With cannabis legalization in full swing, it’s easy to forget there’s a big difference in how legalization is unfolding between US states and countries around the world.
Here to help us contextualize the difference between markets is Michael Mayes of Quantum 9, an expert cannabis consulting firm with one of the highest success rates in the industry.
Learn more at https://quantum9.net
- Michael’s background in cannabis and how he came to start Quantum 9
- An inside look at Quantum 9 and its mission to help maximize the potential of cannabis cultivation, control, and dispensary businesses
- Tips on how to successfully pursue a cannabis brand license and the common misconceptions Michael sees among new clients
- Exciting new developments taking place in the Michigan and Illinois markets
- Illinois’ social equity program and what it means for cannabis businesses
- How Michael believes cannabis will affect alcohol market shares over the next few years
- How Michael is working to help states create systems that help both businesses and patients
- Where Michael sees cannabis heading in Illinois and beyond over the next 3-5 years
Matthew: Hi, I'm Matthew Kind. Every Monday look for a fresh new episode where I'll take you behind the scenes and interview the insiders that are shaping the rapidly evolving cannabis industry. Learn more at cannainsider.com. That's cannainsider.com. Now here's your program. With legalization in full swing in the United States and around the world, it's easy to forget there's a big difference between states and countries with how legalization is unfolding. Here to help us contextualize the difference between markets is Michael Mayes, CEO of Quantum 9. Michael, welcome back to CannaInsider.
Michael: Thanks for having me, Matt.
Matthew: Give us a sense of geography. Where are you in the world today?
Michael: I'm calling you from Chicago, Illinois, right now, but just got back from a few trips from Georgia.
Matthew: Okay, and do you enjoy Chicago in the wintertime?
Michael: I don't think many people do enjoy Chicago in the wintertime. I think people enjoy leaving Chicago in the wintertime.
Matthew: Yeah, I agree with that. Okay, well, you were on the show a few years back for listeners that if they hear your name it sounds familiar, I think was 2018. And can you just remind new listeners what Quantum 9 is on a high level?
Michael: Sure. Quantum 9 provides consulting services primarily in the public policy and the licensing realm. We help businesses navigate through the licensing process from application preparation to final submittal of the application.
Matthew: Okay. And can you share just a little bit about your background and how you got into the cannabis space?
Michael: Sure. I actually started as a passive investor in cannabis, hoping to never really operate the business and reap the rewards. Unfortunately, this industry back in 2009 didn't really allow for that and I had to jump headfirst into some of our operations in Colorado, which really set the groundwork for a lot of the things that we do today. We probably made every single mistake possible to actually get to a point of profitability, but, you know, making all those mistakes was a great time to do it just because the margins were so high and we were able to right the ship before, you know, like a market like Colorado fell out. So we actually successfully exited out of that operation. We have some operations in Michigan right now. We have a brand licensing project in Maryland, and then primarily what a lot of us do on the Quantum 9 team is the consulting and the licensing work.
Matthew: Okay. Yeah. I've been involved in a little bit in the licensing or I should say just watching others be involved in it. And it's extremely detail-oriented work where you have to have the tactics and details right but also understand a larger strategy there. Can you just talk a little bit about that and how you'd think about the strategy and then go about the details of submitting the licenses?
Michael: Sure. So, really, the first thing you have to think about is the capitalization of the project. So, one of the unique differentiating points from one applicant to the next is the ability to execute on the plan which you are proposing. So, many of the companies that want to build out large facilities really need the access to capital either in the control of the applicant or secured by either contingent promissory notes or, you know, private placement memorandums to actually secure the funds. The next piece is building a world-class team. With all of the states that have had, you know, different levels of legalization from a medical round to a recreational round, you know, the losers from the states that have raised all this money, that have built these great teams, that have submitted applications, they're not just going to give up.
They're gonna go to another state in which they'll try again to, you know, do the same thing. They sharpen their pencils, they maybe secure some funding or whatever it is that they were deficient in the last submission. So, what you have now is, you know, quite a lot of interest in states like Illinois where, you know, it has Chicago and there's a fair amount of licenses. So you have all of these companies and all of these past losers going after this license. So interest and competition is fierce. So, it's one part navigating through the narratives in which the state's asking for, but also to complete the circle by having the qualified team and the finances to actually really bring it all together.
Matthew: Okay. And when you're talking with prospective clients that maybe were successful in other realms and they want to get into the cannabis space, what misconceptions do they have about pursuing a license?
Michael: Sure. So, you know, in recent we've been working with not only new businesses, but also multistate operators that, you know, may be just too busy doing other things. So our client base is vast, but the thing that most new, you know, businesses or companies or investors that are looking to get into this industry, the assumption is that you can just pay someone to do these things, and then they're off to the races, and you don't really have to do anything. Unfortunately, the reality is that all of the individuals that are part of the project will probably work extensively on the project to bring it to fruition because there's elements of the project in which we simply can't do for them.
For instance, you know, getting documents signed, collecting information about their backgrounds, doing background checks. We do assist some with meeting with the city and the local municipality to actually get approvals but you as a applicant have to be competent in the sense that you could have a conversation with city planning, you can have the conversation with the mayor of a particular city or, you know, a city administrator and really make that relationship. So, I think the piece that a lot of people are missing is the relationship-building aspect of it. You have to build a relationship with the consulting firm, all of the teammates, all of the municipalities. So, really, it's an effort from so many people.
I mean, on these projects, we have anywhere from 10 to 30 people that could work on the project, ranging from the technical writers to, you know, cultivation staff, extraction staff, infusion staff, security individuals, packaging design, so really, you have to build an entire brand company, packaging, you know, potentially the website and social marketing, some people do PR, so, all of that depending on how much time you have is the determining factor. I mean, if you're starting two weeks before the application is due, I would suggest, unless you have incredible resources, to either wait for another round or to look at another state.
Matthew: You mentioned resources there. When clients ask, what kind of budget do you tell them they need? I mean, I know it varies by geography, but how do you orient them into how much capital is needed?
Michael: Sure, that's a great question. And you're spot on. It really depends on the state, the number of licenses and the interest in obtaining those licenses. So, a smaller state with a smaller market with fewer licenses could be more appetizing than a larger state with unlimited licenses. So, on the licensing end, I would say that most people fall anywhere from the $350,000 to $1 million in pursuit capital, depending on state. As far as, you know, the build-out cost on the other end, it really depends on, you know, your method of cultivation, your type of extraction, you know, how ornate your dispensary you want it to be. So those on the back end can range anywhere from, you know, $500,000 all the way up to, you know, a $10 million to $15 million operation depending on square footage.
Matthew: Okay. So you're intimately familiar with Michigan and also Illinois being in Chicago. But can you just talk a little bit about some aspects of the Michigan market? Because a lot of people hear some things about Michigan, but they really have no sense of what's going on there. But it's an important market, it's just that it's a little bit dysfunctional, but we don't know how if you're looking in from the outside. How would you describe it?
Michael: Sure. So dysfunctional would be the best definition for the Michigan market because it had so much promise. The market started in 2008, which a lot of people don't know. And the caregiver model blew up. I mean, there was, at the height of the caregivership model as the transition into, you know, out of the black and into the, you know, the gray market, if you will, you had like 30,000 to 40,000 caregivers that were producing up to 12 plants for themselves and then you were able to grow for five other patients in one single facility. So, what happened here is that you have all these caregivers that are growing all of this product and, you know, the people that they knew or individuals that they were associated with getting that product.
Now, there was some loopholes, and some municipalities were favorable to dispensaries opening prior to the legalization or the medical program actually starting. So there was a grace period where you could get provisional licenses to operate like a dispensary. They call it a provisioning center in Michigan. So the state mandated that everyone had to get Step one approval, and then you had to get a local license as well as step two approval. Step one approval was really geared around the financial background and the actual backgrounds of the principals that would own the business. And there were capital requirements there too.
So, what happened was, in the beginning, LARA, the Michigan Licensing and Regulatory Affairs Department, they put together a commission and a board that was to review all the applications and pass or deny individuals to get through step one approval, which seemed like a very easy process. You either have the money and you have a criminal background or not. And that should have been it and then you could move forward with getting a local license and then step two approval once both the, you know, the facility is built out. So what happened here was there was a huge bottleneck in the passing of applicants through step one approval, because you had this very rich, you know, gray market that was operating in provisional licenses with the city, or just like, you know, straight black market stuff where individuals hadn't worked for seven years, but had no tax returns, and there was issues with that.
So they started to even go even deeper into each individual's background, and you had to produce three years of all transactions of all of your bank accounts in every account possible from your brokerage accounts, all the way to your personal accounts and all of your spouse's accounts too, which I personally had to go through and my wife was not happy about it. So, for every $1000 transaction, you had to give them a reason to why this money came either in or out of any one of your bank accounts. So this slowed the process even further. And then, you know, it was alleged that there was some corruption and that the liquor, you know, side of things were trying to slow things down.
So LARA started denying all types of people. We even got denied. And we, you know, as a licensing consultant, we were denied for step one approval, which obviously was a joke because what they denied us on was a financial piece, which we clearly had. So we spent a year fighting the state, and then finally a judge ruled in our favor and we passed step one approval. So, being one of the first people to submit and first to market, we went through every issue possible to actually get through step one approval and probably racked up quite a hefty legal bill in the process. So the LARA board was, you know, in many people's eyes, very, I don't want to say corrupt, but wasn't the best...
Matthew: I don't want to say corrupt publicly.
Michael: I don't wanna say corrupt publicly, but let's just say that it was dismantled due to the inefficiency of getting the job done. So, now you have, in the midst of all of this other medical stuff, Michigan went recreational. It's a ballot initiatives state where, you know, voters can vote things into law, you know, if you get enough signatures, which is 100,000 in Michigan, an item can be put on the ballot to be voted on by the voters. And then if it's enacted, it just goes through and that's what happened in Michigan, both in the medical and in the recreational end things, the adult use.
So as all of this crazy medical stuff was happening, then you got recreational, all of these new laws with adult use, and the process of approving things was slow, so cultivators were slow to get up and running, and the market was there. There was over 300,000 patients in the market and then slowly as, you know, things started ramping up, it was just so expensive for the normal patients or consumers to get product. So they just continued to get products from the black market, which was easier for them. So now you have a situation where the market is starting to slowly come up, but at the same time, you then had the entire stock market with all cannabis companies dropping 50% to 70%.
I mean, if you look at the stock market now, at the height of where things were around the time, you know, Canopy Growth and all these other companies like Tilray, you know, they're down 50 to 70% right now. So investor confidence in Michigan started dropping drastically because, number one, the public markets weren't doing great. Secondly, there's so much confusion and potential corruption that people were a little gun shy of doing anything in Michigan. And people are still doing deals, don't get me wrong, in the state, but there's just a little bit of confidence issues which has deterred, you know, a lot of big moves to happen.
Matthew: Okay. Let's pivot to Chicago. You're in Chicago, you're very familiar with the market there. There's a lot of excitement around Chicago right now. A lot of activity. Can you give us a high-level overview of where the market's at now and what changed on January 1?
Michael: Sure. So, you know, it is recreational adult use in Illinois right now. And all of the medical dispensaries which had to carry the burden of, you know, a dismal medical market. I think that, you know, there's only like 30,000 to 50,000 patients total. And it just, you know, there's problems in the initiating start of the pilot program that puttered a little bit, you know, we had a governor that didn't really approve of cannabis. And then, you know, now we have JB Pritzker as our governor and his campaign was to bring legalization to Illinois and by golly, he did it. And I'm a big proponent of it but the state had learned so much from the medical round that now we have these adult use rounds where dispensary and now the craft grower and infusers the...On January 2, the first wave of dispensary licenses came out and then now the first wave of cultivation licenses are coming out.
The first wave of dispensary licenses, there's 75 for new dispensaries and then if you add all of the additional licenses from the med, they were actually allowed to immediately co-locate their medical dispensaries. So most medical dispensaries chose also to do recreation or adult use in the same building. And then you can have a secondary location as well. And that's independent of the new dispensary licenses which are 75 and then for this wave of processing and infusion licenses, there's 40. And then those licenses will be awarded by May 1st, 2020 for the dispensaries and July 1st, 2020 for the infusers and craft growers. And then there's a second wave of licensing where there's 110 licenses for the new dispensaries that will be given out by December 21st, 2021. And then the second wave of craft growers and processors or infusers, there's gonna be 60 additional licenses and those are going to be given out by December 2021.
Matthew: Okay, interesting. You mentioned a craft growing license. What does that mean to be a craft grower?
Michael: Yes, so, there's some restrictions on the level, you know, how many square feet that you can actually build out. But also, so Illinois is a little bit different, and there was some confusion in what these licenses mean and what the differences of them were. And even reading the law and the original act, and then they published emergency rules, it was a tiny bit unclear until, you know, a couple weeks ago when we actually got down to a final answer. So the Craft Grower Licenses actually allow you to infuse and make all types of edible products, vape catridges. So basically with a Craft Grower License, you're relegated by a square footage and then also you can infuse products, where the Infuser License, you can only get extracted products, raw materials from a craft grower, and then infuse that into other types of products, whether it be baked goods, vape cartridges, or, you know, whatever other products that you'd want to make.
So, there's a distinction there and it's kind of weird because rarely do you ever see a grower license, especially labeled Craft Grower, that allows you to do both processing and cultivation, and then an infuser license, which you would expect to actually be able to extract but not able to actually do that. Although there are some provisions in the law that a supply study will be done and if the state determines that the infusers have an inadequate supply of licenses, there may be an opportunity for them to apply for a processing license, which would allow them to extract their own product.
Matthew: Okay. Wow, that's a lot of red tape. I can see why your business is doing well. So, okay. There's also a social equity program that has some unusual twist, and people are talking about those. What are those twists?
Michael: Sure. So in the dispensary round, 50 of the 250 points were allotted to social equity applicants, and there's four different ways that you could apply for social equity applicant status. And I will explain them in detail now. The first is that you have an expungable drug crime more than a year ago that you were negatively impacted by the drug law. The second is that you live in a disappropriately impacted area that has been negatively impacted by the drug law. So essentially, these are reparations for those that had been impacted by cannabis regulations that were "unfair." The third way of applying for social equity applicant status is that you have 51% or more employees and a minimum of 10 that either live in the disappropriately impacted areas, or have expungable drug crimes. So that's all four of the different ways. And to get all 50 points, you have to have those individuals or individual have 51% controlling interest of the company, in which you have to document through the operating agreement, and then any other contractual obligations from the company.
Matthew: Yeah, so that's kind of tricky here because you're forcing people to have equity ownership. Is that kind of an unintended consequence that you think is going to have some repercussions here?
Michael: Yeah. The intention was there, which was, "Hey, how do we get these licenses in the hands of those that have been negatively impacted by the drug law?" Or, in other words, you know, the ones that have been most affected in almost every state are those people of color. So how do we actually create a program to do this? And on the surface it seemed like a great idea, but in execution, there's some holes here because, you know, most of these individuals that have these drug crimes in their past, not all of them, but they may be inefficient at owning and running a company and also raising capital and, you know, having that amount of worth in an individual that, you know, may not have the background to do this.
So, even investors may have apprehension in trusting a company in the hands of an individual that has this 51% where you have to keep that to get all the points. So, if you drop under that, then a material of change happens within your project and, you know, if you drop under the 51%, then you have to pay back any discounts that you got on the licensing fee or the submission fees. So, the submission fees are $60,000 and they were $30,000 if you applied for social equity applicant status and, you know, the licensing submittal fees were cut in half. So from $5000 to $2500.
Matthew: Man, that's still expensive. It's just...It would be great to be able to have a business where you could force people to pay you. I'm a little jealous sometimes.
Michael: I'll tell you what, in 2011, we bought a dispensary license in Colorado for $5,000 and a pound of cannabis. And he gave us terms on it too, it was like $1,000 a month for five months.
Matthew: Oh, man.
Michael: Yeah, back in the days when you could get like 30% interest on your money.
Matthew: So, let's talk about the benefits of getting a higher diversity score for your business because that can open up some doors. You were mentioning a little bit how, you know, it's difficult for, you know, these social equity programs, but what are the benefits of getting a higher diversity score for a business that's applying for a license?
Michael: Yeah, it just depends on the way that the licensing process has been created. Like for instance, in Pennsylvania, the diversity piece of it was like 20% where in West Virginia, there was no area that even mentioned diversity. And even in Illinois, the only diversity aspect of things are geared around the social equity applicant status. But depending on where you're submitting, and where they're borrowing rules from, or even the application process, it may be a huge deal or it may be no deal at all. We as a company, Quantum 9, we are a minority-owned business and it took us over a year and a half to get certified by the City of Chicago to be, number one, we had to become a licensed expediter which is a license to actually do application submissions. So, you know, those out there that are doing application submissions on behalf of clients and aren't licensed expeditors there may be some liability there, but I digress.
So we became a licensed expediter and a minority-owned business, which in the submission of the diversity aspects, one of the pieces is vendor procurement, either on the front end of the app or on the back end. So if you're spending money with consultants, or you're running all of the third parties through the consultant, and then they pay the expenses, you can really have a great diversity score in like, you know, or a diversity percentage of spend on the front end, you know, in the 80% to 90%, which obviously help with the story that you not only are a diverse applicant, meaning 51% either minority-owned, or veteran or, you know, woman-owned. And the fact that you have goals, such that you wanted to keep a certain percentage of your staff diverse, which I believe is well needed in this industry, because it's very male-dominated and what we're missing out on is very diverse looks at different ways of approaching things.
Matthew: Sure. Okay. And do you see a dent in alcohol sales as a result of cannabis legalizations? I have, you know, that's one of the things I've put out there is that that's coming and in some places may be already there. What's your take on the ground level in terms of, you know, a dent in market share for alcohol sales because of cannabis legalization?
Michael: Yeah, it definitely has a big factor in it and we're seeing alcohol and spirits sales drop in the 10% to 20% when a particular market goes from either medical to adult-use or from nothing and a program just appearing. So I think that the alcohol companies are definitely worried so much so that you're seeing large beverage companies like, you know, Constellation Brands making substantial moves into companies like Canopy Growth, where they see the writing on the wall, and if those aren't familiar with Constellation Brands, they're the parent company of brands like Corona and such, but you're seeing a lot of alcohol and spirits companies looking at the cannabis industry, either from a CBD aspect or, you know, a THC co-branded product aspect.
Matthew: Okay. Now, you have some other states on your radar like Georgia, West Virginia, North Carolina. What do we need to know about there? What should we be watching?
Michael: I mean, all of these markets have the potential of helping patients, which is the part that excites me the most. And I really like helping states on the front end, just really navigate through, you know, creating a system that helps patients because, you know, sometimes when you read the laws, you're like, "Wow, this..." You can tell that this program was set up for business and really didn't take patients first as their approach where, you know, I believe that you can really set yourself up for success as a state or country by getting patients into the registry before the program even starts, and then having their, you know, one year of card renewal process starting when there's actually product available.
So you can actually start generating and creating a market for the businesses in the future by just simply opening up a registry prior to when all the rest of this stuff happens. There's also interesting ways in which states like Missouri, you know, created a system where you can early apply for your fees and your down payments to submit in the future, just to get a sense of where the largest population density of licenses are going to be submitted. So, there's a couple of different ways that you can jumpstart these programs so that, you know, those funds can be used to help further the grading process or getting the resources that the Department of Health may need to really help get this thing over the finish line.
Matthew: Okay. Michael, I'd like to ask a few personal development questions to help listeners get a better sense of who you are. And I know since we talked before the interview, that you have a book that you're really excited about. So, can you share what book that is and why you're so excited about it and what kind of impact it's had on your business?
Michael: Yeah, so, like most entrepreneurs, you get to a point where things are going a million miles a minute and the stress level increases. You know, the compensation may increase a little bit, but at what point is it not worth the compensation? Like, so if you have a level 10 stress and a level 7 compensation, is that better than a level 4 stress and a level 5 compensation? So I really started to work out where my personal happiness was in relation to business because you can't do well in business unless you're happy, right? So, what we started to do is figure out systematic ways in which we can move forward. And the first was to learn from others that have done this. And I recently joined the Forbes Chicago Business Council. So I'm actually a Forbes contributor now.
So I'm actually a writer for Forbes and I have an article published and I'm quoted in, like, four or five articles. But they have these amazing roundtables, where these giants of business sit around the table, and, you know, they talk about things that they're working on, and there's a moderator that asks a couple questions. And these guys were talking about EOS. And they were talking about it as in business as if, you know, it's a regular thing like, you know, you should know what IT means. And, you know, I'm by far the youngest guy in the room and I raised my hand and it was like one of my first council meetings, and I raised my hand and I was like, "Hey, guys, I'm so sorry, but what is EOS? I don't understand this. Sorry to be naïve." And no joke, they spent the next 40 minutes explaining what EOS was.
And what it is, is, it's from a book called "Traction." And EOS means the Entrepreneurial Operating System. And it's a book that tells a story of a development company that's going through troubling times, you know, they scaled, but they stalled a little bit, and they never knew how to get over the hump. And it is just so easy to digest the data. And essentially what it does and what it is, is it looks at your enterprise first and then deciphers all the roles and responsibilities and aligns to see if the person in those positions actually should own those processes. And if not, you get another person in there or move them in a way that pivots them so that they're more happy and more successful. So the first piece is that you look at the enterprise as a whole, figure out where you need these things, and then move the pieces in the right places.
The second is to create processes for every single thing that you do, and then put it down on paper, write the actual step by steps of it, solidify it, then delegate it. So then once the process is completed, you never have to worry about it again, because now you've set up an individual below you that's responsible for that. And they know what they're doing because they have the step by step procedures, and they even edit those procedures or you have meetings and, you know, decipher how you better these operating procedures. And then it just systematizes every aspect. And if the individual that's responsible for it just isn't getting it done, then maybe it's time to look for a new individual to fill that role. So just knowing these very simple aspects of business and how to, you know, essentially create less stress for me, I was able to kind of scale a little bit methodically.
It's not a way to scale like crazy because it teaches you the opposite. Like, you don't need to scale if you're doing things with your staff the right way, and only scale when it's so overfilled that you can't do it with contractors, that you actually have to have a full-time person and the cost analysis is there and then scale slowly. So, you know, when a company says that they have three to five employees, I look at that as, "Wow, that's a pretty big company to me," where, you know, on the smaller end of things, you know, people look at companies that may have 100 people, but it may be running inefficiently. So, there, again, goes the compensation to stress, but, you know, if you keep a lot of contractors busy and you have a really good core team, you can get quite a bit done.
Matthew: Okay. And since implementing this, what's been the biggest benefits for you both tangible and intangible?
Michael: I think I spoke to you a little bit about this last time. And I now see all of the processes in a Google Sheet that are linked to folders, docs, and videos of how to do those particular tasks. So whenever I forget, like, the path to do everything from start to finish, I just go back to this playbook and I just look at it and see, okay, well, I forgot that, you know, when we're working with the community, we need to hit like, these eight elements, one of them being job creation, the second being the security of the facility, the third being the tax revenue, you know, the fourth being the environmental impact. So, as we do these projects, you get better every single time.
Because, in the beginning, we were working so fast and so furious that it was from one project to the next with really no standardization, then when we added new staff it was like, "Okay, well, here's some content from here, here's some content from there," but there was never really a centralized location where you can really see everything top-down. And then we implemented base camp to augment that so it made things even cleaner, easier. New tech like Zoom was really also been a huge added value for all my consultants that work in different states and countries. And it really brought the enterprise to another level because just these, you know, three simple tools really helped drive change and helped all of us not stress out as much.
Matthew: Okay. What do you think is the most interesting thing going on in your field besides what you're doing at Quantum 9?
Michael: The most interesting, huh. In the sense, like, can you give me some context on that because it's so interesting.
Matthew: Like if you could do something else, you couldn't do anything that you're doing now, but you'd still be in the cannabis industry.
Michael: I think it would, I mean, I love what I do so it's so hard to look past the licensing and the public policy stuff. But I think that there's a lot of great tech out there and I love, you know, I'm a huge proponent of technology and software to make businesses better. I think that the interesting stuff may be technology with the integration of AI. And an example of this would be like a blog post that, you know, dependent on the cookies and the user data in your browser that is stored already, when you come to the site, the AI changes the content so that your on-page time is longer because it's more interesting to you because it reads in the way that you're used to reading. And that would interest you more than if it were written for somebody that was an academic that wanted, like, hard data and hard numbers. So I think that the AI aspect of it, we're just starting to scratch the surface on it but I think that that is what I believe is some of the more interesting stuff that's going on.
Matthew: Right. So you mean like someone who is searching for, let's say, pesticides to testing in cannabis, and you know from the data in your database that they only buy infused products, they don't buy flour, you can change the article around to not even talk about flour, but just about infused products because we know they're interested in that, and that makes it more relevant.
Michael: Yeah. So it's more like, think about it as like you're going to a concert. And, you know, before you enter the door, the bouncer looks you up and down and, you know, you may be either dressed like a punk rocker, you may be dressed like you're going to a rave, you may be dressed like, you know, you're going to a symphony. So, as you enter, the content changes so that it's more interesting for you. So the symphony guy goes into the theater and they see a Symphony, where the guy dressed like a raver goes into electronic, you know, rave thing. And then if you're a punk rocker, there's like heavy metal punk rock stuff going on. So, what that does is, you know, the Google Analytics and the way that content's served up and the way that rankings are done on your website, if a user comes to your site, they like what they see, they're on the page for while, they're scrolling down, they hit other links, you know, that creates a higher authority that your site is what it says it is, and what users are searching for is what they're finding on the other end.
So all those things bump your website up a little bit more. And if you do cannabis consulting, marijuana consulting, cannabis consultants, marijuana consultant, you'll see, you know, if you do it in an incognito window, that we rank in the top three for all four of those terms, because what we do is cannabis consulting. And the users that are looking for that data see our site, and then they're on it, and then they actually get the content that they're looking for. What I'm talking about is way more involved where, you know, the content, the words in the text on the page, even the visualization of how the text is laid out, whether it's on the left column or the right column, or like it's, you know, way more interactive, like, the content changes based on the user that's entering the site.
Matthew: Okay. Yeah, I could definitely see a future where that's happening just constantly because you want the person to stay on the page and feel satisfied they got what they came for.
Michael: Yeah, exactly.
Matthew: So, here's a Peter Thiel question for you. What is one thought you have that most people would disagree with you on?
Michael: Yeah, I mean, I think I look to the future a little bit more than most. Like, for instance, I'm investing heavily in space travel and space tourism right now where that's something that not a lot of people are even looking at or expecting, you know, flights in space to happen anytime soon, although there's a lot of media coverage with, you know, SpaceX and Virgin Galactic, even Blue Origin and, you know, some of these other giant companies. But I think that if you're not thinking about the future now, it's going to come and you're not going to be well prepared for it. So, if you're always looking to see, you know, what it is that's going to happen in the future, then maybe that you can make some predictions and then either organize your business or your finances in a way that is applicable.
Matthew: You know, that's funny you mentioned that. I was just watching Chamath Palihapitiya on CNBC yesterday, and he's now the chairman of Virgin Galactic. And he said that he has, I can't remember how many people it is, they've put down a deposit for a $300,000 spaceflight already and he's got billions in essentially in his pipeline if they'll come through and pay the rest for the deposit. I was like, "Wow, there's a massive pent up demand here." Because it's like where else can you get that experience? Right? Where else can you go to space?
Michael: Yeah. I think the down payment was like $80 million so far, and Jeff Bezos, his company, Blue Origin is funded solely by Jeff Bezos, where I think it's like 1% of his net worth is committed to space travel every year. So, that's a ton of capital for that. And it's growing, where, you know, Richard Branson's company is the first to go public, which is Virgin Galactic. And then obviously everyone knows of Elon Musk and SpaceX, which a lot of people don't know that Tesla, the publicly traded company, has no involvement whatsoever in SpaceX, other than the fact that they share Elon Musk.
Matthew: Yeah, I was wondering how SpaceX is going to make money, but now they're taking other people's satellites up and they're doing this Starlink where all the satellites will wrap around the earth and anywhere you go, you'll have high-speed internet connection if you're a Starlink customer. So that's really interesting stuff. Like, that is looking pretty far ahead, so that's interesting. Michael, as we close, please tell listeners how to find you and connect with Quantum 9.
Michael: Sure, our website is quantum9.net. It's quantum9.net. And you can write an email to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and then you can get a hold of us that way.
Matthew: Great. Well, thanks so much for coming on the show, Michael, you got a lot of interesting information wrapped up in your head there. I'm glad we got some of it out here for our listeners. Good luck with everything going on and come back and share what details you have for us in a year or two if you can.
Michael: I absolutely will. I love the show. I wish you the best, Matt.
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