How Dip Devices and Green Lion are pushing the envelope of cannabis concentrate technology
An interview with Mike Bologna. CEO of Dip Devices and Green Lion Innovations
Hello! Who are you and what business did you start?
My name is Mike Bologna and I am the CEO of Dip Devices and of Green Lion innovations, two related businesses in cannabis hardware. I grew up in Connecticut and studied marketing and operations at Boston University where I met my current business partner, Jeff Zucker. We first started working together in the cannabis industry in 2015 as investors in early-stage software and product companies. As we moved to active management of businesses as entrepreneurs, we partnered with a few others to launch Dip Devices, an innovative concentrate vaporizer company in 2017. We’re best known for being the first to market and patent holders around direct-to-extract electric dab straws like the Little Dipper, deb straw, and Lunar dab pen shown below.
Green Lion Innovations is a one-stop shop. We design, manufacture, and source high-quality products for other cannabis brands, all using our robust supply chain and management experience with Dip Devices. We are currently making products for companies like Ooze, Nectar Collector, HuniBadger, VSyndicate, and more.
What's your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
Matt Watson, our product designer, and engineer developed the initial device and partnered with Jeff Z, myself, and Jeff Dayton to launch Dip Devices. We were convinced after we tried the first design because it immediately changed how we interacted with cannabis concentrates, especially THC concentrates. We wanted to make concentrates more accessible for everyone by eliminating the torch from the process. We continue to do that by bringing out the first ‘electric Nectar Collector’ and we are at the cutting edge of electric dabbing, even water-filter electric dabbing. We will never stop pushing the envelope when it comes to cannabis concentrate technology.
Describe the process of launching the business.
Launching a business is always challenging, and our first product was expensive and only served a small percentage of cannabis users, those who were already dabbing (back in 2017). We knew that concentrates would continue to grow in popularity due to the quality and consistency of the experience, so we were determined to be part of that growth. We provided a lot of education about extracts and dabbing at that time, even more than about our products specifically. We made sure to have high-quality samples available at all times, so others could appreciate how easy, powerful, and delicious ‘dipping’ could be. The portable dab straw design was really popular, and we paired it with excellent customer service to ensure our customers always had a good experience with the brand. To slip a dab device is the next generation, whether we like it or not. Pocket-sized dab pens are the future.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
We have learned a lot about advertising and sponsorships through the years, and the best experience will always be in person. We’ve always supported shows like CHAMPS, and Glass Vegas, and won Best New Product at HQ New Orleans. Through SEO, digital advertising, blog posts, and social media, we’ve been able to expand our reach to end consumers, which helps our retail stores with demand as well. Being limited by Google, Instagram, and Facebook has been tough. Still, we’re constantly adjusting the approach to ensure we’re always hitting relevant customers with information about portable dabbing, portable dab devices, and reliable flavor concentrate devices. That’s why we like to show you in person, it's so easy!
We retain customers through product innovation and a constant focus on customer service. Got a question or suggestion? We have a call line available 24 hours a day to speak to a representative and will always troubleshoot the devices with the customer.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
As mentioned, product innovation is key for us to expand our customer base for both Dip Devices and Green Lion Innovations. We have 3-5 new product releases planned in the next 6 months, through various avenues. These products will offer new functionality to current products, as well as a new development for hardware companies everywhere. We hope to push the market to new technology, lower prices, and better reliability across all consumption methodologies in 2023.
Hardware manufacturing is a constant game of funding future development and inventory with current product sales, and the economy as a whole has been challenging this year. However, we think strongly that we have a good handle on our businesses and are developing sustainable growth for the future. We run a lean team on both sides of the operations and focus on return-generating spending.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
A lot of lessons I’ve learned could be avoided if I had really listened and started the habits earlier in life. There is nothing revolutionary, just a need for self-control and dedication. In no particular order, I feel the following are all good pieces of advice or habits I’ve tried to adopt with success:
- Maintain a healthy work-life balance. This looks different for everyone, but appreciate that the life side (family, friends, pets, hobbies, etc.) is far more valuable and work should always support that. Don’t work a job you hate longer than you have to, it’s never too late to change paths
- Get on a regular sleep schedule, wake up early and have a good morning routine, and stay hydrated all-day
- Do at least 30 minutes of physical activity unrelated to your work a day
- Raise more money than you think you need, because it probably is still less than you actually need
- Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you are, with different skills than you have, and never stop learning from them
- Get your products out into the hands of your customers as quickly as possible. It’s always easier to make adjustments with real-life feedback than continually iterate internally
- Collaboration is always a better path to success when compared to the competition. Find ways to work together and improve the market rather than compete to bring it down; this is especially important in emerging industries
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
Our team relies heavily on Slack, Dropbox, and Google Documents for communication and document management. I personally couldn’t successfully run my businesses without the Boomerang app in my Gmail inbox.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
The Southpaw, By Henry W. Higgin & Mark Harris
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Above the list, I would add the importance of networking non-stop. Take every call, show up at every event, and talk to anyone who will listen about why you’re trying to join their particular area of business. Even more importantly, LISTEN to THEM, and take as much advice as you can. Often, they will point you in the right direction for more networking or areas to learn about as you expand your goals.
Are you looking to hire for certain positions right now?
We are always looking for talented creatives (graphic design, web development, photographers, videographers) and content creation or social media management. We’d be happy to talk to anyone interested in working with us!
Where can we go to learn more?