Janett Dalka CEO of Breezy Brands global lifestyle brand in the recreational cannabis sector. She is an expert in leadership and brand building, who has proven in recent years that she can take products and digital solutions to a new level and has built a strong team behind Breezy Brands and Grüne Brise (in translation: Green Breeze).
With brand “Grüne Brise” Breezy Brands have started Germany’s first online marketplace for cannabis pharmacies, delivering medical cannabis within 24 hours after the receipt has arrived in the pharmacy.
Breezy Brands mission is to lift cannabis from a subcultural phenomenon to a societally accepted recreational activity by building the one stop e-shop for cannabis & accessories. And their vision is to become the No. 1 global lifestyle brand in the recreational cannabis sector.
As Janett Dalka explained, the problem they are solving is severe: “In Germany, there are currently only a few specialized cannabis pharmacies. Accordingly, it can be tedious and time-consuming for chronically ill patients to obtain the type prescribed for them.”
Can you briefly introduce yourself and share your journey as an entrepreneur? What led you to venture into entrepreneurship, and what were some of the key milestones along the way?
I am the CEO of Breezy Brands, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Frankfurt-based Bloomwell Group. Over the past 1 ½ years I’ve built Breezy Brands together with my team into what it is today: an incubator building innovative and technology-led cannabis brands for both the medical and leisure markets. Our platform brand “Grüne Brise” (in translation: Green Breeze) is Europe’s first marketplace for cannabis dispensaries offering and shipping flowers online. That is certainly a milestone in my entrepreneurial journey.
“Grüne Brise” is Europe’s first marketplace for cannabis dispensaries offering and shipping flowers online.
Another milestone surely has been to grow our lifestyle brand BREEZY to become the cannabis community’s home for dialogue, communication and debate with high-quality medical accessories. I am driven and inspired by making a difference for as many people as possible. This is what got me into entrepreneurship. I absolutely love to tread untravelled paths, doing things that no one else has done before. This is exactly what we’re doing with Breezy Brands. Making an immense contribution to society by destigmatizing cannabis and helping thousands of patients to get better.
Before taking over as the CEO of Breezy Brands I have built lifestyle brands in various sectors, management and leadership roles since 2014, predominantly in the FMCG market. I am also a certified business and personal coach.
Looking back at your entrepreneurial career, what are the top three lessons you have learned that you believe every future entrepreneur should know?
You need to think and act with an agile mindset. When you develop truly innovative solutions, reality overtakes the best plan all too quickly. New insights and developments occur within the blink of an eye.
Listen to people, let their ideas flow in, offer them a space for honest exchange.
Second, that strategy without execution is pointless and execution without strategy is a waste of energy. A solid long-term vision and mission needs to go hand in hand with strong operations.
Point three brings me to my most important point: co-create Love Brands together with your community. Listen to people, let their ideas flow in, offer them a space for honest exchange.
Starting a business often involves taking risks. How do you assess and manage risks in your ventures, and what advice do you have for entrepreneurs on navigating uncertainties?
As a German company operating in a highly regulated market we conduct thorough research, identify and prioritize potential risks, and develop contingency plans. Diversify your offerings, build a strong team, and adapt to changing circumstances.
Embrace uncertainty with a growth mindset, stay flexible, and start small to test ideas.
Manage finances, consider insurance, and seek advice from mentors. Embrace uncertainty with a growth mindset, stay flexible, and start small to test ideas. Network and collaborate for support and learn from failures to improve future endeavours. Remember that calculated risks increase your chances of building a successful and resilient business.
Building a strong network is crucial for entrepreneurs. What strategies have you employed to develop meaningful connections and partnerships throughout your career? How has networking contributed to your success?
I recommend attending industry events and conferences. I have joined panel talks and continue to appear as a speaker at conferences to contribute to a collective knowledge with my expertise and interact with potential collaborators. By establishing a robust network, you gain access to valuable resources, funding opportunities, potential clients, and skilled talent. Moreover, engaging with like-minded industry peers facilitates the exchange of knowledge and best practices.
By establishing a robust network, you gain access to valuable resources, funding opportunities, potential clients, and skilled talent.
Especially as a female CEO in a male dominated industry it is important to have a community of other female entrepreneurs to share advice and perspectives. There is still work to be done in our industry, as in others. Despite notable growth and increased opportunities, gender parity remains a challenge due to barriers to entry and advancement – especially at the executive level.
We need more confidence to start businesses, diversity and inclusion initiatives such as mentoring, networking and educational programs to empower women and encourage their professional growth in the cannabis industry. This only happens if we build connections and support each other.
One of the challenges faced by many entrepreneurs is finding the right balance between innovation and market demand. How do you approach this balance, and what steps do you take to ensure your products/services align with market needs?
With Grüne Brise we have started Germany’s first online marketplace for cannabis pharmacies, delivering medical cannabis within 24 hours after the receipt has arrived in the pharmacy. Via innovation we’re increasing product diversity, security of supply, speed, service and flexibility. Market surveys and data are important to validate the demand before investing.
We always ask ourselves what the biggest pain points for cannabis patients are.
Though in our case personal experiences and track records are crucial to ensure that innovation aligns with what cannabis patients are looking for. We always ask ourselves what the biggest pain points for cannabis patients are. As the market is quite young and highly regulated, access to medical cannabis is still difficult – and many things can be optimized. The iterative approach of moving fast, (if necessary) failing fast, learning fast and repeating in an optimized way has brought us successfully to where we are today.
Scaling a business requires effective leadership and team management. What leadership qualities do you believe are essential for leading a successful team, and how do you foster a positive work culture within your organization?
As a female leader in a male-dominated industry, female empowerment and leadership are close to my heart. I have a particular soft spot for topics such as intrinsic motivation, structure in everyday work, team building, neuro-psychological processes in working life and self-optimization. I think my passion for this helps me as a leader and in motivating and supporting my colleagues with expertise and empathy.
The model of servant leadership as working best for me, with the primary focus on serving the needs of my team members.
Within Breezy Brands GmbH, I want to create a place where employees feel comfortable and can always talk openly about their ideas, but also mistakes or concerns, develop their strengths and grow. I do see the model of servant leadership as working best for me, with the primary focus on serving the needs of my team members and empowering them to reach their full potential. It prioritizes collaboration, empathy, and fostering a supportive environment, leading to increased trust, motivation, and overall team success.
In your experience, what are the most effective marketing and branding strategies for early-stage startups?
First and foremost: Define your target audience and understand who your ideal customers are. Trigger it down to single personas to truly understand needs and problems. Then focus your marketing efforts to address these needs and pain points.
Define your target audience and understand who your ideal customers are.
Secondly: Create a strong brand identity to stand out and that resonates with your target audience. I also recommend using social media for community building and then engaging with those communities to build trust.
How can entrepreneurs maximize their limited resources to gain visibility and attract customers?
Remember, focus on what aligns best with your target audience and industry to maximize results. Consistency and patience are key to building visibility and attracting customers for your early-stage startup. Go beyond thinking out of the box, go outside the box and think Guerilla Marketing: how can you execute small actions, even if offline, that can be leveraged online, e.g., via social media, to create maximum reach within your target audience.
Financial management is critical for the sustainability and growth of a business. What financial practices or strategies have you found most useful in managing cash flow, securing funding, and making informed financial decisions?
During the pandemic venture capital was flowing easily. The times have changed in 2022. Nowadays you need to have a strong business model right from the beginning. Capital efficiency is key to secure growth funding. As we started Grüne Brise when we needed to consider very carefully what to spend money for, we have been acting cost efficiently right from the beginning.
Nowadays you need to have a strong business model right from the beginning.
Regarding cash flow we’re benefitting massively from automating as many things as possible. Especially in times in which you develop new innovations and enter new markets, automation is our tool to guarantee that we always have an overview about all our cash flows within a glance.
Many entrepreneurs face setbacks and failures along their journey. Can you share a specific instance where you encountered a major challenge or failure and how you overcame it?
My everyday challenge is to grow a business in a highly regulated, yet very unpredictable market environment. On top, because of the regulations, we do not have a broad spectrum of available marketing tactics to increase reach and acquire new customers. We are overcoming that by experimenting a lot in a calculated manner, accumulating the learnings and adapting quickly.
What lessons did you learn from that experience?
It certainly taught me to move within highly uncertain environments, the often-quoted VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, ambiguous) environment is very real for us. As we are growing the business, being quick to adapt and approaching challenges with a can-do mentality, also showed me that there is always a way, there is always a solution, even to the most complex problem. That is a very assuring feeling as an entrepreneur.
As an experienced entrepreneur, what advice would you give to someone who is just starting their entrepreneurial journey? What are the key factors or habits that contribute to long-term success in the business world?
It’s important to keep a clear vision and have a passion for what you’re doing. It will drive your motivation and perseverance during challenging times. Apart from that: Stay committed and keep learning from your experiences while maintaining a positive and forward-thinking mindset. That also means daring to make mistakes to learn from them.
Sometimes you have to let go of the most thought-through plan and let things fail to learn a lesson.
Sometimes you have to let go of the most thought-through plan and let things fail to learn the most from it. It’s also essential to have an inspiring and energizing team and support system around you. You don’t have to be a lone wolf or do everything by yourself even if you could. Believe in your people and trust your team.
Technology and digital transformation have revolutionized various industries. How have you leveraged technology in your business, and what emerging trends do you believe entrepreneurs should keep an eye on in the coming years?
My focus is and has always been on love brands and marketplaces. Many verticals have already been disrupted by marketplaces. Therefore, you will most likely find new opportunities in highly regulated markets which have scared off many founders so far. Don’t build the next brand or marketplace in highly competitive consumer environments. Look for more niche and complex challenges which have been overlooked in recent years.
Look for more niche and complex challenges when building your next business.
If you have identified this blind spot, think of how you can make things as easy as possible. AI and automation will become more relevant regarding cost efficiency, but human beings will continue to play a major role for building real love brands. Communication via social media and community involvement is something that can’t be fully replaced by technology. The right mix of human emotions and intelligence and the power of tech will be the instrument to build the best solutions with and for your community.
Finally, could you share any recommended resources such as books, websites, or communities that have been valuable to you as an entrepreneur? How do you stay updated with industry trends and continue to learn and grow?
I’m already passionate about topics like self-optimization, intrinsic motivation and neuro-psychological processes, which are not only valuable to me personally but also my professional growth particularly in my role as CEO of Breezy Brands. I have a long list of mentors who fuel this interest and through which I build my expertise.
I read books by Simon Sinek, Robin Sharma or Ryan Holiday, to name a few. I do consider myself a big fan of stoicism as a very modern and fulfilling way of living in general, with a huge arsenal of tools for your private and business endeavors.
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