gave Equilibria a higher score because of their kit packaging. We guarantee if you ask their founders why they’re successful, they’re going to say it’s because they have those kits. We found that they receive around 3,000 people a month on their website, but the number feels off. Equilibria has excellent testimonials on the website with their products immediately on the homepage, immediately providing education on dosage and why you’d take it. All the information is transparently in one spot, and that’s what consumers want. One recommendation is their 10% discount pops up too soon — allow the customer to browse before that comes up. Maybe share 10% off or 20% off on the product page once they’ve decided to buy. We thought the consultation option is a great option to help first-time buyers.

Lastly, Recess got a 7/10 from RT and a low 5/10 from Tyler. Neither of us loved Recess’s website nor their sales process. We felt like it’s too simple. With just five pages, they miss any education about their products, and our two biggest problems are there are no customer testimonials, and there is no founder’s story.

It may be beautiful and interactive, but with CBD hemp, there needs to be some education, especially for first-time buyers.

  • Disruptive Level

Feals is the winner in terms of disruption — RT: 9/10; Tyler: 10/10. The trial pack for Feals is disruptive in itself, and then there’s the brilliant QR code.

Equilibria got a 9/10 from RT and an 8/10 from Tyler for knowing their customer and what they want — we think they’re just crushing it.

Finally, Recess got an 8/10 from RT and a 7/10 from Tyler. It’s disruptive to put CBD in a can, and it’s disruptive to build a whole brand around the can too! 

And the Best CBD Brand Winner Is…

Feals is the winner of this episode of Products Worth Talking About! It was very close — Equilibria was not too far behind.

We hope you enjoyed this episode of Products Worth Talking About, and be sure to watch the video here to learn more about these incredible disruptive brands!

On Products Worth Talking About, our mission is to not only give you reliable information on disruptive products but also give you valuable insight into what makes great businesses successful. If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur who wants to build a product-based business, check out our business plan that literally writes itself! Within no time, you’ll be ready to pitch to investors and start the company of your dreams.

If you learned something today, we would love to hear from you. Take a screenshot of the episode and share your greatest takeaways with us on Instagram,  @productsworthtalkingabout. And if you love the show, make sure to subscribe on YouTube so that you can get new content delivered to you directly! Let us know what products and brands you want us to review!

Thanks for reading! Until next time—

RT and Tyler

OTHER EPISODES YOU MAY LIKE

Can Away Travel Unpack the Luggage Industry? | Samsonite vs Away
Turn Heads and Not Noses: Founder Interview with American Provenance's Kyle LaFond
Lovepop Cards vs Hallmark | Who pushes the envelope?

JOIN THE COMMUNITY