Warren Bobrow=WB: Please tell me about yourself? What do you do?Â
Rachael Rapinoe won a NCAA national championship with the University of Portland in 2005, played pro soccer in Europe in 2010, and eventually retired to pursue her passion in the health and fitness industry. Leveraging her Masters in Health & Exercise, Rachael went on to build Rapinoe SCâ€“a top soccer performance training company & lifestyle apparel brand with her twin, US Soccer star sister, Megan. Training thousands of players across the U.S., from youth to the professional level, Rachaelâ€™s robust and trusted training brand has made her a highly sought after trainer in the Portland area. She was the strength and conditioning coach for the University of Portland Womenâ€™s Soccer team, applying her expertise in training and competition in an effort to better understand the role recovery has in performance and the human body. She started concepting Mendi with her other co-founders several years ago as she grew to understand the role cannabis has in keeping athletes at top performance. With her network of influential athletes and passion for competing, Rachael is shaping Mendiâ€™s products to meet the relevant demand in sports.
WB: Please tell me about your company. Why cannabis? What part of the plant do you work with? Who is your mentor?Â
RR: Mendi is a sports brand who’s leading the charge with CBD as a healthier recovery tool for all athletes. Our hemp-derived line is empowering all athletes with safer ways to manage pain through innovative products that disrupt the status quo. We are building a brighter future for sports by taking care of our athletes, first. Opioids and over the counter meds have infiltrated our sports culture – enough is enough. There needs to be a place for cannabis in sports if we truly want to protect the well-being and longevity of our athletes, as well as the broader market – the athlete in everyone. Mendi currently offers three products:Â
Personally, I don’t have one mentor. I look up to several prominent women in society; Megan Rapinoe (my sister), Sue Bird, the Williams sisters and Kate Delhagen (founder of the Oregon Sports Angel group in Portland, OR, ex-Nike senior leader, VP at Lucy, strategic genius and amazing human). Those are a few of my mentors, but I pride myself in being able to connect and network with a lot of wonderful business leaders.Â
WB: What obstacles stand in your way right now? How do you propose removing them? Silos? What is your six month and twelve month goal?
RR: Currently, the stigma of cannabis in sports and the lack of rulesÂ and regulations in this industryÂ stands in our way.Â First and foremost, we need the FDA to protect the industry and consumers by communicating very clear guidelines, especially for consumable products. There is too much grey area and that isn’t safe for the public. The industry will become much more mature and stable once these rules and regulations are announced.Â
Once the FDA does this, we think it will help move the needle for leagues and front offices to lift their CBD ban. Athletes are voicing their opinions regarding CBD being a prohibited substance, they feel it’s necessary for their personal well-being and we do too. Our strategy is to win the trust of professional athletes and medical professionals working in these organizations. This starts with clean, safe and transparent products (that actually work!) and leaning on the research that is already out there. Our Sports Physiologist, Don Moxley, is convinced there is currently enough research and whitepaper data to convince all leagues to lift their CBD ban.Â
We want to have a suite of recovery products in-marketÂ by the 2020 Tokyo Olympics with multiple high profile athletes on our team. My guess is a year and some change from now, we will be opening a Series A round.Â
WB: What is your favorite restaurant? Where? What kind of food?
RR: I live in Portland, so choosing a favorite restaurant is hard to do. It’s a food mecca. I typically go for southeast asian food. I can’t help myself, I just love the flavor profile of Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese and Korean foods.Â
WB: What is your passion?Â
RR: It sounds cheesy but I’ve truly have been in theÂ businessÂ of ‘being your best self’ and empowering others to do the same for years now. This is my passion and purpose in life – to create things that help people be their best selves. Whether it’s a message, a t-shirt or a CBD line I always want to create good things for people who want and need them.Â