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Ep.279: Mark Grindeland, Coda Signature

Cannabis Economy Podcast
Ep.279: Mark Grindeland, Coda Signature

Ep.279: Mark Grindeland, Coda Signature

Mark Grindeland joins us and takes us through his history in advertising. He had a management consulting firm which led him to Digitas. He says he turned Digitas into the McKinsey of advertising. Back in the day he had codified his IP in building one of the first ERP CRM platforms, took that public and hit a billion dollar market cap. From Digitas he was recruited to Y&R who wanted to become a global version of digitas. After dabbling in M&A, he was moved into the CEO EMEA role. Which brought him back to the same place he was bootstrapping with Digitas a year earlier. This time, with 21 countries, 36 offices, 2K employees and 180M in revenue. This is the experience and more that Mark brings to cannabis.

Transcript:

Speaker 1: Mark Grindeland, Mark Grndeland joins us and take us through his history in advertising at a management consulting firm which led them to digital as he says, he turned, digital's into the Mckinsey of advertising back in the day he had codified as Ip and building one of the first Erp crm platforms, took that public and hit a billion dollar market cap from digital city was recruited to y and r who wanted to become a global version of digitals. After dabbling in m and a, he was moved into the CEO. Give me a role which brought him back to the same place he was bootstrapping with digitoss a year earlier this time with 21 countries, 36 offices, 2000 employees, and $100 million in revenue. This is the experience and more that mark brings to cannabis. Welcome to cannabis economy. I'm your host Seth Adler. Check us out on social with the hand mechanic economy.

Speaker 1: That's two ends of the word economy. Mark Randall and it's great. Hey, work hard to make this business successful. All right, so here's the thing, I usually like to either start at the end or start at the beginning, but I know that you're an old Madison Avenue guy and I can't help myself. I got to start in the middle if you don't mind. Not a problem. What year did you kind of find Madison Avenue so that we can set the scene? Yeah, so actually I started with a company called Rauner Slosberg, comfrey, which was rebranded to Digitas, digitas being, of course, part of publicists big name. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So, um, I actually, uh, how I got there, I was, uh, started a management consulting firm in the early nineties with a guy from Bain and company out of Boston. Sure. Our first client was the founder of digitoss, Michael Bronner, and basically asked us, I want to reposition the company, make it more strategic and drive growth.

Speaker 1: So this was 92, a five years later. Well, 92. We had 350 people. Yeah, five years later. We had 2000 people as digitas. Yes. Alright. Um, what's with the horse? I'm sorry, the horse, you know what to go do that. I don't do the horse. So actually right. Uh, it's, it's interesting, right when they were rebranding, we help them bring in basically to reposition them for an IPO. Got It. They brought in $200, million from Helman, Friedman now to San Francisco and I was tasked with opening up the European markets. Great. So I got their client over there, started to put a team commuting back and forth from Boston to London, and then was promptly recruited to ynr and New York. Well, before we get to that, here's, so we're coming in as a management consultant, you know, obviously good roots up in Massachusetts with Bain and company, kind of a roots, so to speak.

Speaker 1: What did you know that you needed to do as far as this rebrand, getting the money in and then now kind of going to Europe. What was the key to opening up those markets for digitals? You know, a four digitoss. I mean, you know what, what we did in repositioning them, most agencies, we're really focused on the creative side. Sure. What we did was we turned them into the Mckinsey of the agency world, so this was like hardcore strategy, understanding customer economics, and we worked at the c suite level, you know, and, and that was what we did as consultants, right? Of course. So the first couple of years working with Michael Bronner at, at Bronto software, comfrey, we actually incubated our consulting firm in his office, [inaudible]. We carried his business cards and we did all the client pitches and want him these massive accounts. And as we built up our consulting firm boys, I'm going to need you to do more.

Speaker 1: Right? You got it. You got it. So basically, um, the, the company that I cofounded the consulting firm, it was a company called exchange partners and we took the thinking that we had developed and codified the Ip built one of the very first enterprise crm platforms and took it public on the Nasdaq in [inaudible] 98. We had like a billion dollar market cap. So you guys are sap or Oracle? Yeah, yeah. This, this was a, it was enterprise stuff, um, which was ultimately the downfall of the company when it went to cloud. Uh, but, you know, we had, when, what was the name of it, if I'm a exchange? Well, we spun off the software to a company called exchange application. Okay. Right. And um, 500 global clients. We had like Citibank worldwide. You did, I mean, there were tons of clients. It hit about a billion dollars in market cap in a couple of years.

Speaker 1: Right. Uh, I was then recruited to go work at Digitas to run strategy for them. Perfect. All right. So then you get to, to Europe. And what was it like kind of saying, hey, we're digitas were coming in because there are some really big firms in. Absolutely. So, you know, it was interesting because, um, I got their first client for them, which was British Telecom. That's a good first client to get. But that client was actually a digitas client up in Canada for Rogers, which I ran that relationship. See? So when he got recruited to British Telecom, he was like, mark, come work your magic with me. So it was kind of an easy thing. So you didn't tell them that. Right? Well, I mean, here's what was interesting. So when I was at, at Digitas, Digitas, um, unlike a lot of the global firms, they would only grow organically.

Speaker 1: Mark Grindeland, Mark Grndeland joins us and take us through his history in advertising at a management consulting firm which led them to digital as he says, he turned, digital's into the Mckinsey of advertising back in the day he had codified as Ip and building one of the first Erp crm platforms, took that public and hit a billion dollar market cap from digital city was recruited to y and r who wanted to become a global version of digitals. After dabbling in m and a, he was moved into the CEO. Give me a role which brought him back to the same place he was bootstrapping with digitoss a year earlier this time with 21 countries, 36 offices, 2000 employees, and $100 million in revenue. This is the experience and more that mark brings to cannabis. Welcome to cannabis economy. I'm your host Seth Adler. Check us out on social with the hand mechanic economy.

Speaker 1: That's two ends of the word economy. Mark Randall and it's great. Hey, work hard to make this business successful. All right, so here's the thing, I usually like to either start at the end or start at the beginning, but I know that you're an old Madison Avenue guy and I can't help myself. I got to start in the middle if you don't mind. Not a problem. What year did you kind of find Madison Avenue so that we can set the scene? Yeah, so actually I started with a company called Rauner Slosberg, comfrey, which was rebranded to Digitas, digitas being, of course, part of publicists big name. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. So, um, I actually, uh, how I got there, I was, uh, started a management consulting firm in the early nineties with a guy from Bain and company out of Boston. Sure. Our first client was the founder of digitoss, Michael Bronner, and basically asked us, I want to reposition the company, make it more strategic and drive growth.

Speaker 1: So this was 92, a five years later. Well, 92. We had 350 people. Yeah, five years later. We had 2000 people as digitas. Yes. Alright. Um, what's with the horse? I'm sorry, the horse, you know what to go do that. I don't do the horse. So actually right. Uh, it's, it's interesting, right when they were rebranding, we help them bring in basically to reposition them for an IPO. Got It. They brought in $200, million from Helman, Friedman now to San Francisco and I was tasked with opening up the European markets. Great. So I got their client over there, started to put a team commuting back and forth from Boston to London, and then was promptly recruited to ynr and New York. Well, before we get to that, here's, so we're coming in as a management consultant, you know, obviously good roots up in Massachusetts with Bain and company, kind of a roots, so to speak.

Speaker 1: What did you know that you needed to do as far as this rebrand, getting the money in and then now kind of going to Europe. What was the key to opening up those markets for digitals? You know, a four digitoss. I mean, you know what, what we did in repositioning them, most agencies, we're really focused on the creative side. Sure. What we did was we turned them into the Mckinsey of the agency world, so this was like hardcore strategy, understanding customer economics, and we worked at the c suite level, you know, and, and that was what we did as consultants, right? Of course. So the first couple of years working with Michael Bronner at, at Bronto software, comfrey, we actually incubated our consulting firm in his office, [inaudible]. We carried his business cards and we did all the client pitches and want him these massive accounts. And as we built up our consulting firm boys, I'm going to need you to do more.

Speaker 1: Right? You got it. You got it. So basically, um, the, the company that I cofounded the consulting firm, it was a company called exchange partners and we took the thinking that we had developed and codified the Ip built one of the very first enterprise crm platforms and took it public on the Nasdaq in [inaudible] 98. We had like a billion dollar market cap. So you guys are sap or Oracle? Yeah, yeah. This, this was a, it was enterprise stuff, um, which was ultimately the downfall of the company when it went to cloud. Uh, but, you know, we had, when, what was the name of it, if I'm a exchange? Well, we spun off the software to a company called exchange application. Okay. Right. And um, 500 global clients. We had like Citibank worldwide. You did, I mean, there were tons of clients. It hit about a billion dollars in market cap in a couple of years.

Speaker 1: Right. Uh, I was then recruited to go work at Digitas to run strategy for them. Perfect. All right. So then you get to, to Europe. And what was it like kind of saying, hey, we're digitas were coming in because there are some really big firms in. Absolutely. So, you know, it was interesting because, um, I got their first client for them, which was British Telecom. That's a good first client to get. But that client was actually a digitas client up in Canada for Rogers, which I ran that relationship. See? So when he got recruited to British Telecom, he was like, mark, come work your magic with me. So it was kind of an easy thing. So you didn't tell them that. Right? Well, I mean, here's what was interesting. So when I was at, at Digitas, Digitas, um, unlike a lot of the global firms, they would only grow organically.

Speaker 1: They wouldn't go out and acquire other companies at the time at the time. So, you know, after I put the team in got, we were working with a British Telecom. I got recruited Ynr, right. So I moved back to New York City. I had ynr kind of come and get you. Actually how they got me was they had just done their IPO and they'd been looking at digitas forever and they said we'd like to build a global digital. At the time digitas was only in Boston and we had opened up in New York office, so we had two offices. London was the third office and I walk into Wunderman and basically they said, you know, we're like the largest direct marketing digital agency in the world, but we're getting our ass kicked by Digitas and we need to up our game and that's it. So they had a new chairman.

Speaker 1: He brought me into running strategy, Iran database marketing services globally, and then was involved in a bunch of m and a stuff and then um, about six months in they asked me if I would be the move over to Europe and be the CEO for Europe, Middle East and Africa. So the irony is I was there a year before a boots, digitas with digitoss bootstrapping, right? And like a single office when I moved over to Europe with Wunderman, I had 21 countries, 36 offices, 2000 employees and $180,000,000 revenue. So be careful what you ask for my how things have changed. So you're running a mia and this is kind of when that, you know, mergers and acquisitions party started to happen in that space. Right. And, and so, um, what were the kind of lessons that you learned? You said, be careful what you wish for. You've got all of these employees from all over the world, literally as you're running this unit.

Speaker 1: What were the kind of key things and key learnings that we're coming to you fast and hard, I would imagine. I mean, you know, there were, there were a number of things, uh, it's hard to sort of figure out where to start. Number one was, um, it's a very humbling experience being an American and moving to Europe, especially when you're looking at sort of a Pan European job. Yeah. Um, the EU was just starting to form and we have global clients at Ynr and you know, as an American you'd go over and you talk to people at Citibank and Europe and you'd say, okay, here's what you should do. And, and it was sort of like silly Americans. Here they come. Yeah. And these guys already had existing relationships with agencies. How ynr and Wunderman grew. They grew through acquisition. So I'm Ford was a major client.

Speaker 1: Ford would open up, let's say Poland, and they would say, okay, why are you got to be in Poland? What they would do is go buy an agency. Sure. Well, what happened was the other thing was even though all of the agencies had the same moniker on the top Wunderman, they were all very different of course. So building a process, building culture, unlike digitas, because we grew organically, we built this amazing culture, all of the business processes there. It was very disciplined approach. I get over to Europe and it was like dog, apple, cat spaghetti, you know, it was all over the map. And so that was very challenging. So that was number one. Yeah, I'm obviously labor laws are very different, you know, trying to restructure Europe was like a real learning experience. It's not easy to just, you know, kind of make changes with your employees.

Speaker 1: You got it. You got it. So it was a, it was a really wonderful experience. I restructured Europe, I hired a whole new management team. Yeah, we were doing great. And then, you know, two years later we were acquired by WPP. Sure. Um, when I met Sir Martin, really very successful guy, but stylistically I knew that's not what I wanted. I see. All right, well before we get to that, which will of course be the exit, um, as far as that culture piece, you know, because you're a strategy guy, you can build systems, you can build structures and kind of get folks at least to understand this is where we're going culture wise though. How were you able to kind of create a wunderman slash wine are kind of theme, you know, that not necessarily rivaled digitas but at least was its own thing. Yup. That brought folks together.

Speaker 1: So a couple of things I did was I set up a Pan European board of directors. Excellent. Um, so I got really like the key men and women who were really making it happen into a board. Second was I worked with a organizational development consultant that did change management and I brought him over to Europe. I'd worked with him at Digitas. We'd actually had digitized. I brought them into clients that we were working with and um, basically when I worked with them at digitoss, we integrated kind of three things. One was strategy work, one was what we call conditional mind. Okay. What does that mean? Meaning that I could have the best strategy in the world, yes, but if I don't have the right culture and the right mindset is going to fail precisely. Which is why I'm asking you this question. So go on. Yeah.

Speaker 1: So we brought him in. The third piece was building the organizational process. Okay. So brought, brought him over to Europe. He took my new management team and the board offsite we worked with him and then I kept him on and he worked across my offices for a year where we created a common language, a common way of addressing problems and you know, a lot of my peers in the US thought I was nuts. Why would they think of besides being a, you know, a blissfully ignorant. I mean, part of it was, you know, I think sometimes the organizational stuff, people call it the soft touchy feely stuff. They don't understand it. They don't understand. I got you how it could drive the numbers and I'd actually done it in another place with the same guy. Sure. And Kansas and Texas kind of do already speak the same language.

Speaker 1: France, Germany don't. Bingo, right? Yup. All right, so, so you did that. We got it in. Took a while. Everybody was speaking the same language, of course in air quotes, right, exactly. Uh, and then you realize now, uh, under new management, you're kind of answering to an enigmatic CEO. Is that fair to say? You know, he, he, uh, just had a very different style and one that just didn't align with philosophically what I wanted to do. I was gently, how would we. Yeah. So here's the big difference. I was hired to build a company and WPP, we're operators, they focused on micro management and the numbers. Got It. And so it was a total focus on bottom line, not growth. Got It. And it's hard to grow the top line and reduce cost. Yes. Well it's hard to focus on reducing costs over and over and over again and then also grow, right?

Speaker 1: Yeah. And you know, so that was sort of the primary issue. The other issue is, you know, when I was at Digitas, when I left them, they were 2000 people, so I went into an organization that had 15,000 people slightly more when we were acquired, we were 65,000, which is out of hand and you know, for me, I had done a two startups before that and I just thought, you know what, um, this has been a great experience. I've learned a lot, but I'm really interested in doing another startup. Okay. So essentially after we were acquired, I moved back to the states and did my third startup. Okay. And so where did you move back to what city? I moved to Boston and familiar ground, familiar ground and um, I started a mobile technology company. And what was interesting when I was living in Europe from a 98 to 2001 mobile technology was about five years ahead of the US and even further ahead in Asia.

Speaker 1: But that has nothing to do with this conversation but go on. But you know, I saw that and I knew that it was going to come to the US. Right. So a good example when I came back to the US in 2001, yeah, there was no interoperability between mobile carriers, meaning that they were just rolling out data services. So if you want it to send me a text message and you were on sprint and I was on a t and t no can do, can't do it, right. We actually help solve that problem. So we built a company that from two guys to 100 million in revenue in five years and then we sold it. What was the name of that company? A company called [inaudible]. That company. I actually remember. Yeah. So you know, it was, it was early day still when that, when you got, what was that?

Speaker 1: Two thousand to 2000. We, I moved back to the states in May of 2001 and to Boston. We incubated it in the offices of a company called general catalyst, which is a venture firm in Boston. We had bain capital put money into. Thanks Ian. Thank you. Bang. Um, and it was a wild ride, you know, we, because a good company and that, that was all pre iphone, is that? Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. Because iphone comes in kind of 2006 and then that changes the mobile space completely and totally. You got it right. But what we did, um, um, our original ideas was very different. Uh, there's a thing called a m Vno in the and in that space which is 10, which is Virgin Mobile, right? They don't actually own a network. They sit on top of sprint. Right? So our original business plan was we were going to become an NBA, no aggregator where we would put companies like American Express, Disney, espn, blah, blah, blah, plug it right in.

Speaker 1: Right. So, you know, the business model was um, you know, essentially, uh, will share in the acquisition costs, will use Mr. brand, your distribution to acquire customers, right. We will customize the experience of the phone based on the, on the brand proposition that you have with the market. Right. So if you had espn, it's everything sports. Well I was going to say that's when ESPN launched the mbn. Oh, that was like, it's all bets are off. Bingo. Yeah. So that's what the original plan was, but you know, there's, there's like one big dependency in that model. You have to have a carrier deal that you're sitting on top of their network and at the time there were no envy and o's in the United States. So what happened was there were a number of things we had to raise a crap load of money to be able to make that happen.

Speaker 1: I think we needed to raise over $50 million. You had to get a carrier deal. I have my buddy who was at British telecom, I told the VC guys, this is the guy you need, right? To get the carrier deal. They flew over to London. They got him. Uh, we were all set to do that. We had gotten about 27 million in term sheets. We had built a team. We've got some bridge financing. We're off to the races. Well, two things happened that summer. Okay. Um, and in uh, August, British telecom decides they're going to spend off their mobile division and rebranded into a company called o two. Uh, uh, my friend was the chief marketing officer at Otu. They went to him and they said, you know, a few stay, here's a guaranteed pay day, you're going to make a lot of money. Right? Versus you moved back to the states and it's a crap shoot if you're gonna make money.

Speaker 1: Who knows? So he stayed right. Three weeks later, nine slash 11 happens. And so now we're like, okay. Um, I was actually at a mobile, um, convention CTI and San Diego on June nine slash 11. That's a huge mobile usage. Yeah. Uh, my cofounder was with me and that day we were sort of like, okay, I wonder what we're going to do when we get back to Boston. The other thing that happened to us is about two weeks before my friend in, in Europe, uh, got a seduced into staying. Yeah, Sprint announced that they had just signed the very first and deal with virgin mobile. Virgin wrote him a check for $50 million. And then we were like, basically like, wow, I wonder what I'm going to do for a job when I get back, because you can't, once you get to that, you can't compete with that.

Speaker 1: So we basically what we ended up doing in San Diego, because if you remember all flights were grounded for like, we're going to say I was in Palm Springs. It's so strange that we were kind of right next door to each other. I drove across the country. What did you, uh, we waited it out and we wrote a new business plan. Oh, look at that. Okay. We got back to Boston, we pitched it to our, uh, our seed investor. They accepted it and then we were off to the races. What was the new business plan? So the new business plan was a mobile. Basically all brands are looking at mobile devices and looking at this as a very attractive marketing medium because it's personal, it's always with you, etc. So we created a campaign management platform that plugged into wireless network into their billing system. And baSically we, uh, we, our business model was a licensing model for the platform.

Speaker 1: Our first customers were the carriers and we use that to drive adoption of text messaging. There we go. So we built campaigns and did all sorts of promotions and then we went out and we started signing up every record label and we started taking their content and turning it into ringtones. Screensavers you're the guy. I'm the guy. Well I was one of the guys, one of the guys. I mean there were a lot of us know with that. I mean just to kind of bring everybody back that ring tone thing that was so huge. people now that you have the phone that you have with the capabilities that it has, there's no way you'll believe me in saying that the whole ring tone thing was huge. Yeah, it was, it was, it was crazy, right? I mean, you know, people were paying like $10 a month for a subscription service to ringtone for crappy ringtones anyway.

Speaker 1: All right. So we kind of have to kind of skip ahead here so that we get to, to marijuana. But yeah, exactly. So forget about where you are because you did another thing even after that. Um, tell us, let's start where we are now. So coda signature, just give me everything about what we're doing. Yeah. So coda signature. I incorporated the company, uh, january 1st of January of 2015. Um, our, you know, we studied the market really hard to try and figure out what part of the value chain we want them to be in. And we looked at everything we looked at ancillary services, we looked at dispensary's flower, et cetera. And what we realized was a number one, I want it to be on the plant touching side of the business because I think that the revenue opportunity is bigger. Okay, fine. Let me stop you though.

Speaker 1: You're one of these suit people, right? I'm noticing that you've got a little bit of frosting on your hair. Wouldn't you be, why have a few black hairs in my gray hair? there you go. wouldn't you be one of the people that should be like an ancillary guy, you know, you know, um, notionally yes. But here's what happened. And I started a by training because of management consulting. I started digging into the numbers and when I started looking at the numbers, there were a number of things that I, that I realized was there. One was on the flower side of the business. It's hard to brand flower, right? So I wanted something that I could actually create a competitive advantage for us and differentiate us from everybody else. Dispensary's hard to differentiate yourself because you're carrying all the same products in the stores, you know, it's not like you're carrying unique products.

Speaker 1: So I didn't want to be in the retail business, I didn't want to be in flour, I didn't want to be in the ancillary side of the business. And so what I really started to look at was the infused product side. Sure. And that was what we, what we focused on now. We were really lucky. We got an amazing young lady out of New York, uh, convinced her to move to Colorado. she's a classically trained chocolate tier. she was trained at the valrhona school in southern France. Oh, this is like a real school here, real school. Right. You'll appreciate this because of New York. She moved to New York and she went to work for Thomas Keller. Oh sure. She worked At per se. Yeah. It was a dessert chef at per se. I mean there's not. So as far as that, that's like, um, for, for nascar fans. That's dale earnhardt is what she was.

Speaker 1: You got it. So, so lauren, basically a honed her craft. Yeah. For about a decade in New York in 2013. She was named one of the top 10 chocolate tiers in north America by desert magazine. Sure. And so, um, you know, serendipity, we met lauren, we convinced her to be a part of our journey. She moved to Colorado and so we decided that what we would launch with were edibles at very, very high end edibles that we had not seen on the market. Okay. Now the other thing that we wanted to do is generally gourmet a gore gore make confection is more hand done. Sure. So I didn't. That wasn't what I wanted to do. I wanted to do a scale business and I was going to say it's not scalable. That's impossible. It's not impossible. Okay. We figured it out. All right. So, you know, lauren worked and, and you know, we actually had custom made a manufacturing equipment made in Belgium, um, shipped over to our facility.

Speaker 1: We have a 30,000 square foot facility on 10 acres in southern Colorado. Great. So we're building for scale. This is a first of many around the country. I'm kind of long story short, we launched a meaning that we shipped our first products out the door on march 30, first of 2016. Okay. Fourteen months ago. Yeah, I'm too. So we shipped to five dispensary's our first day. Uh, three weeks later we won first place in the high times cannabis cup for edibles in Colorado. All right. Today we're in about 225 dispensary's around Colorado. About three weeks ago we were named the best edibles company in Colorado. Congratulations. You know, we're, we're, uh, kind of experiencing exponential growth right now. I'm just now completing our extraction lab. Okay. Uh, we'll be rolling out a line of very high end topicals starting a late summer and then very high end oils and concentrates in the fall all under the code of signature brand.

Speaker 1: Great. Now I feel like I heard you say something about other places other than Colorado. Yes. So, um, I'm currently working on a, I, I've raised a good amount of money in a seed round. I'm going out and starting to raise our series a round that hopefully I'll wrap up, you know, in q three, q four. We're gOing to earmark the funds for geographic expansion and right now our main priority is California as it would be. Yeah. How speaking to folks that, listen to this, that know what you have to do to operate in a different state, a be a friend, how are you approaching it, you know, um, it's all about the team [inaudible]. So, um, and that's true with any business. You've got to build a great team. so I'm on my co founder. Um, she is also our chief compliance officer and because of a chocolate tier.

Speaker 1: No, no, no, no, because elizabeth who had been in the industry before, understood. Yes. So she really understands compliance. So she's really going to focus on government relations and compliance and I've already got her focusing on the laws and in California, the oncoming, the other. Exactly. The, the other thing that I've learned from other startups is you don't skip skimp on attorneys. Accountants, you know, advisors who can help you. You need those folks. So, you know, we've got a very large international law firm that does a lot of corporate transactions. We've got a cannabis attorney in Colorado who also just got licenses, uh, has passed the bar in California. He's hired a partner in California who's been working in the cannabis industry for a number of years. So, you know, we're, we're gonna make mistakes. There's not going to be, you know, that's the definition of a startup.

Speaker 1: You make mistakes, no matter the industry, no matter the industry. Hopefully none of them are terminal, right? But what we're trying to do is be very strategic and thoughtful and I think, you know, 15 years as a management consultant that helped. I, I would say so, right, because you're simply, it sounds like applying the same thing that you did over here to over there, to, over here to right here in cannabis. The principles are the same, you know, it's like, how do you build a great brand? Yeah. How do you build operational expertise? How do you build compliance? How do you build marketing? You know, it's all, it's all the same. So if I'm talking to a mark in 1995 and I tell him in about 20 years, right? Maybe a little bit more than 20 years, you're going to be the ceo of the cannabis company. What would you say? I would have said whatever you're smoking, pass it over here because it ain't going to happen.

Speaker 1: It's kind of amazing, right? I mean, you're, you're like this bain company, associated management consultant, you know, from madison avenue and here you are in cannabis and it certainly feels like you don't, you're looking at this the same exact way as you have the whole other thing, right? You know, I mean, here's, here's some, uh, some of the subtle, but I think profound differences, you know, the one thing that I've learned about the industry and I spent, you know, I spent a good year just really studying it. I'm The one thing, I think there's absolutely, I'm sort of this dynamic right now between the old guard and the new guard. Sure. I'm, the one thing that I've learned is you've got to be very grateful to the old guard because we wouldn't have the opportunity if it weren't for them. So I respect that a lot. It's good to hear you say a lot now that said, it doesn't take a genius to look at this industry and once you really understand the plant, there's so much mythology around it.

Speaker 1: There's so much misunderstanding. Um, and you know, the toothpaste is out of the tube. Sure. You look at what's happening not only in this country but globally. Absolutely. Um, so I, I don't think it's going to go backwards. So if it's going to mature and turn into a legitimate business, you need people who understand how to scale legitimate businesses. And, you know, we take, um, we're very humble about the opportunity. I mean, we're just, I feel so grateful to be in this industry and I've learned a lot and you know, without a doubt that this is the funnest startup I've ever done. I mean really including mobile take including mobile. This is, this is hands down the best one. Um, but, you know, I, I think some of the hardest things about this industry are the changing regulations. I mean, it's just, you know, and it's state by state and it's constant.

Speaker 1: Even in Colorado, it's still remains like every day. Absolutely. So that, that is, makes enormous complexity. Yeah. Um, and actually creates barriers to entry to, of course it does because, you know, I look at California once they roll out the regs because they've, they've worked in an unregulated market for as long as they have. I think it's going to be tough for people who've been in the industry, in the gray, black market. Yeah. To make it, it, it certainly going to be unsettling. I just spoke to a northern California dispensary owner who has roots in humboldt county. And what's nice at least is that everybody's kind of, everybody knows that we kind of have work to do in order to kind of get along here, you know, and so it's, it's, you know, listening to conversations like this one with you that folks should do to understand, hey, we got to take a next big step here.

Speaker 1: You know, it's not the next five years are going to look nothing like the last five years. Well, and you know, here's to me, um, I was very fortunate. I've spent a lot of time working in Canada and a guy who used to work for me, uh, knows bruce linton, the ceo of, of tweet. We've of course had him on course. So I was very fortunate early on. All I had was a powerpoint. Yeah. And uh, I took a trip up to smith falls, then we spent a day with him and that gave me a glimpse of the future. Sure. I mean, when you walk into their facility, it's like you're walking into a pharmaceutical facility and it's gargantuan and its core 150,000 square feet. His management team, he's hiring mckinsey guys, I mean, he is doing it right and obviously if you look at the market cap of their company, that's where it's going to go.

Speaker 1: Exactly. Um, so that was very instructive for me and gave me kind of a, of a mental model of what we could build. Yeah. Yeah. Fantastic. I'm very pleased to be talking to you. I can't wait to hear and see what happens is we go here, I've got three final questions. I'll tell you what they are and then I'll ask you them in order. What has most surprised you in cannabis? What has most surprised you in life? And then on the soundtrack of your life? One track, one song that's got to be on there. First things first though, knowing that you're not a, a original cannabis enthusiasts, at least you didn't meet me when I was in my teens. I was gonna say at least in industry. um, what, uh, what has most surprised you in canvas? The operational complexity of the industry. Yeah. So is this more complex than any other industry that you've worked in?

Speaker 1: Understanding that management consulting works in a number of industries, right? I'm most, I think it's up there, you know, who knows if it's the most, it's definitely up there and you know, the, the operational aspects of running a successful business is hard and you know, and the compliance thing. so those, that's, that's really it in terms of surprises kind of have to be a farmer and a banker and a security expert all at the same time. Like that. Yeah. Yeah. What haS most surprised you in life and life? We're making plans and god is laughing because he was so split. You explained it to me before, but explain to me now it's like I never in a million years would I've thought I would be in this industry. And my, my, uh, career has, has been all sorts of different things. I think the magically in my career I've always been sort of on the leading edge of new things and that's something that I'm very passionate about.

Speaker 1: Um, you know, it's, I'm an innovator. I like to build stuff. Yeah. Yeah. And I mean, we just talked about it, you know, kind of on the front end of the merger and acquisition thing in advertising on the front end of mobile certainly. And uh, I think you're in early enough to be on the front end of this, right? You know, I was a cnn visited us and spend about four hours in our facility and the reporter asked me a question. She used the baseball metaphor. She said, what inning are we in? Of course. And I said, we're not even in any one. I mean We're, we're like, just lIke figuring out what bat to pick up a. so I think it's very early days of a very exciting future for this industry. Okay. On the soundtrack mark of your life. One track, one song that's got to be on there, man, that's really a tough one.

Speaker 1: Um, seeds with the easiest question and are harder. Questions are really hard. One, I mean a man, you got me stumped. A, I'm thinking of a few tom petty title. Okay, what will we can do that? Why not? You know, what's, what's the one about a running down a dream? No, what's the, what's the song about? My sister got lucky. He married a yuppie. Took him for all. He was worth a. Now she's a swinger, but that's kind of life, right? It's like the shit you think is gonna happen. LIke, and I've got a 20, I got a 21 and 22 year old daughter. So pete and repeat 13 months apart. And uh, I'll tell you the hardest thing about this industry was me telling him I was going to get into this industry because they looked at their dad, you know, it was like you've started all these companies.

Speaker 1: Very successful guy. Right. And I, you know, I called my youngest and I said, sarah, I'm going to start another company. I'm leaving this big company dead silence for about 10 seconds actually. She said, so what's it going to be? And I said, well, that's the tricky part. And I told her dead silence. Then the next words out of her mouth is, okay, now you're officially the coolest dad in the world. and that was, you know, I'll take it. That's um, and uh, I've got a daughter who's an actress in boston, a dead silence. And she was like, finally, you've given me the street creds. I deserved. There you go. So a, what's old is new again, and everything kind of comes around. You got it. Mark, I appreciate talking to you. It's my pleasure. We will talk to you again real soon. All right. Thank you. And there you have more grendel and clearly that's the type of experience that folks are talking about when they say there's a new type of executive that is in the cannabis industry. Here's the guy you would expect. I said it in the middle of the thing. You'd expect them to be ancillary. Nope, he's touching. So thanks tamara. Thanks to you. Stay tuned.

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Cannabis Economy is a real-time history of legal cannabis. We chronicle how personal and industry histories have combined to provide our current reality.