How Jeeter Became America’s Best-Selling Preroll Brand
Two million Jeeters are smoked in a month in California. The brand Jeeter is beloved in the largest legal cannabis market in the country. So beloved, in fact, that it’s the only cannabis pre-roll brand that has become its own name. People don’t call these “pre-rolls”—they call them “Jeeters. “
Jeeter is run by a close-knit crew of friends who have been working together for 15 years. “It’s a family,” says Lukasz Tracz, who is the co-Founder and co-CEO alongside Sebastian Solano. Other founding members include Scot Garrambone, Chief Financial Officer, David Solano, Chief Sales Officer, and Peter Dimitrov, Chief Product Officer. In addition to the founding crew are team members Patryk Tracz, VP of Marketing, and Emir Duru, with the coveted role of Vibes Director. The entrepreneurs hail from the entertainment industry. They are also the founders of a beloved string of EDM events including the paint-throwing extravaganza Life In Color, Electric Zoo, and Tomorrowland.
The name Jeeter was coined in Florida in 2004 as slang for a joint, says Tracz. The brand launched in California in 2018. DreamFields, also founded in California, is the parent company of Jeeter. Alongside its pre-rolls and infused pre-rolls, Jeeter produces vapes with oil and live resin. Selling its flower in bud-form is on the horizon.
Today, Jeeter operates on a 4.2-acre campus located in Desert Hot Springs, California. The Jeeter campus is comprised of an 18,000-square-foot facility where the brand manufactures, fulfills, produces, and distributes its product lineup. Jeeter employs 700 people and aims to have almost 1,000 employees within the next few months.
Jeeter is the fastest growing brand in the pre-roll category and holds the title of the best-selling preroll in the country with over 40% of California’s coveted market share. On top of its widespread consumer popularity, Jeeter is often smoked by celebrity fans including Issa Rae, Dwayne Wade, The Game, and more.
The brand created its own holiday akin to 4/20 called Jeeterday. This year, Jeeterday is on November 6, 2021. This is a consumer celebration with a limited-edition strain (2021’s is Banana Peel) and exclusive merchandise found at 115 stores across the state. There are often lines out the door for the special Jeeterday drop. This year culminates with Jeeterday’s first-ever in-person event, a concert featuring Ludacris and the Martinez Brothers.
I spoke with Jeeter’s CEOs Tracz and Solano about how they built a pre-roll empire, what advice they gleaned from their careers in the events and entertainment spaces, and what consumers can look forward to on Jeeterday.
Congrats on Jeeterday! Tell me what does Jeeterday mean for you?
Sebastian Solano: Jeeterday is a very meaningful day and a very meaningful moment for us. When Jeeter started to become popular, we realized that we had something special. Stores told us, “Hey guys, you’re one of the only brands that people come to the store and ask ‘do you have Jeeter?’” If they say ‘no,’ the customers leave and go to the next store. Not only is the product selling, but we were creating a real community and cult following. People are becoming loyal to the brand, they really love it.
We wanted to do something for our consumers in a way to thank them for their support. We get a buzz going, everyone in the industry is talking about it, and people get to keep the packaging as a collectible. We wanted to create something very special to thank everyone. It originally started at 4:20, but this year Jeeterday starts at 11 a.m. We have people come into the participating stores, the first 7 people get this amazing box. It’s similar to a limited-edition sneaker box. All they have to do is buy a Jeeter product, and they get this whole box of goodies: limited merch in the theme of Super Jeeter, and the one-time strain.
The strains that we create for Jeeterday never drop again, you’ll never be able to purchase them. Some people never even smoke them and they just keep it as a collectible. There were about ten different cities that had lines around the block. We realized after the last Jeeterday, we created something magical.
We knew one day we would be able to bring back the live event experience but infused with cannabis, to celebrate how cannabis and music come together. We are going even further this year with golden tickets, bigger gifts. On top of that, we said, this is the time to bring in the live experience. That’s how the event came about. The manifestation of Jeeter, the celebration of 5 years of hard work, blood, sweat, and tears. It wasn’t peachy the whole ride. We went through one of the most difficult times of our lives together. Jeeterday is really a celebration for our fans, and then a celebration for the whole Jeeter organization of what we’ve accomplished today.
Lukasz Tracz: It’s a holiday, it’s an annual holiday for our fans. It’s our thank you to them. This year, it’ll be at 115 participating locations.
How did you get Ludacris on the lineup for this event, is he a Jeeter fan (like so many other celebs are)?
Tracz: Luda came through our contacts within the music industry. We love touching on nostalgia. I’m sure you’ve seen it in our marketing. A lot of our stuff is, ‘how can we have a fun way to hit the millennial demographic?’ We were thinking, what artist can we bring to this event? Where people can smoke and sing along, and create a good atmosphere.
Solano: When we reached out to Luda’s people, they were like, ‘Luda has been waiting forever to do something with cannabis.’ He was booked for this day, so he was going to play in St. Louis, actually. But his manager told us that Ludacris took his time, looked at the brand, the way we market it, our product. Luda was amazed, he said. He was like, ‘I really wanna work with you guys.’ He canceled a show to make this event. The manager came in town, we created a nice Luda-Jeeter presentation. He loved it.
What tips or tricks have you taken from your success in the event space and applied to your brand, to marketing within the cannabis space?
Tracz: Obviously, when we first started the brand, we come from an event background with Life In Color. Your demographic is automatically shrinking when you’re trying to sell tickets to an event where there’s going to be paint thrown. It takes a special crowd. So your demographic shrinks. Coming from the background of being strategic, trying to sell tickets in a competitive space, when there are so many events going on and we’re throwing paint. It’s cool, but it’s a certain type of demographic. In marketing, we were always innovating, creating videos. We were the first company that created trailers, AfterMovies, from our events. We are always very innovative with our marketing. I think we learned a lot by being able to do that in cannabis.
Coming to cannabis, your demographic expands. Everyone is smoking weed now that it is legal. Now we can target everybody. A brand has a real soul and a real DNA. It’s not just a logo and a sticker. It started internally, the things we applied were like ‘hey, let’s be innovative. Let’s be real.’
Solano: On the business side, with Life In Color, there was a year we did Life In Color in 50 countries. It started as a house party, then nightclubs, then arenas. We started expanding, you know what the first country we entered outside of the U.S.? Australia. That makes no sense. When you expand, you should expand closer to you. So we did some things early on that we learned from, tough lessons, challenges. Especially when it comes to building a brand. In the beginning, we had to sell people. But when Life In Color became a massive festival in Miami, that’s when everyone started calling us. We were able to decide who to work with. We’ve had tons of offers out-of-state but we really wanted to build Jeeter here first.
Let’s not go anywhere until Jeeter is the number one preroll brand in the industry, then we can expand. You’re more focused. You’re not spreading yourself thin. We were so worried about getting Life In Color into Brazil, versus when we waited until it was the biggest event, then Brazil is calling us. We are expanding into other states on our terms. We’ve been lucky enough to find amazing people to work with locally. But we built the brand here in LA, where we feel the biggest brands in the world would be built.
I am seeing these cool yellow boxes/special release boxes coinciding with Jeeterday at dispensaries. What’s in the box, can we hint at it for the readers?
Tracz: When someone walks in, it’s actually the first 5-7 people who will receive those boxes, and then the first 20-25 people get limited-edition shirts. In those boxes, that’s going to be the Super Jeeter hoodies, a dope lighter and case, and then, Super Jeeter trays, lanyard, cool little merch.
It’s a Banana live-resin infused pre-roll with Banana Mochi. So we’re calling the strain the Banana Peel, hinting at the Mario Kart influence. We’re also the only preroll brand with a ceramic tip. Our theme for the Jeeterday is Super Jeeters. It’s the video game nostalgia. A lot of the things in the production are going to be themed out. The Jeeterday shirt sold out quickly this time around: 80% of the inventory sold out in the first 2 minutes.
What type of cannabis consumer do you think makes up the community behind Jeeter’s popularity in California?
Tracz: It is for everybody. Obviously, our packaging is more fun, but we definitely cater to everybody. We do some unique drops, like the LA Lakers, Kobe Bryant tribute. I’ve been to stores having convos with a 65-year-old man who has 7 Jeeters in his bag. It’s for people from age 21 to 99. It’s for everybody.
Solano: We do like to keep our packaging fun and exciting, it’s just what we do. It’s in our nature. We’ve come to realize we have consumers and fans from all walks of life. That’s super cool, going back to the music fest days, that type of event was for a specific demographic that was early college-age. But for Jeeter, it’s 21 and over, of course, but it’s really for everyone.
We want to hit the whole spectrum in the industry. We didn’t want to be the brand that only certain people can afford. We wanted to create a product that feels nice, but it’s priced very competitively with all the products that are comparable. Jeeter, we are happy to say, is for everybody.
Tracz: We’re detail-oriented freaks. That’s one thing that we breathe and push into our marketing department, we’re all about the details.
Do you have a favorite product offering of Jeeter’s that you like to smoke lately? What’s the strain, live resin, or pre-roll flavor you’re the most into right now?
Solano: I like Blue Zkittlez and Grapefruit Romulan.
Tracz: For me, my favorite right now is definitely the Banana Peel that we’re about to release, it’s so perfect. It’s got the perfect aroma of bananas. Second favorite for me is our Blueberry. I’m a Blueberry freak, I love the taste.
Do you think the pre-roll marketplace is a competitive one?
Solano: Yeah, I think it’s by far one of the most competitive markets. You know, because I feel like the writing’s on the wall, pre-rolls are the future of this industry. Sure there will always be flower. There will always be connoisseurs who want to buy flower, smell it, break it down, roll it themselves. As we get more mainstream acceptance of cannabis, I believe more people will be attracted to pre-rolls. I think people just want to grab it and smoke it, and you can see the statistics reflect this. Pre-rolls are the fastest-growing category, the sales keep going up and up. The percentage of sales, especially in California, has boomed. There are over 1,000 brands that sell pre-rolls in California.
So it is extremely competitive. That’s why we’re so proud to be where we’re at in California and in the industry. When you’re winning going against thousands of brands, it says something about what you’re doing. It’s competitive but exciting. There’s still so much growth in it. There are pre-rolls and then there’s the infused pre-roll market. The infused market was only doing a couple million a month in California, it was 5% of the total pre-roll market in 2019. And now, it’s 50 percent of the total pre-roll market. Jeeter was a big reason for that. We also have our non-infused pre-rolls as well, but the infused market really ignites our creativity. It’s the meshing the flower with concentrates, kief. It just sparks up ideas of all the things you can create.
Tracz: It’s competitive and I actually think it’s the hardest one. All of our stuff is done by hand: infused, rolled, kiefed by hand. It’s by far one of the hardest categories to produce well. With pre-rolls, to do it right, for them to burn evenly, it’s a whole art.
Solano: To add to that last part, it’s so intense to produce that the number of employees needed has increased. We currently have north of 700 employees. We should be well over 1,000 in the next few months. Over the course of the pandemic, we got to employ a lot of people who lost their jobs. We are very proud to get to employ this many people.
How does a brand stand out on the shelf in the competitive California market? What is the best advice you have to offer other entrepreneurs in the space who may look up to you and your company?
Tracz: I always preach being authentic. You're always going to see things around that inspire you, let them inspire you and then be authentic. For us, we have spreadsheets and everything, but our ideas never start with a spreadsheet. We put ourselves in the consumer’s shoes. What would we love to go to a store and be able to purchase? That’s how the Jeeter brand started. Be authentic and true. It’s as simple as that.
Solano: I think one of the biggest things that we see in cannabis for people who want to start their own business and build their brand: team chemistry is everything. The greatest attribute we have as a company is our team. The reason for our success is our team. Most companies in cannabis, it’s not like they didn’t work out, it’s that they had internal disputes. They imploded internally. You can’t just put money and people together and make it work like a lot of public companies did. The team we have under us is absolutely phenomenal, loyal. Even when we’re not there. From the janitor to the trimmer to the grower. Everyone loves working here. They have the Jeeter tattoo on their heart. I’ve seen failures happen in cannabis because people don’t pick the right partners or the right team. You cannot do it on your own. You must have a team around you, pick that team wisely.
Where do you want Jeeter to grow into next? Are there any legal cannabis markets that you’ve had your eye on?
Solano: We’re launching in Michigan and Arizona next. Those are two markets that are firm. We have our eyes set on quite a few states. New York isn’t giving licenses until 2023. Which is good, it gives us time to get set up everywhere else. Obviously Florida, we’re waiting, the medical licenses are very complicated. Right now, we are focusing on the West Coast, moving East slowly. Nevada is on the horizon for next year. We’re going to continue to focus West. We might add some markets like Illinois. It takes a full year to come to market once you decide. We want to be everywhere.
Article pulled from: How Jeeter Became America’s Best-Selling Preroll Brand (forbes.com)