A new local startup is looking to polish a niche segment of the nascent Virginia marijuana industry.
Bong Butler, a cleaning service for bongs and other items related to marijuana use, was launched last week in the Richmond area.
The company cleans bongs, pipes and grinders. Prices range from $ 5 to $ 25 depending on the item. The company also offers a $ 20 monthly subscription that offers discounts on cleanings.
Smoking marijuana with bongs and pipes creates a build-up of residue in the devices. The company cleans them with an internal cleaning solution and an ultrasonic cleaner, which uses sound waves that agitate the liquid solution to clean the items.
Company co-founder Joe Hinton created the company’s cleaning solution after he became dissatisfied with the methods of cleaning homemade bongs, a common method being a mixture of rubbing alcohol and salt. There are also other bong cleaning solutions on the market.
“It always rubs me the wrong way when cleaning my parts. Sometimes there was residue left over and it freaked me out, ”Hinton said. “I did some trial and error and finally found a solution that I liked.”
Hinton declined to share his formula, which contains concentrated soaps and other ingredients. He said the company is working on being able to offer the bottled solution for sale to customers, which the company hopes to have ready early next year.
Bong Butler is currently based at Hinton’s home in the Midlothian area, where the cleanup is taking place. Customers order the service through the company’s website. Bong Butler collects items from customers and returns the items once cleaned.
Eventually, Bong Butler hopes to become a mobile van-based operation. Hinton said less than $ 10,000 had been invested to start the business.
“It was a situation of ‘Let’s get set up with this model and see if people are interested.’ If the demand is there, we would like to be fully mobile with a van, ”he said.
Bong Butler came into being in part to be a professional new venture for co-founder Chloe Franges, who lost her job last year. With the recreational use and possession of marijuana legalized, the duo saw tackle cleaning as a niche they could fill.
“There are a lot of people who are just starting to smoke or have done it a bit before and are now more regular (smokers),” Hinton said.
Fringes and Hinton met through Franges’s sister, who is Hinton’s girlfriend.
Franges works full time at Bong Butler and manages the day-to-day operations. Hinton works full time as a software engineer.
Hinton said business has been stronger than expected after its first full week.
“We thought this week would be slower than it was and we picked up a few clients outside of the network that we cleaned up before,” he said last week, referring to friends and family. family who used the services of the company during its smooth opening.
Bong Butler is one of several recently launched commercial ventures looking to cash in on the legalization of marijuana. Among them are growing supply stores and plant guarding service. GreenLeaf Medical, the only licensed producer and dispensary in the Richmond area, started selling medical cannabis in Virginia about a year ago.