Green Entrepreneur Winter 2019

How-to guides, ideas and expert insights for entrepreneurs looking to start and grow a cannabis business.

United States
Entrepreneur Media Inc.
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this bud’s for you

How can I help you?” a lovely saleswoman in West Hollywood recently asked me during my visit to a local weed shop. Budtenders like her make an average of $14.90 an hour, and the turnover rate is 70 percent within the first 90 days of employment, according to recent research by Vangst. This is shocking, considering a budtender (or flower host, wellness guide, cannabis consultant, or whatever you call them) is often the first person a cannabis consumer encounters in their purchasing journey. They’re the ones asking questions, making recommendations, sharing their expertise. So why does the industry treat them like, well, bartenders without the tips? The lack of support for decent, experienced budtenders is in a way ironic considering that the industry is trying so hard to educate potential customers. Until…

the ricky williams effect

Ricky Williams estimates that he lost between $5 million and $10 million in endorsements after he decided to leave the NFL to explore the world and cannabis. Now he’s replenishing his coffers and his soul with his successful venture into the cannabis business. Williams, a Heisman Trophy winner who rushed for more than 10,000 yards during his 11-year career, has jumped into the Green Rush with the same passion and skill—only this time he’s healing, not punishing, those who cross his path. His company, Real Wellness by Ricky Williams, which he cofounded with wife Linnea Miron, specializes in blends of cannabis and other natural medicines. Products include tonics and topicals with blends of CBD, THC, turmeric, and white peony, among other ingredients. We met Williams at the Cannabis Dealmakers Summit in Dallas, where…

raise up

Raising capital is one of the most complex, frustrating, and time-consuming challenges facing founders in any industry. It is also one of the most critical functions of a high-performing leadership team made even more challenging given the complicated and dynamic regulatory considerations in the cannabis industry. There is no one guaranteed way to succeed in soliciting investment, but after doing private transactions for more than a decade, I’ve found that success is in part a result of a cohesive strategy and a sustained, multifaceted approach that can be summarized with the following five principles. Relationships Investing in private companies comes down to the people involved, and the ideal situation would be that you have a group of investors with whom you are a known person with a track record of success. Although…

“so, what do you do for a living?”

You race from work to catch your kid’s soccer game, grab a spot on the bleachers as you catch your breath, and the mother next to you asks, “So, what do you do?” The cannabis industry is a booming, legitimate industry with an estimated 340,000 legal jobs, according to New Frontier Data. But for many outside the business, it still registers a word cloud of negativity: shady, druggie, irresponsible, criminal. So how do you explain what you do for a living when you’re not quite sure how the other person will react? We asked a few seasoned cannabis execs how they handle it. Be direct. “I say, ‘I’m in the weed business.’ Then, after the shock value wears off, I can go into one of several explanations: the benefits of cannabis, those who benefit…

joint effort

Jake (left) and Alex (right) Pasternack grew up sneaking out to smoke a “doobinske” together. Now, as adults, they’re sharing their brotherly love in what’s to become the fastest-growing legal marijuana brand in America. It’s called, for old times’ sake, Binske, silent e. Jake, a product and brand specialist for production studios, founded the company in 2015 and two years later brought in Alex, who’d worked in business development and is now executive vice president. While Jake handles finances and strategy, Alex focuses on growth opportunities—and together they seem to be winning. This year, they closed licensing deals with MariMed in the U.S. and Aurora in Canada, which will put Binske’s luxury cannabis products—including flower, vapes, topicals, and edibles—into more than 1,000 retail locations. But working with a family member does have…

pet cbd unleashed

Like adorable puppies in a store window, the booming industry of CBD for pets is hard to resist. Sales within the sector quadrupled in 2018, going from $8 million in 2017 to $32 million just a year later, according to the cannabis research firm Brightfield Group. By 2022, it predicts, the market could reach $1.16 billion. But despite the barkfest, making a profit in the space is no surefire bet. We caught up with a few founders and execs on the ground for guidance. Pets are not people. Willie Nelson is one of the most notable names to enter the Green Pet Rush. But it happened by accident. The musician-slash-advocate cofounded GCH, an IP development company that launched the cannabis brand Willie’s Reserve in 2015. As the company released its hemp-infused tinctures,…