Q&A with Beam’s Matt Lombardi & Kevin Moran

Matt Lombardi and Kevin Moran are the Co-founders of Beam, a brand that creates high quality thc-free cbd products for a wellness-minded community.

Briefly introduce us to Beam and your journeys to founding the company?

Kevin and I [Matt] both went to Boston College; Kevin played baseball and I played hockey.  After school, we went on to play professionally, Kevin for the White Sox organization and I played in the minors with the Devils and Penguins.  Unfortunately, injuries forced us both to stop playing earlier than we wanted.  

After our professional athletic careers came to an end, we did different things but ironically enough wound up living in the same apartment building in Boston, and instantly became best friends due to our shared passion for wellness and fitness.  We trained for the Boston Marathon together and were constantly researching new trends in fitness and wellness.  Doing so, we came across this funny thing called CBD.  We had no clue what it was.  Does it get you high?  What’s the difference between CBD and THC?  

So, we started trying a bunch of products, some helping different physical ailments we had personally, and it really worked.  At that point, our interest definitely peaked.

We looked at the space and saw the market exploding at the time.  A lot of the brands were very medicinal and apothecary-like, focused on odd ways to consume supplements like edibles, patches and tinctures.  We saw white space in the more elevated and familiar product types that did not look any different from your favorite consumer brand.  Particularly, we wanted to educate consumers, as former athletes and individuals focused on fitness and wellness, on the benefits of plant-based products and CBD when it comes to living a healthier lifestyle.  

From there, we launched Beam two years ago and experienced good growth.  It feels like a decade, but we have had a lot of success by doing things the right way, paying attention, focusing on outstanding quality in all aspects of our business, and building a great team — both internally and externally.   

What is the most important part of a business to get right first?

People.  You can’t operate at your peak without really good people.  And on top of that, having a Co-founder who you trust unconditionally is crucial.  Being connected from a values perspective and beating to the same drum, with the same goal in mind, allows you to create a sense of culture from the top that flows down to through everyone on the team.

What is more difficult, being a wellness/supplement company or a CBD company?

Being a wellness company.  It’s easy to be one thing; it’s hard to be many things.  As a wellness company trying to help people in different areas of their life, it’s really difficult to touch upon all of these different use cases.  Yes, CBD is a core ingredient and part of our brand, but ultimately Beam is much larger than one ingredient. 

You are currently focused on DTC.  What is your distribution strategy going forward?

It is to become more omnichannel, but we are going to continue to optimize DTC because we can control this channel and our relationship with our customers.   

What KPIs do you prioritize as you look to scale?

Retention is critical.  It is important to have healthy dynamics to acquire customers, but we want customers for life.   

If you could join the crew from Inception and implant one idea into the minds of consumers, what would it be?

CBD doesn’t get you high.  

What do you think is the biggest misconception people have about professional athletes?

That all athletes make a ton of money.  It is easy to look at the biggest names in the game who are making $100 million dollars, but there are so many athletes who are making prorated salaries and cusp big leaguers that can get hurt and lose their livelihood.  It is also an extremely narrow time window in your career.  You can make life changing income for a short period of time, which is great, but along the way it can be very lonely. 

Many people also believe that professional athletes are born with God-given talent, but there is so much work that goes into the craft.  You have to force yourself to deal with risk and uncertainty, do things that are painful, and become comfortable with being uncomfortable.  There are so many overlaps with entrepreneurship, which has been great for us.  With Beam, it is easy for people to view our success and infer that what we are doing is easy. But, they don’t see the late nights, weekends, and mental stress that comes with it.

At a young age and when we were in college, we would see our friends who didn’t play hockey or baseball going out on weekends and having fun.  We chose to pass on doing those things.  Instead of a party, we were throwing extra pitches after practice or shooting pucks on the net.   And now, when our friends are going out and having relatively normal lives, we are working to get better and making sacrifices.   

Baseball and Hockey players are known to be very superstitious.  What is the craziest superstition that you’ve come across?

I [Kevin] was a closing pitcher and I used to pitch with chapstick in my back pocket every game.  I was a headcase. 

How has your experience as professional athletes helped you as founders?

A lot of ways.  As we mentioned, it has taught us to deal with adversity and understand the correlation of concentrated focus, effort and results.  Succeeding as an athlete comes down to focusing on the process and inputs, and finding balance when you are out over your skis.   

Often, when we are faced with obstacles or things go wrong, we think something is happening to us.  But, when we reflect on these moments later on, we tend to find that it actually happened for us.  What is one such example you have of this?

Everything that’s ever happened.  The Obstacle is The Way.  Life is all about perspective.  It comes down to the way you interact with your own thoughts, the things that happen to you and how you let them shape the next thought.  I [Kevin] was fortunate to be a high draft pick by the White Sox, but suffered an injury early into my career.  It set me back, but without the challenges and different situations it put me in I wouldn’t have gained the skills I have now.  And more importantly, I wouldn’t have met my wife.  

While I didn’t have that perspective when I was going through it, I can now reflect on it and see the power in it and apply it to Beam.  Whether that is an issue with a customer order or tough conversation with an employee, you can turn it into an opportunity to create a loyal customer or better culture.  

If you can recognize all of this in the moment rather than down the road, you can unleash so much potential. 

What is the weirdest thing you’ve ever done?

For the first dance at my [Kevin’s] wedding, My wife and I dressed up in all denim (Canadian tuxedos) to mimic that iconic Justin Timberlake and Brittany Spears photo.  In terms of the weird things that happened at my wedding, that was probably the 50th on the list.  I want to keep my job, so I won’t talk about the rest. 

What fictional character do you identify with?

Matt is one of the aliens in Independence Day with the huge heads.  I’m more like Will Smith in the movie [Kevin]. 

No comment [Matt]. 

If you could have one person use Beam, who would it be and why?

The next person that’s never tried it [Kevin].  It’s just one step closer to our goal.  While it’s profound and cool for the average company to have a big name person use their product, we ultimately want it to speak to other people.  

I [Matt] agree with that.  What’s neat about Beam is that there are really amazing health benefits that we are helping people with.  

But, to pick a well known person, The Rock would be cool.  He might be an overused name since he is such a huge celebrity.  But, it’s more so about what he stands for as a person, as a brand and how it aligns with Beam.  He came from nothing and worked really hard to get to the point where he is today.  Nothing you see about him is an overnight success.  A lot of what we do echoes that ethos. 

Danica Patrick is an investor in Beam.

What is a memento from your childhood that you still keep and how does it serve you?

I [Matt] have all my jerseys.  When I was at Boston College, we won the Frozen Four a couple times.  I also got the chance to play at Fenway Park, and have the jerseys from those special moments.  People approached me to buy them for a couple thousand bucks at the time; now I would be lucky to sell them for five bucks.  But, I remembered thinking that at some point I would appreciate having them and a couple thousand bucks wouldn’t be worth selling them for.  My four years at Boston College were awesome, we had a lot of success as a team and I had good things happen individually as well.  But, at the core of those four years, it was all about the grind and how nothing is handed to you.  The jerseys serve as a quick reminder of how much that mindset and hard work served me, and continues to serve me today. 

I [Kevin] grew up in Cape Cod, which isn’t a big hotbed for baseball.  I wasn’t a highly recruited player and I went to a showcase that my coach talked me into going.  At the time, I was taking the SATs like a normal kid and was planning to go to the best college I could get into academically, not for baseball.  But, at the showcase I ended up playing really well.  I don’t remember if I threw 80 or 100 miles per hour, it was just a blur because of how surreal it became.  Very quickly I started getting a lot of interest from professional scouts and D1 colleges, and I ultimately ended up going to Boston College on a baseball scholarship. But, I still have the maroon t-shirt that I wore, and didn’t even realize until you asked.  My life changed that day, and I can’t get rid of this lousy t-shirt; I guess it allows me to hold onto that moment and reflect on how you can exceed your expectations of yourself, and how important it is to be surrounded by people who believe in you. 

What is your creative outlet and how does it help you channel a flow state?

Endurance sports.  I [Matt] have done a few Iron Man competitions and marathons.  I also love a long hour-and-a-half run.  Kevin and I usually go for a run at the same time and call each other after because we had some idea or inspiration come up. 

What is one daily ritual that you cannot live without?

I [Matt] can live without it but I like a quiet morning, when I make my coffee, read something and have an undisturbed couple hours without any calls.  It requires getting up a little bit earlier, but it’s worth it to have this time to intentionally think and not be so reactive. 

For me [Kevin], it is a lot of the same.  I also have realized that I like to be around people I really care about on a daily basis.  

What is the last: 

TV show you binged?

[Matt] Dark (Netflix). 

[Kevin] Bloodline (Netfix). 

Movie you watched?

[Matt] The Half of It (Netflix). 

[Kevin] Bourne Identity

Song you listened to?

[Matt] Good News by Mac Miller. 

[Kevin] Thousand Times Post Malone.  

Podcast you listened to?

[Matt] Impact Theory hosted by Tom Bilyeu. 

[Kevin] Armchair Expert with Dax Shepard.  

Book you read?

[Matt] No Rules Rules: Netflix and the Culture of Reinvention by Erin Meyer and Reed Hastings. 

You can buy Beam products via their website here.

Up Next: Mayssa Chehata, Founder of Behave

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