Ron Basak-Smith received his MBA from CU Boulder in 2017, with a focus on Entrepreneurship and Sustainability. With both his parents being entrepreneurs, Ron knew from a young age that starting a business would be his path. And now, he is CEO of Sana Packaging, a sustainable cannabis packaging brand.
“I decided on CU Boulder because I knew the city Boulder had a strong startup community and the strength of the entrepreneurship program.”
A sustainable solution
Before starting the MBA program at CU, Ron came up with the idea for sustainable cannabis packaging on a trip to Alaska - and in the fall of 2016, Sana Packaging was born. After years of being frustrated about the cannabis packaging he was seeing come out of dispensaries, Ron approached his classmate, James Eichner with the new idea and the two pitched it in Jeff York’s Sustainable Ventures class and George Deriso’s Business Plan Prep. In addition, they applied to CanopyBoulder, which is a business accelerator and venture capital fund for the legal cannabis industry. There, they were able to receive seed funding and start developing their business model.
Sana Packaging is a cannabis packaging brand that works with bio-based hemp plastic and reclaimed ocean plastics. Ron and his team are working to bring improvement to this single-use packaging space in hopes of one day creating a truly circular system for cannabis packaging.
Effects of COVID-19
Cannabis dispensaries are one of the businesses that have been deemed essential during this pandemic. This is something that has helped Sana Packaging and they are fortunate to manufacture domestically, which allows them to maintain sales through this period. However, they are seeing larger discrepancies in consumer behavior in the cannabis space so it is unclear what exactly lies ahead for Sana.
In the meantime, they are working on growing their company by expanding their product line and building out their team. In addition, they plan to compete for more funding in the summer to make bringing new products to market possible.
Advice to current students
“Buckle down, use this time to assess what is important to you. Now more than ever we need creative thinkers and we all have unique skills to bring to the table. Figure out where you can make an impact and devote yourself to it. Be 100% committed to your business, yourself and your craft because without love in the dream it will never come true.”