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Andrew Mack on Building a California Brand

By Christina Najjar | March 13, 2019 | Lifestyle

Andrew Mack might be a born-and-bred East Coaster, but he’s slowly turning into a California man now. The Harvard grad and young entrepreneur is the founder of OLO, a modern cannabis company. OLO started with the idea that the true possibilities of cannabis lay beyond strains, that the perfect experience couldn’t be found with just an hybrid, but by looking at the most basic components of the herb. Mack wanted to redefine the cannabis experience, so he applied biochemistry and neuroscience to build something extraordinary. To Mack, cannabis can be inspiring, it can be expressive, it can be creative, and he wanted to offer all of that in a way that was simple and easy to enjoy. After he had perfected his proprietary formulas, Mack hunted for the simplest, most straightforward delivery format and found it in the sublingual strip. The company is going from strength to strength under Mack’s leadership. We sat down with the founder to discuss brand building and what’s next.


You’re an East Coaster but your brand is Californian. What’s that like for you?
ANDREW MACK: Growing up in both New York and Florida, I experienced a real mix of fast-paced diversity and low-key beach culture… not dissimilar to California. The move out here was a natural step for someone interested in creating cannabis brands—it’s where I felt there would be the best chance for success. I love the fact that I can travel within one state and experience such differences. It’s not unlike traveling from New York to Florida… but all in the same state! The people, the food, and the culture all contribute to an incredibly diverse way of life that makes a fertile ground for the entrepreneurial spirit.

What’s the best thing about being a young entrepreneur?
AM: Being a young entrepreneur is exciting and stimulating because you can watch your labor contributing tangibly to an immediate goal that you’ve set for yourself. Being in the cannabis space, with all its opportunities, takes that to a different level. Our company is pushing the boundaries that define what a cannabis product can be. For example, with the launch of our first brand, OLO, we introduced a sublingual strip that shatters people’s existing conceptions of non-inhalable cannabis. OLO provides an unexpectedly rapid onset time with a high-definition high that often gets compared to vaping.

It is exhilarating to think that it’s possible, in my 20s, to play a potentially significant part, in defining what will become an enormous industry.

What excites you most about the Cannabis space?
AM: The most exciting aspect of the cannabis space is the sheer amount of possibility that lies ahead. Because cultural perceptions about cannabis use are just starting to change, we’ll soon be able to apply more scientific research to the plant, to product proliferation, and to alternative delivery systems.

What’s the biggest misconception about Cannabis?
AM: One misconception that particularly annoys me is the incorrect negative stereotype of cannabis users. After three years in the industry, I am no longer surprised when very successful people from other industries confide their love of cannabis to me. The accelerating availability of the plant is causing people to discover the plethora of associated benefits. I am excited that individuals across the country will be experiencing for themselves what so many of us in California have already learned—that people’s busy and productive lives will actually be enhanced by moderate cannabis usage.

What’s your take on the current CBD fever pitch?
AM: Firstly, all the CBD that you’re seeing associated with this craze is derived from hemp rather than from cannabis and there’s a big difference. Cannabis-derived CBD has higher THC levels and this boosts its effectiveness.

Surging interest in CBD is helping to normalize cannabis use among more mainstream demographics and I think that’s excellent. It’s my hope that regulators will take a sensible approach to CBD rather than to overreact with a prohibition-style crackdown.

Regulatory issues aside, the current buzz about CBD strongly reminds me of previous health-food fads like kale and chia seeds. There are true wellness and therapeutic uses for CBD and other cannabinoids, however, and I’m sure that those will prove more durable than certain uses I’ve seen; for example, fancy and expensive cocktails with a drop of CBD oil (for an extra $3). I suspect that once the craze calms down we will begin to get a sense of how CBD will fit into the health and wellness landscape over the long term.

What are you most excited about for 2019?
AM: New product development and R&D. OLO will be coming to market with a few initiatives from its pipeline which will have a major impact. We will debut our new design-forward packaging as well as new additions to the product line. 2019 will also see our company launch two new brands in California. Despite being developed with different consumers in mind, we expect that our relentless commitment to quality manufacturing practices will ensure that both brands to become favorites with consumers.

Photography by: Photography Courtesy of OLO