Launching a Business During a Pandemic

A few years ago, my family and I purchased a hemp farm in Boulder. It’s one of the original Colorado homesteads, fed by pristine water flowing from Rocky Mountain National Park. We knew this place had the power to really help people.

Driven by our desire to help everyone, from grandmothers to Gen Zers, find balance and harmony in their lives naturally, we worked for years to build our dream: a premium, full-spectrum CBD business founded on the mission of making hemp extract an everyday element of wellness, active lifestyles and sports recovery.

Then, on the eve of launching Miraflora, coronavirus hit America. All of our conversations with retail distributors ground to a halt. Our launch party was cancelled. Packaging suppliers were shut down and logistics became a challenge. To outsiders it may have seemed like the time to throw in the towel or at least delay our launch. But we didn’t, for three main reasons:

To start, many of the world’s greatest brands began during severe economic downturns. Disney launched at the beginning of the Great Depression. Google and PayPal grew to prominence amid the dot-com bust. Square, Pinterest and AirBnB launched during the Great Recession. Starting a business during a global crisis is not what anyone would choose, but it’s not impossible. While I am not comparing Miraflora to these brands, I believe our success will be defined by our grit, perseverance and dedication to the mission.

Secondly, the coronavirus pandemic exposed existing consumer needs and made them more acute. Needs that we could help with! Adults were more stressed, anxious and sleep deprived than ever as they navigated unprecedented changes to their personal and professional lives. Also, many Americans were doing everything they could to avoid going to the hospital, where patients with the covid-19 virus were being treated. We were confident our products derived from natural hemp flower extract (CBD) spoke directly to these needs: accessible, non-prescription, natural remedies to achieve relaxation, wellness and balance. And we knew we our products were differentiated versus other companies already in market due to our consistent and clean extraction methods.

Finally, we were able to quickly able to pivot our business to a 100% ecommerce model. This meant a few things: our website had to be perfect at launch. We invested heavily in getting the messaging, look, feel and platform just right. We also ramped up an intuitive and fast ecommerce functionality. And we shifted our retail sales focus to online promotions instead. To date, this shift has worked well, our website traffic has been consistently increasing 500% every month.

Our hope is that if we can touch people during this extraordinarily challenging time in their lives, they will reward us with their loyalty in the future. And as a businessman who has worked with global food and beverage brands, I know that the economy always ebbs and flows. Coronavirus is an historic ebb, to be sure, but part of the adventure of running a business is figuring out how to adapt to those fluctuations. If we can strive through this period of time, I am filled with hope for Miraflora’s future.

Christopher Wynne is the CEO of Miraflora, a premium, full-spectrum CBD wellness business based in Boulder. Chris has an impressive track record building consumer brands and ecommerce sales, including propelling Papa John’s in Eastern Europe and Central Asia to more than $100 million in online sales.