Dave Rothenberg is CMO of Mighty Self, a health and wellness company that creates science-based products formulated to help people sustain and enhance mental and physical health by harnessing the power of cannabinoids. Rothenberg decided to transition into the cannabis products space after reviewing the scientific data and market potential of this category. He was impressed by the positive results that men and women who were using Mighty Self products were having during the initial launch phase in the early stages of product development for the brand. His goal today is to leverage his broad range of experience in health and wellness technology to reach all of those with health needs who might benefit from the special formulations found in Mighty Self products. 

In addition to leveraging the power of cannabinoids, Mighty Self products are formulated with many other neutraceutical ingredients that scientific research has shown can support the intended results of each product launched by the brand. The product is formulated to perform equally well for both men and women across age categories in a newly burgeoning category—due to updated societal views and legal changes regarding cannabis products in today’s marketplace. This creates unique challenges and opportunities for Rothenberg, for whom innovation is second nature.

Prior to his role with Mighty Self, Rothenberg spent more than two decades of his career building his entrepreneurial experience launching brands from concept to implementation for companies like Astadia, Movea, and PlaceIQ. His experience spans a range of application domains including enterprise software, location and consumer analytics, content management, health and wellness, wearable devices, mobile and web applications, and marketing technology. 

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share with us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?

My wife and I had both been prescribed antidepressants, two different medicines prescribed by two different doctors. We were both unhappy with the results and the side effects, so we went out seeking alternatives. It was through our own careful explorations, followed by a lot of rigorous testing, that we discovered how small amounts of cannabinoids, blended with other bioactive ingredients, could make a big difference in our lives. Once we discovered this, we were off the antidepressants in short order and we knew we had to use our knowledge to help others.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

One of the most interesting experiences for me was the first cannabis event we sponsored. It was a couple of years ago, and it was a Cannabis pop-up dinner in San Francisco for about 50 people in a remodeled Victorian. The place was lovely. The food was amazing, and here were all these wonderful people having a perfectly normal dinner party where every course was infused with small amounts of cannabis. As we were sponsors, we got to stand up in front of the room and say a few words about our product.

It felt great to get a really positive response from the room, but even more gratifying were the surprising number of guests who approached us after dinner to tell us how excited they were about the micro-dose, supplement-style product we’d created. Many of them had wanted to explore the benefits of cannabis without getting high and they felt they had finally found a product that spoke to them.

It was amazing to be sharing this experience with strangers and friends where cannabis was completely normalized on so many levels and how happy people were to embrace it as part of a health and wellness lifestyle.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

In the early days of the company, when we were still working on our packaging, we got some advice that we needed an outer box designed to create a visual presence on retail shelves. After some thought and creative sessions, we decided it would be a nice opening experience for customers to slide our round medicine bottles out of nicely fitted tubes. To make a statement and a visual presence, we decided the tubes would be in our primary brand color; teal blue. Imagining how cool it would be to see a wide swath of Mighty Self teal splashed across the shelves of CVS or Whole Foods, we stepped up and ordered 5,000 teal tubes.

In reality, it turned out to be almost another year before we actually launched the product and, by the time we did, we’d already decided that the teal blue tubes were a bad idea. Those 5,000 blue bottles may still be collecting dust in the back of a warehouse somewhere.

Are you working on any exciting projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Yes, we’re really excited about the sleep product were developing. It’s the number 1 most requested product that we hear about from people. Sleep is finally getting the recognition and attention it deserves in a work culture where being busy is a sign of success and working long hours at the expense of sleep is a sign of commitment. Even if you’re lucky and don’t have one of those jobs, you likely have kids or family concerns that keep you from getting the rest that your body and mind needs.

There are many sleep aids on the market that claim to help you get more sleep, but our goal is to give you a more restorative night’s sleep by maximizing certain beneficial physiological processes that occur during sleep.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

Without a doubt, that person is my Father.

My co-founder and I don’t have the kind of network it takes to readily raise money. For the first two years, we bootstrapped the company, first with self-funding and later with friends and family funding. We both worked to maintain consulting projects on the side, but my consulting work was always intermittent. When it came down to it, I often sacrificed my own welfare to keep the company moving forward. I always believed in what we were working on, but there were times when I felt really down, and my father was always there for me. I would not be here today without him.

This industry is young dynamic and creative. Do you use any clever and innovative marketing strategies that you think large legacy companies should consider adopting?

This may not be innovative, but I think it’s easy for companies to lose touch with how important it is to maintain informal and personal 1:1 interactions with people in their daily lives. There’s a huge focus on digital and performance marketing, and while that’s all crucial, so is finding ways to consistently engage with people where they are in their lives offline. A few companies do it. For example, I went to a Grand Marnier experience in a renovated iron works and machine shop one evening. The venue and the cocktail-style party were inviting, interesting and fun. It renewed my appreciation for Grand Marnier and I bet the company learned a lot about their audience after running these events for a month in a major market like San Francisco.

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Cannabis industry? Can you share 3 things that most concern you?


  1. The potential to help millions of people with more effective medicines for common daily needs.
  2. The eclectic mix of people it brings together.
  3. All that awaits us as we start to explore the other cannabinoids, besides THC & CBD.


  1. Questionable product quality.
  2. Unverified health claims.
  3. The hype around CBD

Can you share your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Leading a Cannabis Business”? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Don’t rush to buy 5,000 blue tubes. (Story above.)
  2. You will face any number of existential challenges when starting a company, but you will face ten times those challenges when starting a cannabis company. It took us 2 years to find a suitable contract manufacturer. That would not happen in any other industry.
  3. The regulatory landscape will change faster than you can keep up with and slower than you want it to. California botched their initial rollout of cannabis regulations and then hit licensees with a succession of regulatory updates. Two years later, the market had to completely reassess growth forecasts and revise downward.
  4. Embrace #2 and #3
  5. It will all be worth it.

What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?

Care, listen, and create a shared vision in which all employees can see a reflection of themselves.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

In today’s social and political environment, I can’t stop thinking about ways in which I can facilitate bringing people together in meaningful dialogue that breaks through boundaries to form connections. Our bodies and our minds are designed to connect with each other. It’s quite a loss that we spend so much time and effort putting people down and shutting them out. All our lives would so much richer if we could grow past that.

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