On Prioritizing Quality In CBD Industry, Jim Higdon, co-founder of Cornbread Hemp  by@jimhigdon

On Prioritizing Quality In CBD Industry, Jim Higdon, co-founder of Cornbread Hemp

Cornbread Hemp is a CBD brand based in Louisville, Kentucky, USA. It is the first company in America to offer Flower-Only™, full spectrum, USDA organic CBD products. Co-founder: "Co-founding this startup is my life’s mission. I can’t imagine doing anything else. I love the intuitive nature of this content management system. Easy to use and customize" Founder: "Ambitious goals take WAY longer to achieve your goals than you think! So don't get discouraged"
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HackerNoon Reporter: Please tell us briefly about your background.

I’m co-founder of Cornbread Hemp, along with my cousin, Eric Zipperle. Before co-founding Cornbread Hemp, I was a journalist and book author. I wrote the book on The Cornbread Mafia, about how my Kentucky hometown was the headquarters of the largest marijuana syndicate in American history.

What's your startup called? And in a sentence or two, what does it do?

Cornbread Hemp is a CBD brand based in Louisville, Kentucky, USA. We stand apart from the crowded CBD marketplace by offering products that are Flower-Only™, full spectrum, and USDA organic. No other brand comes close to that level of quality. That’s why we made this .


Click the link above to play the full video.

Click the link above to play the full video.

What is the origin story?

I grew up in a part of Kentucky known for outlaw cannabis cultivators called the Cornbread Mafia. Between 1985 and 1989, more than 70 men from my community were arrested on 30 farms in 10 states with 200 tons of marijuana. It’s a story that stayed with me, and after going to college to be a writer, I returned home to write a nonfiction book about the Cornbread Mafia. From the success of that book, I became a journalist covering Kentucky for the Washington Post and cannabis for POLITICO.


While reporting a story on hemp in 2018, I discovered the opportunity to enter the CBD market by focusing on creating a premium brand. In late 2018, I joined forces with my cousin, Eric Zipperle, an e-commerce whiz with an MBA. And together we launched Cornbread Hemp in early 2019. By the end of that year, we had become the first company in America to offer Flower-Only™, full spectrum, USDA organic CBD products.


In 2020, in the midst of the COVID lockdown, we raised $400,000 in a crowdfunding campaign on Wefunder. And in 2021, we are experiencing crazy growth as we meet new customers across America, who are looking for the best full spectrum CBD products they can find.

What do you love about your team, and why are you the ones to solve this problem?

My partner Eric and I are very well matched. I bring a background in national journalism and connections within the hemp industry and media world. And Eric brings an e-commerce background, accounting experience, and an MBA to the table. We have built a team that is as passionate about our brand as we are, and we are gearing up for great things.

If you weren’t building your startup, what would you be doing?

Co-founding this startup is my life’s mission. I can’t imagine doing anything else.

At the moment, how do you measure success? What are your core metrics?

With more than 200% growth this year, we measure success by monthly revenues, and new customers acquired. The more new customers we acquire, the more return customers we will have as well. We focus on increasing both new customers and return customers.

What’s most exciting about your traction to date?

Experiencing rapid growth while many other CBD brands are struggling to remain relevant.

What technologies are you currently most excited about, and most worried about? And why?

We are somewhat concerned about how changes to cookie tracking will alter the overall e-commerce experience for our customers.

What drew you to get published on HackerNoon? What do you like most about our platform?

I love the intuitive nature of this content management system. Easy to use and customize.

What advice would you give to the 21-year-old version of yourself?

At 21, I left Kentucky to go to Brown University. Back then, I was convinced that I could carve out a writing career for myself. My advice to that younger version of myself would be to stay strong, to keep doing your thing -- but it’s going to take WAY longer to achieve your goals than you think! So don’t get discouraged. Ambitious goals take time to achieve.

What is something surprising you've learned this year that your contemporaries would benefit from knowing?

The best thing we learned in the past year was learning how Reg CF crowdfunding works. The 900 investors we met during our Wefunder campaign have become part of our extended family.


Cornbread Hemp is nominated as a startup of the year in Louisville. Go vote!


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