After spending six years as a producer at iTunes, Eric Eslao left Apple to focus on an entirely different sort of venture: his cannabis-infused chocolate company. “I had an amazing job at iTunes. I couldn’t have asked for anything better—except for this,” says Eslao about running his Oakland-based brand Défoncé Chocolatier. (Although the name sounds bougie, Défoncé simply means “high” in French). What prompted Eslao to make the jump from tech exec to ganjapreneur? “When California’s Adult Use of Marijuana Act [the proposal that would legalize recreational pot appearing on ballots this fall] started to gain momentum, and Défoncé started to attract high-quality investors, it made sense for me to jump into the cannabis industry full-time.”
Eslao brought on designers from Apple to create packaging for the artisanal bars, which come in flavors like white chocolate-matcha and roasted hazelnut-dark chocolate. He sources “single-origin” cannabis from organic farms in the Sierra Foothills, employs chocolatiers from Berkeley’s TCHO, and does exhaustive testing to make sure THC levels in the bars are consistent (a Défoncé chocolate bar contains 18 pieces, and each piece contains 10mg THC—easily within the recommended dosage).
It’s clear: We’re living in a post-brownie edibles world in which discerning consumers demand product consistency, company transparency, and straight-up deliciousness. Legal marijuana sales in the U.S. are projected to hit $6.7 billion this year, and dispensary owners claim edibles account for half of that number. Everyone wants in on a piece of the pot pie, and serious ganjapreneurs are gunning to be the Coca-Cola or McDonald’s of the edibles world by establishing their brand early on.