Like selling shovels during the gold rush, entrepreneurs and side hustlers alike are dreaming up creative ways to profit from a new boom: marijuana.
Adolfo LaCola, a serial hustler and star of CNBC’s primetime show “Staten Island Hustle,” hopes to cash in on the legal marijuana business’s rising popularity with his new weed-storage product, the Herbidore.
It’s a small, plastic canister that LaCola tells CNBC he plans to sell for between 30 and 40 cents to dispensaries, which package up and sell marijuana to consumers. Unlike other disposable canisters, the Herbidore is built to address a specific problem for pot enthusiasts: keeping marijuana fresh over a long period of time.
The latest episode of the show follows LaCola and fellow Staten Island side hustle experts — Dom Detore, Mike Palmer, Tony DeCicco and Ron Montana — as they develop the product and learn that finding a market may not be as easy as they’d thought.
The Herbidore is based on the idea of a humidor, LaCola explains.
“Once the marijuana dries too much, it’ll change the characteristics. It’ll affect taste [and] color, which people don’t like,” he says on the show.
But storing marijuana in a traditional humidor for tobacco cigars can make the product too moist, and cause it to mold, he adds. So the team goes in search for the perfect solution.
Initially, LaCola and the guys thought the best product to create would be a non-disposable container marketed toward consumers, meant for use at home. On the show, with the help of a chemical engineer, they create a gel disk that keeps marijuana fresh and insert it in a glass jar to make a prototype.
But soon after its creation, there’s a problem. During a trip to Los Angeles shown on “Staten Island Hustle,” the guys pitch smoke shop owners on carrying the product, and it doesn’t take many meetings to discover the market is full of competition.
“I did a bad job researching the market for the Herbidore, because there are a ton of products out there that keep weed fresh,” LaCola says on the show.
Determined to find a way to bring the product to fruition, he has a new idea.
“Since most users buy small amounts of a lot of different types of pot, why don’t we try to keep it fresh in the container that they purchase it in?” LaCola asks his buddies on the show, holding up a disposable plastic canister from a dispensary that’s about the size of a roll of film.
Today, LaCola is working to create just that, he tells CNBC. The plan is to shrink the gel disk that keeps marijuana fresh, combine it with a plastic container, and sell it to marijuana distribution businesses.
“We’re about to go into production, and we just finished the plastic injection mold stage,” LaCola says. While the product isn’t available yet, he hopes to launch it in six months.
Sometimes you have to re-think your ideas to make them work, he explains. “I still do believe that it will be a moneymaker for us.”