Fyllo Founder & Tyson 2.0 Chairman Chad Bronstein: How I Built My Tech Empire

Chad BronsteinPhoto Credit: Jayne Drooger

At just 35 years old, Fyllo Founder and CEO Chad Bronstein has established himself as a trailblazer in the digital world–– not only revolutionizing AdTech and compliance for the cannabis industry, but bridging the data gap between major mainstream brands (such as Uber Eats), and the undervalued market of cannabis consumers. This has translated into a highly lucrative business for the young entrepreneur and CEO, who is also Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Wesana, sits on the board of CityRow, recently became a partner in Keenan Thompson‘s new production and talent agency, Artists for Artists, and was just announced as Chairman of the Board for legendary boxer Mike Tyson’s new cannabis company, Tyson 2.0.

Named as one of both AdAge’s 40 Under 40 and Crain’s 40 under 40 for 2021, Bronstein built his marketing and tech empire on the simple foundation of spotting opportunities that others overlooked: Bronstein founded Fyllo in 2019 in response to the myriad compliance challenges faced by major cannabis operators– and, under his leadership, Fyllo has transformed marketing technology for highly regulated industries, allowing the most ambitious cannabis, CBD, and consumer brands to overcome the complexities of compliance at scale.

We sat down with Bronstein, a sports enthusiast who also serves as the manager and agent of UFC World Champion Julianna Peña, the current UFC Women’s Bantamweight Champion.  

Chad BronsteinPhoto Credit: Jayne Drooger

You’re the Founder and CEO of cannatech company, Fyllo, the Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of psychedelics company, Wesana, and the Co-Founder and Chairman of the Board of Mike Tyson’s new cannabis company, Tyson 2.0. Is it fair to say that cannabis and psychedelics are now becoming more mainstream? What are the mental and physical performance benefits for users, and how do you see the role of these substances continuing to shift going forward?

As an entrepreneur, I never said “I want to be in cannabis” or “I want to be in psychedelics.” For me it was always about building a strong team and business that could solve a problem that no one else was solving. When I left the advertising world, I knew I could take that experience and apply it to highly regulated industries that didn’t have the same tools at their disposal as consumer brands. The cannabis market was a natural first choice. In 2019, the recreational market was really starting to heat up and for cannabis companies to scale and grow at the speed required to succeed, they needed a compliance-first enterprise technology suite. Today, 36 states offer medical marijuana and 18 have legal recreational markets – it’s becoming more mainstream by the day and with states like NJ and NY building out their recreational programs, we will only see the market continue to grow.

Last year, former professional hockey player and Stanley Cup Champion Daniel Carcillo reached out to me on LinkedIn of all places. He knew about Fyllo and wanted to start a company that used psychedelics to help those who suffer from mental illness and traumatic brain injury. I instantly connected with Daniel and was inspired by his story, and how psychedelics literally saved his life. I knew I had to help him create Wesana Health. The medical properties of both therapeutics – cannabis and psychedelics – are incredible and only recently have Americans been made aware of their benefits. It is a really exciting time to see how both cannabis and psychedelics are making huge impacts on society and we are just at the beginning of this journey.

Tell us a bit more about working on Tyson 2.0: How did you first get involved and what has the experience been like?

Mike Tyson was an early investor in my psychedelics company Wesana. Mike and I quickly became friends and as I learned more about his passion for cannabis and how it has helped him conquer many demons, it became clear that there was a business there. However, at the time Tyson was involved with a different cannabis venture but it didn’t have the right direction. With my entrepreneurial experience and his brand, I knew that there was an opportunity to build the first national, celebrity cannabis brand. I helped Mike dissolve his former business and launch Tyson 2.0. Mike has been an unbelievable collaborator and we brought in an expert CEO, Adam Wilks. Adam not only has a strong consumer and retail background but deep cannabis experience. The combination is really unbeatable We always knew that there would be a market for Mike Tyson products, but in the several months since we launched, the demand has exceeded our expectations and we have heard from both retailers and consumers about how much the product is resonating in the market.

You’re also the manager and agent of UFC World Champion Julianna Peña. What has it been like finding success in the sports world, and how did that come to be? What is your methodology in finding success for your athletes?

Just like I never specifically set out to get into cannabis or psychedelics, I never set out to get into sports. But once I met Julianna, I knew I could get her to the next level in the UFC. My wife was friends with Julianna. One day she came over to my house and we were discussing how female athletes were under-represented in fighting. I knew that combining my business acumen with my deep brand relationships cultivated over 15 years working in advertising, I could bring new opportunities to Julianna. Unlike many athletes in her position, through my relationships, I have been able to get Julianna a ‘seat at the table’ with these brands so that they get to know her as an athlete and as a person. This is a very different model than how most deals are handled, where an athlete has minimal exposure to a brand before an endorsement deal is done. 

Chad BronsteinPhoto Credit: Jayne Drooger

How do you balance being involved in so many different industries and being a dad as well? What does a typical day in your life look like (if there is such a thing as a ‘typical’ day)?

For me to be successful it’s important that I carve out family time every single day. I have an amazing wife that also supports and motivates me. We met at 22 and she has pushed me since day one. I start my days early, at 5:30 am, to work out. When I am home, I am pretty much on calls all day, but always shut down to have dinner with my wife and son. I also like to be active in my son’s activities. I was able to coach his basketball team this fall. A big reason while I am able to accomplish so much is that I have an unbelievable wife and son and team that I trust. I am keenly aware of what I do best and what is best to delegate to others to achieve the optimal outcomes.

Given that you’re on the board of CityRow, I imagine health and fitness being a big part of your daily routine. How do you manage to prioritize that–– and what do you do to stay in top shape both physically and mentally?

Health and fitness are extremely important to me and my entire family. I get in a workout – either a run or a CITYROW Go virtual class – nearly every day. Because I work at home, I get the benefit of eating a lot of homemade, healthy foods. I am also on a steady supplement regimen to keep me fit. In 2022, one of my resolutions is to meditate. It’s something that my wife practices and she has been trying to get me to start as well. Being fit isn’t just physical– it’s emotional and mental, as well.

What is next for you and where do you see yourself and your businesses in the next 5-10 years?

I am a builder. I will always be building companies. There is no better feeling that taking an idea and making it come to life. I also love investing and finding teams that inspire me. I have invested in more than 35 companies and hope to start a venture fund where I can help portfolio companies build strong teams.

You’re splitting your time between Chicago and Tampa these days. What are a few of your favorite places or things to do in each city?

Chicago: Nobu, Beatrix, and Wisconsin Lake

Tampa: Meat Market, Water and Flower, and St. Petes and Clearwater

What to you is the greatest luxury in life and why?

The two greatest luxuries in life are time and family. If I am not working, I am trying to spend the most time possible with my wife and son. One of our favorite places to visit is Grand Cayman.

Chad BronsteinPhoto Credit: Kaori Suzuki