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Revolutionizing Cannabis in Michigan

Revolutionizing Cannabis in Michigan

cannabis in Michigan is legal and growing

Six Labs isn’t just another cannabis cultivator. They’re aiming to be the next generation of cannabis.

Joe Ori knew coming into cannabis in Michigan with no industry background was going to be difficult. He couldn’t just open up a shop with his name and get attention, he had to come up with a way to differentiate his business from others.

So he created Six Labs.

Joe and five other partners created Six Labs not to just participate in the booming cannabis industry in Michigan, but to bring the industry into the next generation. Six Lab’s business model was designed specifically to address the problems in the cannabis industry and to find solutions.

Craft Cannabis in Michigan

From the quality of their products to the transparency they give to consumers regarding their processes, Six Labs stands above the competition where transparency isn’t necessarily a requirement.

In this week’s episode of The Real Dirt with Chip Baker, Chip talks with Joe about how he got into the cannabis industry and started Six Labs, the problems they aim to solve in Michigan and across the country, and what states are doing to hold themselves back from success in the industry.

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Transcript

Chip: Welcome to another episode of The Real Dirt with Chip Baker. On today’s dirt, we have Joe Ori. He is founder of a cultivation facility in Michigan, Six Labs. Hey Joe, how’s it going?

 

Joe: Hi, Chip. Thanks for having me.

 

Chip: Oh, man, you’re currently speaking to me in my new podcast studio, we’re under construction. So listeners, forgive the poor sound quality. We’re fixing to turn this back into an awesome state of the art podcast facility to bring all of the great people like Joe and others to you. If you haven’t listened to any other Real Dirts, if this is your first one, please go to iTunes and Spotify and subscribe  The Real Dirt podcast. Man, I was really excited when you contacted us about chatting because you know, you’re an entrepreneur. My favorite subject is business. No matter if we’re talking sugarcane, or pecans, or ganja, my favorite subject. You’re in one of the hottest states right now, Michigan. Can you tell me a little bit about what’s going on in Michigan?

 

Joe: I don’t know, you know Chip, how much background you or your audience knows about it. But when we say that, we tell our investors that Michigan is a new market, they all kind of do their own research and say, “Well, it’s not really new.” They did have a medical program back in 2008, 2009, that was wrought with problems. It basically became a legalized black market, if you will. And so back in on 2016, 2017, the state looked at what they had and said, “We’ve got to revamp this thing.” And they rewrote the laws, and modernized them, if you will. I mean, it’s kind of crazy to call anything in the cannabis world “modernizing,” because it’s all relatively new. But they rewrote the laws, and opened it up to real businesses coming in. And so, when you said I’m a  founder, I’m a co-founder. I have five partners. And we saw an incredible opportunity to meet and have a substantial footprint in the state of Michigan. So it’s a relatively new market, when you look at it in perspective, and then we have a substantial lack of supply of pretty much every product. Very recently, the caregivers who were the effectively the market back in 2008, 2009, and up until 2016, 2017, were recently taken offline relative to certain products and their ability to sell to dispensary. So now there is an incredible lack of supply, and the prices are extremely, extremely high at the cultivation level, and they’re anticipated to be that way for a while. And obviously, the Coronavirus didn’t help some of the newly minted companies meaning ones that came online before us, or were planning to come online. Because construction stopped and everybody’s kind of halted. So, Michigan is going to have a pretty solid market for a few years, and then we’ll see which, what happens. You know, we’re trying to force the state to avoid the problems that Oregon ran into. And in Colorado with an oversupply of growers, and I think I know a little bit about you. I think you guys are in Oklahoma, and I’m very well aware of what you guys got going on there. I have a very good friend of mine who’s just started a company in Oklahoma. And you guys got thousands and thousands or whatever, six, 7000 licensed growers, and in all different sizes, I know that. But you know, that’s kind of the thing. Every state’s different. You don’t know what again, it’s like a box of chocolates.

 

Chip: Yeah. Oh, yeah. Michigan’s hot for a bunch of reasons. One, it has a historic cannabis presence. Historically, people have grown and consumed vast amounts of cannabis in Michigan, right? 

 

Joe: Yeah. 

 

Chip: There’s growers, and there’s growers in underground networks. And in states like that, they blossom a little bit differently than states that don’t have a cultural connection to cannabis. Ann Arbor and Detroit were huge hub spots for cannabis and hashish for 50 years.

 

Joe: Oh, yeah. I mean, there’s no shortage of people who are using and have been using for years and are fans of the of the product. Obviously, strangely enough, there’s quite a few municipalities that still haven’t opted in. I mean, when you look at the map of Michigan, and you start to pinpoint where you might open some retail stores, you’re really kind of limited in the sense that I think [inaudible 4:40] and don’t quote me, but it’s I’m pretty close, I’m sure. Like, I think there’s only about 138 municipalities that have opted in, to actually have retail stores. So you know –

 

Chip: These are counties?

 

Joe: Those are, those would be cities, municipalities. And the crazy thing is Detroit, itself. Detroit proper still hasn’t opted in for recreational cannabis. So you’re talking about a monstrous opportunity, once that does happen. And people are trying to forecast where it’s going to be in the next place it’s going to open, and there’s a lot of lobbying efforts going on. But when you get up in northern Michigan, yes, I do agree with you that there’s an incredible base of people that are fans and supportive of the plant, hopefully going to force the rest of the hands of the state to jump online, but it hasn’t been as easy as you might think.

 

Chip: Oh no, it’s not easy, man. It’s hard, it is absolutely hard. And, where it used to be maybe a little easier, the commercialization of it is definitely difficult.

 

Joe: It’s the craziest part of this business. I mean, we came in, and we said, “Okay.” We’re what we call early, late adapters, right? We didn’t come in in 2008, we don’t have a company that started in Colorado or California. But we said, “Let’s identify what’s wrong with the industry. Let’s identify problems, let’s solve problems.” So once we came together, and the group came together, rather organically. We had, we didn’t pick and parcel, we just were a group of guys who knew each other as through friendship or business. And we ended up having, an attorney myself, we had an accountant, we had a financier, we had a restaurateur who’s master of logistics. And we actually had a builder who oversaw the entire project. And those are the partners that came together. And then we had a younger partner, who is really, really passionate, embedded in the cannabis world. So with those six partners, hence the name Six Labs, we came together. And some people don’t understand the product, some people are really talented in business, and then other people are passionate know the product, but but don’t know how to sell it. So, you have a, we’re basically jelling those those processes together, just to make a, what I believe to be, the next generation cannabis company. Because everything that we do, from the minute that we started our project, has been geared towards solving problems. So we researched and we traveled throughout the country before we even met with the designer for our facility. Aand we said, “Okay, we like these things. These things seem to work, is there anything better in the industry right now?” Then we found all these other things that don’t work, and we went out and tried to solve those. So when we created our facility, we got some people in the state, were looking at us saying, “You guys are never going to make it, you spend too much money.” We could have built our facility for probably 6 million, and we would have had a great facility. We went out organically, raised money with former business associates, friends, family. And we built a $10 million plus facility that we basically said this, Chip. If the federal government gets involved in this in the next few years, and the FDA starts to place regulations, we said this, we don’t know what those regulations are going to be. Okay, we don’t. But we said this, “If we’re not passing after those regulations, then no one else is.” And that’s the only thing we could do to say that we were going to definitely make this next step whenever that comes. But yes, right now, there are a multitude of problems. I mean, you can talk about the ones that we have poked on, which is confusion and intimidation in the market, product quality, lack of consistency, perception, fact that there’s no brands. I mean, there’s no national brands. And then, what you have now is some of these companies that are in other states, because they can’t get licensed and it’s too much money to do it. They’re just buying labels in other states, but it doesn’t mean that it’s their cannabis. So one of the other thin we wanted to do is be transparent. We want, you don’t necessarily know where you’re getting your cannabis from, especially if it’s got some label on it from a company in California. And now they’re saying, “Well, we’re growing the same cannabis here.” And we wanted to basically give our consumers a seed to sale transparency, where they know everything about it, as much information as you possibly can give them, and educate them. So that they can make the best decisions for their medical, or their recreational needs. So, but, it’s an evolving market. It’s super exciting. That’s the best part about it is that it’s so new, it’s so young, and no one really knows where it’s going that you really, there’s no right or wrong answer.

 

Chip: Yup. It’s all just started. Yeah you know, Joe, interesting, I’m listening to your story, I realized you’re a hybrid cannabis entrepreneur. Almost all the cannabis entrepreneurs fall in about in three different kinds of areas. There are the growers or weed dealers that have been doing this forever, and so it’s natural progression, right? There are the investors, whether it’s family office, venture capitalists, that get approached by a grower, “Hey, one of these growers are drug dealers,” to fund their operation. And then there is the like, brother in law and family friend that get together, whether it’s smoking a joint on the back porch and say, “Oh, man, I think we can do this. We could throw our money together.” And the reason you’re a hybrid is because most of the like, brother in law investment type packages start off real small, and they don’t have this bigger picture, solving problems, this experience in business. It’s often their first business, they may be successful as dentists, or attorneys, or real estate, or something other like other, but haven’t had a vast entrepreneurial industry. And you’re a hybrid of the VC investment plan, but the brother in law, family investor, type of investment package.

 

Joe: I think that’s probably a fair assessment. And you know, I have my own personal journey with cannabis, I mean, I’ve played sports my whole life. And I knew early on that I wasn’t going to go to college unless somebody gave me money to go. So I worked really hard in school and played football and I went to college, and injured myself very severely in my freshman year and had my very first back surgery when I was 18 years old. I’m aging myself, Chip, this is back in 1988. And, I had my first back surgery, I got surgery, and I felt great afterwards, went right back to playing football. And I ended up re-injuring myself the following year. And then the year after that having a second surgery, and now this is 1990. I’m in New York City in college I go into Columbia University, and I’m in chronic pain. So what are these doctors doing? Well, this is the beginning of the opiate period, right?

 

Chip: No, you need the chronic, you need the chronic.

 

Joe: Right? So they’re feeding me opiates like they’re going out of style, and I’m really not feeling well. So I personally just stopped taking them, but I’m in chronic pain. And as I, I hate to say this about the Ivy League, but cannabis was available to me back in the 90s. And I started experimenting with it, and noticing that I was getting certain levels of pain relief that I said, “This is better than anything I’ve taken.” And alcohol only made your symptoms worse the next day because you were dehydrated, and you felt like shit. So I had my personal journey. And then as I grew,  I’ve looked at the NFL, I’ve looked at the sports leagues, I’ve got tons of friends who were former NFL players. And I have friends who work for the NFL, and I battled them all the time. I said, “How could you guys be especially after they got exposed? How could you guys be suspending these players for testing positive for cannabis? But yet the back door,  the back room and the athletic room, you guys are pounding opioids down these guys throats? They’re all ruining their careers, their lives are going under. And yet the hypocrisy continues.” So I had a personal pursuit when I, when cannabis wasn’t medically viable. I said,  “This is, this is, I want to get into this. I want to change the way the world perceives this.” Because it’s not what you know, I’m 50, I was raised by immigrant parents. They told me everything was dope, right? You know, everything was bad. 

 

Chip: Yeah. 

 

Joe: And so you grow up. And they’re like, so you grow up in this mentality where everybody who smokes cannabis in Michigan, or does anything, you’re all put in together, heroin users and cannabis users in my family were blocked the same, right? So I had a personal pursuit about this. And so it’s not just smoking a joint in the back room, but we did definitely look at it and say, “Okay, if we’re going to do this, we’re going to do it right. And the only way to do it right, at this stage in the game, how do we become different is to solve problems that are out there.” So that’s what we’re doing. 

 

Chip: Man, I’m real interested in that. Because that’s, one of my business philosophies is answer questions, solve problems. How did you identify the initial problem? And what were some of the first ones that you realized, that you’d want to share with us?

 

Joe: In doing our R&D, we did exhaustive R&D. Everyone in the company was given specific tasks to figure out. And that went from the actual cannabis products that were out there, and from labeling, and how many were out there, what the users were feeling, how the medical patients were responding to certain, going to a dispensary, what their experiences were. All the way to the facility, and what kind of equipment you were using and what kind of logistics you had in place. So we said, we came up with a list. And the list started with like I said, the product, confusion and intimidation. I mean, so many products out there and you’re relying on a bud tender, right? And some of these bud tenders are awesome. And I’ve experienced them.

 

Chip: Yeah, most are just Burger King weed.

 

Joe: Correct. And so when you look at it like this, you’re saying, “Okay most of the states are medical,” right, Chip? And then some what, 11 or 12 are online is rec, but back then it was all medical. So you’re saying to yourself, “Okay, so not only you’re not getting a doctor script, but you’re actually going to the pharmacy and you’re not getting a pharmacist tell you what you should take, you’re getting a bud tender.” So we saw that that’s a problem inherent in the industry, and we’re aiming to solve that problem. We can’t require a curriculum for a bud tender just yet. But what we’re going to do, is we’re going to put everything on our label, we’re going to let everybody know what goes into it. We’re going to try as best we can with limited research and science that we have available to us to pinpoint what these particular products are expected to do for you. We’re going to try to control the dosage, and give a control,  product quality control, which leads into that issue. I mean, when you look at these states, Chip, and you see how it’s different. So many of the testing regulations are. 

 

Chip: Oh, yeah, man. [inaudible 16:10].

 

Joe: You know, and look at it. Come on, I mean, and you’re looking at it, and you’re saying, “Okay, these are mostly put in by lobbyists.” And cannabis, these acceptable levels of toxicity should not be being decided by lobbyists, they should be being decided by science.

 

Chip: Oh yeah, absolutely. Oh, in Oklahoma, the pesticide levels just changed the acceptable levels increased went from 0.5 to 0.25.

 

Joe: So that’s a perfect example. So it’s been, it’s more, it’s been 0.5 for all that time. Now, it’s 0.25, and you know, what level is acceptable? And then you start to think this crazy thing, which is, especially for people who’ve been using cannabis for a long time well before legalization. You look and you see how challenging it is to get your cannabis in a controlled environment with experts and all the greatest equipment money can buy, to be as clean as it possibly can, and you still see levels of infiltrates, that you’re just like, “How the hell did this happen,” right? Well think about what’s in the black market products. And when you start to think about what’s in the products where people really have no concern or care, there’s no testing, you start to say to yourself, “What have I been ingesting for all these years? What is the cannabis user who still goes down the street to buy illegal cannabis or God forbid, buy an illegal vape cartridge? What are they getting?” So we’re trying to get a –

 

Chip: Totally unregulated, totally unregulated man. I think people use Raid for spider mites, and also the worst contaminants, mold, mildew, smoke, diesel fuel.

 

Joe: Jesus, I never heard that one, Chip. I gotta be honest with you. That’s crazy.

 

Chip: I’ve heard all kinds of stories, man.

 

Joe: Yeah, so I mean, and they’re real. So and then obviously, you got lack of consistency. You want to go into the store, and if you have, and you’re lucky enough to be in a state that has legalization, and you have a consistent provider through from seed to sale that you trust. You could go in there one day, though, and when you start getting into edibles, and you start getting into the levels of THC, and what’s actually, you’re being provided, you want to know, and rely on it in the sense of saying, “If I go to the pharmacy, and I get Tylenol, I know what I expect from Tylenol. It’s going to give me the same reaction every single time.” Well, we need to get to that place. There needs to be that kind of consistency. So we think that with all of these variables that are in place, we’re trying to do our own in house R&D, and trying to test and research what other entities, and what other countries for that matter, have done. And, we’re looking at it this way, Chip. I don’t know what your feeling is about this, and I’d be interested to hear it,  because I know you’re in the business, I know you’re a really bright guy. It’s like the United States is allowing all these other markets in other countries to take off. And it’s great that they’ve allowed the states to do this and bypass federal regulation. But really, what we’ve allowed to happen is we’ve allowed other countries to get behind the science first. And they’re way further along in getting to products that will actually be consistent and solve these, many of these issues that I brought to the table today. And I think that we are losing out. And, I don’t know what the trade agreements are going to be once this all becomes legalized, and whether they’re going to open up the floodgates to California and whatever they got going down in Mexico and other countries, but there’s going to be a drastic competition. I mean, if you don’t agree with this, I think cannabis is eventually going to be an ingredient rather than a product. I think it’s going to [inaudible 20:03]. Cannabis in Michigan.

 

Chip: I think it’s already started. Hemp industry already, already started that one for sure. It’s an interesting question, man. Interesting. You know, one of the many things that makes America great is pretty much anybody can come here. And in a brief period of time, overnight, in some states and cities, and sometimes a week, or 10 days, or maybe 30 days, you can set up any business in the United States. No matter if you live here, if you’re a resident here, if you own property here, all you have to do is have a passport, and some corporate documents, and anybody can open up the business here. So places like former Soviet Union, Russia, Israel, Amsterdam, England, all of these places have had these university sponsored researches for a long time.

 

Joe: Oh, I know.

 

Chip: GW Pharmaceuticals, they’ve been working out of Great Britain for 25, 30 years now. And man, the stuff coming out of Israel, and technology and gene development –

 

Joe: It’s incredible.

 

Chip: It is just incredible. And all those people are just going to come to the US and do business. And that’s what’s happened with GW Pharmaceuticals, is they just opened up patents in the US, or attempted to. So, yeah, we’re absolutely behind on the research, and the opportunity for a lot of American people. But the other opportunity is just this influx of new technology and ideas, and coming from the international research place, marketplace.

 

Joe: Yeah. I mean, listen, that’s something that nobody talks about enough. And I’m glad you touched on it, because not only is the United States passing up on the opportunity for this commodity, but they’re actually ignoring, the potential massive manufacturing opportunity that this product presents. AAnd the type of quality engineering that the United States could provide, if in fact, this was accepted nationally. And we were able to look at this as a completely separate industry of technology. I mean, you’re talking about the possibility of creating completely new, advanced machinery, advanced testing machines, all kinds of different products that would stimulate our economy in a significant enough way to matter. I look at all the loss opportunity, and I say where, you know, it’s almost amazing to just be in something where you’re literally like, “Okay, where’s this going to be in 10 years? And I’m going to be in it.” And that’s the other thing, too, is, I’ve had enough experience as an entrepreneur to know, listen, this isn’t going to be, we didn’t we didn’t get into this to pump and dump. You know, we got into this to do it the right way, 7 to 10 years is usually the amount of time that it takes to get this business to where we want it to be, to whether we actually say, “Are we, do we have a strong footprint in it? Or is it time to potentially exit?” But so we’re in it, we’re not, we have no plans of going anywhere, we’re going to grow the company. We have a lot, and you know one of the, I tell all of my partners all the time, one of the beautiful things about being in our 40s when we started this is that we know a lot of people, and we have a lot of contacts with business. And it was relatively, I hate to say this, relatively easy to raise. We raised  close to $14 or $15 million [inaudible 23:36], in both equity and financing, and it was relatively easy. But the problem is, is that we all had to step away to a certain degree from our other careers, and jump all in. And all of us are all in now. And things have changed since that happened, where now we’re all kind of getting in our lanes, and everybody is functioning like a company, rather than six guys who had a great idea and enough money to start it. So, those those types of changes can be can be cathartic at times, because some of us are friends with each other. And I see myself not talking to my friends that much, not because we have problems, but because we’re working together now. And socially, you just don’t want to go out with the same guy who you’re dealing with on a regular basis every day about trying to get a company off the ground. So – 

 

Chip: Yeah, my feelings used to get hurt over that. But I realized that exact same thing. These people hear me all day long, they don’t want to hear me later on.

 

Joe: Yeah, well, you know, that’s true. It’s totally true. And my feelings have been hurt at times because a couple of my, the guys in it, one particular is a very close friend of mine. And you know, he and I really used play golf together. We don’t, of course we don’t play golf anymore at all, but we don’t really have our times together. And but I will say this, that part of entrepreneurship, and I know we’re gonna touch on some of that stuff, is that this particular venture was one that I have the most confidence in I’ve ever done for one reason, and one reason only is that the partners that you choose, sometimes they’re not the right people. For one reason is that they don’t have the same will, they don’t have the same [inaudible 24:18], 

 

Chip: Right. You’re right.

 

Joe: I won’t, I will not, you know, the ability to pivot, the ability to take care of a problem. And when you say, I’ve got it covered, you don’t have to worry about it, that that guy’s got it covered. And my partners are incredible. I can’t say enough about them. They are salt of the earth guys who have an immense amount of success in other industries, and they literally dropped everything. And now they’re submerged in this, and they are just the type of guys who you never have to worry are going to get done what they say they’re going to get done. And that in and of itself, that could probably –

 

Chip: Oh, that’s great.

 

Joe: Yeah, that could turn a halfway good idea into something big. And we have what I believe to be much more than a halfway good idea.

 

Chip: Does everybody have a previous background of your six partners?

 

Joe: I’m gonna be honest with you, three of the six did and three of the six they had really no opinion one way or the other. But to be honest with you, those are the three guys who had no previous experience, Chip, they’re more over the top about their passion for it now than probably the other three. 

 

Chip: Oh yeah, they’re new to it. It’s all new and exciting. It’s such an exciting plant business. 

 

Joe: Correct, Chip.

Cannabis in Michigan.

Chip: There’s so many opportunities in it. And you mentioned this in the beginning that we were, this is all just starting, it’s all just fresh. And so many people think that cannabis industry is over. But man, it’s not. And you don’t have to have $12 million. I know people in Michigan that have started on $12,000, or $20,000. And they’re gonna do good. But this is a, it’s a great, I’m not going to call it a corporate strategy even though that’s exactly what it is. It’s just that you know, often has such bad connotations, but a really great strategy to come into the market strong, guy with a multi-year game plan not just to get rich quick. If you think you’re gonna get rich quick in the weed industry, it’s just not going to happen. My buddy Stacy Johnson over there at Harvest House in Colorado, and if you ever up in Colorado, you should really go check his place out in Crested Butte, and in Crested Butte, and in Nederland Harvest House. It’s all boutique quality cannabis. But he’s got a great phrase that’s, “getting rich quick since 1989.” 

 

Joe: Well, if he started in 1989, then it’s a sort of an oxymoron, because it’s really, he’s not getting rich quick, but he probably made a couple of shekels. It’s funny, I made the statement not so long ago to I don’t remember who, but it might have been on a podcast, or might have been to one of our investors. And I said, “We aim to be the largest craft grow company in the United States, because we want to, we want to maintain that same boutique type of mentality and boutique approach to the quality. But we also recognize that in order to grow, you have to expand.” So rather than have 100,000, 200,000 square foot grow and just make what we deem to be Walmart weed. We and I hate to call it weed, but you know what I’m saying it doesn’t sound great calling it Walmart cannabis.

 

Chip: No, no, yeah, exactly. That’s such a good term for it.

 

Joe: Okay. So we yeah, so we want to create a craft boutique environment. And frankly, we want our consumer brand to be a lifestyle brand. We want to try, and branding is so difficult, because of the fact that you’re so limited on your commercialization of it. You can’t do it outside your state. There’s no national brands now. So trying to put your footprint in the ground in your state is hard enough. And then when you start to say, “Okay, once the floodgates are open, and this is allowed for interstate commerce,” because that looks like it might be happening out west. I don’t know if you’ve been reading but you know – 

 

Chip: Oh yeah, I’ve got I’ve got some great friends involved with that. Justin Jones over there. He’s involved with it in Oregon, and we’ll see it happen there first.

 

Joe: Yeah. So I mean, one way or another, I was telling my partner’s the other day. I said, we applied for our recreational craft grow license in Illinois, which is an incredibly difficult license to obtain we’re actually going to –

 

Chip: Oh yeah. I lost 14 of those so far.

 

Joe: Well, yeah, that’s the other thing. You got to deal with losing, failing the test. And it’s tough for me because, I am somewhat of an academic and I’ve taken a lot of tests in my life. And as a trial attorney in my background, I don’t like to fail. You do all the things you can do, and it’s costly, man. I’ll tell you, the barrier century are incredible. I mean, you can spend, 100, 200, 300. I’ve got friends who spent $400,000 on their craft grow license in Illinois. 

 

Chip: Oh yeah. I know.

 

Joe: And so, you look at a guy who says, “Hey, man, I’ve got, 6000 bucks for the filing fee,” or 2500 I guess for the social equity it was this time. “I’ve got $2500 for my license application, but who’s going to do it? How am I going to do it? Where am I getting the information? Where are the SOPs coming from?” And you’ve got, months and months of work with 20 people just to compete. So,  but I told my partners, I said, “If the interstate commerce pack flies up in Oregon to California, then I wonder if we can take a boat from Chicago’s Navy Pier, across the lake in Michigan, so that we can transport product back and forth, because we’re not contiguous with Michigan.” That’s the funny thing about Illinois is that you got to go through Indiana to get to Michigan, and Indiana will, hell will freeze over before Indiana becomes –

 

Chip: That’s what they’ve said about Georgia, but I’m applying for a license down there right now.

 

Joe: Yeah, that’s a good point, Chip. That’s a good point.

 

Chip: And Oklahoma used to be the worst place in the country to get caught. And now, I mean, oh man, Oklahoma is changing fast. They’ve got, it’s really kind of got a bad rap. Because the way that you perceived it from the outside, but the inner workings of it, and it’s got it. It has all the makings for progressive state man.

 

Joe: That’s really cool.

 

Chip: The social stuff that goes on here, the like, the multiple ethnicities that are here. I mean, you know, the LBGT community here, like, it’s just, you would not expect all of that.

 

Joe: Well, you got a lot of big college towns, too. I mean, people fail to realize that most college towns really do help. I mean, you know, as far –

 

Chip: Yeah, absolutely.

 

Joe: As far as, I think that that’s a big factor. I mean, you guys got two major universities out there with, couple tens of thousands of students, and those are, and then all the other universities in the various cities, and that really helps. I mean, I thought Oklahoma was underrated, in the sense of where it might be someday. And as I understand it, I mean, isn’t it like most of the people who have, everybody says, “Oh, Oklahoma saturated with growers,” and blah, blah, blah. But aren’t those a lot of small growers, you know? It’s not, you guys don’t have thousands of huge 50,000 square foot grow facilities, am I correct in that?

 

Chip: You know, you mentioned the, we call it the backpack laws, right? That they used to have in Michigan or California, where almost anybody could have a small grow with just a little bit of investment or a letter from their doctor, kind of the same things going on here in Oklahoma, but they just took they just took the veil off, right? Instead of saying, “Okay, it can be medical marijuana, and we’re not going to like, regulate the growing and the selling of it,” as most states have, it doesn’t introduce it, right? They used to jump right in. And that not allowed, because, I mean, it’s the exact same mechanism that happened in Michigan, Colorado, in California. It just started a little differently. You know, and yeah, bunch of out of state people would come here. I mean, I’m from around the state. You can still invest here being out of state, the number of people applying for licenses has slowed down. But yeah, man, they’re gonna have recreational cannabis here, Texas is right next door with 8 million people. I mean, this is really a great, great, great place to be for cannabusinesses.

 

Joe: Don’t you guys have something like 1500 dispensaries already? Is that true?

 

Chip: Man, I think it’s even more than that. In the cities, the interesting thing about it here is in Tulsa, Norman and Oklahoma City, there’s building and planting departments. So and that’s also where the concentration of the dispensaries are.

 

Joe: Gotcha.

 

Chip: So you see a lot of them that have signs that they haven’t been opened up because the city has just been so inundated with building and zoning issues.

 

Joe: And how are they taxing it?

 

Chip: Taxation’s great here, it’s just taxed half the retail sale.

 

Joe: And how high is that?

 

Chip: I think it’s 15%.

 

Joe: That’s great. Yeah, we’re, I think Michigan, we’re about 16%. You know, which then, you look at Illinois and Illinois is gonna, Illinois is one of the first states if not the only state that passed legalization by legislation rather than referendum. So, it was great because the law’s already written, they’re gonna have 500 maximum dispensaries, they’re gonna have x amount of grows, they’ve done the calculations. So in Illinois, you don’t have to be, you’re not going to have to be vertically integrated to survive.  Whereas many other states, you always want that. You always want your grow with the processing facility in five, six major dispensaries. In Illinois, you’re not really going to need that because there’s going to be a need for you no matter what, because they’ve already calculated it. And there’s only so many licenses that are going to be, they’re going to be awarded. But, on the flip side of that is the fact that like I said, the barriers to entry are ridiculous. The application process was ridiculous. And they came out with their dispensary awards last week that were supposed to come out in June, but because of the Coronavirus, that got delayed. There’s lawsuits alleging that the applications were not read fairly, there was supposed to be a social equity component to it. So you got a lot of points for social equity, so almost everybody has social equity. And then they had an additional five points for adding a veteran. Well, what some companies did, was went out and got a veteran. And here’s the caveat, they had to be 51% owners of the company. So there were, it turns out there were over 4000 applications for dispensaries in Illinois, over 4000 applications for 75 licenses. But you could apply an unlimited amount of licenses, one entity if you had the money. So 26 license applications, or applicants, I should say, tied for first place. But they had, they covered all 75 licenses because they applied for multiple license. It turns out that there were a bunch of other people who didn’t have a veteran who also got a perfect score. So they sued, because they basically said, spirit of this application process was for social equity. It wasn’t for veterans, it just got tagged on at the end. And someone figured out well, “Well, if I have a social equity who is a veteran, I’m going to get all 55 points.” And so they filed the lawsuit in federal court, I’m sorry, I think it’s actually in state court and file an injunction the state has holding off the lottery. Because they’re basically going to take the 26 ties, put them into a hat and all those 26 entities are going to get all 75 licenses. So point being those, people look at it and say, you know, it’s like playing lottery, because if you get this grow, and people are talking about the grow license, which is a craft grow 15,000 square foot under canopy maximum. And they’re saying those licenses alone are worth $10 million. So you know, yeah.

 

Chip: Oh my god, I got a 10,000 square foot California one that I feel like I’ve had $10 million in it.

 

Joe: That’s funny.

 

Chip: Oh, it did not really, but like, I gotta make the best of it. Thanks again for joining me with another fine episode of The Real Dirt podcast. If you enjoyed this episode and want to hear others, please download and subscribe The Real Dirt podcast on iTunes or Spotify. Please, please, please, please, please subscribe. Check us out on Instagram and comment on some of our posts so we can move forward there. And hey, man, thanks for lending me your time. I really appreciate it. Have an incredible rest of your day, this has been The Real Dirt.

Cancer, Cannabis and Cultivation [ Jim Gerencser Pt. 2 ]

Cancer, Cannabis and Cultivation [ Jim Gerencser Pt. 2 ]

how cannabis helps with cancer

It’s all too common for someone to enter the cannabis industry for personal or medical reasons. Jim Gerencser is one of them.

Jim’s son Eric has had a rough battle with cancer throughout his entire life. From the time he was 8 until he was 18, Eric underwent regular brain scans to determine if the tumor in his brain would end up being fatal. After beating that cancer, another was found in his abdomen, and it was even more serious.

But because they recognized Eric’s condition early, it was easier for doctors to find and eradicate the cancer before it grew to a dangerous level. This victory inspired Jim to create E.R.I.C., also known as Early Recognition Is Critical.

The E.R.I.C. Program aims to educate people about the early recognition signs of various cancers so it can be fought before it spreads. And now Eric himself is a teacher to young students about how to take care of themselves. But cannabis was a major factor.

Eric was on 9 drugs during his Chemotherapy treatments. With the help of legal cannabis oil, Eric was able to cut out 5 of those medications, down to 4 with the help of cannabis. That’s what inspired Jim to enter the cannabis industry.

Jim meets Chip

When Jim needed an expert to help him plan out what he wanted to achieve in the legal cannabis industry, Chip was the first name to come up among his friend and business circles. Once they connected, the rest was history.

If you don’t get the vibe from their conversations, Jim and Chip have become great friends that are working together to change how cannabis consulting works.

In Part 2 of their conversation, Jim and Chip talk about Eric and how E.R.I.C. got its start, how they started working together, the importance of R&D in cannabis cultivation plus some more in depth cannabis talk!

Learn more about Early Recognition Is Critical (E.R.I.C.)

Learn more about Greener Consulting Group

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Transcript

Chip: And we’re back, Jim.

Jim: Yeah. I love Cultivate.

Chip: Oh man, I got a great crew.  Like, if there’s anything that I’m proud of,  it is my crew and how they work together, and work with other people, right? I have worked on that and we have cultivated that. 

Jim: No pun intended.

Chip: Yeah, I am most proud about that. I’m impressed with my whole crew, man. I’ve got maybe 30 people, not a bad apple among them. Any one of the people would sit down and chat with any of you about cannabis, or sports, or whatever you found common in your life. And they’re not arrogant or ego driven just you know, all really good, good people that support cannabis.

Jim: So the way Chip proposes we’re added as Ganja U in Oklahoma and it’s summer solstice –

Chip: That’s our nickname. That’s our nickname for our cannabis farm out here, Ganja U, because we just keep learning.

Jim: So we’re out there, and we’re out there on the summer solstice and Chip’s whole crew from Cultivate Oklahoma shows up. So, Chip is an amazing, he’s not like a boss. He doesn’t boss people around. He’ll jump in there and do it first. And he’s a leader. So it’s been fun watching how you manage people. Chip. You’re totally a remote kind of guy, but you’re a hands-on person. But you can manage it remote, because you have a good team in place already. So yeah, give Cultivate a call. I’ve met half the crew, looking forward to meet the other half. I highly agree with what he says, he said that it’s a hell of a team. Call him up, man. So especially if you do it yourself, if you want to put together a little package which I’ve done in the past, a lot of times you got to go to three or four different stores. Cultivate will take care of it for you right there. So yeah, good stuff. Hey, the reason I’m into this is like I said –

Chip: Yeah, let’s talk about ERIC. Let’s talk about ERIC.

Jim: ERIC is a cancer prevention charity. I started it back in 2012. And Eric had gone through two brain tumors. One of them was a reoccurrence from a misdiagnosis. We brought him to the doctor when he was eight years old six times, and the doctor basically did everything but get him a CAT scan, calling it sinusitis. And I was bringing him to a buddy of mine, he’s a chiropractor, awesome, Ultimate Frisbee friend. His name is Dr. Scott, big shout out to him. But Dr. Scott was adjusting Eric just to help him feel better. And he said, “Why don’t you go get a CAT scan?” So CAT scan. Thirty minutes later, we’re sitting in the office, Eric’s got a big tumor in his head. It’s almost a golf ball size, because it was misdiagnosed for so long. So long story short, everything was good with that. Ten years later, he got full clearance on his brain tumor. Finally, from the time he was 8 to the time he was 18, he had to have annual scans that would basically be like a death scan. It was like, “Is it coming back or not?” Because we had already seen it come back. So when he was 18, he had full clearance. A month later, he had some weird, something going on with his abdomen, he couldn’t pee, went to the doctor. The poor kid had another type of cancer happening. And so at the age of 18, he goes in and starts chemotherapy. And at that time, I had a friend whose mom was going through Stage IV Non-Hodgkins lymphoma and Eric’s type of cancer he had this time was Non-Hodgkins Stage II. And ended up, her mom passed away the second day of Eric’s chemo. So we were blown away. We were fucked up, and we had no idea what we were gonna do. And we just knew we needed to support Eric, we need to take care of this. My friend’s name is Cassandra. And we needed to take care of Cassandra and Cassandra’s family and ended up starting a charity. And we didn’t know what we wanted to call it. But we knew one thing we wanted to do, was we wanted to make sure that we could introduce cancer symptoms earlier to people, because her mom had Stage IV, Eric had Stage II. Eric was still alive, her mom was not. So, we started coming up with names and I came up with “Early” and “Critical,” and my cousin came up with “Recognition Is.” So we came up with Early Recognition Is Critical based off E-R-I-C. So here we are, eight years later, 2020, ERIC has been teaching kids cancer symptom education. The hardest thing to do is go into schools anymore. So I am taking ERIC out of the youth space, and moving it into the adult space. And I’m going to be focusing on using fully extracted cannabis oil to fight cancer. So this is the official coming out party and I want to thank Chip for allowing me to do it.

Chip: Yeah, man. Let’s fight cancer. 

Jim: Let’s do it. 

Chip: Hey, ’cause and one of my best friends named Greg, he’s says, “Fuck cancer!” 

Jim: Fuck cancer!

Chip: Right, Greg? Greg Davidson.

Jim: Say it out loud.

Chip: Fuck cancer! Alright, one, two three.

Both: Fuck cancer!

Chip: Fuck cancer.

Jim: Yeah, say it again and keep saying it. And don’t be afraid to say the word cancer, because the way to beat it is to add “fuck” to it. Fuck cancer. So, right now we’re officially fighting cancer with cannabis. And if you have any questions call me direct. Hit me up on Facebook. I’m on Facebook, I’m on LinkedIn, I’m on Greener Consulting. You can find me, G-E-R-E-N-C-S-E-R. There’s not many of us around. So yeah, thanks, Chip. It feels good. I’ve had it in the closet for eight years. I’ve been wanting to merge the two forces together. I’ve been doing survivor stories for both sides of it. I’m just out doing survivor stories. So if you’re a survivor, hit us up. Go to our website, early recognition is critical. Tell us your story. Tell us if cannabis helps you save your life, or if it helps make skin cancer go away like it did me. I had a basal cell carcinoma on my arm. I went to a dispensary in Santa Cruz. I also own a professional Ultimate Frisbee team called the Dallas Roughnecks, and we’re big supporters of cannabis curing cancer, to be honest. And I had a spot on my arm and I used fully extracted cannabis oil, they refer to it as FECO oil. This FECO oil dissolved that cancer within two weeks, with no side effects whatsoever, and there’s absolutely no sign of it. So man, I am pumped about this, as you can tell. I’m ready to talk about it. We’re gonna fuck up some cancer. And we’re gonna – it all started right here on The Real Dirt. So there we go.

Chip: So in the past, let’s talk about this early recognition portion of ERIC, and why that’s so important.

Jim: So you know that the key to beating cancer is recognizing it early. I hear that all the time, but nobody really pushes it. If you have Stage IV, what that means is that the cancer has metastasized across your body. And it means that it’s moved from where it originally came in, which would be either your lymph nodes, or some of your more sensitive infected parts of your body, and then it starts spreading. And as it spreads, and if it gets up into your chest, that’s basically Stage IV. And it’s kind of what they used to refer to as a death sentence. Stage I means that they found it exactly where it started, and it’s contained in one specific area where they have multiple different ways to be able to treat it. Like you can do chemo, they can do radiation, they can do surgery. Eric’s Burkitt’s lymphoma, we did surgery, and then they also did chemo. So he went through a surgery, they did the biopsy, and then they also did chemotherapy. But Eric did cannabis the whole time he was doing this, and it allowed him to be able to continue eating. And when Eric came home from the hospital, this is really important. He was given nine prescriptions. And after he used cannabis oil, he was able to eliminate five of those. So a lot of the medicines are all these different –

Jim: Wow man, five out of nine.

Jim: Five, gone, off the list, do not need them anymore. They were basically drugs that were gonna make you feel not nauseated. And then you had to have, you have another pill that would make you feel not nauseated from the pill that makes you feel not nauseated. So that’s just a bunch of crap. And that’s what Health Camp Buddy’s all about. And so recognizing cancer symptoms early, we recognize it because Cassandra’s mom had Stage IV, Eric had Stage II, he’s still alive today. So I just did the math. And I started realizing that we could use Ultimate Frisbee as a way to teach people to speak up. I think “speak up” is our best message. One night, I woke up in the middle of the night. And I was like, “Speak up, tell someone.” And my friend was like, “What the hell’s going on?” I was like, “It’s all about speaking up. You can recognize it early. But if you don’t tell anybody, it’s nothing’s happening. You have to recognize it. And you also have to speak up.” Ultimate Frisbee is a great sport that I have been part of since I was 19. And part of Ultimate that’s cool is you call your own fouls, all the way up to the pro level, they have reps in the pros, but all the way up till that point, you call your own fouls. So you have to speak up. So we use these Ultimate Frisbee clinics, we would go into the schools, and we would work with 5 to 600 kids in one day, which is fun as hell but also tough as hell. And teach them to speak up if something’s wrong with your body. We simplified it down to giving them some really basic symptoms. Eric’s symptoms were headache and vomiting. You can have a headache, and headaches aren’t normal by the way. If you have a headache, something’s wrong. Go to get it checked out, and don’t just accept it as a headache. But then he had vomiting too, which was nausea and actually vomiting. And what was happening was his brain tumor was causing his blood fluid to not be able to drain, and the only way he could get it out was to throw it up. And it was vile basically coming out, and it’s not normal. So that is a cancer symptom. And also not being able to pee. Come on, you should be able to pee. You should be able to go to the number two, you should be able to use the bathroom without it hurting, without it being uncomfortable. So if it’s not, speak up. So that’s my ERIC speech. And like I said, early recognition is critical. That org, I’m really proud of it. It does save lives. I’ve had multiple people call me up saying that they’ve gone to the doctor because of what we’re doing. And they caught their cancer at Stage I. End of story. It works.

Chip: Yeah, that’s dramatic, man. That is absolutely dramatic.

Jim: So yeah, we’re, we’re loving it. And it’s cool. It’s really cool to be able to combine cannabis with it, because I know that that’s where I think I could do the best, do the most damage, save the most lives without pills. It’s kind of a concept I wanted to start, plants over pills. If you ever listened to an article on a commercial for like, anything but Viagra, they tell you all these symptoms. Yeah, you could take this pill for high cholesterol, but you might commit suicide and you’re definitely gonna probably have diarrhea, and you probably won’t sleep at night, and you’re not going to be hungry anymore. But good for you, you don’t have high cholesterol. But there’s other ways to do it. One way is to eat healthy. I’m probably not a great example of that. But – 

Chip: We all struggle with that one, that’s for sure. No matter, the most healthy of us still have their issues.

Jim: You’ve helped me out a lot there, Chip. You being a vegetarian definitely has made me aware of it.

Chip: Man, and yet now you got the vegetarian chili going.

Jim: How about that? Yeah.

Chip: Yeah, let’s talk about your vegetarian chili recipe.

Jim: You got to taste it man. So I start off with, I sauté garlic, onions, celery, carrots and bell peppers. And then I put it in a crock pot and add a bunch of beans, and a bunch of tomato sauce, and tomatoes, and a lot of spices, a lot of curcumin, and oleander, and a lot of parsley and paprika in there. And a lot of chili, I love chili pepper. And then I cook it for about three or four hours. And then I take about a quarter of it and I’d mix it up in my little bullet to get the consistency right. But I add a lot of bell peppers. I love jalapenos, basically throw anything I’ve got in the kitchen that’s a vegetable. I’ve had broccoli, I’ve had asparagus. It’s amazing, man. I make it every week. My daughter and wife hate beans, but they love the chili. Little do they know it’s like, 70% beans. So it’s all presentation I guess, right?

Chip: Yeah, totally. Totally, all presentation.

Jim: So what’s your recipe? Give us a recipe.

Chip: Man well, okay, so my cheater recipe is with cans, right? I’ll just say the cheater recipe. Okay, so one can of chopped tomatoes, right? One small thing of tomato paste, two cans of beans of assorted – I like the chili beans that, I get the organic chili beans from our local store, can’t remember what brand it is. But they’ve got a couple of different types of beans in it. Onion, garlic, paprika, chili powder. Here’s where I got a little non-traditional for some people, or maybe so but like man, I put some powdered onion powder in it as well, right? Just like, gives it this boost of flavor. Even though we sauté actual onions. Then I take some oil, I sauté the onions and the garlic all together. Man sometimes I’ll put in like, a vegetarian sausage or impossible burger or something like that. We’ve got some like, mushroom type of burgers too. We’ll like, chop that up a little bit at that point.

Jim: Is it possible that your favorite protein is that [inaudible 13:57]?

Chip: No, no, no, I’m a cheap vegan, Jim, right? And I’m a vegan at heart, because I’m lactose intolerant. But I still like, love cheese pizza, I had it for dinner last night. Yeah. Right. And I’ll eat the cheap shit too, I’m not you know.

Jim: If you’re hungry, you gotta eat.

Chip: I’ll eat it all but like, I eat cheese pizza and I’m lactose intolerant. So like, I have to eat some lactose enzymes and, then I love butter, because I’m from the south and everything’s double butter, double sugar. But I eat fish man, I’m a fisherman. Now that I’m in Oklahoma, we buy fish. When I lived in California, I tried to catch most of my fish. We’ll eat fish like, four times, five times a week.

Jim: What’s your favorite fish?

Chip: You know, I have a few favorite fishes and favorite dish, favorite fish recipes. Black cod, which is a deep water cod. Its texture is just incredible. I think that’s what one of my favorite fish, right? If you get true Blackwater cod –

Jim: Did you use to get that up in Northern California?

Chip: Yeah, yeah, it comes out of Alaska.

Jim: Oh hell yeah.

Chip: And you can get it, you get it all over. 

Jim: Do some people call that ling cod?

Chip: Ling cod’s different. And ling cod,  they are cod, but you also catch them higher in like, 100 feet of water, 200 feet of water. Where like, the black cod they’re deep. And so the pressure of the water changes the consistency, their consistency, right?  Different fish, man. Great, great fish. If you’re ever in Denver, there is great, great sushi in Denver. And I know it’s totally environmentally inappropriate, but farm raised Croatian tuna, the Toro on this stuff is so good. And you can get it in a couple of restaurants in our area. Izakayaden is the one we go to. Otherwise mostly-

Jim: You’re a big sushi guy though.

Chip: I eat sushi for sure. But in Oklahoma, I haven’t really found the sushi spot.

Jim: Yeah, there’s not one.

Chip: I hear there is, actually. But I haven’t gone there yet. I mean, because most of the sushi is flown in overnight. So it’s all about your connection wherever you are. I love shrimp and lobster and crab, Dungeness crab and crab cakes.

Jim: Stonecrab claws.

Chip: Yeah, I’ll eat all of that. I mean, in the north coast up in Trinidad Westhaven like, we could fish for a lot of that stuff. Like the Dungeness crab, a great fishery for that up there. Tuna, cod, salmon. I mean, you go out and catch rockfish, and ling cod limit any single time you want to go out during the fishing season, you’ll probably  limit.

Jim: What are we going to get to pass a joint again, man.

Chip: Oh, well, I mean, I quit that a while ago. I don’t, and with the people you hang out with? I don’t know if I can smoke joints with you anymore.

Jim: Oh.

Chip: Jim is frequently trying to pass anybody who will look at him in the eyes a joint.

Jim: That’s a bad habit.

Chip: Compliment, compliment. No, it’s a compliment. I know. Well, I mean, I haven’t really spoke about COVID too terribly much on our podcast. I’ll say plandemic pandemic, it’s a storm in the horizon, and I’m trying to avoid it. I’m also a private pilot, and you see a thunderstorm, you avoid it. And there are limits that you should get to it close to it, there’s a reasonable limit for your plane size. 30 miles, I believe is what they say. That’s what I’m trying to do is just stay healthy, stay away. I’m not sure what all the facts are. I don’t think anyone knows what all the facts are. It just is such a new problem. Every day, people guess something different about it. Now, I just have had to turn my ears off a little bit. When we go into any store in Oklahoma, we mask up like everybody else, pretty much. There’s usually one or two people that don’t. And hey, whether regardless of what you believe, plandemic, pandemic, like I said. I mask up, man. I go in the store. I respect the other people around me, because I don’t want to cause them fear or harm. And it doesn’t have anything to do with being a sheep. It’s all about just respect for your neighbors, respect for your fellow humans, respect for the scenario and situation. right? Like, no conspiracy theory. It’s just, man, it’s just kind of how it is. You got to like, deal with it.

Chip: Yeah, I think it’ll teach us all a lot of like, barriers and the space between each other in general, you know? It’s just like ,respect the boundaries, man. Everybody should have boundary, right? And everybody’s is different. So –

Jim: Have you flown yet?

Jim: You know, I haven’t, man. And that’s amazing, right? I’m a flyer and I have not, I just had a grandkid. He was born March 22nd. Can you believe this? Snoop Dogg for a grandpa? His initials are OG. I don’t think that was intentional. Knowing my son and daughter in law I’m pretty positive, that wasn’t intentional. And I only tried to pull the OG just enough to get the people that know what’s up. But yeah, but I’m proud.

Chip: You are very Snoop Dogg. Do you listen to hip-hop?

Jim: I don’t. 

Chip: Do you rap at all? You don’t listen to any, no Snoop Dogg for you?

Jim: No Snoop Dogg, man.

Chip: It’s alright. We’re gonna get you to a Snoop Dogg playlist.

Jim: You saw I have a record player. And I’ve got some rock and roll. I’m a Led Zeppelin, Led Zeppelin freak. I saw Led Zeppelin in 1977 in Fort Worth, Texas.

Chip: God. Wow. 

Jim: It was awesome. Holy shit.

Chip: What size venue was that?

Jim: It was like, maybe 17,000. Something like that. Yeah, it was awesome. And my brother stood in line and got in like multiple fights throughout the night, and got tickets. And somehow, my buddy and I got front row, first balcony, center. It was amazing. But I had smoked way too much weed. I think I smoked, I know we rolled like, 90 joints. I actually –

Chip: What were you smoking? What were you smoking, do you remember that?

Jim: Probably, it was good Mexican weed back then. II was always – 

Chip: You were in Texas.

Jim: I was in Texas, but I had connections. One of my best friends was a grower even back then. And he ended up growing, going to college at Texas A&M. And then he got a job at Teledyne, it was one of the [inaudible 21:16] out in California. And his job was to go check on the oil rig. So the first thing he did is start big farms by every oil rig. So he was growing killer weed in Southern California back in  I think, ’81.  So we were smoking Mexican weed, but we smoked 90 joints, man. And I ended up getting in trouble at football because like, I ended up having to quit football, because of the penalty that they put on me. Texas football. I missed one day of practice. Yeah. Now, granted, we did get caught –

Chip: You gave up your football career to go to Led Zeppelin. Hey man, you had your priorities straight, bro. That was the smartest decision you ever made. If you have not done that, that would have shaped your life forever, and you wouldn’t have been who you are.

Jim: I would have been three –

Chip: You chose, oh, dude, you chose an experience that, you have told this experience 1000 a million times. It’s probably one of the most important things that’s ever happened to you.

Jim: Yeah. It’s something that many people have done.

Chip: That’s life, right? That’s how it turns, man.

Jim: That’s what it’s about. It’s not about how much money you have in the bank, it’s how many stories and memories that you have. My lifestyle’s kind of based on time rich, we’re actually doing a movie. It’s called The Ultimate Charity. And it’s all about ERIC, and how we got so many eyes on ERIC so quick. And we started the ultimate frisbee team and they ended up winning the championship in 2016. And we went all over the world. I mean, ERIC’s actually right now in Colombia, Venezuela, Slovakia, Hungary, Germany, Italy. It’s all over the world, man. I’ve done an amazing job of blowing it up and not really even knowing it. And I think it’s just organic. I just kind of got out of the way, and started something really cool and run with it. So good stuff, Chip. This has been awesome, man.

Chip: No, no, no, man. It’s great, dude. I’m glad we’ve been talking about this for a minute. And I want to do some other podcasts with you, too. Here’s the three podcasts, you guys. Here’s what me and Jim are going to do in the future. We’ve been talking about this for a minute, because we both really love business, and I analyze my business, and other people’s business, and help my friends with their businesses all the time. And we’re gonna analyze some sort of cannabis business on a podcast here soon, right? Yeah, totally, totally. And man, I started when I was young, Jim started when he was young. I’ve been doing this like, I’m 47 right now, Jim’s 65. Like we’ve been doing this ever –

Jim: 60.

Chip: 60. Hey, I was trying to give you more experience, bro. Not call you older. So you still can’t get the discount, then

Jim: Oh, no people are discounted at 55 now, man.

Chip: Oh, okay, good. Let’s go to Ryan’s and get some food. 

Jim: That’s terrific. Hey Chip, that’s a freaking great idea.

Chip: It’s a great idea, though, isn’t it? Yes, I should do that. Because we just both love to do that. That’s such a fun thing for us to do. People will learn about it. We’ll go over a whole PL, BL, we’ll just pick a cannabis business.

Jim: Yeah. And if you want us to do your business, why don’t you send it in? We’ll start a little application process.

Chip: Yeah, absolutely. That’s what we’ll do. If you have a cannabusiness with a PL BL, it doesn’t even have to be a current one. It could be last year’s. We need this. We need you to be sure of your numbers. We need, you’d have three years of these numbers. And you’d be willing to get on podcast with us and talk about it. And I mean, it’s simple. We’ve been in business for three years and been running some sort of financial management software. We use QuickBooks but whatever we’ll generate a PL and a BL for three years straight, so we can actually see what the business has been doing, and generate some good conversation. It’ll be fun. I really love to do this. I know businesspeople like, “Oh, PL, BL. No.”

Jim: They don’t get it, we can talk –

Chip: They don’t get it dude.

Jim: We’ve done so much that a lot of people would love to hear. I used to do all my own taxes. I wouldn’t do them, I wouldn’t have my account layout five different scenarios of different cash flows, and different ways to spend money on some things. And we can all talk about a lot of fun things, and honestly, we could bring some specialists on. I’ve got a guy that’s a tax guy. Or we could bring in a, you know, specifically based off of what kind of company it is. Yeah, I love it.

Chip: That sounds fun, man. We’ll do that. It’ll be a Greener Group Excess episode, we’ll start doing that. 

Jim: Did you just think of that?

Chip: It just came off. We’ve been talking about similar stuff. But like, I mean, we talk about it all the time. I mean, I deal with PL BL all the time. It’s how I run all of my businesses. And if you’re not running a profit and loss statement, or a balance and ledger statement on a monthly basis reconciling them, then you’re really missing out on understanding how your business works and being able to see where you can go with cash flow, where you can go with tax –

Jim: How to anticipate things yeah, how to save money on tax. I’m a specialist at that. I understand cash flow. I understand cash basis versus accrual basis. I’ve converted, I think Jeff and I both have just recently converted from cash to accrual. That’s a big thing. It happens only if you hit a certain revenue amount, the IRS requires you to do it. Been there, done that. I survived, so we do it. I’ve started businesses left and right. Chip has had great exits. Hey, let’s  schedule that in. I’d look forward to-

Chip: Yeah, man. We’ll have to schedule that in. Hey, let’s find somebody though. Hey, we’re reaching out. Any type of cannabis business, it doesn’t matter what you’re doing. From if you’re a class one or class three, if you’re a dispensary or an attorney, if you’re an ancillary company selling products to the cannabis industry, or if you’re in the cannabis industry extraction to hemp, anybody’s peel. But you have to have three years’ worth of reconcile, balance, ledgers, and profit, and loss statements.

Jim: Hey, it’d be awesome if you have like an idea of where you wanted to go too. Like, what  we’re trying to help you with? Are you wanting to scale? Or you want to sell? Are you wanting to make more profit? Are you wanting to like, give us some ideas? And basically, we’ll suggest for you, but come up with an idea. Bring your company to the table. We’ll come up with the name of this probably next time we talk and smoke one.

Chip: This is great. This is great, dude. I’m loving it. We might we got a whole ‘nother like, this is literally like, both of our like, I shouldn’t say hobbies, but we get excited about it.

Jim: It is. I know [inaudible 28:21]. Do we not have anything else better to do than this?

Chip: Yes. Like, I’m gonna find the 1%, I’m gonna find 1%. That’s often my motto is like, stack up the 1%, man and get 1% profit coming out of it.

Jim: I’m always better helping other people than helping myself. I hate to say that. I don’t know what you call that. But it is what it is.

Chip: Yeah, I’m similar.

Jim: I think it’s called just giving. You know, when you’re a giver, you want to help other people, it’s almost a codependency. You want to help other people more than you want to help yourself. Even on the airplane, they tell you if we’re going down, put your own mask on first, that way you can help more people. It’s a good point. 

Chip: It is a good point.

Jim: But we’ve already done that, Chip. I think we both have our mask on already, you know what I mean? We’re very comfortable with each other and we’ve never brought up money. It’s never been like, it’s not like, we have to make money or we’re, I’m broke I need I’ve got – because money is one of those things. If you have too much or too little, you’re in trouble. There’s somewhere in between there that you’re comfortable. And I think both of us are comfortable. I think we’re comfortable in our skin. And a lot of times skin is green. It’s how much passion.

Chip: Hey man, I spend all my money on weed and I always have, and I’ll probably always will. Any of my friends out there listening to me know what I mean about that. I’m either gonna invest it all into more businesses that are weed associated, hire more employees and I do whatever I want, but like I also work 10 hours a day.

Jim: So Chip I used to always say back in the day it’s like, all my friends would say, “Why do you have weed?” I was like, “I always buy enough so I don’t run out.” And I always referenced, I could always turn weed into money, but I cannot always turn money into weed.

Chip: Money into weed. That is very freak brother quote right there. Hey, let’s talk about weed, Jim. You were smoking some Humboldt, what do you mean by that? Is it indoor? It’s indoor?

Jim: Yeah, indoor. I’m a big fan of indoor. Honestly, I got some fresh outdoor but in this greenhouse, but I guess I’ve learned from Chip, greenhouse weed is outdoor. I’m just not a fan of – 

Chip: Even though they might call it indoor.

Jim: They might, yeah. That’s the thing about the industry is we’re all outlaws and some people don’t care that much. So some people just make shit up and yes, but other people are really concerned about it. The genetics is really, so I’m a big fan of indoor. I like the flavor. I do a maintenance process. I smoke a lot of just, a couple hits here, a couple of hit there throughout the day, all day. And it allows me to relax. I don’t have to do any ADHD pills. I use cannabis to manage that. It’s called self-medication. And I’m a big, I have my medical cannabis card in California. So I’m legal. So if anybody’s wondering, I believe that this medical cannabis deal is a beautiful thing. I think there’s, how many states are legal right now, Chip? 33 or…?

Chip: I mean, there’s more legal than not right now.

Jim: We should celebration of like, a special little song. [inaudible 31:40] a cannabis song.

Chip: Smoking weed makes me feel fine. Legalize another state.

Jim: You gotta put an auto button for sure. Give your host a stop button too.

Chip: Like a hook.

Jim: What are you smoking, man? What are you smoking?

Chip: I’m smoking right now, I’m fixing to roll up some Kush 19. It’s from our light depth here in Oklahoma.

Jim: Hey, so one of our customers, we were meeting them, they hadn’t bought the business yet. I was looking at investing in it. We all took a break and we all rolled joints up. But Chip made a comment. Remember that you made a comment that, “Hey, this weed is from a buddy of mine.” Right? And the investor said, he told me off record, “I will never invest in somebody that doesn’t smoke their own – ” 

Chip: Smoke their own weed.

Jim: It was a really funny statement. So that’s kind of what we’re dealing with here, this guy –

Chip: They’re nice people. They just didn’t understand what was going on.

Jim: They did not get it.

Chip: Like hey, Chip’s looking for the best weed in the world. He’s not ever gonna buy any of that shit. I was coming to see Jim, so I looked for the best weed I could find. And because man, I don’t have it all the time. And even though I’m smoking our own cultivated weed right now, in the other room I also have some variety of weed from [inaudible 33:26] Genetics, a local Oklahoma company. Man, I love their Grandpa’s Breath and their [inaudible 33:28], big up the jive. If you’re in Oklahoma, look for them at your local dispensary or come to Bakers Medical and ask for it there. They have great weed.

Chip: I smoked it. I’ve smoked it for sure. Yeah, I just smoked a couple hits of that outdoor. The thing about indoor, it seems like the whole joint, you can taste the flavor of it. I guess is that’s the terpenes that you’re tasting or what is it?

Chip: Oh, Jim. Man, you just got to get good outdoor, dude. It is the full flavor, like that really good, greenhouse, organic grown outdoor. That’s the flavor all the way down? Oh my god dude, it’s just so good, right?

Jim: Prove it.

Chip: Hey, I’ll tell you what, I got terpene tests that say that my outdoor here and my greenhouse does prove it. And it is higher than terpene test from indoors of the same strains, right? So we actually do have that proof. Man, the extract –

Jim: What causes that? Does the heat bring up, do you think the heat causes, creates a –

Chip: Man, especially in the greenhouse, it’s in this natural environment that’s still protected, right? And part of the terpenes and the secondary compounds are to like, fly off the plant and either act as an attractant, or repel pests, or be a memory to an animal that eats it. Right? It’s like, “Oh, don’t go near that funny smell and skunk weed, because we got high as fuck last time, we’ve had to eat the seeds out of it.” Right, that’s the initial purpose of it all. But then like, we’ve like, “Oh, I like the myrcene, I like the limonene, and breed that in there. And select for that. And that’s what we, as humans have done to increase it. So in a greenhouse, they’re contained, and they don’t blow off so much, but they still get the natural sun. But then you use a UV resistant plastic on top of it, that that pulls out a bunch of the UV.  And that whole accumulation of things, I believe makes greenhouse weed have the highest terpene. I mean, I’m not the only person saying it. I’m pretty sure it’s already been proven. Now, you cannot, you can get the worst terpene profile out of bad greenhouse operations, or bad genetics, right? ‘Cause that happens too.

Jim: Okay, well I have to be more openminded. I’ll see –

Chip: Hey, man, I’m not claiming to have great weed right now. And, we’ve been growing our outdoor for extraction. We’ve just pulled some, light depth is pretty good. But I’m just gonna say it’s pretty good. I got a high opinion of it all. And man, it was real rough here this year. It was wet, it was humid. At almost every harvest period we had throughout the summer, because we had multiple ones, whether it was auto flowers light depths, traditionally powered outdoor, it’s just been so wet, man. And –

Jim: What you’re doing is people don’t, and a lot of people probably understand, that is much R&D that you do.

Chip: Oh, it’s all R&D. Oh, yeah, totally. It’s all R&D. And that’s the beauty of Oklahoma is that we man, I mean, we’ve grown so many different weeds. Five or six different techniques, greenhouse, outdoor, clones of seeds, light depth, late season planting. I mean, we’ve planted 20,000 seeds this past year, kill off a bunch of seeds, threw a bunch of stuff away, extracted it all. And the point was, we’re looking for genetics that thrive here in Oklahoma, under several conditions. Light depth, early planting, light planting, full season, indoor, and that’s kind of part of it all. It’s just like, I am absolutely a shotgun approach guy to it, and just plant out shit ton as much as you can in Oklahoma. I’ve never been able to plant out this much. So we planted out more than we could control. Man, we’ve seen some great, great, great, great returns out of it. We’ve had some plants that didn’t survive at all. We had some auto flowers that didn’t work out at all. We had some auto flowers that worked out great. We’ve planted every single month, March, April, May, June, July, August, September. And it really, really learned a lot about what’s going on here.

Jim: Bring up a couple of like, a couple of the obstacles that you did and how you pivoted, maybe an example of how –

Chip: Well man, I’ll tell you that the biggest obstacle we had this year was material supply early in the season. COVID had hit in March, everything was fucking crazy. Looking back and oh it was just nuts, man. We’re gonna be feeling that PTSD for years. But couldn’t get materials, couldn’t get supplies. Everybody was weeks out of stuff. And so we had planned on putting 40,000 square feet of hoop, right? We got to 19,000 and I just couldn’t put up anymore. We had been delayed because of, and we had started in February putting this stuff up. We had a hard time getting employees, man. We had a hard time getting farmworkers. We had about 12 different people come out and the heat just crushed them. Because man, if you’re not used to working outside, the heat here in Oklahoma will crush you, right? Hands fucking down. And we’re even like, cautious about it all. But still, it’s a hard job, man.

Jim: It’s farming.

Chip: Yeah, it’s farming. We’re at the ranch. We’re not convenient to any of the big cities. We noticed this man, that many people wanted to come out and work, but they had childcare issues, right? Because their kids couldn’t go to school or couldn’t be under the assistance with their grandparents or whatever it normally had been. And we lost, a bunch of people just couldn’t hang with driving an hour or an hour and a half, and like, having to deal with their kids, right? The kids were I don’t know, just kid stuff, dude. Like, “Oh, babysitter didn’t work out. I’m not feeling good. Oh, you know, this, that, the other.” And because everybody’s kids are home, the normal daycare wasn’t working. We had a problem getting employees here. And I had planned on having six employees for 40,000 square feet of hoop, and 20,000 ish, well, 50,000 square feet of outdoor, that was my plan. That’s what we were prepared for. But we could only get two workers trained and kind of up to speed before like,  the season started. And at that point, I decided I wasn’t going to build any more greenhouses. We weren’t going to plan all the outdoor, and we went with just I think, 60,000 square feet, 20,000 square feet of outdoor, and then 19,000 square feet of greenhouse. And then we had another 20,000 square feet of shade out. So we just kind of left all that be. And three people, it was still too much for three people to handle. And that’s three people plus Jessica and me, my wife and me, when we could, when we weren’t working our other jobs, or doing podcasts. So labor was really a big, big problem for us this year. And it threw off my plan. And of course looking back on it, I should have done it differently. But I’ve always been able to get employees and get people to work. And usually, they stay for a long time. And it was just, it’s just been difficult this year, man. That’s been the biggest problem for me this year, was employees at the farm.

Jim: Labor. Labor is tough right now, man. We’re dealing with that big time with our companies. Nobody wants to work. The government gave out. It’s really weird because in March –

Chip: Well, it’s more complicated than nobody wants to work, that childcare issues that they deal.

Jim: Yeah. Yeah, it is.

Chip: Like, I’ve literally had employees, because we’re an essential business. We never stopped working Cultivate Colorado, Growers Coco never stopped working. And we’ve had some employees that have had to quit to take care of the kids.

Jim: That’s sad. But it’s not it’s not the worst thing for the kids. The parents can deal with it. But I’ve heard there’s a lot of parents that aren’t dealing with it very well. I mean, I used to do those clinics at these schools. And what they actually did more than I’ve ever done is drink margaritas afterwards. It’s like, holy shit. That’s, it’s hard to be, teaching kids all day every day. And like, we didn’t have to go. We were like, grandparents. We didn’t have to go back the next day. And it was still not easy. But if you got kids, certain kids, I’m sure you don’t get along with everybody. And if you got to go back to the same environment every day, oh my god. More power to the teachers. They don’t make enough money.

Chip: Oh, teachers. That’s the hardest job, man, that one. More power to you, man. It’s changing, this whole thing’s changing education, that’s for sure

Jim: It’s got to be better. We got to get better at – you know what the cool thing about is, Chip? I think we can now we can spread our wings a little better and get the best teachers, and give them the best platform to teach more kids.

Chip: Yeah. Oh, yeah, man.

Jim: That’s what it all is. It’s like fucking, it’s opening up that opportunity. It’s like a, it’s a beautiful thing, really. Sad, but true. We should take advantage of it, because now Zoom, and dude. You called Zoom, I bought Zoom.

Chip: I should have, oh man. That was a good call, wasn’t it?

Jim: Chip, I sold most of mine and kept just 10 shares, but I’ve made so much money on that. And I had 50 shares based off of what you said, I bought it the day you said it. I said, “Wow, that’s it.” And that’s every day, people should have business partners like us. They could brainstorm for 10, 30 minutes, whatever it is, and little shit like that comes up. And so yeah, the idea,  I can’t wait for the next podcast, dude. Let’s schedule it. If you got a company that you’re interested in reviewing, be the first company. We could go, we don’t have to name your company. We can keep it generic, neutral. We can [inaudible 44:33]

Chip: Well, you know, there is the thing is people are scared to talk about their numbers, often, right? You can be anonymous. Like, I was thinking about just pulling up one of my businesses from like, five years ago or something. I could probably feel comfortable talking about stuff from way back then.

Jim: We would definitely do it anonymous. I mean, there’s no reason to, and we can even keep the owner’s name – 

Chip: Unless you didn’t care. Unless you didn’t care.

Jim: Yeah, maybe you just sold your business and it doesn’t matter. Or there’s something like you’re getting ready to sell it, and you want some help. We’re going to give you free help. I’m going to include my CFO, his name is John Beasley. I call them John 420. Have him help us out, let him evaluate it. And 420 John and I’ve got, we got Erin. 

Chip: For all those who love the weed, roll it up and smoke it now.

Jim: This has been really good chip. I hope we can –

Chip: It’s been great man. Thanks for coming on. I know we kind of just started babbling here as soon as we started smoking weed. This Kush 19 is great, man. Oh,  it’s a novel kush, it’s 707 Kush seeds that we planted in 2019, sussed it out. This is really great, great kush variant for Oklahoma.

Jim: What’s your dispensary called?

Chip: Bakers Medical. It’s actually my wife’s dispensary. Yep, yep. Wife dispensary, Baker’s medical. She’s there every day, we sell clones.

Jim: And healthcare insurance.

Chip: And yeah, if you want a health care camp shirt, go to Baker’s Medical. This Kush 19 wow, it’s coming soon. This tastes good. It’s not great, though, man. It’s just good.

Jim: Oh it’s just okay?

Chip: It’s just good. I’m not, no, no, no, no, no, it’s good. It’s good. It’s good. It’s good. It might be okay weed, but it’s okay. 

Jim: Better than okay?

Chip: No, it is not okay okay. Okay okay? Okay no, okay okay.

Jim: That’s okay good. 

Chip: No, this is good. This is okay, good. This is good okay.  This is good okay. There we go. Okay okay, good okay, great okay.

Jim: And that’s how it is.  Already scheduled for the day.

Chip: Yeah. And man hey, I do have some great okay, dude. This Durbin Thai Highflyer. It’s a strain we grew 15, 20 years ago maybe? We got a cross that in this other seed 99 from Brothers Grimm seeds. Super up. Oh, awesome, awesome, awesome high. “Sativa” high. This Apollo 11 also from him, super, super, got really buzzy, electric weed, man.  I know you’re more of the medical medicinal side, but I really love that buzzy electric high man. 

Jim: I need to try that more In the morning.

Chip: Yeah, totally. Well, it’s been great having you Jim. Thanks a lot for joining us on The Real Dirt. Give me your contacts, how do people get in contact with you or want to hear more about your story?

Jim: Best way to contact me is jim@timerichcbd.com

Chip: There we go. And you’ve got some LinkedIn? 

Jim: LinkedIn, Jim Gerencser. Facebook, private message me. Google Jim Gerencser, you’ll find me.

Chip: You can check his bio out at greenerconsultinggroup.com.

Jim: You’ll get Chip and I right now. At this stage, you get Chip and I, and all the introductory calls. So we’re excited to be talking to everybody. Have a good 420. Good deal, Chip. Awesome job.

Chip: Yeah. Thanks for joining us. If you enjoyed this episode would like to listen to others, download The Real Dirt podcast on iTunes or Spotify. Hey, just subscribe. That’s the best thing that can happen to you and the best thing that can happen to us. But the more that people that listen, the bigger our network grows and the better this whole community gets. So once again, I really enjoyed this episode. I really enjoyed talking to you guys. And if you all do something for me this week, man is give a brother or sister a call randomly if you haven’t talked to them in a while. Give ’em a call. And just tell ’em that you love ’em and you wish you could burn a fat one with them. Thanks, this has been the real joing. Real joint. This is the real joint. This has been The Real Dirt. Thanks again.

Jim: See y’all later. Have a great day. See ya, Chip.

The Real Dirt on Cannabis Consultants [ PT. 1 ]

The Real Dirt on Cannabis Consultants [ PT. 1 ]

best cannabis industry consultants

Got a grow problem? There’s a consultant for that!

At least that’s what it seems like these days.

The cannabis industry is inundated with consultants. From solving a pest problem to something as simple as picking out the proper nutrients for your first grow, people will hire a consultant for just about anything. It’s got a little bit to do with laziness and money, but more so a lack of knowledge about the plant.

When a new commercial cannabis operator is handed a bunch of money by investors and told to be successful, that’s a lot of stress thrown onto a person’s shoulders. Especially if that person is inexperienced or has only grown on a smaller scale, they will need help.

But just like any other industry, the cannabis industry has no shortage of snake oil salesman. These people call themselves “consultants”, but they usually just have one little trick or “bro-science” technique that worked a handful of times with their friends, so now they think they have the knowledge to tell others how to fix their problems.

A New Type of Cannabis Consulting

As the cannabis industry grows and the consulting market becomes more saturated, it has become easier to pick out the fake consultants and find the real experts. But the problem still remains; most of these experts only excel in one area. Whether its pest management, cultivation techniques, extraction technology, banking or security, it’s extremely rare to find a consultant with experience in all of the above.

That’s why Chip and his good friend and business partner Jim Gerencser came up with Greener Consulting Group, a firm of cannabis consultants with dedicated areas of expertise. Traditionally, a consultant operates alone in a contractor capacity. But Greener Group has evolved the cannabis consultant, and turned it into a team that can solve any problem in-house.

Greener Group aims to remove the hassle of searching the web and asking associates for consultant recommendations for every individual problem. No matter what the issue is, one or more of the consultants from Greener Consulting Group has the skills and industry experience to solve it, guaranteed.

In Part One of this two-part episode, Chip and Jim dive into the real dirt of cannabis consulting and how dirty the industry really gets. Plus, hear about which states are doing regulation right and which got it completely wrong, and what the future holds for medical and legal cannabis states in the aftermath of COVID and plenty of classic ganja talk between a couple stoners.

Roll up another one, sit back or get back in the grow, and enjoy this episode of The Real Dirt with Chip Baker!

Connect with Greener Consulting Group

Greener Group Facebook

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Transcript

Chip: Today on The Real Dirt, I have my good friend and partner. I mean, I’ve known you all this time and I can’t even pronounce your name correctly. Jim Gerencser.

Jim: My first name is Jim. My last name is Hungarian. It’s Gerencser, the cs is a letter in Hungary. I learned that last year when I went to Budapest.

Chip: Oh, that’s why I can’t pronounce it.

Jim: That’s why you can’t pronounce it. Yeah, you only have 26 letters in your alphabet. They got like, 41 or something like that. But I’m glad to be her.

Chip: I mean, thanks dude. Thanks for joining me. I’m glad we got you on. Me and Jim have been,  we got a bunch of projects the past year or so. We met through a group called Baby Bathwater. It’s a networking, marketing group, entrepreneur group. And we didn’t even meet there though. Did we?

Jim: We didn’t even meet there.

Chip: Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Jim: I basically was on the island in Croatia, this private island for a week with all these,  150 people. I’ve met one of them before. And I probably became best friends with 30 of them. And I took over Chip’s job on the island.

Chip: And with the Baby Bathwater. I’m usually –

Jim: The cannabis –

Chip: I roll it up. Yeah, I’m the cannabis guy. I roll it up.

Jim: Yeah, they don’t have to hide that does that in Baby Bathwater. They outsource it to Chip. When Chip wasn’t there, it was a break in the supply chain. And, I started two days before I got there trying to create the supply chain. So they probably figured I was the best guy to keep it rolling. Honestly, I’m pretty good at that.

Chip: Yeah, absolutely. So the story I hear is after this event, it’s basically like a five-day crash course in advanced entrepreneurism and marketing, mixed with five days of long nights. It’s a pretty incredible place. But after the fact, a couple of days after it came, people called me up and he’s like, “Oh, man, you’ve got to meet Jim. Oh, you got to meet Jim.” Two different people like, sent us friend emails, right? You know, “Chip, meet Jim. Jim meet Chip.”

Jim: That’s the cool thing about the group. Yeah, they kind of mix and match you a little bit and then try to find either like-minded, or opposite-minded people that seem to get along. And honestly, they nailed this one.

Chip: Oh dude, me and Jim get along so well. You’re kind of like an evil older brother.

Jim: Yeah, I’m an evil older brother, but also with the cousin side to it. You know like, you got your cousin that you believe in 100%, because you have to, right? I mean, you’re in there. You’re messing with your parents and your parents are, came from the same family, you know? So it’s not like, you can trick them. Like, you can trick fuck everybody else. So yeah, you learn a lot from cousins. And I only had one brother. I didn’t have any younger brothers. So I think Chip and I have a love hate relationship in terms of we love a lot of things together. And we don’t hate anything, really. I mean, that’s the neatest part about us. We’re not haters.

Chip: Oh, yeah man. Not haters at all.

Jim: We don’t spend lot of time even going there. And anybody that has any of that in them doesn’t seem like they are allowed in what we’re doing. So it’s that simple, which is pretty awesome.

Chip : Well, yeah, hate’s a kind of a natural thing people have. I’ve really have had to work it, work with it. Coming from the south, Southerners are typically like, haters of things, right? That’s not Southern.

Jim: That’s sort of default.

Chip: Right?

Jim: Yeah.

Chip: Yeah, that’s their default for good or for bad. It creates a lot of interesting cultural things, that’s good for it. I generally try not to prejudge or, hate, I’ve had to work on it. I’ve had to work on it.

Jim: I think Chip, that’s a good point.  I believe that this entrepreneur group that we met through is a group that works on stuff, and you see that. And when I was there, one of the shows I went to, I think it was a marketing guy that runs all the advertising for Peloton. He started off the conversation with, “Who here is an entrepreneur?” Everybody raised their hand, so it was kind of humbling in the fact that, you brought that many entrepreneurs together. And we were all there to learn more. It was like, yeah, we’re entrepreneurs, but we’re thriving, we thrive for more information. And we’re all there together, not competing. We all could probably be in the same industry, because everybody’s fighting for the almighty dollar, in one way or another. But yeah, well that’s what I liked about it most. And afterwards when I sought out my cannabis, because I’m a medical cannabis guy, I’ve seen cannabis work for curing cancer and fighting cancer and making cancer cells commit suicide. So, my whole goal in this cannabis space was to meet somebody that I think can help me get to that space faster.

Chip: So Jim calls me, to the listeners of the podcast, I’m a very friendly person, but I’m very busy. And I have a lot of different projects. And I don’t really take meetings with people I don’t know. I communicate with people over the phone, or try to email back and forth with people in tool, like there’s a reason to me, and this is all pre-COVID, too. So it was back to my old MO of like, “Hey, would love to chat with you. Let’s get on the phone.” Right? Like, “What do you want?” on an email. And Jim wouldn’t be straight with me. He was like, “Well, I’d rather just come and see. You know, so I keep blowing Jim off. And then one day, he just showed up, right? Just like that. He’s like, “I’m coming tomorrow. I’ll be there at noon.”

Jim: I’m “the shorter the notice, the better” kind of guy.

Chip: Yeah, right. Yeah. He’s like a bill collector. You’re like a bill collector.

Jim: You don’t tell him you’re coming. Yeah.

Chip: Right. So Jim shows up, we meet, we hit it off immediately. Jim smoked more weed than I do. He immediately had some great, great weed. We smoked like, 10 joints in my store, before it was a store, I just rented the facility, my grow store, Cultivate. I just rented the facility. It was empty warehouse and we smoked it out, dreamed of what to be, huh Jim?

Jim: Yeah, I was looking for, I don’t know what I was looking for, Chip. I was looking for somebody like you. I didn’t –

Chip: You wanted to get into the cannabis industry.

Jim: I did. I wanted to be –

Chip: You’re a successful businessperson. And you wanted to get in the cannabis industry and didn’t quite know how, but love weed.

Jim: That’s it. That’s it, I saw all the things happening. I’ve got a bunch of my friends that are either retired or getting ready to retire. Half of them have never smoked a joint in their life, but they know that I have partaken my whole life. So they were reaching out to me like, “What do we do? Who do we invest in? How do we get into the space?” And I was like, “I don’t know. Let me find out.” So I started digging into it and honestly felt like I’ve gone through like a four-year education class in the last 12 months with Chip, because Chip is one of those guys that actually knows business, which I immediately realized that. I was like, “This guy is actually a business guy. And he’s in the cannabis space.” Because what I had experienced on a small scale was that you’re either one of the other. Like, most engineers don’t sell, you know what I mean? And that’s kind of what I consider like oil and water. You’re either an engineer, or you’re a salesperson, no way in hell you’re both. To actually make a certain person that can talk to both people, because they call it a liaison, because they can’t even talk to each other, they’re so far apart. So that’s what I really wanted to do in this space, is learn as much as I possibly could. There’s so much to learn about it, and what I ran into was a [inaudible 8:02]. Chip introduced me to so much crap I don’t even care about, but I was interested in it. I wanted to learn as much as I can and not that I’m a huge education freak, but this space intrigues me. So here we are a year later, we’ve run multiple different deals together. I’ve invested in some of his businesses, he’s given me some direction on some other businesses to invest in or not to invest in, which is probably the most important thing, what not to invest in. You got to –

Chip: Yeah, when to say no.

Jim: When to say no, you got to love what you’re doing, and I did love it. And like I said, now I’ve run the course of a year of investing, finding out that yeah, everybody in the space is cool, but I’m not sure I love everybody in the space. I don’t hate anybody, but I’m not sure I love everybody.

Chip: Well, many people just, they’re on a wing and a prayer, or they have like this idea, or this thing they want to do, and it might not have anything to do with the business of cannabis actually making a profit, which can be cool, man, right? Like those guys that are doing RSO for a penny a gram. Man, coolest thing possible right? But it’s a nonprofit business in the truest sense.

Jim: It really is. They don’t even let you expense your labor. What the hell, man? I mean, what kind of business,  it’s just such a federal, this is a federal fucking. it’s literally at the point, it sets a epitome of getting fucked.

Chip: Right, right. And Jim, speaking of the taxes, the 280 East Tax System. And basically, we in the cannabis industry get taxed at gross profit instead of net profit. And you guys can all go look that up, but it’s basically profit before expenses as gross profit. And cannabis industry generally can’t take off. Expenses only cost a good soul.

Jim: Which is ridiculous. So everyone is forced to kind of you know, still remain outlaws, right? I mean, we’ve talked about that from the beginning, Chip, we’re guaranteed outlaws. I mean, we were forced into it. We’re at different levels, but we’re definitely considered, you definitely would look at stuff out of the dictionary, and you would see pictures of us as an outlaw. Sure, no doubt.

Chip: Not criminals.

Jim: Not criminal.

Chip: But outside the law.

Jim: We’re forced to be outside the law.

Chip: Yeah, forced. Forced, not even like by choice. It’s like, oh, man, we can’t have normal banking. And since then, like Jim said, we’ve set up several cannabis businesses together and joined some other businesses. I previously had a hemp seed distribution company, that was more of just like a brokerage. We’ve taken that and we’re turned it into certified seeds. And we’ll launch that later on this year. It’ll be an online marketplace for certified hemp seeds.

Jim: The one stop shop.

Chip: One stop shop, multiple vendors. We’re not making any of the seeds. They’re all from the highest and most reputable vendors in the country associated with this.

Jim: Yeah so we started, we spent our time going through it, sure we have the best vendors instead of trying to grow the best seed.

Chip: Yeah, exactly. So we’ve gotten a bank account for that and how long did that take?

Jim: It took six months.

Chip: It took six months to get a bank account.

Jim: For hemp seeds, hemp seeds. And by the way, they’re legal. Interesting thing. And that’s what, this brought us to our most recent venture, right, Chip? I mean –

Chip: Oh, yeah, yeah, Greener Group.

Jim: Greener Group, yeah.

Chip: Greener Group.

Jim: Something I think that we’re both more excited about than anything else that we’ve got going. I mean, in terms of our deals, Chip has a lot of stuff going on, and so do I individually. But together, Greener Group is our baby. We’re nurturing it to a point, we’re still trying to figure out how to deal with, what space but we’re kind of dialing it in.

Chip: Just totally hit the ground running, that’s for sure, man. So you can check it out at greenerconsultinggroup.com. It’s a new website, you might have to like, look for it a little bit. You can find us on LinkedIn, on well, Facebook’s already kicked us out, but Instagram. What I realized was for years, people have been asking me for consulting, and I’ve done it sparingly over time. A big part of it was because I’ve just got so many other businesses, it’s hard to like, dedicate the time to somebody when they need to solve a cultivation problem. So over the years, we developed a lot of technical consultation that was just free of service at Cultivate Colorado, and it still remains true, right? If you want to light design or dehumidifier design, you just tell us the square footage and we’ll tell you immediately how many lights or dehumidifiers you need. I’ve shied away from all the other consultation, but what I realized was Jim had this really great business in the automotive industry. And one of the things that I really consider one of my assets, I look at what everybody’s doing, and I try to bring in great stuff from it. And Jim has this great business that he operates nationally. And I thought to myself, “Man, this is a great way to do this with cannabis as well.” Jim, tell me about Nationwide.

Jim: Yes, so what we do is we manage vendors across the country for recalls before they get to the dealer. So auto manufacturer –

Chip: Automobile recalls.

Jim: Automobile recalls. So a car that normally gets sold at a dealer has a recall, you go back to the dealer, they fix it. What we do is we manage these projects for the cars that have not been sold to the dealers, and they’re normally by the thousands. We go out there and bring whatever crews necessary. So they might need engines replaced, or they might need a light bulb replaced. So you don’t have the same people doing it. So I don’t hire these people until I need them. And when Chip was telling me he’s got this database of consultants that do from seed to sale, I was like, “Why don’t we just incorporate that into what we’re doing at Nationwide, and manage these vendors on an as needed basis?”

Chip: Yeah, Jim started like, listening to my phone calls basically. I was, you know, are hearing me complain about or talk or about like, my life or schedule, and he realized this, right? He was like, “Wow, man, your network is incredible.” I mean, I think you were the first person to really bring it up, Jimmy.

Jim: Yeah, well, everybody else has took it for granted. Because Chip, they don’t want to tell you anything, because they wanted you to keep giving them free information for the rest of their life. And that’s my biggest challenge is to get you to quit, we don’t want to quit giving free information, but we got to draw the line somewhere, right? It’s a bit, people take advantage of it. And well –

Chip: I definitely agree with that. But I’ll also say that by my unconditional giving, it’s brought me my network that I have.

Jim: I agree.

Chip: And what you have made me understand is there is a way that we can make business out of this information, and I’ll still be able to unconditionally give. Because like this podcast, we unconditionally give to people, right? Like yeah, I do this podcast to lead gen for all my other businesses and tell you about cultivatecolorado.com, and tell you about cultivateokc.com, and tell you about growerscoco.com, all my potting soil, and now Growers, and now Greener Group, too. We’re telling you about Greener Group but really like, I started this podcast because I wanted good information to go out to people about ganja, hemp, medical marijuana. I don’t use the laws, destroy the misconceptions and myths. And that’s all unconditional, mind conditional giving on the spot.

Jim: It’s a show of your unconditional love for the for the cannabis plant. I’s simple as getting people educated. I didn’t know that cannabis was both hemp and marijuana. It’s a very simple thing, but I’ve been around it my whole life, didn’t know that. Basically starting with that, it makes you realize that all these things, hemp is legal. It’s the same plant as cannabis as marijuana, or high THC cannabis is what they refer to it as, and low THC cannabis is hemp. One’s legal, one’s not, what the hell, man? So I want to talk a little bit about my project I’ve got going right now that we’re working through your grow in Oklahoma.

Chip: Yeah, yeah, yeah, let’s talk about The Health Camp and Eric and all of that.

Jim: Yeah, The Health Camp is one of the big projects that I’ve got going right now. It’s an app that’s going all out. One of the programs I’m working with currently, it’s called Cannabis Oil Success Stories. And it’s 175,000 people on a Facebook private group that share these stories about how cannabis has helped them fight cancer. And I’ve been looking at this page for a year and a half or two years. And when I met Chip, my intention was to make the best oil and share it with everybody. But then I realized that there’s a lot of good oils out there, and that I could probably be better spent using my passion to create a place to have everybody share their information. And then we can go through, and aggregate the data, and be able to find out the best way to use what product on what cancer for what type of person, and be able to get that information to the general public. Right now, it’s kind of hidden. It’s there, but it’s hidden. So I’m creating an app called Health Camp Buddy. Health Camp has THC in it. And it starts with the word Health, heal. Heal is a really big part of our world. And we’re creating this app, it’s a social media type of crowdsourcing platform that allows people that have used cannabis successfully, to be able to enter their information and we’ll aggregate it into a result that will be able to give a person that’s dealing with cancer the information easily generated for them. So they can either have access to the oil, and know what kind of oil to get, what oils work best for what type of cancers, certain body types work better with different types of FECO oils. We’re talking about fully extracted cannabis oil is what I’m focusing on. There’s a lot of other things that you can put with it, but I think my reason I’m on earth is to be able to focus on the FECO oil itself. So I’m going to be giving this app together, we’ve actually got phase one done. I expect it to be completely finished within the next month. I’m excited as hell about it. I think it’s going to save lives. It’s all ties to this charity that I run, it’s called Early Recognition is Critical. I want to talk to about my son, I could talk about Eric forever. He’s an awesome kid. He’s a three time cancer survivor since he was age eight. And anybody that has kids can relate to the fact of being a parent and being a caretaker of an eight year old son that’s very athletic and loving, and dealing with this kind of shit. So I’ve been dealing with it my whole life. I’m trying to give back. I believe cancer fights cancer, naturally. I don’t think that chemo is the, if it takes chemo, do chemo but also use cannabis. That’s my –

Chip: Oh, absolutely, man. Absolutely,

Jim: So it’s been awesome. Chip’s got a lot of experience with a lot of people. I’m using his network. We’re growing some marijuana in Oklahoma specifically to be able to be made into the best FECO oil, and different types of strains because each strain is different. I mean,  you want indica for cancer, if you’re fighting cancer you don’t use CBD. You might use CBG,  you might use CBA, but you need THC. And you need high THC indica, which is a very sedative cannabis compared to the sativa, which is a little more of a head high. It’s more medicinal, yeah kicks your ass. When you’re sick, you need to rest. So yeah, that’s what I got going on. And with the help of what Chip’s got going on, we’re working together to, we give back. It’s one thing that I love about Chip is the first day we talked about the Eric Charity and Chip wanted to, I could see in his eyes, he was a giver. And I learned at a late age that you giving back feels really good. I was selfish I guess, growing up. I’m a unique individual, I actually got divorced 12 years ago, and I’m back with my ex-wife so I don’t give up easy. So beware.

Chip: Alright, let’s not turn this into tilling the ball now. Come on, this is The Real Dirt podcast about cannabis, mostly.

Jim: Let’s do it. Alright, I’ll smoke it.

Chip: What are you smoking on today, Jim?

Jim: Some Humboldt. The same.

Chip: Oh, okay. Yeah, I got you. I’m on the porch this morning, this is a Friday morning porch session. And we got a tractor driving by.

Jim: Chip’s got the best porch, on the best thousand foot view in Oklahoma.

Chip: We’re a thousand foot high here in Oklahoma.

Jim: The weed is just okay, basically. So

Chip: t’s okay, kush okay. Yeah, Oklahoma has been a really great place for growing ganja. I mean, it has its set of circumstantial issues. But every place does, and yeah, Northern California has the best climate, when the climates right there to any place in the world probably. South Africa aand here also has similar type of climate. Maybe Argentina.

Jim: Is that the same longitude, latitude? I mean –

Chip: It is, except those on the southern hemisphere. And but it’s similar coastal mountain type environment.  Lots of indicator species, and wine, and grapes. And that’s kind of how I relate it, but hey, look. In Northern California in Oregon, the West Coast man, forest fires, dude.

Jim: Oh my god.

Chip: Right? Like, devastating the smoke. And like, sometimes it’s okay, but other times, it’s just totally ruined. And even if you don’t get burned out, it can be difficult there too. And last year here in Oklahoma, it was just hot, dry and windy. And this year, it hasn’t been as hot. But it’s definitely been more humid and with less wind. It’s definitely has its challenges, and we have been challenged, you know what I mean? We keep pushing the envelope, and COVID, and the employment shortage, all that caused us problems. I mean, I’ve been doing this my whole life. There’s no sure homeruns.

Jim: That’s why if anybody needs any help in Oklahoma specifically or Colorado or California, Chip’s the guy. He’s already been there, done that. He’ll wear a suit coat, I think. I probably won’t.

Chip: A suit coat. Man, I look fresh and clean. Jim, however, he’s gonna come right off the frisbee golf course, and pull off his visor, right? And go into the board meeting.

Jim: You may be right. Maybe that would be [inaudible 23:41]. But yeah, so we got a killer deal work –

Chip: Hey, Greener Group, man I mean, yeah. Yeah, let’s talk about Greener Group.

Jim: Let’s talk about Greener Group, yeah.

Chip: So what we’ve done is we have compiled a large group of experts in the field of cannabis that are already working as consultants in the cannabis space. And here’s what we realized, is even the best of the people, they started out just being best in their fields, right? And they know how to grow cannabis and scale it, or they know how to do financial assessments of cannabis businesses, or they know how to operate cannabis businesses. And they kind of just got like, through opportunity. They got moved in the consultant space, which is more of an entrepreneurial space, right? But in their heart, they’re tradesmen and experts in their exact field. And they have a hard time running business, because business is hard to run. So what we’ve done is we’ve aligned these guys, right? Right now, we’ve got 12 people that are official lead consultants for us. But I mean, the network is endless. If you call us in any state, pretty much I’ve got someone close to you that we can work with. We’ve built this network of consultants now. You call us up, we have a conversation about what your problems are, what your goals are, what you want to solve, whether you’re buying a cannabis business, or you’re building a cannabis business.

Jim: Or you want to invest in a cannabis business,

Chip: You want to invest in a cannabis business. I mean, we’ve talked to all of those types of people. We’ve talked to government agents, we’ve talked to investment groups,

Jim: Money laundering specialists.

Chip: Money, yeah, I hate that term. So deceiving, but it’s bank relationship specialist, we’ll just go ahead and explain that right now, so we don’t get off topic. Which is, hey man, if you are a bank, and you want to open a business to cannabis people, you have to do it in a certain way. So you bring on someone to help you do that. And our guy is one of the leaders in doing this. So you call us up, we chat with you about what your goals are, your problems are, we’ve got this list of consultants. We pull out our consultants, send them on the task, and they’re usually I mean, it’s usually accomplished, like, quickly. We’ve got a couple of projects that seem to last a little long, but like, they’ve almost, that’s the beauty of our network, right, Jim? Is we solve some problems immediately.

Jim: We’ve already seen them all.

Chip: Famous story about Picasso is – I don’t know if it’s real or not, maybe it’s not Picasso, but I think it is. A lady walked up and was like, “Oh, hey, Picasso, could you sign this paper, sign this napkin?” And so he does a little doodle, signs it and says, “That’ll be $30,000.”  Like, “Wait a minute. That only took you 15 seconds.” He was like, “No that took me 30 years.” It’s just kind of an example of how it works with us, too. It’s like, we’ve already heard all the problems, right? Just like our call yesterday with a bug problem the guy had, like, we immediately know how to solve that. But many other consultants or groups of people, they want to hook you in for a year-long contract, and we just want to solve your problem, walk away, right? And that’s really been our success is that like in just a matter of a day or two, we can solve most people’s problems.

Jim: The thing about this project with Chip and I is that we already have our livelihood covered. So we’re not desperate for like, paying overhead with –

Chip: Business, right?

Jim: It’s not a hobby, but it’s like a passion for us. I like to claim we bring the culture. I’m not sure Chip’s a big lover of that, because he’s been in, he’s been that guy for so long. And I haven’t been, so it’s kind of fresh to me. But I believe it’s important to bring that. I mean, Chip and his group have helped me make smart decisions on investments going forward. I highly recommend, if you’re 60 years old, and you want to invest in cannabis call Greener Group. I mean, we’ll go over stuff with you that you never have thought about. We can look at your books, we have a CFO that works for us, that works for multiple cannabis companies across the board. We’ve got people that –

Chip: Right, we can in one hour decide, like tell you literally if some investment opportunity is is full of shit, or worth investigating. And we’ve done that a couple of different times, it’s really amazing. Because we have so much experience in the cannabis industry, we can immediately look at operational costs and expenses, and tell if it’s real or not.

Jim: You can’t hide from our group because we have, we’re not one dimensional. We’re multi-dimensional. We’re like full spectrum. We’re full spectrum consultants. It is not us our way or the highway, when you call us and talk to us, you’ll realize that right away. We’ve got a great team together. One of the good things we do with our consultants is we support their back end too. We take that loosely, we support their business side of it that the stuff that they’re not good at. It’s like a doctor, a doctor doesn’t –

Chip: All the reports –

Jim: All the crap that they don’t get.

Chip: All the office support like, it’s really turned the consulting industry into a more professional organization. Because in the past and hey man, no offense to you consultants, you guys know what’s going on. You guys are growers or extractors or businesspeople, and you all need better back end offices. If you got a great back end then yeah, you’re gonna do great.

Jim: It all starts with that, and we’re getting better at it. We’re gonna have all of our guys with an app that can really communicate well with the customer. Like I said, we’re not looking at a full-time gig. We’re in and out. We’re in to fix your problem, get out. We’re problem solvers.

Chip: Yeah. And you know, our consultants also, they’re independent consultants. And so if you’re a cannabis consultant from hemp to extraction, from genetics to banking, IT, whatever, right? Give us an email, man. We want to increase our network and we might have some business for you. And you’re an independent contractor, we’re just helping you guys too, man. Sure, it’s business and I enjoy business, and this is a good, good business to be in. We saw there was a problem in the industry on both the consultant side and on the consumer side.

Jim: And like I said, I’m pushing that investment side guys. Anybody that wants to invest in the cannabis?

Chip: Yeah, absolutely.

Jim: Give us a call. We’ll go through the pros and cons with you. We’re gonna think of stuff that you’ll never think of, I promise you that. Because we have people coming to us on a regular, we’re still learning every day. And what we do is we learn every day, and then we share it with you. It’s a fun business to be part of, being part of Chip’s network has been amazing. All you gotta do is call Greener Group and you’re part of it, man. So it’s that easy. If you have –

Chip: It has been fun though, man. We’ve talked to like, we just launched this business a couple of months ago. We’ve talked to like, so many cool people about projects they’re doing. And working with so many cool people right now on projects, man without naming names or specific locations, like what’s the favorite call that we’ve been on?

Jim: I like the one that came from Tennessee, and they overgrew hemp. Because it was one of the first ones that we had. And these guys were like, “Man, we really don’t know what to do. We basically have thousands of pounds of hemp. We don’t know how to get rid of it. We don’t even know where to start. We don’t know what to do now, because we got so screwed this year. What do we do next year?” They were just completely at end, at wit’s end, you know?

Chip: They were real typical of what was going on in the hemp industry this year for sure.

Jim: Yeah, supply and demand. And –

Chip: I mean, they’re smart people, they were in the agricultural industry. They already had like, success doing other stuff. They’ve already got like, products on the shelves in the oil, ag space, like not cannabis-related at all, or hemp-related at all. They were successful businesspeople and had problems.

Jim: Which is very common. They thought, “Oh, it’ll just be like growing strawberries.” It’s not.

Chip: Yeah, we just grow it and somebody will buy it. And strawberries aren’t like that either, man. And nothing is. It has to have that sales channel.

Jim: I think personally from a business side, that’s the first channel that you should create before you grow anything.

Chip: Oh, yeah. Hey, you know, I mean, one of the things that we do a lot of is branding and marketing.  And it just naturally do all of our businesses. And the thing that both of us realized is, you can have the best brand, the best design, the best content, the best advertising, the best product placement of any of your competitors. But the only thing that’s going to drive your brand is sales, right? You have to sell. And honestly, that’s the first channel you should work on, instead of the last. People who try to get work on the opposite side, right? They work on the brand first and –

Jim: The easy stuff. Yeah, they work on the easy stuff. And one thing we’re finding out at Greener is that marketing is tough. Like I said, we got kicked off Facebook. I mean, both Chip and Travis, Travis is one of our partners. And they were like, “It’s not if we’re gonna get kicked off, but how long?”  And it’s like, “We got to work around this crap.” There’s constant contact won’t let you send out cannabis stuff.

Chip: Cannabis emails, right.

Jim: So at Greener, we’re figuring this out. We have our own CRM, and we’ll work with you if you need help with anything like that. If you’re starting a dispensary, if you’re getting ready to think about doing a grow, call us first. Let’s talk about a supply chain before you grow them. Yeah, don’t call us after.

Chip: I just realized we were starting to sound like an infomercial, which is totally cool, ’cause it’s my podcast and I can do whatever what I want.

Jim: Yeah, exactly.

Chip: But no, it’s exciting. It’s so exciting to talk to all of these different people. Man, I think my favorite conversation was also a hemp comp. I’ve had two conversations that were my favorite, I think. The cannabis farm on the west coast that wanted to relocate to another state. It was just, it’s difficult with the environment, the fires, the remoteness, the taxes, the state and local taxes over in California are just ridiculous. And they wanted to move, and I really liked this conversation, because they were cannabis, successful cannabis people.  They’ve been doing it for a moment. And they realized like, they needed a little help and reached out to us. They were interested in other states that they can move and operate in, because previously California for many, many years was the only place to operate. And now, it’s just not the case. So I really liked that conversation. And man, I also liked that hemp technologies conversation we’ve had. These guys are trying to develop some hemp technologies, and were really approaching in a different manner. And that was really inspiring, because the hemp textile industry is just growing so much, growing so quick.

Jim: It is, and we’ve got a great by the way, we’ve got a excellent connection with textiles, and hemp.

Chip: Yeah, absolutely man. Engineers…

Jim: Hey, we also have the ability to, we’re a specialist at building any kind of app or website in the cannabis space. So let us know, we’ve got all that covered.

Chip: I know it sounds like a one, not a one stop shop. But like, literally, through all of my years of business, I’ve had to do all this stuff for my businesses. And mostly I set up with my own employees or networks of people that now understand cannabis. And so I’m basically opening up my network. Jim has got a huge IT section and programming section to his business right? Like, we can pretty much design or modify any software, build any app or website through in-house means, that’s what you’re saying, Jim, right?

Jim: Yep, yep. We got the capacity, we’ve got people that, the team that’s building Health Camp Buddy. And what they do is, like I said, we can put you on a CRM that you don’t have any restrictions whatsoever. So yeah, give us a call. I’m a marketing, branding guy, I love talking about that. Chip and I dream shit up every morning, I kind of look forward to those calls, because it fires me up. It’s like, it’s better than exercise, that’s for damn sure. It does, it puts us on the same page. And it’s like, we don’t have to, I’ve never had a partner with, I gotta say, Chip, I got it. And he’s like, he hangs up. We don’t waste each other’s time at all. And if you’re going to get a partner, find somebody like that.

Chip: I couldn’t say enough about how much I’ve learned in the past year and a half that we’ve been working together. And I know you said you’ve learned but man, I’ve learned just as much. So that is the beauty of a good working partner relationship, is that you learn from each other. And me and Jim have both have poor partners in the past, and we’ve had exits from businesses that worked out or didn’t work out. And we’ve had a significant amount of experience of working with people. And having an active partner in your relationship, versus an investor is a completely different scenario. We should do a whole podcast about that. How to partner, how just specifically how to partner with people.

Jim: How to get along. It’s a hard thing, man. Get along, I’d start by get a bong, right?

Chip: Get a bong, yeah.

Jim: Yeah. I mean, I totally believe that you’ve got to have something in common with somebody and Chip and I, we found out our common denominator immediately. And we’ve never broken off of that. I mean, we’ve stuck with it, we stayed in course, we pivot left and right. But it always comes back to the, we’re business partners that have become friends. I highly recommend. Don’t partner up with a friend.

Chip: Yeah. That’ s a better way to do it, that’s for sure.

Jim: Become a friend after you become business. That’s my free information I give you.  Some of the other things that Chip has brought up that are pretty awesome are that we’re both businesspeople. We believe that entrepreneurship is awesome, I’ve been selling cinnamon toothpicks since I was eight years old. But the number one thing is that we support cannabis. We really believe in it and Chip more than me, he lives it. His goal is to grow more weed than people can smoke. And my goal is aid people’s lives with cannabis. So we got, if you want to participate in this mission, give us a call, man. Follow us. Follow us, Eric is a big mission actually, Chip and I were gonna talk about this and I want to bring it up is that I’m getting ready to –

Chip: Hey, let’s pause for one second breathe. Because Jim will just start talking and get so excited about stuff. But hey, let’s just break for one second and say, this The Real Dirt podcast. Thank you for joining and listening. Please join us on iTunes or Spotify. Hey, and if you’re out in the world, and you need some equipment of some sort, lights, soil nutrients, cultivateokc.com, cultivatecolorado.com. We ship all over the country. Call us if you’re in Colorado. Call us if you’re in Denver. Call us if you’re in Oklahoma. We’ll ship to you. We have commercial accounts. We’re one of the largest purchasers in the country of rock wall general hydroponics, botanic care, pure blend, growers soil, tuber. We ship all over the country. We support cannabis farmers all over the country, specifically in east of the Rockies. But coming to the west coast soon, and look for all of our products in the west coast, 2021. This is The Real Dirt.

The Evolution of Cannabis Cultivation Technology

The Evolution of Cannabis Cultivation Technology

cannabis cultivation technology for monitoring a cannabis grow

Remember when your only grow schedule was in a tattered notebook?

Who are we kidding, half of us still do it that way! But the truth is that cannabis cultivation technology has advanced exponentially just in the last 5 years.

Controllers that can monitor and alert you when CO2 levels or temperature gets too high or low, irrigation feeding systems set on timers so you never have to worry about feeding on time, and more. But what about one application that can monitor all of it?

That’s where Trym comes in.

Trym is the brainchild of Matt Mayberry, a homegrower who began to notice a lack of software services designed specifically for aiding cannabis growers. He noticed that there were individual products for monitoring your team, environmental conditions, and regulatory compliance, but not one single product that could do it all.

Matt set out with the goal of simplifying the grower’s life with easy to use cannabis cultivation technology software, and Trym does just that. Trym software is helping to manage more than one million square feet of cultivation space. Designed in collaboration with valuable farming partners, integrated with numerous solutions to help cultivators run their businesses better and keep them inspired to grow smarter every day.

As the industry evolves, so do growers and the cannabis cultivation technology they use. Trym continues to evolve with them through collaborative efforts and essential customer feedback that helps shape the future of the app.

In this episode, Chip sits down with Matt to talk about the inception of Trym, the services that they offer for cannabis growers and cultivators, and the continuous evolution of cannabis cultivation technology!

Transcript

Chip: Hey! This is Chip with The Real Dirt. Thanks for joining us today. Today I’m in my newest of new podcast studios. Yes, there’s quite an echoey sound in here. And we’re going to turn this into the new Oklahoma City podcast studio. So look forward to many, many episodes here. You’re gonna have people from all over the country, and all over the world to guest here at The Real Dirt. Hey, I want to thank you for joining me today. And if you haven’t, please go to iTunes or Spotify, and subscribe to The Real Dirt podcast. Please join us on Facebook and Instagram. And, you know, if you need any hydroponic, or indoor, or outdoor growing materials, please contact us at cultivatecolorado.com, cultivateokc.com, and if you’re using soil or soilless medium, Growers Soil is what you should use. So without further ado, on today’s episode, we have Matt Mayberry. We’re going to talk about software and how it relates to the cannabis industry. So sit back, fire one up and enjoy this episode of The Real Dirt.

 

Chip: Hey, Matt. Chip here. How you doing?

 

Matt: Good. How are you?

 

Chip: Oh man, I’m doing great. It’s starting to be nice and fall weather over here in Oklahoma. Wait, where am I talking to you, are you in California someplace?

 

Matt: Yeah, we’re just north of San Francisco in Marin County. 

 

Chip: Oh, man. I was just over there up in Humboldt. Rough fires, dude. 

 

Matt: Oh, man. It’s crazy. Yeah, this summer, it’s definitely been a strange one. We left California actually, when the smoke got really bad here. The fires weren’t very close to [inaudible 1:48] for us so far. Well, I guess my definition of close has gotten a lot different over the last few years, but we didn’t have any, like imminent fires like that were in our town, that were, that were meaningful in any kind of way. But the smoke is really bad, so we took off the Oregon to get away from the smoke. And then the fire solid is up there basically, the smoke got really bad up there. Stayed there for a few weeks and we decided to come back down here.

 

Chip: Yes, right. We had a podcast scheduled and you had to postpone it, because you were fleeing from the smoke.

 

Matt: Yeah, it’s been a wild one. So I’m glad we finally did it. And we got this thing on the books.

 

Chip: Yeah, man. Thanks for joining me, man. So Matt, you know, technology is now like, and it’s starting to be so much part of everyday life. And the cannabis industry is no different. No matter if it is hemp, or ganja, or medical marijuana, we’re all using technology in and Matt, tell us a little bit about what you do.

 

Matt: Yeah. So I’m Matt Mayberry. I’m the cofounder and CEO of a company called Trym, and we build farm management software for commercial cannabis cultivators. And ultimately, what we do is we help growers better manage their operation, and manage their team, and then also help scale their business so they can be successful.

 

Chip: Yeah, you know, farm management software is something that industrial agriculture has been using. I mean, it’s probably one of the first things that happened with the computer, right? It’s to figure out how to count how many pigs or chickens that you got. But the industry really has been dominated by some major, major industrial, agricultural players. And there haven’t been too many people like yourself to want to come in, you know, to the farm management side. Man, what gave you the idea to do this?

 

Matt: Yeah, so I started out my journey in cannabis, I guess when I was about 17 years old in North Carolina. You know, I was smoking cannabis recreationally with my friends and – 

 

Chip: Mothership, you were were smoking Mothership over there?

 

Matt: I don’t know. We did not have the quality of products that we have these days [inaudible 3:54].

 

Chip: So, okay, famous weed strain from from my past, Mothership.

 

Matt: Okay, nice. 

 

Chip: Asheville, North Carolina. 

 

Matt: Okay, cool. I wonder if that has a parliament funkadelic influence.

 

Chip: Asheville’s the center of music in the south, you know.

 

Matt: Oh, yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I got my first degree at Appalachian State in North Carolina, which is like about an hour away from Asheville. So, spent a lot of time in the mountains of North Carolina. But yeah, so I mean, when I was a teenager, I was riding around my friends. We were smoking cannabis, and I really enjoyed it. And I was always been, you know, I’ve got two different engineering degrees. I’ve always been kind of a tinkerer. And so that started at a very young age. So I decided to try and see if I could grow the stuff myself. Got a little bit better, go into App State, met some other growers there. When I graduated, I went into tech and I didn’t, I didn’t grow commercially. Kind of still home growing though, and I had kept my eye on the industry. I had a lot of friends that are in the industry. I still have a lot of friends that are growers, some of them from back in North Carolina. When Prop 64 passed, essentially, I started looking at the industry more seriously as a career more than just something that I did in my free time. And so, started looking at the space. And given my experience in cultivation, I say that in a very humble way, my experience in cultivation is much different than a lot of our customers. You know, I don’t grow product that looks like what our customers grow, but with my interest, and mild experience in cultivation, I decided to take a look at the space. And me and my cofounders felt really comfortable with cultivation. Benjamin, who’s one of our cofounders, actually he used to work on the commercial farm off in Mendocino. And then he was an electrical engineer at a company that he and I used to work at. And my wife, Karen is our third cofounder, and she was part of my experiments in home growing here, once we moved to California. So we all three had experience with the plant. And we started looking at when Prop 64 passed with the lens of how can we apply the experience that we have in technology, and apply it to the cultivation space. So really, we just started poking around and grows, trying to find like, what was going on at these farms, and how people were currently managing things, and seeing if there was a place to actually apply some additional technology in one way or the other, whether it was hardware or software to make their lives easier. And what we found was that as far as the record keeping went and the management of the farm went, really the most sophisticated technology was whiteboards, and Excel spreadsheets, and notebooks. And in I guess, the regulated markets that currently had that kind of compliance element as well, they had software that was provided by the state that most of the growers didn’t like. So we started thinking, you know, it looks like there’s a pretty big opportunity here, but let’s figure out what that is. And so then we just started to iterate on releasing small amounts of product and working with the farms that we had pretty good connections with, to try and see if that was something that would be valuable to them. And eventually, we ended up with a product and started selling it to people.

 

Chip: So you’re homegrown.

 

Matt: Yeah, I mean, I –

 

Chip: Yeah, you’re homegrown, you know.  You know, I kind of put, I put people into two basic categories in the weed industry.  There are the pink shirts, and there’s the homegrown, right? And the homegrown people are people who’ve been growing, you know, cannabis for themselves, you know, and the people around them were started out that way, right? They had this desire to like, “Hey, I want to help, you know, cultivate cannabis.” And the pink shirts are generally the people that want to cultivate the business of cannabis. They both intermesh and, you know, I lovingly say the term pink shirts, because several of them work with me. But like, they come from the business side, and often not from the homegrown or from the cannabis side. Now, almost every other tech person I have talked to were pink shirts. They wanted to bring some business side to it. Did you have like, a problem that you wanted to solve? You know, ’cause like, you’re looking at, you’re growing, you’re seeing what people are like, is there a number one like, oh, man, nobody’s taken advantage of nobody’s doing this.

 

Matt: Yeah. So what we found when we started talking to growers was that they have really a multitude of different problems that they face every day. And in order to solve those, they’re either using manual processes, or they were using multiple different pieces of software to do that. So scheduling out a batch of plants from seed all the way through to harvest. And people are using things like Google Calendar, or those like paper calendars that you buy at Staples, and they’re mapping everything out. And they’re either mounting them into grow, or they’re sharing that calendar with their employees. And then, the compliance element of it, that they were usually using their notebooks and Excel to track all the compliance reportable events, and then handing that over to a compliance manager that would then put all that into the state system, and report it to the regulators. And so the other thing was, you need to know what’s going on in your grow, you need to know what the conditions are, you need to know what happened last week. And if you don’t know what’s happening right now, if the lights go out, you need to know that. And there were people basically, putting together like, there were some people that we talked to that were putting together their own systems for like, thermal shut off where you know, if their air conditioner went out, they would turn off some of the lights. And they were kind of rigging a lot of this stuff themselves. There’s stem systems that were out there that were doing some more advanced control,  somewhere out of people’s price ranges, or some just didn’t have access to those types of systems, I guess at the time. But, we just saw there were a lot of different problems that a lot of people were putting together, you know, they say innovation is born out of necessity, right? There was a lot of, kind of, micro-innovation in all of these grows, where people were solving the problems that they had. And we were able to kind of look at all those problems, and then think about, alright with our, so my background was I worked in hardware, software, and firmware. Benjamin who is our business partner has worked in hardware, software to a degree, and firmware. And Karen, our third cofounder, she is basically all things customer facing, marketing, and revenue, that kind of thing. So when we started looking at how can we apply what we know to these, we were able to look at the multitude of problems that people had and kind of figure out what that solution was. And what we saw is that there was really no software that was built specifically for cannabis cultivators. So you mentioned earlier in this call, that there’s all these systems that exist for broader ag, and that’s true. But the reality is, a lot of those systems were built for like row crops in Iowa. And farming –

 

Chip: Yeah sure.

 

Matt: 20,000 acres in Iowa is a lot different than growing like, five warehouses in Oakland. It’s – 

 

Chip: And most of it is animal husbandry, or a lot of it, animal husbandry.

 

Matt: Yep, exactly. There’s a ton of that, and a lot of row crops have to, where they’re using like, satellite imagery to detect like, pathogens, or water necessities, and things like that. So, what we did is we actually took a lot of lessons from, we explored the farm management space. We looked at what a lot of those companies were doing for large scale commercial agriculture. And we looked at cannabis, and we saw kind of where the gaps were. A surprise kind of insight was we, we said, “There’s not really anything that’s specifically built for cannabis growers.” And with my experience in software, I’d seen there were restaurant softwares, and there were dental office softwares, and things like this, and everything was built, you know, with the idea that you can do everything that you need to do on a daily basis in those softwares. And so, we kind of took some lessons from those as well, and set out to build a software that would cover all of the major aspects of a cultivator’s business. And those, I kind of generically put those into three different categories. One is managing your team, the other is managing the environmental conditions, or monitoring at least the environment conditions in your facility. And then, the third is your regulatory compliance. So those are probably the three biggest challenges that people face every day. Creating groups of plants, tracking the activities that need to occur on those groups of plants, knowing what conditions they were exposed to, and then reporting all of that to the state. So that was really the problem that we set out to solve, was kind of simplifying the growers life and allowing them to really focus on what they do best, which is growing really high quality product.  And ultimately growing better product as a result of not having to worry about a lot of the other nuances that affect them on a daily basis.

 

Chip: Yes, man, so many states like Colorado, and California, and Nevada, they’re just so complex about their tracking. And man, then there’s you know, there’s some things about California that’s really nice about their harvesting, their batching. Where Colorado, it’s like, “Wow, you got to weigh it all. You have to track it all,” like Colorado is, in my opinion, has one of the best programs, because you do have to track so much of it, but it’s not ridiculous, like maybe Nevada is. You know, it’s tough out there, man. It’s really hard for new cannabis operators or experienced operators to really keep up with it all, right? You like, literally have to have some sort of technology now. It’s not just growing plants.

 

Matt: Yeah, I mean, the legal market invented a new role in a cannabis cultivation facility, which is the  compliance manager. You know, before regulation, there was no compliance, because there, you know, everything was –

 

Chip: It was like, “Oh man, is this good? This is good, bro! I like this one.”

 

Matt: In addition to the compliance element that comes with the regulated market, it’s also that there’s now this kind of quality expectation with brands where you put out a product and you say, you know, this is a pretty good cultivar, I’m branding it with my farm. And then, the consumer tries that, they like it, they go back to the store, they want more of it, or they get it delivered or whatever. If it’s not the same experience, then you might lose that customer. And so, there’s experience, expectation, and potency expectation, and kind of brand image all kind of encompasses all of that now. And that’s a really new thing that we really didn’t have in the legacy market. You know, it was you knew, so and so down the street had the fire Sour D, but you didn’t necessarily like, expect that every time you got that Sour D, it was gonna be the exact same or what have you. And so we’ve kind of created this machine to the industry that has also led to a lot of changes beyond just reporting to the state for compliance. It’s also like, developing standard operating procedures that are unique to different cultivars and things like that. And I think that’s a really exciting evolution, because it’s what you see in like, wine and spirits, and what you see when, you know, you look at other industries. You know, you kind of have a recognition of the brand, and you expect certain things from them. 

 

Chip: I mean, you kind of gotta be feeling like the, when you go and talk to some of these cultivators, like you know, you’re introducing the you know, the Ford Raptor, and they’re still on the like, donkey and car type scenario, right? Because I mean, ganja farmers, they’re like, salt of the earth, right? Like, most of them, the older school ones, you know, this isn’t what they’re interested in. Do you have like, I don’t know, it’s almost a cultural like difference to be able to talk to people in that manner. Do you see that?

 

Matt: Yeah, I’d say it’s a mix in the industry. You know, we’ve got some growers that know they want something, but don’t know exactly what it is. And they meet with us to kind of see if we’re at, and then some cases we are, and in other cases, you know, like you said, they might say, “Well, this is not necessarily what we’re looking for.” But for the ones that get it, some of our larger customers are actually telling us what they need still. You know, we started out very much customer centric, focus on what the growers needs are and figuring out like, here’s what their problem is, here’s what the ultimate need is, let’s figure out a solution to that, working really hand in hand with them. And we still have that to this day, like, a lot of our new feature development comes directly from growers saying, you know, “This is now really important in my business, can you help me figure out how to solve this?” And as the industry evolves, our customers are evolving, and our software platform needs to evolve to keep pace with them, as well, because there are a lot of –

 

Chip: And do you have an example?

 

Matt: – the customers.

 

Chip: Example of one of those customer changes or customer like, developments you mean? Customer based research?

 

Matt: Yeah, I mean like, almost every feature in the app, I’d say. But I’ll give you a couple of examples. 

 

Chip: So I mean, you talked heavily to people about what’s going on, this isn’t just your ideas?

 

Matt: We would not be anywhere without the guidance from our customers, you know.  What we try to do is spend as much, I mean, ultimately, all the way down to our head of engineering, actually, right now on this call, our head of engineering is covering a customer meeting for me. And he’s meeting with a large client that we’re trying to close, and working with them to figure out how we need to make some adjustments to be able to deploy our software across their portfolio facilities that they have. So all the way down to like, the engineering level, we have people talking to our customers, because if you don’t understand the problem that the grower has, then you’re not going to be able to build software that’s going to solve that problem. And so, from our customer support to our marketing, to our engineering team, to myself, you know, we spend an immense amount of time talking to our customers. But a great example is when we first launched, we had a mobile app only. And it worked well for some of our really early customers, we had basically the ability to monitor environmental sensors like temp, humidity, co2, in the rooms. You could create groups of plants and assign them to those rooms, and then track them on the way and harvest them. And then you could also assign tasks to those groups of plants, so that your team could execute them all from the mobile app. And we started out very much mobile focused because the farms that we were working with at the scale that they were at, basically, a lot of them didn’t even [inaudible 16:56] in the facility. It had to be on mobile. So then we started working, honestly, we probably want a deal that was, we were way over our skis on and we probably shouldn’t be one, but we want it. And yeah, one day, they immediately said, “This is great. We like what you’re doing for the team. But you know, managers, we really need a web based application. And we got to be able to map things out like we do on this current calendar that we’re using. And we need to be able to plan out months or even harvests in advance.” And so working really closely with them, we built out that functionality. And now it’s probably like the most popular feature in our app is this like, that this kind of concept of task planning for your team. And I mean, literally, we just did a survey not too long ago, it was one of the more popular features that we have. So I mentioned cultivation earlier in the call. I’ve grown but I’ve never grown at the scale that these guys are growing, and I’ve never produced product that was anywhere close to it. So these guys are great. So, humility is a really important thing, being humble at what you’re good at, and recognizing where other people have expertise that you don’t have. And these growers know their craft inside and out. And you know, I think we know tech and software inside and out. But you gotta we got to listen to those that really know what they need. And that’s the way we were able to really build solid features that actually match their expectations.

 

Chip: I’ve said this over and over again. And it’s my number one encouragement or advice that I give people is, growing cannabis on a small scale or large scale is more about logistics and movement of materials and people, right? Like, you know, there is a certain magic and magical moment that happens when you cultivate cannabis. But especially on a commercial scale, the logistics associated with it all, you know,  you have to be detail-oriented, if you want to be successful and on, and  the cannabis to look the same brandable, you know, be it the same high quality, or similar every single time. It’s more than just talking to your plants, right?

 

Matt: Yeah, absolutely. That’s a hundred percent right. Another example of a feature that we built in collaboration with customers is actually very much in line with what you’re talking about here. So, after we built out that task calendar, we had some customers saying, you know, “I’ve got, you know, 22,000 plants that I’m managing in this cultivation facility, and I’ve got a team of, you know, 30 people that work here every day. And I have to coordinate all of them on these plants. And I have to grow these plants in the exact same way every time. So I really need a way to repeat that process for groups of plants, and be able to basically like when I create a group of plants, we already know exactly what needs to happen on it all the way through from when I initially cut the clones, and plug them all the way through when we’re harvesting and hanging. We came up with this idea of a workflow. So, a workflow is just a series of tasks that need to occur on any group of plants. And you can create as many workflows as you want. So you can have one for each strain, you could have one for for different cultivation styles. Maybe you’ve got one farm that’s greenhouse, you got another one that’s indoor, one that’s outdoor, you can have different workflows that apply to those. Or maybe you’re testing out like, rock wool and cocoa together. You can have different workflows for those. And then when you create a group of plants, you just assign this workflow, and it’ll automatically populate your calendar with all the tasks that need to happen for that group of plants. So 100% agree with you with the inventory and team management problem being one of the major things that the growers have to overcome. You know, the art of growing cannabis is in itself a full time job, you know, to really figure out exactly what your plants need, and what you need to do, and then to coordinate that across, I mean, some of these farms that we’re working with are like, measured in miles almost, right? They’re like 400,000 square feet cultivation facilities. When you’re talking about growing at that scale, you really need to have really strong processes in place in order to manage effectively. And to get the same output that you’re expecting every time. Labor is the number one operational expense, at least here in California this is true.

 

Chip: Everywhere, you know, and you just can’t be, some things just can’t be automated, just like the grape industry. So much of the you know, grape industry is still hand labored, still handpicked, still hand trimmed, you know, it’s a part of it.

 

Matt: So take that, and then imagine that you had to tag each individual grapevine with a barcode, and you had to know what grape came from each vine. 

 

Chip: Yeah, God. Right? Yeah, I mean, this is literally, do you have a statistic on how much compliance costs and labor?

 

Matt: I mean, I’ve heard numbers as high as like 30% increase in labor. 

 

Chip: Yeah, it’s 30%.

 

Matt: That’s coming from older markets in California, because California is still pretty new in the compliance area. But like Colorado, and Oregon, I’ve heard, it adds 30%, to just everything that we do, when it comes from, you know, planting all the way through, I mean, harvesting is probably the most laborious part of cultivating at this point, because you do have to weigh every plant. And a lot of these regulations, it’s pretty clear that whoever wrote them, either didn’t consult extensively with growers about it, or ignored grower advice, because there’s a lot of things that add a ton of additional expense to the industry. And ultimately in time, that doesn’t, in my opinion, add a lot of additional value, but.

 

Chip : I’ve been in on those rule defining conversations with legislators and, man, it just it, you know, they’ve got this certain perception of public safety that they need to meet. And it kind of, that trumps everything. So even though we know that cannabis as a plant is pretty much harmless, right? They have to have this like allure that they’re protecting, you know, the public from it. And that’s why you get, you know, these weird laws, right?

 

Matt: Yeah, I mean, I’ve seen, especially like, I’ve seen it, you know, the distance to school thing. It’s like you can, in some areas, I’ve seen schools that are down the street from a 7-11 where you can buy alcohol. Or down from, you know, a big box store where you can buy hunting rifles, but no, you can’t have them. Cannabis store or anywhere close to that where they actually have a bouncer at the door that checks your ID to make sure you can come in there. You know, it’s pretty ridiculous, some of the things that we see. But I, yeah, I get it. The public fear that started at the beginning of the 20th century in this country, and continues all the way now to this day, I think is, is one of the biggest things as an industry that we have to overcome. You know, the federal perception is one thing, and the federal legality is one thing, but the public perception is a whole another mess. 

 

Chip: Interesting how in California has the oldest history of cannabis in the country, right? I mean, I know people were growing cannabis all over, but California’s got one of the oldest histories. And there’s all this preconceived information and leftover PTSD on both sides of the fence. And, you know, I was just there, I’m dealing with a cannabis license up in Humboldt. And you know, there’s so many concerns people have that are just leftover with historic stuff that doesn’t occur anymore, and it might not have ever occurred. But like, you know, just the like, the preconceived notion that cannabis farmers you know, don’t care about the environment, or polluters are trash, or you know,  other places like say, Oklahoma where I’m at right now. I’m targetting my former city. Like, people are so open to cannabis here and they’re really interested in it in a way that like, I don’t see it in California, righ? It’s really, really strange man. You know that, you think that a state that has so much history with it and people who actively voted for it right, and you know, and smoke weed at night, or at home on the weekends. Just the conversations they have as they’re against cannabis and cannabis production because the myths you know, of system abuse.

 

Matt: Yeah, I mean even the county that I’m in here, there’s no storefronts where you can buy it. We have delivery services, but you know – 

 

Chip: In Marin County?

 

Matt: Marin County, yeah.

 

Chip: Home of the Grateful Dead, right?

 

Matt: Yeah. Home after they got busted, right. Over selling at San Francisco and then –

 

Chip: Safehouse.

 

Matt: Yeah, we had a little stint in LA where they were manufacturing LSD and then they came back, and they all landed in Marin Country. And ultimately that’s where Jerry died since the beach but yeah, that’s where Bobby still lives. And Phil Spot and Sandra Fells.

 

Chip: I mean, isn’t that ridiculous? Like, I mean, The Grateful Dead really did like, define so much like street level cannabis dealing and like help, you know, find cannabis travel throughout the country, right? It’s so many. That’s the first time so many people got exposed to high end cannabis, is going to dead shows. 

 

Matt: Yeah. True story.

 

Chip: Anyway, man, thank you. My cannabis licenses is in Humboldt. And they’re the hardest, it is so hard to get a cultivation license in the county of Humboldt. They’ve just regulated it, and restricted it, and zoned, it’s pretty much to death. It’s just nuts, but like used to be like, where all the weed came from, right?

 

Matt: Yeah, for sure. Yeah, I don’t know, it’s, it’s interesting. I’ve heard plenty of stories of people that have attempted to get licensed in California that were coming from the legacy market. That for whatever reason, you know, either they had a hard time getting a license, and they had challenges with their facility, they’ve just decided not to, some have remained in the legacy market. And others have moved to other states to try and, you know, give it a go in some of the newer markets that, depending on which market you’re talking about, in some cases, like Oklahoma’s a good example, it’s much easier to, from a licensing perspective to start an operation there that it is in California. It doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s any easier from a building a facility, and designing it, and actually running it. But you know, when it comes to licensing there, there are some newer markets that are a lot more liberal with their their kind of allocation of licenses and things like that.

 

Chip: You know, the limited liability, or the limited license states like Missouri, and Arkansas, and Georgia and Florida, you know, they make it a little bit different, because there’s no application process. And it’s not quite the same over there. Usually, when there’s a limited liability state, there’s no legacy people evolved into into it at all. Right, or like somebody on the board, or some other like. billion dollar group of people would come in to like, try to get a license. Because that’s what it takes, man, right? Like, it takes millions of dollars to get a license in one of those exclusive states.

 

Matt: It’s like that in some parts of California to where maybe not the millions of dollars, but there’s like a whole side of the industry right now, which is like license application writing, right? Where you have to, like, say the right things and portray yourself the right way in order to kind of, especially when it comes to storefront, you know, dispensers are I think especially a really coveted areas are much more challenging thing. But yeah, there’s –

 

Chip: In Oklahoma, one of my favorite customers is Danky McNuggets. Yeah. But when you’re writing an application, like you have to, you know, have a, it can’t be fun like that. It can’t be the Cheech and Chong show so much anymore. It’s like, “Oh, we’re growing and building a sustainable cannabis operation. And we’re gonna give back to the community and healthy harvests friendly cannabis shop,” you know, ends up being the name, right? And that’s why so many of the names are so, you can’t remember anybody’s name, right? Because they’re all like, you know, something THC related, but like, you know, Co-Op, or I don’t know, that whole weird thing that’s happened with cannabis has like, definitely decreased the culture of it all when we used to go and buy it on people’s couches.

 

Matt: Oh, man, I still trip out when I drive through Oakland and I see the billboards like, on the interstate. Because I’m just like, you know. Did you grow up in Oklahoma?

 

Chip: No, no, I grew up in Georgia. I moved to California when I was like, in my early 20s.

 

Matt: Alright, so I have a similar story, but grew up in North Carolina. And so like, I remember having conversations with my parents, and they were like, I was like, “This stuff’s gonna be legal there!” And they were like, “Bullshit.”

 

Chip: It’s federally legal now.

 

Matt: So but now, I’m driving down the interstate, you can you know, you see it advertised on the interstate in Oakland. And that’s just a really awesome experience, to see the evolution and, you know, we have these kind of, I guess, high-end problems now that we’re talking about, of, you know, the way that they’re regulating it. But the fact that it is regulated in a positive way is a really amazing thing.

 

Chip: We got to complain a little bit, you know, I mean, checks and balances of it all. And, you know, the way we of course, cannabis people win is by like, “Hey, let’s get some software to track the growth in the way to the plant all the way through. So if anybody like questions where my cannabis went, I’ve got the data that shows exactly where it went.” That’s kind of the beauty of it. That’s how we get the win, right? That’s how we get to grow. It’s like, “Oh, we just track it. Oh, sure. I’ll do that. Oh, I’ll have a fence. Oh, sure I’ll be far enough away from people.” And you know we just comply, just you know, compliance. That’s exactly what that means, is we’re not trying to fight it, right? We’re just going to comply. “Okay, whatever you want. We’ll do it,” you know, and keep getting to grow more weed.

 

Matt: Yep, absolutely. We’re happy to help.

 

Chip: So man, you get to talk to just a lot of great people, I’m sure. You’re primarily in California, but do you go other, you know, other places?

 

Matt: Yeah. So we’re actually in 14 different states. We focused on California, because that’s where the bulk of the team is here. And it’s really where we have probably the majority of our connections. But, you know, we do have customers in Colorado, and Oregon, and Oklahoma, and Massachusetts, Maine, Actually just recently got our first customer out in Hawaii. So yeah, we’re all over the place, Indiana, Pennsylvania. 

 

Chip: And you work in hemp, as well as in ganja, and medical marijuana as well.

 

Matt: Yeah, we just recently started bringing on some hemp farms. The compliance piece is obviously not really a major factor there. But the farm management work that we’re doing is really helpful there. So it’s been interesting evolution of the product, I’d say, to see that we have customers outside of cannabis that are using us. 

 

Chip: When you’re talking to your hemp customers. I mean, they’re more like traditional row crop farmers. Where the ganja customers, the medical cannabis customers, it’s more like a nursery style type of operation. How do you handle that with your software?

 

Matt: Yeah, it’s interesting. A lot of the hemp farms that we work with actually are similar to the anecdote that I gave earlier, which was a lot of growers in California that, you know, for whatever reason, were having challenges getting licensed or whatever, they move to other states to give it a go there. So a lot of the hemp farmers that we know are actually people that started out in like, medical cannabis states, and then moved to either, move back home to like Tennessee or South Carolina, or somewhere like that to start doing hemp. And the interesting thing is, I think a lot of the hemp farmers are establishing themselves in markets where they believe legalization will happen soon. And then, they’ve already got the infrastructure built up so that when licensing becomes available, they can get their cannabis license, and be ready to drop the cannabis license. So we focus mostly on high-end smokable flower hemp, because it is so similar to cannabis, aand it works really well for the software that we built out. The other aspect of the industry that’s moving towards the like, massive row crop outdoor hemp, that hasn’t really been something that we’ve addressed yet. But we do have aspirations to do that over time. Now, we just need to, I think, make some slight adjustments to be the ideal solution for that type of cultivation.

 

Chip: Yeah, no, I get it. It was, you know, my first thought. And yeah, this year, we just saw the industrialization of hemp, and when incurred with that, the glut in the marketplace, the development of machinery. But yeah, you know, they don’t, it’s not as regulated here as much as ganja and medical marijuana is, but you still need all the stats. You still need to know what grows where, you still need to know your water consumption, you know? So are you guys integrating any like, drone technology or satellite technology? You’ve kind of mentioned those before.

 

Matt: Um, no, we’re currently we’re integrated with like, environmental control systems. So things like troll master, agricultural type of aeration controls, things like that, as well as Argus controls out of Canada. Their industrial environmental control systems, we’re able to pull data in from those systems, and then represent that in our system. We’re looking at some other environmental control integrations as well. And then, obviously, we’re integrated with Metrc. And also we’re looking at some complimentary software systems now to integrate with as well. 

 

Chip: So like, Link4 or Privo, something like that?

 

Matt: Yeah, those are, those are the types of companies for sure, that are on our integration list. We’re mostly indoor and greenhouse, although we do have some outdoor farms that are on the platform. There are indoor trained drones, we have not specifically started working with those yet. That plus, there’s a lot of like imagery technology that’s out there, that I think is still maturing. But, they’re using machine learning, and imagery to essentially identify like, pathogens or pests, or things like that on plants. And so, I think as the industry continues to evolve, those technologies will also evolve. And if it seems like that’s a need that our customers have, then we’ll look to integrate those types of technologies at the point where it seems like it’s sufficiently developed and would solve problems for our growers.

 

Chip: Yeah, absolutely, man. I mean, it seems like everything’s coming with a data port these days, you know, and sensors, you know, are soon to be on everything. I mean, I’m surprised that like, we don’t have sensors on our lights for temperature or par. And, I mean, it seems like they’re already, it’s just not too complicated to put it in there. Maybe should somebody get the idea. Hey, give me 1% for this idea, there’s a par reader on your lamp out there, send me one lamp anyway that reads par, I only need one. But you know, but you know what I’m saying? It’s like, the integration of all this is all just phase and a half. And I mean, it’s just happened with, like the GPS and satellites have just started to happen with tractors. And even though we’ve been talking about GPS and satellites for years, but it’s taken such a long time. And like, now I’m out here in Oklahoma, this turnpike they’re building. I saw this one guy was driving one tractor, and then there were other two graders right behind him that were totally empty, right? And they’re just, you know, following his GPS, you know, he’s controlling them.

 

Matt: Wow.

 

Chip: Yeah, yes. It’s totally crazy, man.

 

Matt: It’s a drone tractor.

 

Chip: Yeah, drone tactor.

 

Matt: That’s pretty amazing.

 

Chip: Yeah, the technology is everywhere, you know what I mean? The most expensive thing with cannabis is labor, like you said, to be able to automate any point. But then, you also have to, like read the data, right? Like, you know, just because you know, you’re shoving all your weed in your automatic harvesting machine, and it sorts the nuggets, and pushes the big leaf to one side, the small leaf to the other side, the eighth nuggets this way, the pound nuggets this way, you still need the data from it all.

 

Matt: Yeah, absolutely. I think when we started Trym, we thought it would be really great if we could Google set out the catalog the world’s data. I think, you know, you could say we set out to catalog the cannabis cultivation industry’s data, right? We didn’t actually set out to do it at the industry scale, though. We started out to do it at the grower scale, where we could actually catalog out their data, and then they can look back on it, and reflect on it, and figure out how to make improvements. Because ultimately, you and I can both be growing like you know Mac. We can both be growing a strain. And your version of Mac might be different than mine, right? Because like, we think it’s the same cut. But ultimately, it may not be, and I mean, there’s been obviously a lot of efforts to try and make, to try and identify those similarities. But knowing that I’ve seen one of my friend’s Gorilla Glue, I’ve seen  the other one’s Gorilla Glue, and they look fundamentally different. It’s like, something happened along the line, and maybe [inaudible 37:01], or whatever. But also like, we don’t track everything, right? So these outside influences around like, how tight is the envelope of the room, and that kind of thing. So yeah, we have the inputs, but we don’t know every, we haven’t characterized every element of every room. So we think we’re you know, the kind of similarities across different growers make a challenge with the differences of their grow environment, the differences of their strains, make it difficult I think, to really create this whole industry wide, perfect model of what’s the best way to grow cannabis. But what we can do, I think, is provide growers along the way, as we continue to get better about how we make it really easy to track data, we can make it really easy to provide recommendations to growers on how to make improvement. Like hey, you know, normally when you run your Alien Cookies in room three, you keep it 73 degrees, and you get this output. You’re running at 75 degrees on average, you know, if we could drop that back down, then you might get x percent more output.  You know, those are the types of things along the way that I think we should be able to provide, becauseyou know, you can already provide those types of assertions, and a lot of, there’s a lot of technology to provide those types of assertions in other industries. You know around like, turbine performance and around you know, broader agriculture, you know. If the field looks this color of brown from the satellite image, then you’re probably suffering from this pathogen, you know. That’s something that they can do [inaudible 38:22]. The fact that we can’t do that in cannabis is, I think, a statement to the fact that it was federally illegal. A lot of growers weren’t didn’t have the will, or the motivation to take really accurate records that were especially digital. Because you know don’t have a record what you’re doing, and with the medical, you know, there was a lot of that. So, a lot of internal nomenclature. And there’s a lot of unique cultivars that exist, and a lot of unique environments. And so, that’s been a gap to go to provide that cannabis. But that’s what we’re on the way to do, is to help growers ultimately grow a better product. And we’re doing that by tracking all those major pieces.

 

Chip: Oh man, that’s where it’s at. We need to grow better weed, dude. Everybody needs to grow better weed. I need better weed, you need better weed, we all need better weed. That’s for sure, man. Man, this has been an awesome conversation. A lot of people look you up. How do people find out about Trym?

 

Matt: Yeah, so our website is trim with a Y, so trym.io. You can go there, you can request a demo, or you could email us at info@trym.io. Love to talk to anyone that’s interested. As I mentioned, we’re in 14 states, our farm platform works in any state irrespective of the compliance system you guys use. And then, if you’re specifically looking for Metrc support in California, definitely reach out, because we, over the experience of building out that integration for compliance, have turned into industry experts as far as compliance goes in the state of California. So yeah, we’d love to have a conversation with any of your listeners that think we could be helpful.

 

Chip: Oh man, that’s great. Yeah, Metrc is coming to a town near you, Oklahoma. So get ready for yeah, we just passed it a couple of days ago.  Not passed, but it just came into action, I believe just a couple of days ago. So it’s all starting to happen here.

 

Matt: That’s the truth, man. Yeah, those guys have a pretty good grip on on the regulated states. 

 

Chip: Yeah well, here it comes. It’s all good. Hey, man. Thanks for the conversation. I really appreciate us finally getting together. It looks a little clear out there. Not so smoky. I hope the breeze keeps up, and the fire stay down.

 

Matt: Yeah, thank you. I really appreciate it. It’s been really nice talking to you. And yeah, hope you have a great rest of your day.

Chip: Yes, thank you. And hey, thanks for listening to another episode of The Real Dirt. This has been The Real Dirt with Chip Baker. If you’re interested in this episode or others, you can subscribe on iTunes and on Spotify. If you have any grow needs check us out at cultivatecolorado, cultivateokc.com. And remember, when life’s getting you down, just grow a little bit of weed. It’ll make you feel better. Thanks again, Real Dirt.

The Real Dirt on Permaculture and Cannabis Tourism

The Real Dirt on Permaculture and Cannabis Tourism

permaculture and regenerative cannabis cultivation
Notice: This episode was recorded before the forest fires in California began.

Restorative agriculture is no joke.

As cannabis cultivators, we are all stewards of the environment. Our actions can directly impact our local ecosystems, and as cannabis cultivation spreads across the nation, that impact can grow rapidly.

Restorative agriculture, or permaculture, is the act of farming while trying to prevent as many environmentally harmful practices as possible. Water usage, nutrients, soil beds, and farm design are just some of the aspects that go into restorative cannabis cultivation, and Sol Spirit Farm is doing it all.

Judi Nelson and Walter Wood are the owners of Sol Spirit Farm, a licensed 10k square foot regenerative cannabis farm in Trinity County, CA and Sol Spirit Retreats, a cannabis tourism-focused, farm stay hospitality business. Walter has been cultivating cannabis since 1996, and his passion for improving the environmental footprint of his cannabis cultivation is what drives every cultivation decision.

Judi and Walter started Sol Spirit Retreats in 2019 after meeting a lot of people, even people working in the cannabis industry, who had never seen a cannabis plant growing in the ground under the full sunshine. They wanted to share the experience of being in the Emerald Triangle on a cannabis farm, and show off how regenerative farming, permaculture principles, and appropriate technology can enhance the cannabis we bring to market, while improving the health of our land.

In this episode of The Real Dirt with Chip Baker, Judi and Walter take Chip through their grow processes and how they maintain their restorative cannabis cultivation practices. They also dive in to the new world of cannabis tourism and the many challenges, especially the legal hurdles, that the two had to overcome just to operate.

While still small and driven mostly by word-of-mouth, Sol Spirit Retreats has drawn in a lot of people trying to experience the northern California life. Judi hopes that one day it will be just like a winery and orchard, where visitors won’t just be able to tour, but also taste the cannabis on the farm!

Check out this episode on our new YouTube channel or go to your favorite podcast platform to listen on the go! TRANSCRIPT BELOW

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Transcript

 

Chip: Oh, here we are, The Real Dirt. Today at The Real Dirt, I have some peoples from one of my favorite place in the world, Trinity County, California. Man, Trinity and Humboldt, and along the border there, is one of the most beautiful and rugged places in the world. And I have Judi Nelson and Walter Wood of Sol Spirit Farms and Retreats. Say hey, Judi and Walter.

 

Walter: Hello!

 

Judi: Hey, Chip!

 

Chip: Oh, man, I just love that whole area you guys are in, outside Willow Creek all the way to Hayford. I’ve got some really great friends over there. Little Hill Farms is over there, and man, you guys are just in paradise.

 

Walter: Definitely, definitely. We love it. We have been out there for about 20 years now and I don’t know, we hardly leave. It’s home. It’s a magic place.

 

Chip: So are you guys on the mountain, or the river?

 

Walter : We’re about 300 feet up from the river floor. So we’re just out of the river fog, but at the same time, we’re not up on the hilltop. So it’s a nice kind of in-between. We’re in the valley, but we get about 12 hours of sun so it just works out perfect.

 

Chip: Oh man, it sounds beautiful. Yeah, that river fog can plague you. I lived over in, off the Vandusen for a number of years. Man, the fog just creep right in on you.

 

Walter: I had no idea how bad it was until one day, we just took a little drone up and it was like, 10 o’clock in the morning. We’d been in the sun for hours and the whole valley was fogged in just below our shelf.

 

Chip: Oh yeah, there’s places like that all over. You know I lived in, up in Kneeland right outside Arcata for a number of years. And we’re at the 3500 block, which is 3.5 miles up that hill. And if you went just a half a mile further, you’re gonna have enough fog. Almost every single day like, hours before you know, we got out of the fog.

 

Walter: Luckily, we were living in the area for a few years before we bought the property, and we had a pretty good idea what the [2:18 inaudible] were. Permaculture course really helped nail in what exactly makes a good piece of property for homesteading, and growing some fine medicines.

 

Chip: Well, man, you guys are in the homesteading capital of the world, that’s for sure. And you mentioned permaculture, and you know, we talked about regenerative farming earlier. You guys have a unique cannabis business. You know, many people just have a, they cultivate, or extract, or are packaging something, but you have this cultivation that you integrate with a farm stay. Tell me how that works.

 

Judi: Well, so we have been inviting guests up to the farm. The [2:59 inaudible] as legalization of recreational hemp in California, we started going to a bunch of different trade shows. And it was kind of amazing to meet people who are in the cannabis industry who have never seen a cannabis plant growing in the ground. And it really surprised me, because obviously, we’ve been sort of up in our little bubble here for the past 20 years, and I just didn’t realize it. And so, we just really wanted to be able to bring people like that up, and be like, “Hey, check this out. This is this way that this can be done that’s not taking a lot of resources.” We’re actually trying to make our piece of property and the land that we’re working with in a better state than when we found it. And in order to do that, we have some bell tents, which are these beautiful canvas tents. And people come up, and they generally spend two nights in the tents. And we raise pigs and chickens on the farm, as well as vegetables and fruit, and so we’re able to do farm-to-table meals. And then Walter takes them on a really nice farm tour, and shows them all the different techniques that we’re using. And we usually take them rafting on the Trinity or on the South Fork, depending on what time of year it is. And it’s just been really great, because I think to people who are suffering nature deficit, nature connection deficit, it’s a really rejuvenating experience I think for people.  Especially if they’re coming from a city, to come up and just chill out, smoke some good medicine, and connect with nature. And it’s been really rewarding for us too, and hopefully for them.

 

Chip: That sounds so fun. But you guys don’t have a normal cultivation or I shouldn’t say a normal, but it should be normal. But you guys use permaculture and regenerative farming techniques.  Many people have heard organic or maybe living soil, and those are kind of part of regenerative farming and permaculture a bit. And I know it’s a huge question to ask, but man, can you like, tell me how it applies to cannabis?

 

Walter: Well, we’re working on a whole bunch of different angles and we did this, we have transitioned substantially in the last few years. We were doing the full season plants up until almost legalization, and then we switched over to the light dep, and so we’re getting all that worked out. And so we’ve now got about six and a half thousand square feet of, we got living soil beds which for us that means we don’t till them, we don’t broadfork them or anything. We did originally broadfork them to just loosen them up a little bit, but not to actually turn the soil. There is a living clover cover crop growing year-round, it’s a little bit died back right now, because they were associated out by the ladies on the first round. We just replaced the spot where the plant itself was potted in, or the pot went in into the ground. And so the rest of it’s all connected, all natural, all living. Tilling really disrupts the biology of the soil and releases a lot of CO2 into the air. With this, the clover cover crop, we didn’t have to import any nitrogen this year. All’s we’ve been feeding has been compost fees, most of that’s made with onsite compost, we’ve been doing various KNF type things, which we are importing some sugar to make our nutrients. So that’s just about it. It’s all natural farming, just trying to to make as many nutrients as we can at home to import as little as possible, and just build that soil. 

 

Chip: When you say beds, describe what your beds look like.

 

Walter: Well, so I mean we are on a little bit of a slope. It’s pretty mellow, but it does slope so we went across that hillside.  And when we broadforked it and all that out, we leveled out a six foot bed going across the hillside, it’s tied right into the soil. There’s no cage around it or anything like that, it’s just directly in the earth. And then, we’re going to be putting up some wood edges on the downhill side to just help retain that edge. It’s grown right in the earth. It’s super important to me. We don’t have to feed as much, and the plants have access to what they want. They can make choices, and they’re not stuck in a little tiny soil spot, they have access to the whole area.

 

Chip: What did you have to do to your soil to prep it? What did you add to it at the beginning, and what are kind of the things that you add to it now?

 

Walter: Well, so this year, like I said, we actually, we did not add anything besides wood cover crop (7:50). And then we also did bring in forest duff from the hillside above of the patch. And so we brought in a couple inches of the leaf litter and stuff that’s just starting to break down a little bit, so that brought in our indigenous microorganisms or IMOs, as they’re known sometimes. So we covered the beds with a six inch layer of that which completely covered that clover for a little bit, then that cover crop burst right back through that, and basically just incorporated all of that leaf matter right away. And so previously, when we first did prep those beds, we did bring in some manure. I think that was about it. I’m so scared to bring in even from outside anything because our tests, our flower’s tested to the parts per billion on these pesticides, and what if I’m bringing in some straw or something, and if it were to have something? So we avoid bringing in anything. We like to keep everything from on-site, that way we know it’s clean.

 

Chip: These aren’t like, beds that normal people think of that have wooden sides, their area is that you’ve built in the soil, grown in and added your own ingredients, local ingredients.

 

Walter: Exactly, exactly.

Chip: When you talk to people about cannabis techniques and grow techniques, a bed means so much different, so many different things. You know, in the indoor world, it can mean something, it’s totally different than the outdoor world.

 

Walter: We are directly in the ground for sure.

 

Chip: You’re directly in the ground and you say you do light dep, is it under plastic? Or is it under natural sunlight during the day?

 

Walter: So yeah, we do not have the clear covers on the greenhouses, so they are open to the natural sunlight. It makes it simpler. We don’t need as many fans, things like that, because it is open. And then yeah, we roll down some tarps over it at night, give us the 12 hour cycle.

 

Chip: Oh yeah, absolutely, man. I’m just envisioning your garden here as we’re talking about it. I mean, I’ve been in quite a few Humboldt and Trinity Gardens on the hillside. I feel like I know, I feel like I’ve been to your place before.

 

Walter: One thing that’s a little unusual is each bed is on its own, a foot higher than the next, because it’s sloping down the hillside. So then the bottom of the greenhouse has just some leg extensions to level it out. And so once again, just trying to simplify, keep things as minimal, and environmentally friendly as possible.

 

Chip: That’s the name of the game. And you know, the interesting thing about everything we’re talking about, is there’s no cost in doing this. Like you virtually have, I mean, you have very low input costs. 

 

Walter: Yeah, comparing it to an indoor scene it is very drastically reduced. I would do only two runs a year. So we have very little lighting, very little inputs, and that way, the light dep is significantly more labor I find than the full season was. And you know, just pruning up all these plants and anything when you multiply it by 1800 or 2400 pound a run, all of a sudden like, just a few [11:13 inaudible] here and there adds up.

 

Judi: There is an increased labor cost, you know, you’re just trading going out into the forest and having to collect these inputs. That’s a labor cost, right? So you’re trading maybe some increased labor cost on going out and sourcing the nutrients ourselves compared to like, just going to the store and buying something that somebody else made in a bottle. So it’s a little bit of a trade-off. It’s not like there’s no cost associated. There’s no material cost, but there is a labor cost for sure.

 

Chip: Wait, wait a second. I thought that’s where the farm stay came in. Don’t you have the guests doing that for you?

 

Judi: I gotta make that work out, right? That’s the next step.

 

Chip: Sounds like you guys got a great trim camp. You really need to be hustling guests here in October, huh?

 

Judi: Right. Yes, come pay to trim our weed. That sounds like a great plan. I gotta get to work on that.

 

Chip: You would be the first person to try to implement that one.

 

Judi: I’ll let you know how it goes.

 

Walter: We’ll outdo what everyone else has [12:16 inaudible].

 

Chip: You know, not too many places have cannatourism, and that’s what we’re talking about here. And this is so akin to, I mean, wine tourism or fishing tourism. Like, this is like, a brand new thing. And how has it been perceived?

 

Judi: Well, you know, it’s been a little bit of a challenge just working out all the legalities of doing it, obviously because cannabis is so highly regulated. That’s, I would say been the most challenging part, is just trying figure out and make sure I’m not breaking any rules. And one thing that I mean, the people who have found it and have come out,  we sort of kept it a little just word of mouth so far, but the people that have come out have all had a great experience. And I think that, especially in Trinity County, and in Humboldt, like, it’s a huge thing if we can make it so that it’s easy for farms to do this, and to show it. There’s a huge demand for people who want to come and have this experience. It’s like, legendary, this area. There’s lots of people that want to come have the experience. So it’s been really well-received by the people who have come so far. We’re just trying to make it better all the time. And someday too, what we hope is like, just like wine, it would be amazing if we can get to the point with the state laws and the local laws that I could actually allow people to purchase cannabis at the farm when they come, you know, be able to buy our flower on our farm. So far that’s not allowed, but I really do hope that one of these days soon, the various involved agencies do allow us to do that, just like you can at a winery. And do tastings, and do that whole thing, because that would be amazing.

 

Chip: Absolutely man. They’ll treat us like adults one day.

 

Judi: Someday.

 

Walter: Maybe, I sure hope so. We know it’s come a long way.

 

Chip: It’s amazing, you know, Humboldt and Trinity County has such long-standing history, but there’s just always been this fight against cannabis there, and it just still remains. It’s one of the most difficult places to get licensing to this day. They’re really missing out on so much great culture. And this huge brain trust is there of people like yourselves, and living environment, sacrificing to grow cannabis, and cannabis growing them in return. It’s just an untapped resource, and they just haven’t used it well enough, that’s for sure.

 

Judi: Especially in Trinity where, you know, there was logging and mining, and that’s kind of what everything was built upon. But that’s been gone for decades now. And there’s not a lot else going on in Trinity. And I do think it’s changing. You know, we were able just recently, the Trinity County Agriculture Alliance, of which we are members, which is a group of licensed cultivators in Trinity. And we actually proposed our own cannabis commercial, cannabis tax measure, like, to tax ourselves. Because up to that point, Trinity didn’t have one and, you know, we all want to see our community services happen. And, we were able in five days to collect 10% of the registered voter signatures in the county to get our measure on the ballot.  And you know, who would have thought that that would ever happen in Trinity County? But it just did, so it’s coming around, it’s happening. You know, we’re getting more organized, and as people can kind of come out of the closet a little bit, I think that’s only just gonna increase.

 

Chip: Yeah, ’cause people are still scared to talk about cannabis there, even legal cannabis owners. They’re scared to talk about cannabis. They’re scared to bring it up to their neighbors. It’s still taboo in so many communities, in so many places.

 

Judi: Yeah, it’s true. I think that for me, that’s been one of the best parts about recreational happening in California. It’s just like, “Okay, you know what? We’re here. We’ve been here the whole time, but now we’re letting you know.”

 

Chip: So tell me about this tax initiative.

 

Judi: Well, so there was a tax measure proposed on the March election by a group of people who really actually just wanted to put all of – my perception – was that their tax basically was just to put everybody out of business. And so this, the Trinity County Agricultural Alliance came up with one that is much more small farm friendly, because in Trinity County, almost everybody has 10,000 square feet or less because of the way that the ordinance was written. There’s only a few people who have more than 10,000 square feet. And so basically, the TCAA came up with this proposal where it’s all based on sales, right? So for instance, in Humboldt County, you have this square footage tax where you’re charged per square foot, kind of regardless on whether you grow anything or make any money or not, which personally, I don’t think is the best way to do it.

 

Chip: Oh, it sucks.

 

Judi: I think that like these other industries, you should be taxed once you make money, right? And so luckily, we kind of had time to look at all these other counties and be like, “Okay, what’s good, what’s not good?” And so this tax, it’s like, for your first hundred pounds, you’re taxed at this rate. And I can’t quote you the exact numbers, but you’re taxed at a lower rate. So if you’re a very small producer, those first hundred pounds you grow is taxed at a low rate. And then it goes up, like okay, and then the next 200, I think, and it goes up from there until like, over I think a thousand pounds, you’re paying, I believe it’s $15 a pound in cultivation tax to the county, basically. And, you know, there’s some other things in there about different businesses, there is no retail in Trinity County yet at this point. And so they’re not, you know, they’re missing that, again, they’re not collecting any tax revenue because they’re not allowing anybody to sell retail, which hopefully, again, they’re gonna get that together. But this initiative mostly is for taxation on cultivators, because I think that’s appropriate as long as you wait to tax them. Wait until I’ve made some money, I’m very happy to contribute to the county coffers to do roadwork and, public safety, and things like that, and schools. And so, we just wanted to show as an industry like , “Look, here we are, we want to contribute, but don’t try to put us out of business.” Because that’s not going to be good for the county long-term.

 

Chip: Yeah, there’s so much green greed, it comes from every place. The counties get it for sure, and the state governments get it for sure. Well man, I salute you guys, for working so hard to put it together. Trinity was considered one of the harder places when it all started, I think Humboldt’s shown that it’s the hardest place right now. I mean, Mendocino might not be so easy either, but it hasn’t been any easier anywhere in the Triangle.

 

Walter: I think the triangle has some like, 60 or 80% of the permit since, it’s a large number.

 

Chip: More like 15, 16,000 people in Humboldt with commercial grows, you know, before all this has happened. And to say that you have like, and to say that you have 500 people or 600 people with licensing? Man, I just don’t think that’s a good enough attempt to get people out of the private market industry, and get them into tax. Because literally for Humboldt, it’s billions of dollars. They would convert all of that private grow – sorry guys, you should probably pay some taxes, all of my private grow friends that are out there just growing in the hills. I love you guys, you should pay more taxes. If they would incorporate all those guys into it, it would like really, really change. I mean, my local school, Trinidad Union School District, man they’re failing, they don’t have any money, right? Like, COVID’s hit them so hard like, there’s like, just so much stuff, and through Humboldt and Trinity County an educational loan that needs to be worked on. And you know if they played their cards right, like, cannabis could totally bring the whole Emerald Triangle out of all of their problems, right? It could help with the fire suppression issues. It could help with all the drug problems, it can help with all the homelessness, it can help with all of the educational stuff. I mean, it’s just such a wasted resource. It’s just kind of frustrating when we see as there.

 

Judi: Yeah, I think some of that is not necessarily seeing the legal market in California. And it is a challenge right now to, when you compare just all the hoops you have to jump through, all the money you have to pay. And yet, I personally think, because the state especially is taxing the end product so hard, they just have this huge black market that’s still going, and it’s hard to not look at that and be like, “Wow, that was so much easier back in the day.” But again, now it’s all changing and it’s the time to like, get together and move forward into the light.

 

Chip: No, it’s the responsible thing to do. And I mean, I don’t know about Trinity County, but Humboldt County per capita always had more people contributing to fundraising than anyplace else, you know? And that was because all the cash dollars from the fishing, the logging and the cannabis. And now the fishing and the logging, it’s like next to nothing compared to what it used to be, and it’s just cannabis. If they could just, open up their arms, just embrace it.

 

Walter: Relax a bit.

 

Chip: Yeah, relax, relax a bit. I know you have such a special place and inviting people out there. Tell me about some of the people that have come in and visited you.

 

Judi: So last year, we mostly focused on some different folks who either own, or manage, or the buyers for various retail shops in California. Again, because there’s no better way for someone to learn where this particular brand, our Sol Spirit brand of flower comes from. And, the lot of them had never been to the Emerald Triangle. So last year, it was a lot of retailers. And most of them were so stressed out when they arrived, because they’re jumping through their own set of hoops. And that job, I can’t even imagine trying to pull that off. And so, it was just super relaxing and rejuvenating for them. And most of them, you could just like, see their faces change by the third day where they were just like, “Oh, okay, we’ve let go of the stress. We’re here. ” And also getting to see the way that we farm, I think really opened their eyes to like, it’s not all the same. So like, indoor has its thing and then people with like, really large grows who are maybe putting out more mid-quality stuff, but in volume, that’s a whole different thing. And then our particular craft, regenerative way of doing it, it’s like, you’re actually talking kind of about different products, right? And so I think it was great for them to be able to see, like, “Oh, yeah, the next time somebody comes in and tries to sell me a regenerative craft cannabis, I’m not going to compare it to this $8 eighth in a mylar bag that came from a 12-acre scene in Salinas,” or something, you know. So that I think is like, an education piece that’s super important to us. And so there’s that, and like, that really, I think, changed a lot of their perspectives. And then this year, we’ve had more just regular folks. It’s been interesting with COVID to kind of work that all out, and so we had a bit of a slow start just making sure that we could keep everybody safe. And now I feel like we’ve got that down. And it’s been, I feel like even more rewarding, because we’ve had several people from the Bay Area come up, and some of them have been stuck in their apartment for months. So to be able to come out and of course, the beautiful cannabis medicine also helps with their mindset. And we had a couple of people come out where they sort of like, changed their whole life trajectory over the weekend, because they were able to just kind of step out of their normal life and gain some perspective on what they were doing which of course the cannabis is also really helpful for.

 

Walter: Yeah. The hills of Humboldt County and Trinity County have a way of doing that.

 

Judi: It’s been really great. We’ve had all kinds of different people, yes. Yeah. You know, you get used to where you live, and you kind of stop seeing it, I think sometimes. And being able to have all these different people come and see it from their perspective and out of their eyes, it really refreshes our love of the place as well.

 

Chip: Oh man, you know that’s the thing that people don’t understand or know about that area, Northern California is it has the least light pollution I’m pretty sure of any place else in the US. Right, maybe even the continental US. I mean, it is you get to see this guy.

 

Judi: Yeah, it’s pretty amazing.

 

Chip: It’s been great chatting with you guys. If people want to come to Sol Spirit Retreats, how do they get in touch with you guys? Can they follow you on Instagram? Or how does it work?

 

Judi: Well, they can follow us on Instagram. We have two different Instagrams, so one for the farm and one for the farm stay. And they’re, Sol Spirit Farm, s-o – like the sun, Sol Spirit Farm and Sol Spirit Retreats. And then our websites are the same, solspiritfarm.com and solspiritretreats.com.

 

Chip: Yeah, well, hey, thanks for joining me and man, smell some of that good Trinity County here for me. God, I wish I was there right now with you.

The Real Dirt on Investing in Cannabis with Narbe Alexandrian

The Real Dirt on Investing in Cannabis with Narbe Alexandrian

how to invest in cannabis

There’s those with a passion for cannabis, and those with a passion for money.

In Narbe Alexandrian’s experience, both have been successful in the cannabis industry. But those with more passion for money rarely stay around as long as those with a passion for the plant.

Narbe is the President and CEO of Canopy Rivers, a venture capital firm specializing in cannabis. Prior to joining Canopy Rivers, Narbé was a Venture Capitalist at OMERS Ventures, one of the most prominent technology venture capital funds in Canada. During his tenure, Narbe helped fundraise for two funds ($520M of capital), sourced and led multiple debt/equity financings, and acted as a Board Observer for several portfolio companies.

Now he has turned his focus to cannabis and securing financing for cannabis startups, and investing in cannabis businesses across the country. Narbe knows a thing or two about what investors are looking for in a cannabis business or startup, and has valuable information to share on new and emerging markets.

From how Canada’s market exploded and businesses scrambled to take advantage, to the step by step process of investing and growing a business portfolio simplified, Narbe and Chip talk about it all in this episode of The Real Dirt Podcast.

Transcript

Chip: Once again you have reached The Real Dirt, and on today’s dirt we have Narbe Alexandrian. Narbe, he is the President and CEO of Canopy Rivers. They’re the largest cannabis venture capital company. They’ve invested in some of the largest cannabis operations in the world. Thanks for joining me today.

Narbe: Thanks for having me. Really excited.

Chip: I love Canada. I love Toronto. There’s so many polite and pleasant people there. I’ve been to Toronto a handful of occasions, and even the police officers that were trying to arrest me were really polite.

Narbe: Yeah, there’s a lot of sorry’s, a lot of thank you’s, that’s for sure.

Chip: Just for the record, I didn’t go to jail, I never have been. It was a totally misunderstanding and they let me go.

Narbe: Awesome. Glad the city was nice to you.

Chip: Yeah. You know I was really excited that you know, we were able to organize a conversation, because you know, cannabis business is the most important part about the cannabis industry. You know, everyone thinks just cultivation, growing weed like you know, that’s all it’s about. But like, that’s only where it starts. And ultimately that’s, the point is to provide that product. But business in cannabis is so much more complex than it used to be.

Narbe: Absolutely. I mean, the beginning piece is cultivation, like you need to grow it out of the ground in order to be able to do all the things that you can to it. So when we look at the industry, we see it as seed to sale of what are all the different steps that are needed to go from the initial idea of I want to cultivate cannabis, all the way to the products that you see on the shelves today, and all the post retail services and products that you see on the shelves for cannabis businesses as well as consumers out there.

Chip: I talk to people all the time, I talk to, especially here in Oklahoma. You know, one of the things about Okla- we were speaking earlier about Oklahoma, and California, and Colorado. One of the really different things here as opposed to other states, is it’s so many mom and pops. And there, there are some like small investment type structure,  and there’s some big companies that have moved down here. But when you look at the stats, there’s 7000, 8000 cultivation licenses issued so far. And most of those people are just small mom and pop people that their only interest in is growing cannabis. But other places, like Canada, or California, or now even Colorado, and kind of the only way you can get involved in the cannabis industry is by, you know, coming at it with lots of capital resources. And that’s kind of where you guys come in, because you tell me kind of some of the stuff you guys have done in the past.

Narbe: So we’re a venture capital vehicle, like our job is to invest capital into the cannabis industry, specifically into companies early on, and watch them and help them grow, hook them into the ecosystem of what Canopy River’s in and its partners, including Canopy Growth have, to put fuel on the fire and get them towards some sort of a monetization event naturally. So, get them big enough that some large company wants to buy them, get them big enough so that they can go public on their own, get them big enough so that they’re just driving cash, and there’s a dividend potential in there as well. So that’s our idea. Like we’re looking for companies that want to grow and can continue to grow. So, there’s two types of businesses out there, successful businesses. One are the ones that want to grow, grow, grow, and then sell the company, and get a financial profit. There’s other types of businesses that aren’t that interested in hypergrowth, or blitzscaling like we call it in the industry, but they’re more so looking for a lifestyle. They’re looking to build a company, get a good income off of it, enjoy it every single day, not necessarily looking at growth at all costs, but more so looking at just simply growing and earning a paycheck off of it, and potentially building some equity into the business over a period of time. The latter businesses, like those businesses that are more lifestyle, they’re harder to invest into because as an investor, you don’t get the same bang for your buck as you do for the ones that really want to pour out oil on the fire, and just keep going, and going, and going. So whenever we look at a company, we’re looking at how they fit into each of those molds, and how we can help them out. We don’t ever say no to a single call or an email or anything of that sort. We want to talk to every single person we can, every single entrepreneur we can. We’re very grateful to have had the opportunity to have seen over 2200 deals come in. So 2200 companies, over 2200 companies, have pitched us to date, telling us what they do, how they fit into the ecosystem, why they’re so different from each other. And through that process, we’ve met over 4000 entrepreneurs, or founders or founding teams that have a specific thesis about where this industry is going. So having that many conversations, and we do a great job of codifying that information, those discussions, in order for us to really understand how things are playing out gives us a lot of domain expertise in terms of where we think this industry is headed. So, love to talk more about that as well, and get a bit more deeper into where things are going.

Chip: Man, you know, one of the things you just said that struck me. You’ve talked to 4000 people who had the confidence and the desire, and to seek investment in order to grow their cannabis business. That just seems like an incredible position to be, like just to be able to like, talk to so many people in the almost the exact same position, even if they were doing, you know, different things from extraction to, you know, business development. Is there something about, I’m really intrigued about the people you talk to. Is there something about them that is all similar, you know, or that’s surprising?

Narbe: Yeah, I mean, I’d say that they all have a passion for cannabis, or they have a passion for money. I see that those are probably the two different pieces that you do see. The best businesses are the ones that are just hyperfocused on solving a problem. So they come to you and they pitch to you and they say, instead of saying, “This is what my product is, this is what my company is,” they don’t start it off like that. They say, “This is the issue at hand in the cannabis industry today.” If we’re looking at a certain state, call it Colorado, they would say, “There’s too many small cultivators out there, there’s too many small retail stores out there. And to get these cultivators to talk to these retail stores, means that there’s a lot of phone calls and emails flying around everywhere, trying to get product on the shelf, and trying to get distribution. And there’s no broker to go through, there’s no channels to go through, it’s very hard to do that. So that’s the problem at hand. Now, our company, our product is to create a marketplace where cultivators can talk to stores, and get their product listed on there without having any friction, without having any human interaction. And they can send samples, they can send mass shipments, so like a wholesale business to business platform.” Those are the types of companies I’m more intrigued with, because they’re actually trying to solve a problem that’s out there, instead of trying to create what everyone else is creating. That’s kind of like, the best case scenario of when you hear a pitch. And then there’s the two other sides of it. You see the one side where people are so invested into making money in this industry that they don’t, they don’t consume cannabis. They don’t understand the consumer of cannabis, they don’t understand the intrigue of it. They build product that nobody really wants to buy, because they just don’t get it, and they don’t make money off of it either. And then there’s another set of, kinds of companies and entrepreneurs that are very passionate about cannabis, but aren’t as willing to do the homework to understand how to build a business around it. So they take bad advice, they don’t really think through their decisions. And they get into deals where they can’t get out of, and then it becomes much harder for them to operate, and much harder for them to grow. And my background has been in technology I spent up close to a decade in the tech industry. And when I see the cannabis industry, there’s just so much sophistication that’s still needed. We’re so early in the game, that it’s pretty intriguing to see where we are. It’s pretty exciting to know that we’re all trying to help this industry grow and mature to what it will become in the future.

Chip: You really did identify my customer, for sure. The passion and the get rich quick person. Those are the people that we commonly come into contact with, you know, their technique, or they love the plant, or they have a healing story about it. They say something like, “Oh man, me and my best friend from Google and Microsoft, we all got together, we had an [9:18 inaudible] on something. And we bought these other team of people in, we’re going to build this big thing. We’re going to exit it out in three years and be billionaires.” And some of them do it, right?

Narbe: Absolutely. And then I think they missed the mark on that, at the most parties. I mean, I’d see a few of them that actually do succeed, and I call those the lucky ones. But for the most part, it’s very hard to do so. So as an investor, like one of the things that we’re so focused on is, can we work with this company, with this individual for a very long time? Because you might see the stories about the Instagrams or like the Canopy Growths that just go from a nothing to a huge company in a short period of time. But those are Cinderella stories in the grand scheme of things, because for most entrepreneurs, it is a huge grind to get to, from the beginning towards building an empire or a huge business. And that period of time takes a long time. I like to use an anecdote of a US marriage. And a US marriage on average is about ten and a half years. Similarly, the period of time between founding and exit of a company, on average is about 9.6 years. So it’s 9.6 versus 10.4 years. when you make an investment into a company, you’re basically getting married to the company, the entrepreneur needs to understand how to work with them. You need to understand what strengths they have, what weaknesses they have, where they want to really focus in on, and you have to really see it as a ten-year relationship that you’re building off of. And if you can’t do that, then it just, you shouldn’t put the money in. And even if it means that you’re missing out on a Facebook type opportunity where you can make 100 times your money, you just don’t want that risk of working with someone you just don’t understand, and who does doesn’t understand you.

Chip: Yeah, bad partner relationships are, if you get into the wrong one of those, they can just be a nightmare, absolutely. Partnerships are often made to break up. I’m glad you really brought that point up. You know, I’ve talked about this with my other partners, whenever we start a new business, there’s always, you know, an understood exit plan for everyone involved. And if anyone wants to pull the parachute cord, they can. But it’s really important that you do that for people, and be very clear at the very beginning. I just had a partner exit from our business, and you know, it was time for him to go. He wanted to get paid, he didn’t quite know how to bring it up. We figured it all out really kind of amicably, and he walked away with you know, with what he exactly, what he wanted. We didn’t quite figure it out at the beginning of the business, because we didn’t know any better. You know, but yeah, that relationship lasted about 10 years, right? That’s a really interesting point you bring up.

Narbe: I’m going to use that point any time I bring up this anecdote again.

Chip: You know, you start out a business, you got these ideas. And you know, of course, like, you know, you’re younger than when you exit it, unless you’re just, it just happens in months. You have these long periods of time between changing your idea of what that business started out to be, to realizing like, what the business is really good at, and focusing on that, and turning it into something successful. And few people, I’ve seen few people that started out with like, the idea that they maintain ten years later.

Narbe: Yeah, absolutely. And things change a lot. People’s personal lives change, their professional lives change, they want to move, they want to, they want to build a family, they don’t want to spend as much time. So, when you’re starting off a business, it’s really important to think about structuring it so that all partners within the company have a way in, and have a way out. So, I’ve always believed that on day one, you shouldn’t be splitting the pie between all the partners and saying, “You own 25%, I own 30%, so and so owns 40%.” You shouldn’t be doing that on day one. Instead, you should be thinking about where you want to end up, and putting everyone on a vesting schedule so that over a period of time, people have to work for that equity. So, if you and I, and someone else, we partner together, and we all split the pie evenly, so 33% each. And then tomorrow, I decide I don’t want to be part of this anymore, I shouldn’t have the ability to walk away with my 33%. Those are some very fundamental aspects of growing a business in the early days that honestly a lot of entrepreneurs miss out on. Again, because the sophistication of this industry just isn’t there. And the onus is really on entrepreneurs to listen to shows like The Real Dirt, and read publications on the internet to really understand the pitfalls that they can avoid.

Chip: Oh man, I should have talked to you like, ten years ago, man. You would have solved so many problems for me. Where were you? So man, I got to say, there’s a lot of confusion in the US here over the Canadian market, over venture capital. Like so many people see that or have this perception that the Canadian market rose and fall with a bubble bust on it, or man, could you give me kind of an outline on what’s happened in Canada? And what’s going on today with the Canadian cannabis market?

Narbe: Yeah, so Canadian legalization was first put on the table in 2016, when Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was elected for prime minister, or our president in Canada equivalently. And at the time, everyone started to race to build a company. So legalization was set to be in 2018. It was 2016 at the time, and if you were a cannabis company, your evaluation wasn’t based on how much revenue you were generating, because you couldn’t sell. It was illegal at the point in time, but it was more so on how fast could you ramp up the the production of the facility, or the manufacturing of the facility in order to get ready for legalization in two years. So, a lot of the Canadian licensed producers, they went crazy in terms of trying to build as much capacity as possible. They would buy all the greenhouses and retrofit them. And these greenhouses would be filled with like, mold and like, the walls would like, be baked in with like, pests and mold. And it’d be very hard to to get, to not have that impact the plants, but they do it anyway. They did find facilities that had no water, they had to ship water in every day, no electricity, they’d have to bring generators in. But it was it was by all means, “Let me pick up the most square footage of cultivation space that I can within the country prior to legalization taking place.” And the idea there wasn’t that Canadian population was going to be booming in terms of the number of consumers that are buying cannabis, but it was more so if Canada is the first G7 country that’s going to legalize cannabis. Well, guess what? There’s another six of them out there that are going to probably follow suit and say, “If a big country like that’s doing it, why don’t we do it in the US? Or why don’t we do it in parts of Europe, or all the European Union?” So, the race for capacity was, what I’d say 2016 and 2017, was characterized that. 2018 rolled around and legalization hit. And suddenly you found out that —

Chip: And that, pardon me, pardon me. That race is really what fueled all the speculation.

Narbe: Absolutely.

Chip: Because people are going into these chutes and there’s like, “Ah, this group just bought 100 acres of greenhouses.” And the reality of it, it’s a defunct nursery, like you’re saying that needs significant amount of work. But that’s not what the market hears, and that’s not what the media picks on. It’s like, “Canadian market is huge,” is what they hear.

Narbe: Exactly, exactly. And a lot of that was driven by hedge funds. So the hedge funds were putting in money into the industry, saying that we will fund the initial asset purchases for a lot of these companies and we’ll give hundreds of millions of dollars. And the reason why they were doing that was, they were forcing these companies to go public. They knew that retail investors out there understood cannabis, understood the benefits of it. And they would say, “I’ll give you 100 million dollars right now, you need to go public.” And the way I’m going to structure it is that there’s no downside for me, because I’m going to own a piece the company. And I’ll also be using financial mechanisms in order to make sure that any downside I get covered, and I’m only working on the upside. So they made a ton of money, but they also fueled the tide of companies. And while the companies they fueled shouldn’t have been fueled with that much money at that point in time, and some of the companies that they did actually succeeded as well. So there’s wins and losses across the board.

Chip: Everybody wants to shine on the bad news, too.

Narbe : Exactly. Exactly. But I mean, I quote Benjamin Graham who is the idol of Warren Buffett, by saying that in the short run the market is a voting machine, with a long run it’s a weighing machine. So right now, we’re at a point where it’s not a voting machine anymore. It’s not about how much capacity or square footage you have. It’s about, what are you doing in terms of revenue? Are you actually selling it to the customer base? And if you take a step back from that ship, there’s two flavors of companies out there. One are the artisanal, premium quality cannabis cultivators that are doing indoor or greenhouse or outdoor, but they’re really weighing in on,  “I don’t care about the yield. I care about creating the best product that I can for the consumer. High THC, beautiful bud, no crow’s feet, like it’s just stuff they can actually sell in the market, and that’s what I’m going to be working on.” And there’s another set of companies that are saying, “I want to be the lowest cost provider. I want to be the person who brings in the can to a curious customer with a $3 joint or a $4 joint, because I have the ability to cultivate at a low cost. I might not be getting the high 20 percentages in THC, I might be getting 20%, or 18%, or 23%. And it might not be the best cannabis you’ve ever consumed in your life, but it’s going to be what gets you into the market. And it’s going to be what gets you into the more premium product afterwards.” Anybody that doesn’t fit either of those two bills is stuck in the middle. And that middle is where you’re selling product that isn’t of high quality, or isn’t at the right price, and you’re just not growing anywhere. So right now, there’s a lot of companies stuck in that middle category, and they just can’t break out of it, because their infrastructure is old. And you can’t create quality cannabis, and it’s old so you can’t be the low cost provider, because you’re paying more than your competitors are in order to make sure that it’s free of pests and molds and heavy metals etc.

Chip: Worldwide, it doesn’t matter how much you put into that kilo or pound of cannabis. It really is how much someone’s willing to pay for it.

Narbe: Absolutely.

Chip: I hear people say it all the time. It’s like, “Oh, I’m organic. I have living soil, like, you know, we put all this effort into it. This is biodynamic, I, you know, have a solar powered greenhouse, we made all this stuff by hand.” And I really appreciate all of that, but it has absolutely nothing to do with the commercial value of cannabis.

Narbe: Absolutely.

Chip: And that’s driven by other factors, you know, every state seems to be different. I’m learning more and more, but you know, here in Oklahoma, a variety is definitely important. More so than any other state, it’s a new state to cannabis, so people are really open to the different flavors and the different names. There is a smaller segment of society that will really pay for the higher end cannabis. Most people want inexpensive but good cannabis. They came from $40 an ounce Mexican import ounce, $100 is, $200, $300 is significantly more than they use, you know, you’re used to paying. So I see exactly what you mean, you know, is here specifically it’s very little at the top and then all the rest of it at the bottom.

Narbe: Exactly, exactly. And if you’re stuck in the middle then who’s gonna be looking at you, right? You’re not the, you’re not one of the cheapest, you’re not one of the best, and then what are you? Mediocre? Who would want to buy mediocre cannabis right? So —

Chip: No one ever said that. “Oh, if I had my choice,  I’d buy some mediocre cannabis.”

Narbe: Exactly, exactly. And then you have other companies as well that are just so key focused on trying to teach customers about everything else outside of THC. So I understand, you understand that when you look at a cannabis bud, it’s more than just THC. It’s about the entourage effect, the terpene profile, and how it looks, and the moisture content of it. There’s just so many different attributes of it. However, you can’t expect the customer to, on day one, to know all of those with that information. You can’t expect them to know that on year five of this industry. When we go and buy a bottle of wine, for the most part, for the most part, the majority of customers don’t actually know what they’re buying. They don’t know what the difference between a Cabernet, and a Merlot, and a Malbec is. Same thing on the cannabis side. You can’t expect for the customer to know this. And so, if the customer is saying that our focus is on THC content, then that’s what you should be focused on. To think that you can educate the customer is a foolish concept in the short term. Like there’s so much going on in people’s lives like, why would they sit down and try to understand how to buy a bottle of wine, as well as how to buy a pre-roll of cannabis?

Chip: You know, that’s something that we really should strive here though. And we’ve, and we’ve done it everywhere to Colorado and here, is customer education. And you said it,  it’s not something that’s immediate. For instance, when the early days of pesticide use started to come up in our store in Colorado, it was one of the states where you could buy any pesticide off the shelf. So it really kind of became up to our staff to educate people on the pesticides they were using. We did that for years. And it wasn’t until the state came out with regulations on it, that anybody paid any attention, or even cared, you know? And we put a lot of effort into it, but you know, it just wasn’t mandated. It wasn’t something they had to do, and they didn’t do it.

Narbe: Absolutely. Keep it as simple as possible. I say this to companies all the time. I say, “Why don’t you just create a cannabis product called 20%?” And it just says it right on there. Or call it sleep, or call it creative, or call it–

Chip: Yeah.

Narbe: Just explain what the product is. And it’s very, very much like a Soviet Union type vibe that I’m putting out there, which saying that, just make, just tell them what it is. Hiding behind the logo and expecting to teach the customer everything that exists. Instead, just give them what they want, and just be obsessed in and hyperfocused on being one thing to the customer. Don’t try to be everything.

Chip: One of the things that is kind of new to the cannabis industry is this idea of brand. In the past, you know, people just grew weed and there was other people that sold weed. And then it came to like, strains and preferred cannabis. But brands are relatively like, you know, new thing to cannabis. Do you see many people coming to you, and saying “We’re gonna make this brand of cannabis that’s internationally known?”

Narbe: Oh, yeah, for sure. For sure. So, we see the industry kind of moving in five waves. The first wave is cultivation, where if you’re one of the first ones there, and you get a heads up on building a greenhouse, or building your facility, and just getting through the experience curve of being one of the first in your state to grow cannabis, then there’s success there. As the industry progresses, it goes into wave two, which is ancillary, the picks and shovels, fertilizers, LED lights, software technology, paraphernalia, vaporizers, etc. Third Wave is CPG, which we’re currently in right now, where there’s brands coming up every single day. I think there’s about 90 new skews of products coming into the cannabis industry per week within North America. So there’s a lot of brands just being hit in front of the customer. The top five players in any given state are changing on a quarterly basis all the time. Wave four is pharmaceuticals, which we’re still not there yet, because it takes time to prove anecdotal effects are actually driven by research. And then the fifth wave is maturation, which means that like Coke and Pepsi, there’s going to be a few large giant global companies that handle majority of the market share. And there’s gonna be small, not mom and pop shops, but mom and pop shops are always medium-sized enterprises, which then take another 30, 40% of the market as well. So right now, we’re in the CPG phase, which is consumer packaged goods, brands that are being created. And to me, there’s a big disservice that companies are doing by creating cannabis brands, and not creating brands that use cannabis, because cannabis itself as an ingredient. It is becoming more standardized and commoditized every single day we go through. So, you need to, instead of looking at it as the product, think of it as an ingredient. Are you trying to help someone with sleep aid? Cannabis can help, as well as melatonin and many other products. Are you trying to help someone to be more creative? Well, there’s sativa strains that are absolutely awesome for stuff like that. So think about what the problem set of your customer is. And just hyperfocus on it. Be the sleep product that your customer wants, and don’t be anything else. And it’s a hard thing to do this early in the industry. That’s the difference we’re seeing between the companies that are growing very rapidly, and the ones that are just the me too’s of the industry, trying to create a copycat of whatever else exists.

Chip: Right. Take something and own it.

Narbe: Exactly.

Chip: Right.

Narbe: Exactly.

Chip: It’s hard to find that niche, that’s for sure. I’ve had it in my grasp a couple of times. It’ll slip out especially in our modern world, how everybody communicates with each other and, you know, using online applications to design you know, everything, and we can communicate with thousands of people. Yeah.

Narbe: Totally, totally. I have companies that I speak to time to time where they say, “Well, I can’t tell you anything unless you sign an NDA.” And I say, “Well, we’re just having an introductory call. Why don’t we just talk about it before we sign anything?” And they say, “No well, if we tell you we’re scared that it’s gonna go away.” And my response to that is, “If you think within a half hour conversation, you’re gonna tell me something that is gonna, that you think that’s not going to be stolen, then I think you’re wrong. Because, not that I would ever do that, but the internet can disseminate information very quickly. And if you get to a big enough size, not too big, but you’re growing, and Forbes comes to you and asks you that question, you can’t make them sign an NDA, you’re gonna have to tell the answer. Or you’re gonna want to tell the answer, or else they’re not gonna run the story. And guess what, all of a sudden, everyone knows what your secret sauce is.” So it’s just all about just trusting the other counterparty, and really taking a step back and just being very honest with yourself and saying, “Do I have something special? Some sort of a competitive advantage that’s sustainable over time? Or do I not? And if I don’t let this go find one. And if I do, how do I hold on to this, and make sure nobody else gets to it?”

Chip: This has been an awesome conversation, man. We’re really just getting into it. And the big thing I want to chat about with you is venture capital, and how it works. So many people have, you know, different visions of it. You guys are considered, you know, the devil of the industry and to some people, other people are totally scared of venture capital, because they think that’s gonna, like, you know, take their opportunity away. Tell me how it works. If I’m a small company, and I want to, I want to get some capital, like, like, how does it work?

Narbe: Sure. So from a very general basis, a company comes in and says, “I want to raise capital.” They present us with a PowerPoint presentation or a deck that walks us through who they are, what they’re doing differently, how they stack up to competition, what their financial profile is in terms of how much they’ve raised, where they got money from, what revenues they have, what geographies they service, what categories they service, and they just basically give us this very introductory high level overview what the business is like. The next step after that is to provide us with a financial model of where they see the future going. The value of your company isn’t in what you’ve done in the past, it’s what you’re going to be doing in the future. So through that mechanism, we get to understand how they see their company evolving. There’s a lot of weight attached to that financial model, even though it is fictitious in a sense, you’re assuming a lot of numbers around it. But we want to understand, A. where the entrepreneur sees the business going? So do they see the business becoming five times as large in five years, or they see it being the same value or the same size for the next five years? And those have different motives attached to them, and they have different mechanisms of investment attached to them as well. And then once we’ve done those two conversations about the deck and the model, the next thing we do is we create a data request. Then we say, “This is the information we need to really understand, take a deep dive into the company.” And once we’ve done all that, as the investor, we proceed with the term sheet that says, “This is what the deal was that I wanted to do. This is how much money I’m gonna put in. This is what I’m going to get back, I might get a board seat, I’ll tell you If I am. What happens if the company doesn’t succeed? What do I get for that? Or what do I not get for that?” And you walk through all the high level terms. The next step after that is an important one for the entrepreneur. And for everyone listening to this show, you need to have a good lawyer in hand because you need so when —

Chip: You say that one again, please.

Narbe: You need to have a good lawyer, because you need someone to walk you through the legal jargon involved in getting to a deal with investors. Because there’s some investors out there, and I’m not going to name names or anything like that, that ask for a lot, that asked for a lot. They want to have all the upside of the business, but want to mitigate the downside of the business. And that doesn’t drive. We shouldn’t be doing that. Again, like they’re not thinking of a ten year partnership, they’re thinking about themselves in that situation. And they could be the nicest, kindest people out there, but you need to really work with a lawyer to understand what it is you’re actually signing up for, and what happens if things don’t work out. I love to really focus in on things not working out, because while everything looks rosy and awesome when you first put the money in, things can change very quickly, you need to be ready for that. So that’s kind the entire thing in a nutshell. After that investment has been made, we work with venture capitalists in general. Work with the portfolio companies in order to help them grow, link them up to other portfolio companies, and other companies they know, their network, help them with hiring by bringing in consultants, help them with legal matters by providing them with resources. And it’s really just unleashing the network that that investor has to help that company get to that next level. Build, build, build and get towards an eventual exit, which is either through acquisition or through a go public event.

Chip: But you make it sound so simple.

Narbe: I mean, I’ve done it so many times. But yes, it seems a bit simple to me. But —

Chip: Hey man, out of those 4000 individuals that have come to you, do you, you got a percentage of how many people you guys worked a deal out with?

Narbe: Yes. So we’ve seen over two 2200 deals, pitches of companies. And of course, like every time someone pitches, starting company pitches, there’s multiple entrepreneurs and operators, and we’ve done 18 deals.

Chip: All right. What’s the odds on that, do you know what the percent is?

Narbe: Venture capital is typically around 1%.

Chip: Okay.

Narbe: You need to see a lot of companies in order to do the deals.

Chip: Okay. Okay.

Narbe: So we’re right around there, just under that 1%. Maybe we’re a bit more pickier than the average.

Chip: I mean, if I do an email campaign, and I get 1%, I’m usually pretty happy about it.

Narbe: Yeah, you know what? I love that topic. I was actually reading up, back in the late 90s, t by email, click through rates were like, 70%. I don’t know if you remember those days, but I got any time I got an email, I’d open it.

Chip: Oh yeah, I’d read it all.

Narbe: It was a very —

Chip: “I got an email!”

Narbe: Yeah.

Chip: Yeah, “you’ve got mail,” right?

Narbe: Now it’s the complete opposite.

Chip: AOL really dominate- I know, absolutely. It’s like, “Please turn off my notifications. Please, please, please.” And I mean, is it just capital that you guys are, you mentioned earlier that kind of sounds like you’re a turnaround slash, do you have a description for what you guys do? Because that’s not what I would think of as venture capitalists. I mean, I know a couple people that do turnarounds. But you guys do a little bit something more than that.

Narbe: Yeah. So we’re not, we’re not turnaround. We’re not a turnaround type of an investor. And I’ll honestly say like, we don’t, we just don’t have that skill set, nor do we want that skill set. We want the entrepreneur to be running the business, we don’t want to run the business ourselves. So the key here is to find the right operator. And I’ll use the anecdote that there’s no eBay for great ideas. If you have a great idea, like a killer idea, nobody’s gonna buy an idea off of you, nobody’s gonna pay you 50 grand for an idea. If you take that idea and you execute on it, then you can sell that company. So it really comes down to the entrepreneur, the operator. What our job is, is to give the domain expertise and the relationships that we’ve developed in the industry, to our portfolio companies, and to friends of the company as well, in order to help them succeed. So, we have a group internally at Canopy Rivers. They’re called the impact team, run by the former CEO of Canopy Growth as well as, he’s a McKinsey consultant, Harvard MBA. He’s created a team of experts in life sciences and regulatory affairs in growth and scaling. And our job is to help compliment the employee, the entrepreneurs that we invest in, in terms of getting to know different people in the industry, getting to know different parties. So I’ll give you an example. If you’re a small cultivator that’s looking for capital and you go to a venture capitalist like ourselves, we would help you find proper genetics to help you with volume purchases on supplies, we’d help you with getting to know retailers and customers in order to sell your products into, we’d help you with everything in and around your business. But we wouldn’t, at any given time, run your business, because that’s not our job to do.

Chip: So it’s more like an accelerator.

Narbe: Yeah, yeah. I mean, it’s more similar to an accelerator, except that typically when you think of an accelerator, it’s usually very small companies that are built off of an idea. It’s a bit different because we’ve already picked up the company where you have revenues, you have some market share, and you want to go to that next level, that next level, and the next level.

Chip: So you’ve got, you’ve got 18 companies, do you guys have an idea of the type of company that you’re looking for, or the type of return that you’re interested in when you decide, or is everybody different?

Narbe: Typically, for venture capital funds, you’re looking at investment returns about 15% year over year. Every year, your portfolio grows by 15%. But to get that 15%, when you get into a deal, you have to think of it as being a deal, “I can give you ten times your money.”  And if you believe it’s going to be 10 times your money, you’ll probably end up with 3 to 5 times your money, which then will convert to 15 to 20% return on investment. So that is kind of the mindset that you have, “Is this a 10 bagger? Is this going to be 10 times my money?” Because it’s growing very fast, it’s very competitive in nature, and it has, it’s carved out a niche for itself. In terms of where we look into across the value chain, there’s four key areas that we’re really honed into right now, and this changes all the time. One of them is on the brand side, we truly believe there’s no true customer affinity with brands that are out there. The customers aren’t only choosing one brand of edibles or one brand of pre-rolls, and not buying anything else, similar to how you see customers using Coke and Pepsi. The second piece is on the plant science side. We’re really zoned in on how to help take cannabis cultivation to the next level. So it looks a lot like what you see for vegetables and fruit cultivation around the world. The third piece is bio synthetics. Similarly, aspirin is derived from the bark of a willow tree, but you don’t see any willow tree cultivation facilities anywhere in the world. And the reason is that, the enzyme that that tree develops to help you with a headache is made in a lab. And similarly outside of THC and CBD, where the plant does give you a lot of that, the other minor cannabinoids, we have a view that they’ll be created in the lab instead of being created organically on a plant everywhere. And then the fourth area is data and technology. We really do believe that that there’s a lot of value in understanding the mindset of what consumers are buying, and as well as what retailers are buying from producers. And to understand that gives you a leg up in terms of what to develop next, and how to present it in market.

Chip: Are you looking at companies that have $1 million in revenue today and want to grow it? Or $10 million? I guess it’s kind of all over the place, tech companies might not have any sales.

Narbe: Yup, yeah. So our view is that we’re a lifecycle investor, like our smallest check has been 750,000 off of an idea, our largest check has been $50 million. So, we are very open to talking to all types of entrepreneurs and all types of businesses, not necessarily anybody with a certain threshold. To me, it’s great to just learn about how entrepreneurs view a business. So, I mean, I say this a lot to companies that are based out of Latin America, or China, or Europe where they’re looking for funding. And I say the first thing you should do is focus on teaching your prospective investor about your geography, and why it’s different than in North America, and then go into your company at the end of the day, and then that’s key. Like, it’s about the teaching piece of it. You’re a company, you’re looking for investment money, teach your investor why you’re different than anybody else. Teach them about how you see the industry as well, and build that rapport to show that you’re different than every other company that’s out there.

Chip: You know, when I started my first potting soil company years ago, a friend of mine said, “What makes you think you can do this so special?” I immediately was resistant, you know, and as a young entrepreneur it was my second business at the time, I was just literally so bold and brazen, it was like, “Oh, because it’s me, I’m doing it.” And, you know, the market was so much smaller 20 years ago, right? And no one had heard of cocoa fiber at the time, or very little people had. I was on the cusp of a revolution. But to start a business now, it seems so difficult to me, for young entrepreneurs, to be able to come into a marketplace and just immediately be able to compete with people in the cannabis industry specifically that have been doing it a long time, or just have so many resources, you know, behind them. I mean, I started my first potting soil company with literally like, $3,000, right? And I just don’t know if anybody could do that today.

Narbe: I think so. I’d challenge that. I’d say it like there’s never been a better time to start a business than it is today. Like the amount of resources, and podcasts like yourselves that entrepreneurs, young budding entrepreneurs, pun intended, could really listen to, read, understand what the pitfalls were, how people succeeded, how people screwed up, to really just really zone in on what the idea is. There’s an unprecedent amount of data out there about how to start a business that we’ve ever seen in the history of mankind. So compare starting a business now to ten years ago, [41:33 inaudible].

Chip: You’re saying just the sheer access people have to information just accelerates the overall growth.

Narbe: Absolutely.

Chip: And your chance to exposure to any market in the world is readily available at the stroke of your fingers, honestly, right?

Narbe: Absolutely. The [41:55 inaudible] is on the entrepreneur to really sit down and learn these things. And if you have the time of any, you can carve out the time, and I say, if you’re looking to start a business, and you don’t know where to start, just carve out an hour every day, sit at a Starbucks, and just read. Just read articles, read about that industry you want to get into, read about what other companies are doing, listen to a podcast of a successful entrepreneur, and just get your mind going. And it is a snowball effect of within the day, and I’m sure you can attest that as well, that every small move you make, somehow turns into a very tangibly big deal later on.

Chip: Yeah.

Narbe: And you can’t predict that, you can’t. And it gets a bit daunting when you think of the successful people and you say, “How do I get there?” You just have to show up every day and put in your work.

Chip: Yeah, no man, plants grow, man. You put a seed in the ground. You give it every single thing it wants, it gets huge and big. Sometimes you can’t water it so much, or feed it so much, it’s that much smaller. But like, if you get it everything it needs, just the potential for growth is just incredible, and that’s in businesses, and in relationships, and people as well.

Narbe: Absolutely.

Chip: Well, you’ve changed my mind. Okay, okay. I now think that it was harder when I started my business. And now I realize it was. I was literally getting phone calls from Sri Lanka at four in the morning, you know?

Narbe: I love it. I love that —

Chip: And they’re speaking broken English —

Narbe: I love hearing the grind.

Chip: Yeah, it is easier today. Like if anyone wanted to go start a potting soil company, they could look up manufacturers at the touch of their fingers. You know, when I started, I don’t know how old you are, but we’d go to the library. And there was this encyclopedia of businesses and manufacturers.

Narbe: Yup.

Chip: And we would search through it and find like, suppliers and nobody had websites, you would call people directly and build a relationship with them.

Narbe: Yeah just think about the long distance charges you’d incurred just to call them. Nowadays, you have Google Hangouts, and video calls, and voice calls made over the Internet that you’re not paying anything extra for. So, it’s just remarkable how much easier and cheaper it is to run a business.

Chip: Yeah no, absolutely man. The virtual assistants, the on demand workers, the sheer amount of like marketing talent, and graphic talent, and product development talent like you know, you can access all those resources for inexpensive. You just have to know how to like, who to ask and how to ask for what, and anybody today if they wanted to get involved in you know, breeding cannabis, breeding hemp, breeding, you know, high THC hemp, anybody can get involved with a two day at a high level, because they can just, you know, look up people in the industry that want a job, frankly. Somebody in India, or even in Seattle, or Vancouver, and there’s somebody who’s interested in cannabis that, you know, has a PhD in genomics, genetics, biology and wants to help you out, and will over the phone, or over Zoom, right?

Narbe: It’s just a matter of doing it right. It’s just a matter of just picking up the phone and doing it. Not many people do that actually, a lot of people sit there and just fantasize about what their company can do, instead of just learning, and it’s remarkable if you just contact someone and say, “Hey, I just want to pick your brain for five minutes on a certain topic that I have not, going to sell you anything. And I’m not going to ask you for a job. I just want to know what you did in this scenario to get to where you were.” It’s remarkable how many people actually reach out to you and say, “Yeah, I’m okay with that. Let’s do that call.” And you do that call, and that call turns into a follow up call, and that follow up call is half an hour, 45 minutes long, and soon enough, someone wants to give you a job and someone wants to buy your product. And it’s just about putting that process in and getting those at bats.

Chip: At bats. Oh man, I say it all the time, you just got to jump in, you really do. We have all this hesitation and resistance. And it’s product development, or entrepreneurs, you like, want to build this perfect thing and get it perfect and it hits the market and everybody loves it, and you know, you get a home run. But I think it’s more important to have a base it to literally just hop in the deep end and learn how to swim,  right? You get great product development, you get customer feedback, you might get a lot of shit too. If you can get beyond that, like for me anyway, that is my preferred method of launching a product, starting a business. It’s just getting into it, right?

Narbe: Yeah, it is remarkable how much you’ll learn from it too. Like I remember this one time I got an investor, sorry, an entrepreneur that came to pitch me and every time I asked – it was half an hour long – and every time I asked a question, she just dumped a data dump on me of the number of people he surveyed. So I asked a question, like, “Who’s gonna buy your product?” and be like, “Oh, I used Google Search, Google Audience. I surveyed 300 people, and these people said they would pay for it.” I can’t say anything against that. “Okay. So how about the pricing?” Well, as you come up with a price, then you said, “Well, I looked up all of my competitors, then I scraped the web for their pricing, and this is the price that they’re selling it at. And I think that I can sell at this price and get better margins.” “Okay, I got that, too.” And every time I was asking questions, it was data, data data, and you can’t, the data itself, like, it really answers the question without putting any objective opinions into it. But at the same time, the data does have confirmation bias attached to it as well. So as an investor, you always worry about the best data being shown to you, not the bad stuff. But what I’m trying to get to is, if you back your idea and your thesis with data around you, it’s going to be very hard to refute that you’ve done a lot of homework on this. The best pitches that we see are the ones that the entrepreneur’s ready to answer every question, because they’ve sat back and they said, “You know what? There’s a finite number of questions, there’s a known number of questions that someone can ask me over a half hour to understand my business, and I’m gonna be ready for every single question that’s going to come out there.” And there might be some weird one that’s like, “What kitchen utensil might you be?” that they’re not prepped for. I don’t ask that question, but there’s always those random questions that they might not be prepared for, but you need to be prepared when you come into that pitch. And those are the ones, the ones that answer the questions and give you that look like, “Is this as hard as it gets? Because I live and breathe my company, and you think I can’t answer these questions. These are easy.” And those are the ones that you see the passion just glittering in the idea that they’re presenting to you.

Chip: Oh man, I’m smiling just thinking about it. I mean, I know people make the television show comparison to you guys all the time, but it must feel just like that, right?

Narbe: It is except you’re not trying to find those one-liners to stump on the entrepreneur and make yourself look good on screen.

Chip: Oh, that’s funny. You’re right. Well, you know, you gotta sell the story. You guys sound like you’re having a great time.

Narbe: Yeah, you know, I’m grateful for the opportunity to talk with so many bright minded individuals all over the world about how they see this industry progressing. I’m literally so grateful for it.

Chip: We’ve kind of talked about one side of it. We’ve talked about the, you know, the entrepreneur side and kind of how the venture capitalists work. Many people today feel like they’ve had some bad cannabis investments. And there’s more people that have gotten, lost their investment in cannabis operations, than you’d care to know. People enter it often with passion, without so much data, it’s often a brother in law, cousin, best friend type scenario. And you, things just kind of go wrong. All that is changing. Do you have a tip for the investor? On how to be wary, and how not to get involved in a bad relationship?

Narbe: Yeah, I think the first step is that you need to really understand that venture investment, or angel investing, or  investing in a private company, that is most basic level, is a very high risk move. High risk because once that money goes in, that company’s going to spend that money, and there’s no way for you to take that money back out. This isn’t like buying Apple stock where every day there’s a market for it that you can sell your shares to. Instead, it’s a very difficult proposition because you need to wait 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 years in order to get your money back and get, potentially getting return. And between that period of time, there’s a lot of areas where companies can screw up and can really change the way the outlook of that company is. So when you’re looking at an investment, and you need to kind of tell yourself like, “I’m okay losing this money, and I’m taking a risk here.” And I’ve always like, financial literature and theory tells you that for these types of investments, you should put no more than 10% of your wealth down into investments such as these, and you hear all too much that people are putting their entire nest egg into an idea that just doesn’t pan out. And this is why governments in both Canada and the US create systems in place where individuals can’t invest in these private companies, unless they’re what they call “accredited.” Which means you have, and it varies by state and by country, but in general, it means you have wealth. You have call it, $5 million of assets in hand, or you’re making a million dollars of cash flow per year. And the government then allows you to invest in these private companies. And there’s a lot of times where companies that take investments from individuals don’t do that work to make sure that those investors understand the risks that they’re going into, and it turns into a bad place. When we look at the cannabis industry itself, it’s a bit different.  You’re seeing different data coming from Main Street versus Wall Street. So when you’re looking at the capital markets and stocks right now, they’re much lower than they were a couple years ago. But when you look at what’s selling in each of the states, you’re seeing monumental growth rates like 10, 15, 20, 50% within a few months. So you’re seeing the industry grow very fast, but you’re seeing companies getting smaller, smaller in terms of evaluation. And that’s just generally the nature of the stage that we’re in, in the cannabis industry, where the ones that are going to win are going to win, the ones that are going to go bankrupt are going to go bankrupt. And because of the, you don’t know which ones are which at this point in time, and because it’s so early, everyone just kind of takes a hit until those winners are figured out.

Chip: Business is so much like gambling. Serial entrepreneurs, we’re gamblers at heart. But you throw in some cannabusiness in it and wow, it sure it sure can make it exciting, that’s for sure.

Narbe: Absolutely. [53:15 inaudible].

Chip: Sounds like a good country song or Jerry Garcia song.

Narbe: Yeah, the returns aren’t as good as gambling either, though. You can’t double your money by betting on red or black.

Chip: Yeah, well, you know, that’s just a fan- it’s a fantasy. Yeah, well, I get it. Man, it’s been great talking to you today. You know, cannabusiness, like I said, is the most important part to the cannabis industry. It’s maturing so much right now. And really come in and [53:45 inaudible] it is really great to hear your perspective on the consumer packaged goods, on cultivation, and where you think the cannabis industry is going, man. I really appreciate you joining me today. If people want to get in touch with you. what’s the best way for them to do that?

Narbe: Yeah, you can reach out to me on LinkedIn, you can email me narbe@canopyrivers.com. So if you’re interested in learning more or talking, happy to chat.

Chip: Thanks for joining us man. I really appreciate your time.

Narbe: Thanks for having me.

Chip: This has been another episode of The Real Dirt, and that was Narbe Alexandrian with Canopy Rivers. Man, it was really great speaking to them about capital investment into cannabis. You know, the only way we can grow is sometimes we get a little help from our friends, or help from others. And you know, don’t let quote unquote, big business keep you down, or think you that you can’t survive in the cannabis industry. Listen to this conversation. You know, we talked heavily about how people with just an idea can get one started. So if you’ve got an idea, man, take that first step. Just try it. If you’re thinking about growing cannabis, if you’re thinking about getting into the cannabis business, man, just hop into it. Just try it, right? Don’t let money stop you. Don’t let time stop you. Definitely don’t let your friend’s shit talking stop you. Just try man, and you know, when you get slapped down, stand up. When it’s not working, examine what you’re doing, and be determined to make it work. If you have the desire, you can stick it out long enough. If you can keep your eyes open, and make sure that you’re right, making the right economic decisions, man, chances are you’re going to do just fine. So thanks again for listening to this episode of The Real Dirt. This has been fun and exciting for me. Please, if you’re interested in other episodes like this, check us out on iTunes, The Real Dirt podcast. You can also download other episodes at therealdirt.com. Please check out cultivatecolorado.com, we can supply you with all of your propagation and equipment needs. Thanks again. This has been The Real Dirt.

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