Jason Reposa of Good Feels on Bringing Positivity and Sustainability to Cannabis

Plus, the challenges and opportunities in branding and partnerships

Jason Reposa is founder and CEO of Good Feels, maker of cannabis-infused beverages. The mantra "Do No Harm" has become the guiding principle that steers his serial entrepreneurism after 20+ years of experience in software development and as the lead developer of multiple nationally recognized brands. Jason transitioned into the cannabis industry two years ago to address personal ailments and is now focused on spreading Good Feels to all.

His tenacity to overcome challenges comes in part from his mother, who immigrated from Honduras when she was 16 without knowing how to speak English. Growing up in a family without a lot of technology, Jason found himself doing whatever he could to get his hands on old computers. Later he would graduate with a bachelor's degree in computer science from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and become a professor of computer programming. Jason has developed his skills as an innovator and leader in two CTO positions.

Each month Jason volunteers time on the Medway Energy and Sustainability Committee (MESC) in his hometown where he's a resource to many locals on recycling. He is also a proud husband and father of three children. From his very first lemonade stand to becoming a second-time CEO, Jason has always pushed himself to become a better technologist, business leader, and creator of positive change.

We spoke with Jasom for our Higher Calling series, where we chat with leaders in the cannabis space.

Jason, tell us...

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I grew up in Tewksbury, Massachusetts, and lived there for nearly 23 years before moving. I also did a stint in Worcester while attending Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Our family grew up in an old 900-square-foot cottage that was converted into a house. Fast forward several years and I'm now living in Medway, Massachusetts, with my wife and children.

Your current role in the cannabis industry, and where you're based.

I founded a cannabis company called Good Feels in Medway. We make fast-acting, zero-calorie cannabis seltzers and beverage enhancers. Our products are manufactured using 100 percent renewable energy in a 1,900-square-foot, carbon-neutral facility equipped with state-of-the-art technology. We are essentially a microbrewery, except we're not brewing anything. The architectural layout was built around the fact that we make ready-to-drink beverages.

My role is to create positive change. I set out to build a cannabis company that promises to "Do No Harm." For me, it's not about the money. It's about sending a message. You have to generate revenue to run a business, but my focus is being a factor for change. I'm trying to be a role model for other people who are entering the cannabis industry and those currently in the industry who still have the ability to make a difference. Nobody should have to work multiple jobs to make a living. I want anybody who works for Good Feels to be able to care for their family on one salary. Our Livable Wage Pledge is a start. We are also focused on giving more to the Earth than we take. I'm a member of the local energy and sustainability committee and have always believed that any company must be created with sustainability in mind.

A story about the positive impact cannabis has had on your life.

Stress from selling my last company caused a severe TMJ disorder and I was forced on a liquid diet for a month. Like many people, I tried all the traditional ways of fixing an ailment. From consulting doctors and dentists to getting shots in my temple during ozone therapy, I saw little to no improvement in my quality of life. I turned to cannabis and finally started seeing a positive impact on my health. My jaw slowly started to function normally.

Cannabis' impact on my life has now gone beyond just opening my jaw and allowing me to chew foods again. Nowadays, I use cannabis as a substitute for alcohol and don't drink at all. Five o'clock rolls around, and instead of grabbing a beer I'm now grabbing my ready-to-drink beverages. More often than not, I'm grabbing the beverage enhancer to infuse anything I want. My overall stress has reduced on a daily basis and I'm more present for my family. I consume cannabis daily, but that doesn't label me a stoner. I'm a high-functioning founder of a company that's committed to making a difference.

A favorite flower, edible, product or brand.

I'm a fan of aromatherapy, despite this going against scientific reasoning. Rather than a specific brand, I love any good-smelling cannabis flower. The nuances between different flower varieties is incredible, so I really appreciate the plant in that sense. There's so many cultivators who do amazing work, but the regulations in Massachusetts often prevent the best flower from getting to consumers in time.

Good Feels was created because I don't smoke or vape and there was nothing in the market that did what I wanted to do. This speaks to how much I believe in the formulations and technology we created. A lot of edibles and other products are old-fashioned. With Good Feels focused on the future, I really don't use any other edibles. They never worked well for me. Every time I tried them I'd wait an hour, have a panic attack in bed when it finally hit, and then wake up the next day. The experience wasn't sustainable and led me to create something of my own.

The biggest challenge cannabis marketers face today.

There's a few things to touch on here. Banking and security risks that come with offering access to payment information affect the mobility a marketing department needs to make decisions and execute on things swiftly. This industry has been said to move faster than the dot-com era. Keeping up with the pace can be very difficult.

Another challenge all companies will face if they want to be a coast-to-coast brand is keeping up with different regulations in each state. Packaging and labeling restrictions can sometimes affect the brand image you're looking to maintain. What you can and can't say is often restricted. For example, promoting discounts is not allowed in Massachusetts, but can be done in other states. This makes expansion even more challenging. If you launch in a restrictive state, you'll have to determine how to align your strategy in a more progressive market. It all comes down to creating a formula of what resonates with people and building your brand off that. Relying on imagery and messaging alone is not enough to be sustainable.

One thing you're excited about right now in cannabis branding, partnerships or marketing.

For partnerships, what's really exciting is seeing how the health, wellness and medical industries are starting to look at cannabis beyond being a medicine, which is the side of this industry that really paved the way for adult consumption. What's neat about that is it all fits into getting rid of stigma and normalizing the consumption of this plant. To give an example, we have products that are zero calorie, zero sugar, and have no alcohol, but it give people a great drinking experience. It's a familiar experience you can share with family and friends or to just unwind at the end of the day. It's gone as far as dental organizations contacting us. Even though we're not a medicinal product, and that's been made clear to them, they're still really interested in being educated about our product because the medical community has identified the value of cannabis from a general wellness perspective.

Going beyond that, there's a lot of excitement building as we head towards consumption lounges and live events where consumption is allowed. Festivals and concerts are major targets. The same way you'd see alcohol at large public events, we are going to start seeing cannabis at an increasing rate. There's so much opportunity to create these environments for people to connect with each other, especially as we turn the corner on the pandemic.

A cannabis trade/social justice organization that you support.

The Big Hope Project is definitely on my list. They're a nonprofit in Boston focused on restorative justice in areas impacted by the War on Drugs. I've also always been a fan of the Last Prisoner Project. Good Feels has been heads down since launch, but we're looking to make formal engagements with these organizations soon.

This is an interesting topic when it comes to cannabis regulations in Massachusetts. We pay a 3 percent impact fee based on our annual revenue. Then there's 280E, which causes cannabis companies to face federal tax rates of 40 percent or more. These regulations create trade-offs for cannabis companies. For example, at Good Feels we have to choose efforts to support now and ones to support down the road. Whether it's purchasing carbon offsets, using 100 percent renewable energy, buying sustainable packaging or paying living wages to our employees, we have to be financially sustainable or these efforts disappear.

A recent project you're proud of.

Outside of Good Feels, I'm really proud of an NFT project I worked on with my son. One day he came up to me and asked, "What's Bitcoin?" I explained that there's an interesting technology that people agreed on a long time ago and they started putting a lot of money behind it. NFTs were all the noise around the time he asked me and I eventually said, "Let's do an experiment!" We learned the basics of NFTs together and I told him, "If you create your own art, I'll show you how to create an NFT from it." He worked diligently and created this masterpiece of art. I said, "All right, let's do it!"  We created his NFT on the Polygon network, which had a really low entry barrier. We posted it online and I was able to teach him how he would earn residuals each time his NFT was sold. He was super proud of himself and it was a really special memory for me.

Someone else's project you admired recently.

I love all the Web3 projects that are coming out. Every time I hear something created on the blockchain with real-world applications is really special to me. For example, I'm in a project called STEPN that rewards users for walking or running. The app can track me through GPS and gives me tokens each time I go running. You have to convert the tokens to dollars, but you can see the value of this technology. I admire big projects that are doing things in digital terms and bringing them to the real world. That's what I did for over 20 years as a programming veteran. Everything I did was digital, but I never did anything that had any impact physically. Then I created Good Feels and I was like, "That's my tangible product."

The health and wellness space is important to me as well. InsideTracker and Levels are two technologies that are really interesting. InsideTracker uses regular blood tests to make personalized health recommendations. Levels is a glucose monitor and data software that shows how certain foods affect your blood sugar. Similar to these projects, I created Good Feels as a solution to help improve my wellbeing.

Someone you admire in cannabis who's doing great things.

Dr. Miyabe Shields and the entire team at Real Isolates are doing fantastic work. I'm also impressed by cultivators who can reproduce cannabis that is genetically consistent and expresses specific traits more prominently. I really appreciate anyone using science to create innovative solutions with the plant.

What you'd be doing if you weren't in the cannabis industry.

I'd be in Web3. That's where my curiosity goes immediately after cannabis. There's so many exciting things happening in that industry. With all this energy going into Web3, I know my programming skills are in high demand. Developing video games and apps is another area I'd be interested in pursuing more. Beyond tech, I could see myself building a food-based company; another CPG, but without cannabis. After prototyping and building a bottling machine for Good Feels, creating machinery might also be an opportunity for me.

Higher Calling is a weekly series, publishing on Thursdays, where we chat with folks in the cannabis industry about their personal history and taste in cannabis and the future of cannabis marketing. For more about Higher Calling, and our Clio Cannabis program, please get in touch.

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Jessica MacAulay
Jessica MacAulay is a contributor for Muse by Clio. She's also a recent graduate of the University of Colorado Boulder's College of Media, Communication, and Information.

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