5 Unique Questions With Moose Labs Cofounders Jay And Dan Rush – Forbes
I love this device, and I’m pretty sure that my dentist loves it too. Why? Because it functions as an efficient smoke filter, removing the icky, gunky stuff that usually makes my teeth a veritable field day for the dental hygienist. Ouch! No more unsightly black resin and yellow stains to clean off my front teeth. What a fine solution from very simple, inexpensive parts.
I’ve always said that the best inventions are the ones that try to make life easier. The MouthPeace+Filter does just that.
Warren Bobrow=WB: Please tell me about your path to cannabis. How old were you when you first discovered the plant? What kind of technology background do you have and how did you determine this “solution”?
Jay Rush and Dan Rush=JR & DR: As far as what brought us into the cannabis business, we had both been consumers since our mid-teens. Before diving into working in the industry, we launched a few different tech-focused startups together. First, we designed and developed a complete voice-based social networking app called ShoutBot, then we founded Student Loan Club, a membership club that incentivized charitable giving through an online fundraising platform built to help college students pay off their loan debt.
The Moose Labs story actually began in Massachusetts in 2013 under the name “420 Stands.” Here, Dan utilized his 3D printing skills to mold and cast unique stands for cannabis enthusiasts to organize and store their various glass water pipe parts and tools. The idea for the MouthPeace came about after realizing the major health issue behind sharing pipes and smoking devices at a cannabis event.
We were at the 2014 Denver Cannabis Cup and we heard another booth announce their bong had given out 10,000 hits over the course of the weekend. The two of us who smoke regularly just thought it was wild, but when we told Maria, our teammate, and fellow Co-Founder who doesn’t smoke, she had a very different reaction. She said, “That’s disgusting! We need to make something to fix that.” We knew she was right. The fact that 10,000 mouths touched this one pipe over the course of three days was pretty atrocious. This conversation sparked the original idea for the MouthPeace. The business started off great, selling about 75k units in the first year, but sales started slowing down about three years in, and before we knew it, we were on the brink of shutting down.
The idea of purchasing a MouthPeace as a personal device to simply to eliminate the spread of germs on pipes wasn’t enough for consumers at the time. However, everything changed when we were hanging out by our booth at a tradeshow and got a surprising wake-up call from a passerby. This hippie seed grower came by our booth and said to us, “The MouthPeace is great, but you need to get a filter in it.” It was funny because we intended to put a filter in the first model, but we couldn’t figure out the best way to do it. We told the hippie, “We tried to get a filter but couldn’t make it work right.” His response was, “Well, try harder.” He then walked away never to be seen again. We wish we could thank him for telling us what we really needed to hear, because 16 months of R&D later, we released the MouthPeace + Filter in July 2019. Business skyrocketed since then, and we recently hit a revenue milestone of over $1 million sold around the world within the first 10 months of launching the MouthPeace + Filter.
WB: Do you have a mentor in business? Who? What about engineering school? This is a very technical solution, some acumen is required to create your science. What brought you to this part of the cannabis biz?
JR & DR: Our family has been the driving force behind our success, so we definitely attribute our skills to them. Neither of us are engineers. We both were business majors in college and product development just came naturally to us. Our grandfather was a tool and die maker throughout his career, making molds very similar to what we use today to make our products. When he retired, he became an inventor/creator who loved making items out of wood in his workshop and gifting them to friends. He would teach us how to make things and figure out inventive solutions to random problems. Our father was an aircraft engineer early in life and then ran several distribution warehouses in the ’80s and ’90s. He also shifted gears after retiring and started inventing alongside our grandfather. Together, they invented the first rotating Christmas Tree stand for easier decorating. In the meantime, our mother became an entrepreneur and started her own executive recruiting company from our basement. For more than 30 years, she worked with clients such as American Express, Saks Fifth Avenue, and Johnson & Johnson. Much of our entrepreneurial traits were innately instilled in us by watching our family over the years. Aside from business, the design and technical aspects were all self-learned through trial and error.
One day, while working on a different project, we stopped to 3-D print a small stand to help organize our smoke station. We realized that it was useful and people liked it, so we started selling them. This eventually led to us vending at the 2014 Cannabis Cup where we got the idea for the MouthPeace.
WB:What is your six and twelve-month goal? What obstacles do you face? How do you anticipate removing them? Stigmas? How do you combat them?
JR & DR: Within the next six months, we’re hoping to launch several new products. Similar to many businesses right now, our obstacles are COVID and shipping delays. Unfortunately, there is little we can do but adapt. We had hoped to release a new item around 4/20 but had to push it back until at least July due to COVID related delays.
Within the next twelve months, we’re planning on revamping the website and pushing forward on several marketing initiatives. In efforts to raise awareness of the risks that come along with the ‘puff, puff, pass’ mentality that’s so deeply engrained in cannabis culture, we’re starting to collaborate with a certified MD, Dr. Mary Clifton, who’s primary focus is cannabis-related therapy, to help us bring the harm-reduction element of the MouthPeace and the patent-pending Filters to the forefront.
WB: Do you cook? What’s your favorite thing to prepare? Any favorite food memory you’d like to share?
Jay – My favorite meal of the day is breakfast. I recently got an air fryer and it really changes the potato game. My go-to is sunny side up eggs & ham on avocado toast with home fries, fruit, coffee, and water.
Dan – I do not cook but I do enjoy eating. My girlfriend is a vegetarian and in an attempt to reduce the number of dishes that need to be washed nightly, I am slowly converting. You’d be surprised but “F-acon” grows on you pretty quick.
WB: Fakin’ bacon…
WB: What is your passion?
JR & DR: We’ve always been passionate about creating products that improve lives, one way or another. We love identifying problems and creating useful solutions. Since creating the first MouthPeace, our passion has been to “fix” the cannabis industry’s germ-ridden oversharing problem that’s been ignored for decades. For something that’s considered medicine in several states, you would think people would have more of a health-conscious mindset around it. We conducted the first study on the bacterial contamination of cannabis pipes in 2018, which got people talking about how gross it actually is to share a joint or bowl with someone, but the pandemic really brought the issue into focus. We know that smoking anything, in general, isn’t the best thing for you, but our goal is to make it as safe as possible for patients and consumers who just don’t get the same benefits from consuming the plant in other ways. We hope this will move the industry in a positive direction- one that is more health and safety-conscious overall.
About Moose Labs, LLC
The Moose Labs story began in Massachusetts in 2013 under the name “420 Stands.” Brothers and serial entrepreneurs Dan and Jay Rush began 3D printing and later molding and casting stands for cannabis enthusiasts to organize and store their various glass water pipe parts and tools. The idea for the MouthPeace came about after realizing the major health issue behind sharing pipes and smoking devices while attending the 2014 Denver Cannabis Cup. In 2015 the Rush brothers opted to expand product offerings by launching Moose Labs in Los Angeles, California. The MouthPeace product was patented in 2017 as a germ-free smoking device for personal use and cannabis consumption events. After 16 months of R&D, Moose Labs introduced their new and improved MouthPeace Filters that remove tar, contaminants, and resin from the smoke for a cleaner and more enjoyable inhaling experience. To date, the product has sold over 500,000 units in all 50 states and several countries around the world.
For more information, visit Moose-Labs.com, like Moose Labs on Facebook and follow us on Instagram and Twitter.
Meet the Founders:
Jay Rush is the Co-Founder of Moose Labs, where he focuses on the company’s operational efficiency, web development and marketing strategy. Rush began his career as a serial entrepreneur when he co-founded ShoutBot, a voice-to-voice communication app that allows users to share voice messages, pictures and locations with friends and the ShoutBot community. At ShoutBot, he focused on web and app development along with managing the marketing and PR initiatives. Prior to ShoutBot, Rush worked at LogMeIn, a remote desktop software company where he learned the ins and outs of mobile marketing. Jay graduated cum laude from Nichols College in 2009 with a BSBA in marketing and business communications. He earned his MBA from Suffolk University in 2011.
Dan Rush is the Co-Founder of Moose Labs, where he oversees the company’s vision and growth strategies. Dan manages investor and legal relations in addition to leading business development. Rush holds two patents and has entrepreneurial experience with product and business development and disrupting emerging industries. He developed his entrepreneurial background as co-founder and co-creator of ShoutBot, a voice-to-voice communication app that allows users to share voice messages, pictures and locations with friends and the ShoutBot community. At ShoutBot, he was in charge of strategic planning, business development and investor relations. Dan graduated cum laude from Nichols College in 2012 with a BSBA in business communications. Dan’s specialties include: Business Development, 3D Printing & Design, Product Design & Development, Tech. Development, Manufacturing, Strategic Planning, & Patent Enforcement.
This article originally appeared here in https://www.forbes.com/sites/warrenbobrow/2020/06/03/5-unique-questions-with-moose-labs-llc-cofounders-jay–dan-rush/