by TRACY ZOLLINGER TURNER
A deeply competitive and spectator-driven world has developed within video game culture over the past two decades. More and more gamers are making a living playing professionally in tournaments or on teams, garnering corporate sponsorships and millions of followers through live streaming on YouTube and Twitch.
According to Murtagh Thinnes, a former business consultant at Ernst & Young who grew up with a passion for gaming, the industry is now “starting a lot of conversations around physical health, mental health. And there’s a major unmet need around healthy performance products.”
Murtagh and his father, Jeff—an experienced consultant who founded his own international firm (JTI, Inc.) over 20 years ago—also felt that the market for CBD/cannabidiol products has enormous growth potential. “Our early research indicated that the CBD market is going to grow from $5 billion to somewhere around $70 billion in the next few years,” says Jeff.
That’s why they launched SummaForte in 2020.
Believing that “a truly science-driven, high-quality brand” of CBD could be successful, the father-son team sought scientific counsel to find quality and ethical sources for its SummaForte products. The first two—SummaTape and SummaMix—were specifically designed to serve the niche community of professional eSports athletes. SummaTape is a therapeutic kinesiology tape designed to relieve repetitive stress injuries with a transdermal dose of CBD. SummaMix is CBD in a powdered form with spearmint grown in Indiana and lutein derived from marigolds in India that are meant to combat the eye and cognitive strain that accompanies hours and hours of computer screen time.
So far, things have been going well for the duo, both graduates of Indiana University. They have garnered extensive investments through the IU Angel Network—including $35,000 in their early “friends and family” round of funding, then about $460,000 in a more recent “seed round.”