Univ entrepreneurs: Ben and Tom Grass
In the latest of this series we invited some of Univ’s entrepreneurs to talk about what inspires them and how they got started on their entrepreneurial journey.
Ben Grass (1990, History) and Tom Grass (1992, History) are co-founders of Grass & Co, premium suppliers of ethically-sourced CBD oil products.
My brother, Tom and I have always been big believers in the spiritual and healing properties of Cannabis. A simple plant that can both improve human health, create meaningful social connections, and enhance our sense of a profound relationship with nature.
Cannabis contains several hundred active compounds, and one of these – CBD (short for cannabidiol) – has been shown to have beneficial effects for sleep, anxiety and pain management, but also has no psychoactive properties (i.e. it doesn’t get you “high”).
My first career was in the film business, and as a regular visitor to California (which legalised CBD earlier than the UK), I was able to experience the benefits of CBD first-hand over many years, and decided to create a wellness brand in 2018. Co-founding with Tom, and having the surname “Grass” made it all feel a bit like destiny. We called the company “Grass & Co”, and our mission is to enhance human health with natural, plant-based products.
Tom and I spent a lot of time initially developing products that we felt would deliver on this ambition, and which really stood out from the competition. After many months of visiting potential suppliers, and trialling different formulations, we decided that our core products would all combine CBD with other botanical ingredients and vitamins to optimise and help target specific health benefits. Another huge area of focus has been to make all our products taste delicious and smell fantastic.
We now have three ranges of products with CBD as the core ingredient – the “Ease” range targeting pain management, the “Calm” range targeting anxiety and the “Rest” range targeting sleep. We sell our products in the UK through Holland & Barrett, Planet Organic, Ocado and other partners, and I’m pleased to say that four years on, our customers seem to like what we do.
If I had to pass on any tips from our journey so far, I would say that it’s firstly very important to believe in what you do and to be excited about it. Without being authentic and passionate it’s hard to get up in the morning and persuade customers, investors and colleagues that it’s worth trusting your brand, and coming on the journey. The goal needs to be about more than just money. It’s also very important to choose the key people around you with great care (if you have the luxury to do so). Entrepreneurial life is almost necessarily stressful and charged at times, and it can make all the difference to be dancing the dance with folks who are supportive and get the job done well. You will need their trust every day to succeed.
Next up – a range of functional mushrooms!
This feature was adapted from one first published in Issue 15 of The Martlet; read the full magazine here or explore our back catalogue of Martlets below:
Published: 3 July 2023