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  • By Carly Banner
  • 2021-05-05 | May 05, 2021
  • comments : 2 comments
An Interview With Dave Daily
So I set out to create something that didn’t rely on me to be successful. Create an object that people want to engage with because it became a meaningful object to them.

It takes a lot of people to keep GRAV running like a fresh-from-the-lathe coil showerhead water pipe. From product development to order processing and shipping to sales and marketing and everyone else in between, the GRAV family is big and always growing. But none of us would be here without one person: the founder and CEO Dave Daily. Dave isn’t one for tooting his own horn or jumping into the spotlight. He said it best himself when he told me “I like to be in the shadows a little bit.” However, recently Dave was kind enough to emerge from the shadows (not really, most days he can be found roaming the halls of GRAV headquarters with a hoodie and a smile) and sit down with me for an interview. We covered everything from starting a company to living in a prohibition state. Below are the highlights, edited for clarity and brevity.




Starting Out

In 2004 Dave started GRAV as we know it today, on his own, from the ground up. When I asked him about the motivation behind this huge endeavor, he replied

You know It was honestly because I wanted to start my own business and I actually read - I think it was Jitterbug Perfume - I was a big Tom Robbins fan. And I feel like humanity is in a constant struggle for immortality - right? - like we either procreate for immortality or we create other things. Art, science, publishing books that live on past us - I always thought that creating things that would be bigger than me was a really worthwhile life accomplishment. So I set out to create something that didn’t rely on me to be successful. Create an object that people want to engage with because it became a meaningful object to them.




When strangers have our products there is no better feeling.


The Era of the Gravitron

In the beginning, Dave only sold GRAV’s namesake, the Gravitron, which he invented. He described the process of making each Gravitron by hand:

Oh yeah for three years I just cut bottles, blew glass, blew the downstems, and the bowls. Yeah, I mean it’s just a cut bottle with a vase, decal the vase, and for a long time I just like dipped the bottom in plasti-dip that you buy at home depot until I made enough money to buy the mold to make the grommet. It took a long time…. I mean I always had help, friends helped me along the way. I had friends that came on and worked with me and came in and out of the business.




Transitioning Into a Multi-product Business

Dave expected to find success selling only the Gravitron, but eventually, he changed course. He explained:

So I was going to boil the ocean. Everyone was going to smoke out of Gravitron every time they smoked. And then that didn’t work. I was three years banging my head against the wall trying to sell you know, a million Gravitrons, and even though I was not successful with the Gravitron I had 600 accounts that were selling the Gravitron. So when I came out with my next product, the Tasters, they all bought those too, and it was a eureka moment for me where I realized that I could design other things besides the Gravitron.





Watch Dave talk in more detail about the birth of the Taster and this era of GRAV.




Taking on Leadership

Dave described how the experience of being GRAV’s CEO has changed over the years:

I think the biggest aspect of my role changing has - and it’s changed a lot over the last 15 years, of course - has been the fact that in the early days it was just me and a couple of other people making decisions really quickly, designing things off the cuff. Now the fact that we’re servicing so many accounts across the country and internationally we have to operate on a different scale so that just requires a lot more hands on deck. It requires me to understand what leadership means, understand that everyone wants to continue to grow and learn here and to teach people how to be as excellent as we can be but not afraid to fail. So the long and short of it is that in the past, leadership wasn’t an issue. Now it’s the dominant issue and making sure that we’re driving a good culture here is the most important thing.

He also revealed his favorite part of the journey so far:

When strangers have our products there is no better feeling. There’s no better feeling than to be almost like a secret shopper and hearing someone talk about our products who doesn’t know me, and I get to know that I was a part of bringing that object into their life and that’s the most spectacular feeling.




Reaching Success

When I asked Dave if there was a certain turning point when he knew GRAV was going to be successful, he gave me a deadpan “Um, no. Let me know when that happens.” Finally, he conceded:

No no, I’m kidding. No, it feels like we have achieved a lot of success. But in this cannabis landscape, in this environment, it’s certainly moving away from brands that are bongs to brands that are selling consumable products. And not that I feel any serious envy. Of course, we’ve got incredible brand traction and I’m so grateful for it, but success is a moving target. And I definitely feel an enormous sense of gratitude for the customers that have engaged with us, our shops that sell us, our distributors, but you know there’s a lot of blue ocean out there.

Dave spoke about engaging with that wide ocean that is the cannabis industry with obvious excitement:

I hope that we can continue to be one of the top names, you know top cannabis brands in the cannabis economy. That’s gonna require us to design in a lot of other categories which we inevitably are doing but our biggest opportunity is just to continue to engage with our customers and be generous and open and honest because our mission is to continue to be one of the most trusted brands in the industry. And we have a duty never to breach that trust. But that’s our biggest opportunity, is to continue to listen to our audience and engage with them at the highest level.




I think the biggest challenge facing cannabis in the future has a lot to do with amnesty. You know there’s still a lot of people that are in jail for it that should not be and that’s gonna take a big shift in local politics to really affect that.


Prohibition

Dave’s hopes for individual cannabis brands as well as the industry, in general, revolved around one theme: ending prohibition. He explained:

Well, I think [the industry]’s already going in the direction that a lot of people would say is important which is that we see the end of federal prohibition. We all believe that that’s imminent. I think the biggest challenge facing cannabis in the future has a lot to do with amnesty. You know there’s still a lot of people that are in jail for it that should not be and that’s gonna take a big shift in local politics to really affect that. So that’s what I hope to see in the future.

Working towards prohibition is not an abstract concept for GRAV. Dave noted that “...we take a lot of pride in contributing a lot of money to reformation organizations and there are certainly some [cannabis brands] that do a better job than we do but most of them don’t. And picking good reformation organizations and giving generously will accelerate the changes that we like to see.”

I asked if he was optimistic about Texas going legal any time soon. He said “No, not at all…. I do think that we’re going to see some strides. They should expand qualifying conditions. We’ve got some really exciting decriminalization language that we think is gonna pass. So yeah I wish that I could be more optimistic about legalization but we’ve got a lot of educating to do to get there.”




Of Tasters and Unicycles

Of course our conversation wasn’t all business plans and political projections. When it came to his personal Cannabis use, Dave revealed, “I don’t use it medicinally… it’s a recreational sport for me,” and described himself as “a once a week guy.” He added “I always smoke out of a Taster,” proving that he still has a soft spot for his second ever product.

I got my biggest surprise when I asked Dave if he had any New Year’s resolutions. His response was immediate: “I really wanna learn how to ride a unicycle. I always wanted to do a backflip so I really wanna do a backflip this year which means I need to like go get a coach and I need to do it in a smart way. I don’t wanna die learning how to do a backflip.”

As we closed out our interview, Dave hinted at “some secret projects that I can’t talk about” and I’m sure I’m not alone in saying I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next.

Tags : Culture Employee Spotlight

comments

  • RObert SImmons on

    I engage with my Grav water pipe on a daily basis.

  • Jon Luccio on

    That was awesome, to think you could start out making gravity bongs and branch put into this WILD business that makes amazing functional art

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