Ever since Cannabidiol (CBD) was made legal in the U.K. in 2016, CBD startups have been springing up everywhere. One of the latest is fourfivecbd, created by two rugby players and aimed at athletes and health conscious people.
Founded in January 2018 by England rugby player George Kruis and former Wales international Dom Day, fourfivecbd launched its first range of products this year, including a zero THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) product.
The CBD industry is a booming industry, with recent reports forecasting a 700% increase in market growth to $2.1 billion by 2020. In the U.K. the market for CBD is generating around £50 million ($63 million) annually.
But what made two successful professional rugby players – Kruis will play for England at the World Cup in Japan in September this year – decide to go into business together?
“We saw an opportunity and wanted to create a product that people can trust; for athletes, by athletes,” says Kruis. “Also, because professional sport is a short career, like many other athletes we are starting to plan for life off the field.”
The idea for their business first emerged during changing room chatter when a number of players were talking about the health benefits of CBD. The pair, who had suffered their share of injuries on the pitch, had been interested in finding out about more natural alternative therapies. Having done some research into CBD they decided to try it for themselves.
“Between us we have 20 years’ experience in professional sport and have been under the surgeon’s knife 12 times,” says Day. “After taking CBD as part of our recovery from different setbacks, we saw a dramatic improvement in a number of symptoms.”
Their positive personal experience highlighted the opportunity to create a product for athletes and people who lead active healthy lifestyles that they could trust.
Clearly there was a demand from fellow professional athletes, coaches and nutritionists who have seen the benefits of taking CBD, but many had concerns about the provenance of products currently available on the market.
The company supplies a full spectrum (including traces of THC), largely for non-drug tested, active people, and broad spectrum (zero THC), mainly for our drug tested athletes or people who are subjected to drugs testing in their workplace.
“As athletes, we both have regular random drug tests,” says Day. „To ensure that we and our fellow athletes can continue to enjoy the benefits offered by CBD we needed to create the safest product possible to provide peace of mind when taking it.”
fourfivecbd is currently the only batch tested zero THC CBD product that is also tested for the cross contamination of banned substances. This was achieved through the US gold standard testing group, BSCG. Its CBD oils are made without the use of pesticides and herbicides, 100% natural and vegan and vegetarian friendly,and its hemp is sourced from across Europe.
One of the challenges they faced in starting their business was getting a bank and a solid payment system in place, because of the way that some banks still view hemp-based products. Acquiring the skills they needed to make key business decisions was also a completely new experience for them.
“We enlisted the help of some good mentors, including Peter Harvey, who was previously from Barclays, while our rugby club Saracens and the Rugby Players Association have also been very helpful,” says Kruis.
The other big challenge of course has been juggling their time between playing and being entrepreneurs.
“Running a business is actually a way for us to have something else to focus on besides rugby,” says Day. “Most people do sport to relax when they are not working; for us it’s the other way round. When we aren’t around we have an excellent team in place that we empower to make things happen.”
So far the two founders have self-funded the business and are very close to securing a first round of investment that will help drive sales of their zero THC range and purchase stock for a move into the wholesale market.
“Our main target market is the active and wellness markets, which our product lines reflect,” says Kruis. “We are also looking to expand overseas with selected European countries being our initial targets.”
Sales are growing rapidly and fourfivecbd is on course to reach a £1 million turnover by the end of this year. Their current focus is on a major push into wholesale and expanding their product line over the next 12 months or so.
Day says: “While our main focus is very much on CBD, we are planning to broaden out and focus more generally on the sports and active lifestyle market. However our long-term goal is to establish fourfivecbd as the brand that athletes and active people can trust when it comes to using CBD.”