🎙️ MXXN, CEO, Darnell Smith
The recently launched product aims to take the cannabis-infused, non-alcoholic spirit market "to the moon" with three SKUs (Jalisco Agave, London Dry, Kentucky Oak).
🥃 Background. Darnell Smith is a CPG and alcohol industry veteran and cannabis entrepreneur, innovator and advocate. Smith is the founder and CEO of MXXN, a non-alcoholic, cannabis-infused spirits brand that is evolving today’s cocktail culture and disrupting the alcohol and cannabis industry. MXXN is the first product launch of MOJO Ventures, which is part of the digital + creative consultancy MOJO he founded that has done extensive work for Procter & Gamble Ventures, Barcardi’s Incubation group, PepsiCo and more. Prior to founding MXXN and MOJO, Smith was a Senior Digital Transformation Lead at Infosys Consulting working with the likes of Adidas, Ralph Lauren, AB InBev, Novartis, GSK, Pfizer, AMEX and more. Prior to that, Smith worked for over a decade in various agency and client side roles focused on innovation and commercialization for the likes of Diageo and Pernod Ricard. Fun fact: Darnell played on the D-Line for Notre Dame (1993–1997).
🍸 Product Overview. MXXN (pronounced moon) is a cannabis-infused, non-alcoholic spirit formulated with the help of mixologists and designed to be a 1:1 replacement for classic spirits. MXXN is meant to be enjoyed as a 1:1 to spirit replacement in your favorite cocktails, the Kentucky Oak can be subbed for bourbon, London Dry for gin and Jalisco Agave for tequila. From a dosing perspective, 0.5 oz equals 2mg of THC (the company usesVertosa for emulsion). Note: I’ve had each of these in a cocktail and MXXN seems to have figured out the formulation/taste.
🚗 Direct-To-Consumer (D2C). MXXN launched a pilot late-January via D2C with Ginger Commerce. Given that beverages seeing early traction are either an RTD (Cann, Wunder, Maison Bloom) or a high-dose product (Uncle Arnie’s), MXXN, operates more in the middle as a single-serve, high dose, and higher price point (Artet, Pamos), the Company’s strategy at launch was to collect data on who’s buying the product and present it to Dispensary Buyers to show that there is demand for the products. Darnell plans to convice Dispensary partners that he can drive additional traffic to their stores (with plans to launch into retail this month). He considers merchandising a Spirits bottle to be an advantage.
🚚 Expansion. Darnell has quickly turned his attention to multi-state expansion. While the brand launched in CA, they’ll likely go out of state sooner rather than later to scale given the untapped THC-beverage opportunites in other States. In considering new markets, MXXN has to look at new markets from where the infrastructuion is already set-up given plans to remain asset-light. He has been speaking with operators that don’t want to vertically-integrate, but instead want to focus on co-manufacturing.
💰 Funding. Darnell has funded the company through MOJO, which allows for a more patient approach to building MXXN. They have had conversations for external funding, but it does not impact the company’s plan to grow or survive.
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