Seed to CEO: Stories from Cannabis Businesses

Seed to CEO: Stories from Cannabis Businesses

Everyone wants in on the cannabis market. Seed to CEO, from the publishers of MJBizDaily, is the marijuana entrepreneur’s edge. Weekly, Chris Walsh, CEO of MJBizDaily and MJBizCon, interviews a pro to reveal stories behind their success. Learn how find funding for cannabis businesses; whether to focus on cultivation, THC product manufacturing, or marijuana retail; common pitfalls to avoid; predictions for cannabis legalization and where to find the next opportunity as a cannabusiness entrepreneur. Get on the inside fast, learning direct from those who have been there, done that in the green revolution. All with the no-hype style of MJBizDaily, the top name in marijuana business news.

Episodes

May 19, 2022 30 min
Papa & Barkley CEO Guy Rocourt is out to right the “outright wrongs” in cannabis, he tells host Chris Walsh in this episode of Seed to CEO.  

The legacy market grower and processor has leveraged this ethos to build one of the cannabis industry’s most respected and successful companies. But it also took acquiring and implementing new business skills, something that Rocourt learned the hard way.

Rocourt, a U.S. Navy veteran who ...

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Scott Kenyon brought decades of tech company and board experience when he joined the board of Würk, a Denver-based payroll and human resources software company serving the cannabis industry. But when Kenyon was suddenly thrust into the CEO role a year-and-a-half ago, he had to switch gears from being an interested advisor to the company pilot. Being a tech industry veteran, Kenyon was somewhat in familiar territory, but this was ca...

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When Ankur Rungta wanted to break into the cannabis industry, he didn’t study cultivation or extraction.

Instead, Rungta joined a top tier corporate law firm and later a Wall Street investment boutique where he sharpened his legal, finance and M&A chops.

That gave him the expertise to launch Michigan-based C3 Industries, a vertically integrated cannabis company now in four states and going for more.

But how did Rungta survive t...

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Joe Bayern wants to make Curaleaf the “first truly national cannabis company in the U.S.” and with operations in 23 states, Curaleaf is getting there.   What did it take?   Bayern leveraged decades of experience in the beverage sector and other industries. Once at Curaleaf, he executed, taking it from 2,000 employees when he joined in 2019 to 5,500 today.  

Key insights he’s learned along the way include:  

  • Don’t underestimate the...
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    Katie Stem’s journey to a career in cannabis started with traditional Western medicine studies in college. That path took a left turn, however, when she was introduced to natural remedies while researching at Oregon Heath & Science University. She switched gears and completed a master’s degree in Chinese medicine instead. She decided to ply her entrepreneurial skills and medicinal expertise to launch Peak Extracts. Katie’s expe...

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    When wildfires struck Northern California a few years ago, much of Erin Gore’s life literally went up in smoke. The CEO of the Garden Society, a vertically integrated craft cannabis company in Sonoma County, came dangerously close to taking a finance deal that could have led to professional and financial disaster. But an astute and supportive business coach suggested another path for Erin, and today the Garden Society is on the cus...

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    In 2014, Sundie Seefried was six months from retiring as CEO of Partner Colorado Credit Union when she learned about the banking barriers for the cannabis industry. She postponed retirement to create a program that would provide safer, better banking options for operators. The result was Safe Harbor Financial, which has since processed more than $12 billion in cannabis-related funds and plans to go public on the Nasdaq soon.

    In thi...

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    When Washington DC and Louisiana launched their respective medical cannabis markets, many entrepreneurs questioned whether the restrictive frameworks could be viable for businesses. But Chanda Macias saw opportunities to help shape those markets into communities focused on helping patients. Now, Chanda operates a dispensary in Washington DC and one of two licensed cultivation and manufacturing operations in Louisiana. Her deep root...

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    On a trip to India in the late 2000s, Raj Grover walked by a paraphernalia store selling glass pipes for pennies, accessories that would retail in Canada for $20. While he wasn’t a cannabis user at the time, Raj saw an opportunity. He parlayed that New Delhi encounter into a 500-square-foot head shop in Calgary with two employees. That lone outlet has grown into High Tide, a Canadian retail powerhouse with more than 100 cannabis st...
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    When Tripp Keber co-founded Denver-based Dixie Elixirs, he didn’t fully understand the ride he was stepping onto. Dixie quickly became one of the best-known brands in the market, and Tripp became a face of the industry, appearing on several mainstream documentaries about the newly legal product. After years in the limelight, Tripp realized that he preferred starting new businesses than managing established ones and made a graceful ...

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    Meg Sanders has been paving the way for cannabis industry pioneers for more than a dozen years. As an early advocate for Colorado’s medical market and CEO of Mindful, one of the state’s first cannabusiness, Meg possesses a rare institutional knowledge of what one of the nation’s first marijuana markets looked like and what it took to survive. She then brought her Western U.S. sensibilities to Massachusetts’ red-tape heavy rec marke...

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    Ricardo Baca made his cannabis industry name as the first marijuana editor at The Denver Post. The skills and connections he garnered in that career gave him the confidence to launch his own public relations venture, Grasslands, in 2016, but journalism didn’t provide him the business acumen required for success. In this episode of “Seed to CEO,” Ricardo talks with MJBiz CEO Chris Walsh about learning the ropes to create a successfu...

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    Jessica Billingsley's first foray into the cannabis industry was a direct investment in one of the first licensed marijuana companies in Colorado. But when she was tasked with identifying software to support the endeavor, she failed to find anything. So Jessica turned that vacuum into an opportunity and developed a seed-to-sale software, known as MJ Freeway, for the new industry. In this episode, Jessica talks about her journey...

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    An eviction notice on 4/20. That’s how Jesce Horton’s first foray into state-licensed cannabis cultivation ended in 2017. Part of it had to do with a one-in-a-million regulatory quirk that forced him to shut down a successful grow, and part of it was not being “passionate” about a not-so-successful retail arm. But Jesce remained confident in his process and product while never losing his love for the craft, so he tried again. The r...

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    When Ricky Williams retired from the NFL in 2004, the headlines were overwhelmingly negative: “Famous football player gives up everything for pot.” But instead of becoming a story of downfall, the 1998 Heisman Trophy winner went on to study herbology and create his opportunity in the cannabis industry – after returning to terrorize NFL defenses for six more seasons. In this episode of Seed to CEO, Ricky and CEO Eric Hammond share i...
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    Amber Littlejohn cut her teeth helping craft policy for an industry built around “a regulated herbal product that the government doesn’t like” with the American Herbal Products Association. But when she began consulting for the Minority Cannabis Business Association in 2019, she found herself in love with a new challenge. In this episode of Seed to CEO, Amber talks about how she’s helped evolve the organization around its core miss...
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    Simon Nankervis led some of the biggest names in retail - American Eagle, DSW, Aldo Canada - before joining The Source in Nevada. But it took a dressing down from a subordinate before he really started to understand cannabis consumers. “In this business, you impact people’s lives every single day,” he told Seed to CEO. In this episode, Simon shares what led to that epiphany, as well as:
  • Why it’s important to immerse yourself in the...
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    For Hope Jones’ first cannabis job, she served as chief science officer for a grower in Arizona. But as a newbie to the industry, she lacked the confidence to speak out against veterans making easy-to-avoid mistakes, despite her expertise. As frustration built, she saw an opportunity to bring clean-tissue culture to an industry struggling to get solid genetics. Today, the plant biologist operates two companies – a consulting firm f...

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    The cannabis industry wasn’t front of mind when Cassandra Farrington set out to launch a resource for entrepreneurs. But as she and her business partner were looking for the right segment to provide their skill sets to back in 2010, the cannabis industry found them. Eventually the two set aside their other business endeavors to focus on building MJBiz into the brand you see today.

    In this episode of Seed to CEO, Cassandra shares:

  • W...
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    When John Lord, a former head of a child-safety-seat manufacturer, started in the cannabis industry, he was viewed with suspicion by legacy operators because he was an outsider. But the CEO of Denver-based LivWell Enlightened Health quickly became a believer in the product. Cannabis was unlike any other product John had sold, but he realized that to successfully sell it, he still needed standard business practices.

    In this season f...

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