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Ep. 414: Joel Milton, Baker

Cannabis Economy Podcast
Ep. 414: Joel Milton, Baker

Ep. 414: Joel Milton, Baker

Joel Milton joins us and shares what he’s learned developing as an entrepreneur: “The big lesson is ‘measure and set goals and define what you’re going to measure before hand.’ It’s really easy to look back on your data and say, “Oh yeah, we were successful; look, we had 500 people do this,” But if you were to set a goal before hand you would know what precise result defines success.”

Transcript:

Seth Adler: Joel Milton joins us. Welcome to Cannabis Economy. I'm your host Seth Adler. Download episodes on canneconomy.com. That's two Ns in the word Economy, or wherever you currently get your podcasts. First a word from Med Men and then Joel Milton.

Speaker 2: Med Men continues to expand its footprint on the cannabis landscape opening new stores in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and the iconic 5th Avenue in Manhattan. They've also opened a 45,000 foot high-tech cannabis cultivation and manufacturing facility in Nevada. The company has reached a $1 Billion dollar valuation, making it the country's first cannabis unicorn and it's just the beginning. Learn how Med Men is building the future of cannabis today, at Medmen.com.

Seth Adler: We're here, it's Joel Milton.

Joel Milton: We're rockin. Hey. Is that thing recording?

Seth Adler: Sure.

Joel Milton: We're live.

Seth Adler: Absolutely.

Joel Milton: Here we are.

Seth Adler: I mean, you and I are live. Podcast land knows no time.

Joel Milton: Of course.

Seth Adler: So who knows when this goes up.

Joel Milton: Huh, do you have a guess?

Seth Adler: Sooner. Yeah, sooner than later. That's a bonafide guess.

Joel Milton: As in like weeks or months?

Seth Adler: Weeks. More weeks than months.

Joel Milton: Okay. More weeks than months?

Seth Adler: Yeah. Sure.

Joel Milton: Great.

Seth Adler: Guy like you?

Joel Milton: Can I say hello to my future self?

Seth Adler: Sure, yes you should.

Joel Milton: Great.

Seth Adler: So this is our little friend.

Joel Milton: Yes.

Seth Adler: Who's got to be less than two. There are, we're at the MJ Biz Con. Lot's of people here. Also there's a diving show.

Joel Milton: Yes.

Seth Adler: Yeah. So free diving, which it's all about equalization on the way down and CO2 on the way up and that's how the two industries are related.

Joel Milton: The CO2 side.

Seth Adler: CO2 side.

Joel Milton: I got it.

Seth Adler: There we go.

Joel Milton: I see what you did there.

Seth Adler: Yeah.

Joel Milton: Perfect.

Seth Adler: Extractions, et cetera.

Joel Milton: Yes.

Seth Adler: But you don't get in to that with the baker.

Joel Milton: Not with baker, no.

Seth Adler: No.

Joel Milton: But yeah.

Seth Adler: Why is speaking to me on a microphone on a cannabis podcast like a wedding speech, I wonder?

Joel Milton: It's an interesting audience and you guys stay on your toes.

Seth Adler: Yeah, that's exactly it. Yeah.

Joel Milton: Yeah.

Seth Adler: He's interested in talking to us. What's this?

Joel Milton: He does not take no for an answer.

Seth Adler: No he does not 'cause he handed us a pamphlets and you don't get a chance to say pamphlets too often, but he absolutely handed me a pamphlet.

Joel Milton: He did.

Seth Adler: You said, no thank you. He was not interested in your no thanks.

Joel Milton: He did not take no for an answer.

Seth Adler: You were taking a pamphlet.

Joel Milton: Hire him for a sales person.

Seth Adler: That's exactly right. that's a future sales person.

Joel Milton: Yep.

Seth Adler: Well, a wedding speech. How's that like this?

Joel Milton: Well like I said you got all sorts of people around. Some are paying attention to you, some aren't. Head on a swivel and you just gotta keep calm and just tell the story.

Seth Adler: Keep calm and carry on.

Joel Milton: Yep.

Seth Adler: When did you start Baker? 'Cause it was a while a go now.

Joel Milton: It was a very long time ago. It was in...

Seth Adler: 'Cause it feels like it was, you're new to me, but that's not true.

Joel Milton: No, I looked in my e-mail and we connected like three years ago.

Seth Adler: Right.

Joel Milton: Yeah. We started Baker in 2014. In the summer-ish, although it's a blur in those early days.

Seth Adler: Right and there's always been the Colorado and California thing, right?

Joel Milton: Yeah, so when we started Baker, we were actually all living in New York at the time. David and I had, would have been working together for a number of years and we got introduced to the cannabis space.

Seth Adler: How?

Joel Milton: Someone told us about it. Dave and I had an agency where we were building apps and websites and doing consultancy, and design and development for people.

Seth Adler: Just you guys kind of what? Nimble? Type thing?

Joel Milton: Yeah, It was. We were in between projects.

Seth Adler: Got it.

Joel Milton: For all of you out there, it is okay to not succeed at your first project. I call them projects. It's a company once you have real revenues and people, but early on they're projects.

Seth Adler: Projects.

Joel Milton: Yep. So we were in between projects working on an agency to keep the lights on 'cause yeah, you need to pay for things in New York City.

Seth Adler: That's what, yeah it's really true actually.

Joel Milton: Yeah.

Seth Adler: And you have to pay a lot, usually. No matter what it is.

Joel Milton: Yeah. Yeah, uh-huh. Yes. Someone was like, "you should build an app for cannabis" and I was like, "cannabis?" In 2014 it was not in the news every day.

Seth Adler: Definitely not on the east coast, so this is where...

Joel Milton: Definitely not on the east coast.

Seth Adler: Yes, it's a small world and yes we've all gone digital, but for us New York type people, right? The 914s and the 516s and the 212s and the 718s, what they were doing out west was a whole different thing and we weren't paying attention.

Joel Milton: Not at all. Not even close to on our radar.

Seth Adler: There we go. So someone actually had to introduce the cannabis industry to you and you said?

Joel Milton: Well, they had to introduce the legal cannabis industry, to me.

Seth Adler: Certainly, that's what we mean by cannabis industry, but go on.

Joel Milton: Yes, indeed, yeah and in New York it was just that. I guess the point of that is that it was sort of like a stigma and even amongst young professionals who were interested in this space. It still wasn't something you really spoke about in public.

Seth Adler: Not in 2014.

Joel Milton: Not in 2014. So we were talking about it and we were in a co-working space and David and I were having a conversation and Rodger comes over and we knew Rodger. He had his own business and he was working also in the same co-working space and he's like, "are you guys talking about weed?" And we're like, "yeah. We're talking about building some tools for it." He's like, "I've been thinking about building something in that space too. I've been reading up on it. Pretty interested in it."

Seth Adler: So he's just guy from co-working space at the time?

Joel Milton: Just guy from co-working space. Ease dropping at the time and he's like, "what are you guys thinking?" and we started talking and he's like, "well, I'm an engineer, I can build it." Dave was like, "Yeah, I'm a product guy. I'll design it." I'm like, "I'm a sales guy. I'll sell it."

Seth Adler: Joel Milton joins us. Welcome to Cannabis Economy. I'm your host Seth Adler. Download episodes on canneconomy.com. That's two Ns in the word Economy, or wherever you currently get your podcasts. First a word from Med Men and then Joel Milton.

Speaker 2: Med Men continues to expand its footprint on the cannabis landscape opening new stores in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and the iconic 5th Avenue in Manhattan. They've also opened a 45,000 foot high-tech cannabis cultivation and manufacturing facility in Nevada. The company has reached a $1 Billion dollar valuation, making it the country's first cannabis unicorn and it's just the beginning. Learn how Med Men is building the future of cannabis today, at Medmen.com.

Seth Adler: We're here, it's Joel Milton.

Joel Milton: We're rockin. Hey. Is that thing recording?

Seth Adler: Sure.

Joel Milton: We're live.

Seth Adler: Absolutely.

Joel Milton: Here we are.

Seth Adler: I mean, you and I are live. Podcast land knows no time.

Joel Milton: Of course.

Seth Adler: So who knows when this goes up.

Joel Milton: Huh, do you have a guess?

Seth Adler: Sooner. Yeah, sooner than later. That's a bonafide guess.

Joel Milton: As in like weeks or months?

Seth Adler: Weeks. More weeks than months.

Joel Milton: Okay. More weeks than months?

Seth Adler: Yeah. Sure.

Joel Milton: Great.

Seth Adler: Guy like you?

Joel Milton: Can I say hello to my future self?

Seth Adler: Sure, yes you should.

Joel Milton: Great.

Seth Adler: So this is our little friend.

Joel Milton: Yes.

Seth Adler: Who's got to be less than two. There are, we're at the MJ Biz Con. Lot's of people here. Also there's a diving show.

Joel Milton: Yes.

Seth Adler: Yeah. So free diving, which it's all about equalization on the way down and CO2 on the way up and that's how the two industries are related.

Joel Milton: The CO2 side.

Seth Adler: CO2 side.

Joel Milton: I got it.

Seth Adler: There we go.

Joel Milton: I see what you did there.

Seth Adler: Yeah.

Joel Milton: Perfect.

Seth Adler: Extractions, et cetera.

Joel Milton: Yes.

Seth Adler: But you don't get in to that with the baker.

Joel Milton: Not with baker, no.

Seth Adler: No.

Joel Milton: But yeah.

Seth Adler: Why is speaking to me on a microphone on a cannabis podcast like a wedding speech, I wonder?

Joel Milton: It's an interesting audience and you guys stay on your toes.

Seth Adler: Yeah, that's exactly it. Yeah.

Joel Milton: Yeah.

Seth Adler: He's interested in talking to us. What's this?

Joel Milton: He does not take no for an answer.

Seth Adler: No he does not 'cause he handed us a pamphlets and you don't get a chance to say pamphlets too often, but he absolutely handed me a pamphlet.

Joel Milton: He did.

Seth Adler: You said, no thank you. He was not interested in your no thanks.

Joel Milton: He did not take no for an answer.

Seth Adler: You were taking a pamphlet.

Joel Milton: Hire him for a sales person.

Seth Adler: That's exactly right. that's a future sales person.

Joel Milton: Yep.

Seth Adler: Well, a wedding speech. How's that like this?

Joel Milton: Well like I said you got all sorts of people around. Some are paying attention to you, some aren't. Head on a swivel and you just gotta keep calm and just tell the story.

Seth Adler: Keep calm and carry on.

Joel Milton: Yep.

Seth Adler: When did you start Baker? 'Cause it was a while a go now.

Joel Milton: It was a very long time ago. It was in...

Seth Adler: 'Cause it feels like it was, you're new to me, but that's not true.

Joel Milton: No, I looked in my e-mail and we connected like three years ago.

Seth Adler: Right.

Joel Milton: Yeah. We started Baker in 2014. In the summer-ish, although it's a blur in those early days.

Seth Adler: Right and there's always been the Colorado and California thing, right?

Joel Milton: Yeah, so when we started Baker, we were actually all living in New York at the time. David and I had, would have been working together for a number of years and we got introduced to the cannabis space.

Seth Adler: How?

Joel Milton: Someone told us about it. Dave and I had an agency where we were building apps and websites and doing consultancy, and design and development for people.

Seth Adler: Just you guys kind of what? Nimble? Type thing?

Joel Milton: Yeah, It was. We were in between projects.

Seth Adler: Got it.

Joel Milton: For all of you out there, it is okay to not succeed at your first project. I call them projects. It's a company once you have real revenues and people, but early on they're projects.

Seth Adler: Projects.

Joel Milton: Yep. So we were in between projects working on an agency to keep the lights on 'cause yeah, you need to pay for things in New York City.

Seth Adler: That's what, yeah it's really true actually.

Joel Milton: Yeah.

Seth Adler: And you have to pay a lot, usually. No matter what it is.

Joel Milton: Yeah. Yeah, uh-huh. Yes. Someone was like, "you should build an app for cannabis" and I was like, "cannabis?" In 2014 it was not in the news every day.

Seth Adler: Definitely not on the east coast, so this is where...

Joel Milton: Definitely not on the east coast.

Seth Adler: Yes, it's a small world and yes we've all gone digital, but for us New York type people, right? The 914s and the 516s and the 212s and the 718s, what they were doing out west was a whole different thing and we weren't paying attention.

Joel Milton: Not at all. Not even close to on our radar.

Seth Adler: There we go. So someone actually had to introduce the cannabis industry to you and you said?

Joel Milton: Well, they had to introduce the legal cannabis industry, to me.

Seth Adler: Certainly, that's what we mean by cannabis industry, but go on.

Joel Milton: Yes, indeed, yeah and in New York it was just that. I guess the point of that is that it was sort of like a stigma and even amongst young professionals who were interested in this space. It still wasn't something you really spoke about in public.

Seth Adler: Not in 2014.

Joel Milton: Not in 2014. So we were talking about it and we were in a co-working space and David and I were having a conversation and Rodger comes over and we knew Rodger. He had his own business and he was working also in the same co-working space and he's like, "are you guys talking about weed?" And we're like, "yeah. We're talking about building some tools for it." He's like, "I've been thinking about building something in that space too. I've been reading up on it. Pretty interested in it."

Seth Adler: So he's just guy from co-working space at the time?

Joel Milton: Just guy from co-working space. Ease dropping at the time and he's like, "what are you guys thinking?" and we started talking and he's like, "well, I'm an engineer, I can build it." Dave was like, "Yeah, I'm a product guy. I'll design it." I'm like, "I'm a sales guy. I'll sell it."

Seth Adler: Ta-Da.

Joel Milton: Ta-Da.

Seth Adler: New project.

Joel Milton: Yeah, new project. Exactly. At the time, I didn't even tell anyone 'cause one, everyone already thought I was nuts for being in the start-up world. All my friends in New York were in finance.

Seth Adler: Going out on your own. There we go.

Joel Milton: Or in law firms and they already...

Seth Adler: Did you ever do any time in finance?

Joel Milton: Nope. I did not. Well, that's another story. Yeah, I did time I finance as a summer internships.

Seth Adler: Except for that doesn't count, though.

Joel Milton: Well I had job offer.

Seth Adler: Why did you turn that down?

Joel Milton: I didn't. During the time between when I was offered it and when I graduated was the worse financial collapse in history of the firm.

Seth Adler: Oh that's your timing?

Joel Milton: Just took it right back.

Seth Adler: Look at us. We're not gonna. We can't pay you. There's know way. There's no job anymore.

Joel Milton: That's right. Yeah.

Seth Adler: Yeah. Oh so that's your timing and so this is, 'cause newer folks in to the industry can just come in to the industry 'cause it's an industry.

Joel Milton: Correct.

Seth Adler: But way back then in cannabis years, or dog years.

Joel Milton: Well yeah, that was 2009 in start-up land.

Seth Adler: So most people that, most of the first folks in or that group in came in because of the financial collapse and it's like, "well I have nothing to lose," literally, by getting in here. So that's where you were.

Joel Milton: That's got me in to the start ups.

Seth Adler: You were getting a job offer rescinded.

Joel Milton: That's right. Yep.

Seth Adler: You were like a co-memo.

Joel Milton: That's exactly what I was.

Seth Adler: So you were at least right there 'cause you look like one of the New York finance guys, let's be honest, right? With the tight beard and the nice clothing and everything.

Joel Milton: Yep, well this is an industry now. Right? This is, we're here, everyone's here to make money and I'll tell you, you say that. I did not wear this four years ago to this show. Nor three years ago because I would have stuck out. Now today if I wore an old t-shirt people would be less interested in talking to me than they are today.

Seth Adler: So you're dressed back up, is what you've done.

Joel Milton: It's amazing how much this industry's changed in four years. Ridiculous.

Seth Adler: It's ridiculous and so your friends all thought you were crazy even though the job was rescinded. That wasn't your fault, but that you're not even trying to get back into finance and everything's okay again.

Joel Milton: Correct and I certainly, when Baker came about, did not start talking about it in the early days. My girlfriend at the time, now wife certainly didn't tell her parents what I was doing for the first few years.

Seth Adler: He's technology.

Joel Milton: Tech. It was technology. Yeah.

Seth Adler: When did you realize that you actually might have something?

Joel Milton: It took a little while. Well, listen. Hind-sights 20-20 and not only that, but I feel like memories are often distorted.

Seth Adler: Sure, always.

Joel Milton: Yeah, so the reality is it's a roller coaster and you go through times where you're like, "we got this" and then like a day later you're like, "what am I doing?"

Seth Adler: Or that afternoon even.

Joel Milton: Yeah, exactly. So there's a number of times where we found early success and then struggles and hardships and 2014 was a learning year. It was early time in the cannabis industry.

Seth Adler: That's the first year legal in Colorado.

Joel Milton: Correct.

Seth Adler: Who knows what was happening in California. You kind of do. When did you find each of those states?

Joel Milton: So it was in California through 2014 and then in the beginning of 2015 I moved to San Francisco to sort of that epicenter of tech and cannabis and we were moving forward on Baker and somehow worked my way in to a program called 500 Start Ups, which is an accelerator out of San Francisco. Very selective, like 3,000 applicants for 40 spots.

Seth Adler: Renowned. 5,000 start ups. That's a big one. that's a good one.

Joel Milton: It was cool. So we were the first cannabis company to pitch to them to get in. We were the first one accepted. We went through their program and there was definitely a little bit of chip on our shoulder. I mean, we were the weed guys, right? "Oh are the Baker guys gonna show up on time for today's round table? Oh are these guys it?" By the end of the program we were always first to pitch practice. We were always the first ones to turn in our assignments and we were pretty proud of what we did there and we learned a lot.
We came out of there. This is October of 2015 now.

Seth Adler: I want to stop you because I want to know. Let's let everyone, let's let every entrepreneur learn your lessons from 5,000 Start Ups. 500 Start Ups. I would walk 5,000 miles.

Joel Milton: Okay, yeah, two 500 Start Ups. Indeed as you should, yeah.

Seth Adler: Instead of, [crosstalk 00:09:23]. Yeah, right. What were the key lessons? You said, "We learned a lot."

Joel Milton: We did.

Seth Adler: What were the key, big lessons?

Joel Milton: The big lesson is measure and set goals and define what you're going to measure before hand because it's really easy to look back on your data and say, "Oh yeah, we were successful. Look, we had 500 people do this," but if you were to set a goal before hand and you would say, what defines success, maybe it was 5,000 and then you weren't even close and measure everything. We measured every e-mail campaign we sent out. Every page visit to our website. Every AB tested ad campaign we could run. All about data. All about measurements and setting goals for yourself and tracking them over time. KPIs, just all day long.

Seth Adler: But isn't that just being a smart business schooly, type person?

Joel Milton: I never went to business school.

Seth Adler: Okay. So that was business school.

Joel Milton: So maybe some people learned that from an MBA and I learned it from 500 Start Ups.

Seth Adler: Got it. Okay, fair enough.

Joel Milton: Yeah.

Seth Adler: Alright so then you're there. This is the back half of 2015 now and?

Joel Milton: Then we have to raise money.

Seth Adler: Oh sure. That ol' chestnut.

Joel Milton: Yeah, you gotta pay for things. Right?

Seth Adler: Exactly.

Joel Milton: People won't work for you for free.

Seth Adler: But now that you've got the, can we call it a glow, from 500 Start Ups? I would imagine that was more helpful.

Joel Milton: It definitely gives you a stamp of approval, but then we learned our next lesson. Which is, well at least back in 2015, most people won't invest in cannabis.

Seth Adler: Not then. No.

Joel Milton: Not then.

Seth Adler: Not people that have money, that aren't a little bit kind of well, very risk forward. Type of thing.

Joel Milton: That's right. Yep so we got on stage at demo day. We told our story. We got the applause. We talked about our traction.

Seth Adler: This is 500 Start Ups?

Joel Milton: 500 Start Ups and met with 100 investors over two months. I think 98 of them were like, "This sounds really cool. We can't invest in you. What are you crazy?"

Seth Adler: Yeah 'cause this is really great if not for the industry.

Joel Milton: Yeah. Thankfully there were some early pioneers in this space who set up funds. Specifically focused on cannabis.

Seth Adler: Ah-hah.

Joel Milton: We happened to find them.

Seth Adler: Are they going unnamed because one of the people that you probably work with has the same name as my sister. My sister's name is Jessica.

Joel Milton: Ah-hah. Yeah, so...

Seth Adler: So we can still, they can still go unnamed. It's fine.

Joel Milton: No, I mean listen. We found a lot of people. So Emily and Morgan from Poseidon were our first big like cannabis-specific investors.

Seth Adler: So they went before my friend Jessica [Garrin 00:11:47]?

Joel Milton: Well, so Jessica Garrin actually, I knew her beforehand, but they never wrote a check. Yeah. No, they were, they fall into that category of friendly people who will help you with advice.

Seth Adler: Alright. Which is good.

Joel Milton: Which is good.

Seth Adler: Which is good. But Morgan and Emily. I call them, by the way, I call them "The [Paxia 00:12:05]" Yeah. Exactly.

Joel Milton: Oh yes, oh I like that. Yeah, they helped us with advice and money.

Seth Adler: Right. Here's also some money.

Joel Milton: Right. Needed that. Yeah, so fortunately there were some people who took chances on us early on. We found some great entrepreneurs who had been successful in their careers who had the liberty to make their own decisions with their money and they were helpful in getting us through that hump.
So that was great, we had some money in the bank and then in 2016 is when Baker as a business shifted gears a little bit. Just our focus and we found our stride.

Seth Adler: What was it? What did you get rid of? What did you add?

Joel Milton: Yeah, I mean listen. There's the short, short story. When Baker started, there were really long lines in Colorado. We started as an app to let customers order ahead to skip the line. Right? Why would you wait in line if you know what you want? Tourists, sure they want to come in and ask questions, but if you go once a week, you just want to get in and get out. There's no delivering in Colorado.

Seth Adler: Everybody loves it.

Joel Milton: Great. Exactly.

Seth Adler: High volume customers, the dispensary loves it. The customer loves it. Come on.

Joel Milton: That's it. It made sense, but at the end of the day we were a B2C company and a B2C company needs to acquire end customers. Everyone was trying to acquire customers. You have Leafly and WeedMaps. You have Pot Guide and Sticky Guide and High There and Mass Roots and everything under the sun all trying to get customers. Plus you have more dispensaries than Starbucks and 7-11s combined in Denver. They all want the customers too, so now we found ourselves in this situation where the dispensaries liked our tool, but we were almost competing with them for their own customers.
So what we did was over the holidays between 2015 into 2016 is took a step back and said, "what if we focused on being a B2B tool?" What if we just actually turned the dispensaries in to our clients? We give them the tools to acquire and retain and manage their customers and actually help them get some data.

Seth Adler: Which is who should be doing that.

Joel Milton: Of course. Yeah. Again, many of these early operators they didn't really, they weren't familiar with customer retention. It wasn't really part of their business and so okay we grow cool weed and we sell it and it works. Now there's competition, we have to advertise. So okay cool. How is the advertising working? Oh I have no idea.
We did a study. It was more expensive to advertise in West Word and then Rooster on a per-impression basis than to pay for a Super Bowl commercial.

Seth Adler: Not true.

Joel Milton: True.

Seth Adler: That's insanity.

Joel Milton: That's insanity because everyone was trying to acquire customers, but then they would come in. They would leave and who was in? Oh I don't know, they came in, paid with cash and left.

Seth Adler: Yeah and they said they saw it in the paper.

Joel Milton: That's right. How do you get them back? Well I don't know. Advertise in the paper again. So we built this tool that really, in January 2016 we started putting Ipads in dispensaries where customers could sign up. They get loyalty points. Come back twice, you get a discounted pre-roll or a half off your next purchase over X and sort of start to incentivize people for repeat visits, but also capture customer data. Hey now we have your cell phone number. What kind of products do you like? Do you like flower? Cool. Do you like concentrates? Not really. Do you like edibles? Yes. Okay. If we're doing Wax Wednesday, we're not going to send you a message. That would be spam and you would unsubscribe, but if we only message you products that you like, you're going to be like, "Hey, these guys get me," and you're gonna keep coming back.
So we built that B2B tool and really helped dispensaries monetize their customers in a more effective way and in 2016 we grew from a dozen or two dispensaries on our platform to a few hundred and from six to 18 employees.

Seth Adler: And then came the competition, Joel.

Joel Milton: Well, 2017 first for most of it. Where we came from 18 to 50 employees and approaching 1,000 dispensaries.

Seth Adler: Right.

Joel Milton: That's, somewhere along that ride is when the "me toos" of the world, not the hashtag #metoo, the copycat "me toos" started coming in to the picture, but imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, or something along those lines.

Seth Adler: That's what they say. Yeah. Also frustrating.

Joel Milton: It's fine. It means it's, you look around this industry today and there are so many more businesses on the B2B side than there were, but there's also so many more dispensaries. There are so many more states that are open now.

Seth Adler: There are so many more customers.

Joel Milton: There are so many more customers. So we welcome competition and at the end of the day, we're at a point now where we have over 1,100 dispensaries across the country on our software platform and the reality is we don't need to do everything for them and we're okay with that. The same way Salesforce has an app store where a third-party software providers can write software. Some of which does some of the stuff that Salesforce does, but they don't care because they're the underlying platform and that's really what we're not transitioning in to is being that platform.

Seth Adler: So that's all wonderful and that's well and good and we really appreciate that and job well done.

Joel Milton: Oh thank you.

Seth Adler: So you're this entrepreneur that in 2014 got in to this space. You watch these entrepreneurs in 2018 who are, "I'm gonna get in to this space and I'm gonna do real great things." So let's go through maybe a couple of, a list of don'ts and a list of dos for folks that see someone like you and say, "I can do that too." Let's first point out it is a different time in the industry.

Joel Milton: It's both a lot easier and a lot harder.

Seth Adler: Why is it a lot easier?

Joel Milton: Well it's a lot easier 'cause now people are investing in this space. People pay attention to this space. There's money.

Seth Adler: Oh so there's money. Right. Yeah.

Joel Milton: The amount of capital you can raise with an idea now is vastly different than it was in 2014. The amount of professionals you can look at and learn from is vastly different. In 2014 it was the wild west. People could tell you, "oh we're experts," and you'd have to trust them 'cause there was no, no one had a track record.

Seth Adler: Right.

Joel Milton: Today, you know which firms actually write checks. You know which businesses actually have clients. Back then it was all kind of guess and check. You walk around a floor like this and there's tens of thousands of people and I don't even know how many booths and you can learn and see what's out there and what's missing. In 2014 there were no real, good aggregated lists of businesses. This show was very, very different than it is now. So I think it's in that sense, it's easier, but at the same time there's also a ton more competition. Right? If Baker were to start today, we'd be one of a dozen guys offering some of our services and we'd be competing with everyone else.

Seth Adler: Because you're so busy and running the company that you're running you can't do other things, I would imagine. Is that true?

Joel Milton: Yeah, like sleep or eat. Yeah.

Seth Adler: Right. So you legitimately have to find time to eat and then sleep and kind of happens, sort of. Understanding that, what's missing from the cannabis industry? What business should be started?

Joel Milton: That's a really great question.

Seth Adler: Right?

Joel Milton: Yeah.

Seth Adler: 'cause you're not with IP, you know.

Joel Milton: It's true. Listen, ideas honestly are a dime a dozen. Very few ideas are worth anything and that would be my advice for entrepreneurs.

Seth Adler: Okay that's a 500 Start Ups type of thing, isn't it?

Joel Milton: Yeah, listen. Everyone's like, "I have an idea, but I can't tell you," and I'm like, "well, that's dumb." If you tell me your idea, I'll give you feedback on it. I'm not gonna, as you just said I'm way too busy to build your company, but I can let you know what I think about it and given our traction in the industry, maybe you'll learn something from what I have to say in response to your idea.

Seth Adler: Right.

Joel Milton: So I would say don't guard your ideas. There's very little under the sun that hasn't been thought of, it's about execution. It's how do you build that business and execute on your vision? So tell a lot of people and talk about it and get feedback and talk to clients and don't be scared to get hard feedback. You don't want to just sit in a lab and build your dream idea for six months and then show it to your first client and they're like, "well this isn't want I want."

Seth Adler: Right. On execution, measurement, right? What else? What's on that list of execution? Okay.

Joel Milton: Focus. You just said, there's only so many things you can do. I mean, there's a million other features that we want to build. Our road map is a mile long. I would have loved to be so much further along now than we are in terms of our offering, but you have to focus on the course. The blocking, the tackling. Execute one thing. Do it well. Get in the hands of a bunch of people and then move on. You can't try to boil the ocean.

Seth Adler: Okay. Company outside of the industry that you're enamored with?

Joel Milton: It's a good question. I think there are a lot of companies that do different things well and I think like people, no one is perfect and so you know I'm hesitant in saying, "Oh I admire Amazon," and someone's like, "Oh that guy. Besos is an asshole. How can Joel look up to him?" Right? Or whatever.

Seth Adler: There's no track record of success, so there's nothing to appreciate.

Joel Milton: They crush the small business. You know, listen, yes Amazon isn't perfect. Apple isn't perfect. Netflix isn't perfect, but those guys each do different things very, very well that are admirable and you don't have to learn from them, for sure.

Seth Adler: So ease of shop and just changing the way that a consumer is a consumer is what Amazon did.

Joel Milton: Yeah.

Seth Adler: What's the lesson for you from that?

Joel Milton: It's just that it's understand the consumer and make their life easier. When you add a flashlight to your shopping cart, do you want batteries? Of course I do. Yeah, right? I don't remember the last time I got an e-mail from Amazon for a product that I wasn't mildly interested in.

Seth Adler: Right, yeah.

Joel Milton: I don't get advertisements for diapers and strollers. If I did, I'd unsubscribe, but they only send me shit I want to buy. It's amazing.

Seth Adler: Not right now, but you're really close actually. You're like a week away.

Joel Milton: Of course. Alexa in my living room heard me talking about it once on the phone.

Seth Adler: Oh I unplugged. I couldn't. That 30 seconds, I know, but you're a tech guy.

Joel Milton: Oh I don't mind. She knows more about what I want than I do.

Seth Adler: I can't have that happening, but Apple obviously has the brand I want to buy the Apple stuff because I know it works. It's very easy. I'm not an android person, meaning I don't need to design my own thing and it's gonna deliver for me. What else would you say?

Joel Milton: That's it. Yeah, it's simplicity. It's elegance. It's making the complicated easy. That one year old over there probably knows how to use an Iphone.

Seth Adler: I'm sure he does. If he only had one right now.

Joel Milton: I'm sure he can load up Angry Birds and the You Tube. Yeah, just do it. Of course.

Seth Adler: That's it. You said You Tube, but you mentioned Netflix before and they are pretty close as far as knowing what I want to watch next.

Joel Milton: Well not only that, they did a great job early on anticipating the future of people not going out to the movies, much less a rental shop, but whether it was DVDs in your mail. Building your wish list. Home streaming and now they're changing the way movies are made. We were in L.A. last week talking to some people in the entertainment industry and they are shooting a movie that Netflix is paying for that is going to debut on Netflix. That's amazing. If you told a movie executive 10 years ago that would happen, they'd look at you like you were crazy.

Seth Adler: They'd probably grab you inappropriately. That's just a reference back to you mentioned to me to. There you go.

Joel Milton: You did that full circle.

Seth Adler: What else? Who else is on that list 'cause those are three big, obviously. Is there someone else that's in that pantheon in your mind?

Joel Milton: I mentioned Salesforce before, right?

Seth Adler: You did, yeah.

Joel Milton: When I lived in San Francisco you watched this massive tower going up and it's Salesforce. They were the first cloud-based CRM.

Seth Adler: if you haven't been to San Francisco recently, just kind of look at a picture of a new Scan Francisco picture versus an old San Francisco picture. It's a monolith.

Joel Milton: It's crazy. Yeah. It's amazing. It is and you know, the other reason I like it is 'cause I don't know if you've ever used it, but it's not perfect. It can be clunky and frustrating.

Seth Adler: It's totally clunky. I actually don't understand it. I don't understand the success because I have used it. Do you understand the success?

Joel Milton: Well I do and the answer is nothing's perfect. Right? So when our clients call us and they're all upset because something froze or it doesn't work or they couldn't figure this out, I'm like, "Guys, my Iphone crashed yesterday." I still yell at Salesforce once a day. The reality is like we service 1,100 dispensaries. They are all different. If we were to just build one perfect solution that worked for all of them, that doesn't work. That doesn't exist. It's impossible.

Seth Adler: Impossible. Yeah, exactly.

Joel Milton: So it's nice to see and it's great to understand that you can't please everyone, but the bigger you get and the more people you need to serve, the more complicated a tool gets, but also then you get to move in to that platform play. Which is you don't need to do everything anymore. You just want to be the foundation and you let other people build on us and one of the things we're doing is allowing other partners to build software on top of Baker and that's really cool for us to move in to that next phase.

Seth Adler: API.

Joel Milton: Indeed. Yeah.

Seth Adler: Yeah, that's that talk.

Joel Milton: That's that. Sure.

Seth Adler: You know what API stands for?

Joel Milton: I do. Do you?

Seth Adler: No.

Joel Milton: Okay. Application Programming Interface? I think.

Seth Adler: Okay. I mean it sounds believable.

Joel Milton: It sounds right.

Seth Adler: You've got me.

Joel Milton: That's close enough.

Seth Adler: I want to keep talking to you, but you don't have that kind of time so I have three final questions. I'll tell you what they are. I'll ask you in order.

Joel Milton: Lightning round? Okay great.

Seth Adler: That's exactly right. What's most surprised you in cannabis? What's most surprised you in life and on the soundtrack of your life, Joel. One track, one song that's gotta be on there. But first things first. What's most surprised you in cannabis?

Joel Milton: The rate of change. Cannabis has, I remember when we were first putting together our deck and we had to project what the industry would look like, you go back at that and laugh and people at the time was like, "No way," and we dwarfed that. Every year, more states go faster than people thought.

Seth Adler: Did you hear the two trillion dollar number the other day?

Joel Milton: No. Yeah.

Seth Adler: For real, in 30 years just North America.

Joel Milton: Nothing surprises me anymore. If you told me Utah would have a program and with Trump and Sessions being elected two years ago, today we would have Massachusets recreational, Michigan recreational, all these other states coming on line and the number of people and the dollars in the space. Three years ago, no chance.

Seth Adler: So Jeff Sessions wasn't elected, just so you know.

Joel Milton: Appointed, yeah. Exactly. But Trump elected, Sessions appointed.

Seth Adler: But Pete Sessions was re-elected then and not re-elected now. How much do you focus on politics? Do you have enough time to make sure that you know? Or will basically people tell you?

Joel Milton: Well definitely the latter. We have to pay attention to it, but at the same time we've seen a very hands-off approach and that's been kind of nice. So it's, we were actually, I was at this show two years ago right after Trump's election and right around Session's appointment and it was rumored between him and Chris Christy and everyone's freaking out and then, "Oh my God, it's Sessions," and everyone's like, "Shit is this show even gonna be here next year?" Well not only is it, it wasn't there next year. It moved to a bigger venue because the show doubled in size.

Seth Adler: And Sessions isn't here. Exactly.

Joel Milton: Yeah, right.

Seth Adler: So there you have it. What's most surprised you in life?

Joel Milton: That's deep.

Seth Adler: Yeah, it's like a big, yeah, right.

Joel Milton: That's a big question. I think how, I don't know. I turn around and I'm married and my friends are married and many of them are pregnant and I still feel like I'm 22 running around New York trying to start a business, sleeping on couches. So I think that's, when I just kind of take a step back from the day to day I am constantly surprised at life.

Seth Adler: Fair enough.

Joel Milton: Can we skip the soundtrack? I have terrible taste in Music. Like really bad.

Seth Adler: Well, so now let's discuss. Maybe I can help.

Joel Milton: Okay.

Seth Adler: This is some place that I can maybe help you. So when you say you have terrible taste in music, for instance what do you mean?

Joel Milton: For instance, I would say the Spotify station I most listen to is probably most popular amongst...

Seth Adler: What's it called?

Joel Milton: Oh it's like pop, dance music.

Seth Adler: Pop, dance music? I might not be able to help

Joel Milton: Yeah, it's just whatever's like trendy and upbeat. I like happy music.

Seth Adler: Upbeat. Happy.

Joel Milton: Yeah, it makes me happy. Or like a little, like tropical house when I'm working like [Kygo 00:26:49]. Yeah, that's a good one and then soft spot for some the bands I grew up listening to. I got a picture with Stephen Jenkins from Third Eye Blind at a concert once, that was very exciting.

Seth Adler: So that's how old you are. That's, the Third Eye Blind only comes from a certain group of you people.

Joel Milton: Yeah.

Seth Adler: Alright, so here's how I'll do this. With the tropical house I have no idea what that means, but you like upbeat and [Fe La Kuti 00:27:14] so F-E-L-A-K-U-T-I. I'm pretty sure that that's gonna be okay.

Joel Milton: Can't wait. Sounds great.

Seth Adler: I think that that's enough for you.

Joel Milton: Let's go there. Listen, this industry and where we're at, it's stressful enough. I don't need to be stressed out listening to music. I don't want to be stressed out watching a movie. I only watch happy things when I have time. Like when I get in my zone.

Seth Adler: Yeah, well what are we, so a movie that you might like?

Joel Milton: I haven't been to the movies in...

Seth Adler: No, no, no. Netflix. Right? Sure.

Joel Milton: Six years.

Seth Adler: Happy thing that you're watching?

Joel Milton: Happy things. I actually, I don't watch a lot of movies. I don't remember the last movie I made it all the way through. To sit for two full hours.

Seth Adler: So series is what you do?

Joel Milton: TV, yeah. What did I watch last?

Seth Adler: Doesn't really matter at all.

Joel Milton: Doesn't really matter. It's usually on in the background when I'm playing with a lab.

Seth Adler: You're not paying attention to that.

Joel Milton: Something that you like, like the Jack Reacher if that was perfect. You know, just enough that you can sort of pay attention to.

Seth Adler: So it's, and I just want to make sure that I understand your mindset. That's the only reason I'm asking this question. So the things going on there and maybe somethings blowing up and he's saying something confidently and also not confidently, so that you appreciate him as a person. As a protagonist.

Joel Milton: That's right. Perfect. Great. Yep. That's right. When I wake up at 2 a.m. and I can't go back to sleep, then I read. I will only read a nonsense junk novel about CIA. It has to be so far removed from my day to day. I enjoy reading books about successful entrepreneurs and business books, but they just get my mind all spun up. You know, you can't do that, man and that kind of thing. It's great.

Seth Adler: So the CIA-type kind of characters. Have you ever seen the move Dr. Strangelove?

Joel Milton: No.

Seth Adler: Okay, so just break it up in to half hour pieces. Okay?

Joel Milton: Okay, perfect.

Seth Adler: Just do half hour, by half hour, by half hour. I promise you, you will like that film.

Joel Milton: Can't wait.

Seth Adler: Alright. Joel Milton.

Joel Milton: Thank you so much.

Seth Adler: I can't wait to check in with you down the line.

Joel Milton: Yeah, likewise.

Seth Adler: And there you have Joel Milton. Very much appreciate his time. Very much appreciate. 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.