Education Path Leads To Unlikely Entrepreneurial Success For Garrett Greller – Forbes

Garrett Greller has been honing his craft as an entrepreneur for over half of his life, and he’s 26. … [+]
Startup culture has taken as many turns as your average Hollywood script. The typical out-of-the-garage business celebrates the successes and documents the near-death experiences of the founder(s) who risked it all to bring us something we didn’t know we needed. The classic rags-to-riches story attracts audiences of all ages and from across the world.
The path to the climactic scene of utter success is usually less fanciful or dramatic to portray on our screens. Some entrepreneurs, though, have pivotal moments that they either discover accidentally or are led to by outside forces.
Garrett Greller grew up in California, always testing out ideas with his father. Greller, cofounder of Uncle Bud’s Hemp & CBD, tried and failed numerous times before entering the third decade of life. He was an entrepreneur before he knew what it meant.
The origin of his entrepreneurial path was revealed through a medical-needs storyline that had the then 14-year-old suffering from arthritis in his knees, backs, hips, and ankles. The curious go-getter began researching and discovered that the application of CBD dramatically impacted his physical state of comfort.
Through the passage of time and education, Greller found himself at Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business. However, misaligned professional storylines had Greller changing his focus while continuing to learn about the medicinal benefits of CBD.
Greller’s movie most likely takes off with a scene depicting a pen, an offer letter, and an early 20-something contemplating the next decade of his life. His CBD musings had evolved into a business on the brink, but was he ready to assume the reigns?
Garrett Greller, the cofounder of Uncle Bud’s Hemp & CBD, discovered writing his own screenplay was … [+] far better than the alternative.
The deft scene-stealer that Greller is, he put his pen down, leaned into his early years of curiosity and intuition, and bet big on himself. It also didn’t hurt that he had a keen eye for marketing. The power of the story, it seems, has been in his blood since the beginning.
This reporter spent time with Greller in Los Angeles on the eve of a significant Uncle Bud’s sponsorship featuring the undefeated boxer Ryan Garcia. The following is a condensed version of multiple interviews with Greller, his mother, and his inner circle of advisors over three days.
The Prequel
Rod Berger: I say this with great deference. There’s an almost romantic notion that I get from you when you talk about the story of Uncle Buds. The stories about you and your dad and his influence on you as a person and business owner. It sounds like an idyllic father-son relationship that continues to have a profound impact on your life.
Garrett Greller: The way I look at it is I grew up learning entrepreneurship. From the young age of 10 years old, I was passionate about entrepreneurship. I went to meetings at USC with my dad as a 12-year-old. I would pitch ideas from a peanut butter jar that screws upward to starting my first business selling duct tape wallets.
So, for me, entrepreneurship was always like sports. I played sports growing up, but I’ve always had a passion for business. I’ve always liked the mix of creativity in business to create solutions for problems.
My dad was always like a coach in sports, but the sport was business. So, starting from a young age, that’s what made me love the process. It’s not something I do because I want to get something out of it. It’s something I do because I love doing it.
Berger: Every success story requires a bit of pixy dust to ensure a relatively unincumbered path. I get the sense that your time at Indiana University served dual purposes for you.
Greller: I always excelled at school. The area I found the most success was in business and, more specifically, marketing and advertising. I was fortunate to have professors and a university supporting my efforts with Uncle Bud’s.
I would go to my professors and say, “I have a business I’m building. Can I use this [assignment] as a project for my business?” And they let me do it. It was a pivotal part of balancing life as a college student and an entrepreneur. Because I could learn and work on my passion, I found academic success I hadn’t, to date, experienced.
Berger: Was there a moment when you knew that you were an entrepreneur? So many people claim to be entrepreneurs, but often they haven’t put skin in the game. Has there been a moment where you said, “Sure, I’ve had this company for this amount of time, but now I’ve crossed a threshold? I am an entrepreneur.”
Greller: I think you’re an entrepreneur when you love solving problems. I think everyone has their definition of an entrepreneur. You can be an entrepreneur within your job at a company if you’re always going out of the way to creatively solve something new.
I’ve wanted to be an entrepreneur my whole life. I didn’t know I wanted to have my own business. I knew I would have been entrepreneurial in any job I accepted, trying to solve problems creatively. I think that’s what the entrepreneurial process is.
Sector Education
Berger: Let’s talk about the company. Let’s talk about educating the consumer on the benefits of CBD and the realities of market myths and associated stigmas.
Greller: Education is the most important thing for us to succeed. We want to educate people from the start of their experience with the product. Nobody knew what CBD was when I originally launched this (Uncle Bud’s) with one pain relief product.
I was a kid from California that was creating a legal version of the product that came from hemp, and I needed to educate everyone. I basically had to say, “Don’t worry; this is not going to get you high.” It’s topical. It’s like other things you buy at your local grocery store. Just give it a try. It’s a natural product and it’s going to help you.
Like myself, I was trying a bunch of prescription medicines that gave me terrible side effects. But I was still trying them because you’re told to try different things. I am a big believer that you always want to educate yourself on the positive and negative properties of a product.
So when I first discovered CBD, I wrote a four-page paper, put it on my parent’s desk, and said, “Can we give this a try.” And they were open to it. From that point, I knew that I had found a treatment for my ailments and I began to dedicate myself to educating and helping others.
Berger: Let’s talk about the health and wellness industry and acceptance writ large. So you’re sort of the new kid on the block. The perception of healthcare is that it resides in an unapproachable ivory tower. Do you care about your acceptance in that community, or are you unconcerned with the outside perspectives?
Greller: We’re here to innovate a category that’s been unchanged for quite a long time. The pain relief sector inundates us with commercials touting impact, but a significant number of these remedies utilize chemicals. We take pride in that our products are all-natural. That’s how we disrupt the community at large.
And that was the most important thing when coming out with this brand, something you can fully trust.
(L to R) Uncle Bud’s cofounder, Garrett Greller; Earvin “Magic” Johnson; Uncle Bud’s cofounder, … [+] Bruno Schiavi
Don’t Ask Me
Berger: You have quite a list of celebrities that are part of Uncle Bud’s ecosystem. Is it fair to say that your marketing and advertising chops influenced your casting of such notable athletes and celebrities?
Greller: Celebrities like Magic Johnson and Toni Braxton, Jane Fonda, and Seth Jones stand behind our company and products. These are recognizable names, not just a 20-year-old kid with arthritis who said it changed his life.
The impact of their collective participation and endorsement has led to millions of people giving amazing reviews. I would never have imagined that these trusted names and faces would support my brand. It supports the storyline that a shared mission can go a long way to creating communities.
Berger: That initial endorsement came from your late father, who met up with the acclaimed branding expert Bruno Schiavi. Many know Schiavi for his work with the Kardashians and Janet Jackson, among others.
In speaking with Schiavi, for this story, he shared that your authentic passion for business made it an easy decision to join Uncle Bud’s, even if you are a Millennial [laughs]. “When I first met Garrett, he reminded me a lot of myself. When I was his age, I always thought of the next big idea. So, I have this chance encounter with his father and I learn that Garrett is 21 and still in college. Honestly, I wasn’t a fan of working with a Millennial, but Garrett changed everything. He has been super focused since the beginning and it was an easy choice to partner with him. We are incredibly similar and I really enjoy our working relationship.”
Greller: If you think about it, I met Bruno, who had a string of successes, and we bonded immediately. My father had always taught me that to be an entrepreneur meant, you had to have a willingness to take risks. My father told me at that moment to take a risk and give it [business] a chance. He told me that I could get a job anytime. This, he said, was our opportunity. Right then and there, I was in, and the rest is history.
I am very aware that the support I’ve received from my late father, my mother, extended family, and friends, and Bruno continues to play a significant role in the success of Uncle Bud’s.
Greller’s story has just begun. Though he is young in the eyes of traditionalists, he embodies the next generation’s unwavering belief that good ideas overthrow any market villain.
The Kelley School of Business played a supporting role in the market success and overall accolades Greller and Schiavi are currently receiving. Yet, more stories of education’s support of the unconventional student might be helpful in fast-tracking future innovations and stories depicting a unique and vibrant cast of characters.
Greller, the ever-humble and optimistic entrepreneur, is betting that audiences and consumers will continue to find magic in his story.
Interviews have been edited and condensed for clarity.

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