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What is CBD

(Cannabidiol)? What is cbd cannabidiol See more
 

The Hottest Jobs

in the Cannabis Industry Read more
 

 

Dipstick Vapes – Dabbing Pen – Review and Coupon Code

dipstick vapes review coupon

Meet “The Dipper” an incredible innovation in both vaping and dabbing technology. The key innovation here is that Dipstick removes the hassle factor from dabbing by allowing you dabbing directly on the concentrate with no intermediate steps.

Integrating Chatbot Technology Into Cannabis Businesses

mason levy

Mason Levy is the founder of WeGrowapp.com an immersive chatbot technology that allows anybody to become a grower by asking questions to a bot. Listen in as Mason discusses how this technology will be woven into more cannabis business models in the future.

Key Takeaways:
[0:50] – What is WeGrow
[1:18] – Mason’s background
[2:26] – What is a Chatbot
[3:51] – Businesses using a chatbot
[4:46] – Experiencing the We Grow app
[7:26] – Mason talks about the Swivel engine
[9:13] – Mason talks about a couple of use cases
[12:30] – Mason talks about metrics
[13:41] – What is a net promoter score
[18:37] – Mason’s entrepreneurial journey
[21:34] – Mason discusses his ArcView award
[22:58] – Mason answers some personal development questions
[27:15] – Contact information for Swivel and We Grow

Learn more at:
https://wegrowapp.com/

 

Important:
What are the 5 trends disrupting the cannabis industry?
Find out with your free cheat sheet at:
https://www.cannainsider.com/trends

Reducing Electricity Cost in your Grow By Supplementing with Natural Light

jonathan cachat ccv research

Jonathan Cachat PhD walks us through how to dramatically reduce electricity costs in indoor grows using The Dynamic Supplemental Sunlight.

 

The Dynamic Supplemental Sunlight (DSS) cultivation system is a hybrid-lighting approach to indoor cultivation facilities, using both full-spectrum, natural sunlight and supplemental artificial lights, to drive photosynthesis and healthy plant growth. A hybrid-lighting approach with resource efficient design represents the optimal way to save on production costs while producing high-quality, premium flowering plants.

Key Takeaways:
[1:01] – Jonathan’s background
[3:37] – Jonathan talks about his LSD research
[6:11] – Microdosing LSD
[9:58] – Why bring natural sunlight into indoor grows
[11:18] – Jonathan talks about how the technology works
[13:26] – How do the costs differ from an indoor grow
[16:59] – How are the plants responding differently
[18:46] – Jonathan explains how to carry out light deprivation
[21:44] – Does the height of the room have to be changed for the tubes
[22:57] – What roof alterations need to be made for the system
[24:13] – How does the sunlight affect the temperature of a grow room
[24:45] – What type of cultivation facilities benefit from this lighting
[29:03] – Jonathan answers personal development questions
[32:15] – Jonathan’s contact information

Learn more at:
http://www.ccvresearch.com

Important: What are the 5 trends disrupting the cannabis industry?
Find out with your free report at https://www.cannainsider.com/trends

Read Full Transcript

There is a race on to remove the most expensive inputs that make growing cannabis costly. One of the most expensive inputs is lighting and electricity. Dr. Jonathan Cachat, PhD of CCV Research, is here to tell us how to bring more natural sunlight into indoor grows using cutting edge technology. Jonathan, welcome to CannaInsider.

Jonathan: Thank you Matt. It’s a pleasure to be here.

Matthew: Give us a sense of geography. Where are you in the world today?

Jonathan: I am actually on the beautiful shores of Lake Erie in Cleveland, Ohio.

Matthew: Jonathan, before we jump in to your research, tell us about your background a little bit. How did you get into this industry?

Jonathan: I have a PhD in Neuroscience and Psychopharmacology. I received that from Tulane University down in New Orleans. While I was doing a Post-Doc at the University of California at Davis in Northern California, right next to Sacramento, it was about the same time that the California legislature was implementing and extensive framework or regulations for the medical market there. So, my educational experience in drugs, brain and behavior, which is what psychopharmacology studies, allowed me to join with the flannel shirts of the cannabis farmers coming down from the Emerald Triangle in the state capital, and sort of serve as a voice of reason or at least a scientific background to help the legislatures understand. It was really facilitations between outlaws and regulators, as those outlaws became businessmen.

Matthew: Did you do anything interesting with psychedelics while you were there in California?

Jonathan: Yeah. During my graduate research, we had a license from the DEA, so we were able to study Schedule I though IV controlled substances. So, Schedule I where most of the psychedelics are and cannabis. While it was easy for me to get psychedelics and perform research, you can find those papers on the internet, getting cannabis was a really big issue. It took many months, rather than a few days. So, really jumping into the cannabis industry as well it was pretty clear to me that if there was any additional insights to be gained about how the plant relates to human wellness, that research could be performed faster in a consumer market, rather than the current university system in the United States.

Matthew: So, you studied the effects of LSD on mammals or animals or what exactly?

Jonathan: It was zebra fish. Zebra fish are… the best way I can relate to you exactly what species it is is a species of glow fish that you can find in pet stores. So, that’s a Zebra Fish with a jellyfish gene to make it glow.

Matthew: Well, I’m very interested in this topic because I think psychedelics can be very dangerous if put in the wrong hands or something that doesn’t know what they’re doing, but in the right environment they can be incredibly powerful. Can you tell us a little bit about that research with LSD?

Jonathan: It’s always interesting as a psychopharmacologist to hear how the public and the politics refer to “drugs”. To me they’re all just compounds. So, just them you mentioned sort of a danger. What’s the danger? When it comes to LSD and it comes to cannabis there really is no documented overdose danger. So, while I will agree with you that as we’re at this point with cannabis legalization, I’m sort of skittish to bring the discussion of psychedelic legalization to the forefront, but in many ways LSD is just as safe as cannabis in terms of you’re not going to overdose from it. You’re just going to have to have a safe environment to do it.

Matthew: I’m sorry, I’m just fascinated by this. So, you gave LSD to some fish. How did they react to it?

Jonathan: We were modeling effective disorders, so anxiety and depression, as well as addiction, which is exactly how we had to frame it to the National Institutes of Drug Abuse in order to get the grant money to study it. What we were modeling was essentially if we can induce alcohol withdraw or opiate withdraw in the fish, how do they behave. Generally what they did was swim to the bottom of the fish tank and remain there. Then when we looked at their physiological measure they also were releasing the stress hormone cortisol. We knew that that behavior was linked to a high anxiety state.

So, when we gave them Prozac and other drugs that are serotonergic antidepressants they would swim at the top of the tank. So, that was pretty clear cut for what we call anxiolytic drugs that eliminate anxiety and then anxiogenic drugs which increase anxiety. When it came to the psychedelics, this includes LSD, psilocybin, PCP and DMT, ibogaine, the behavioral profile varied widely and it wasn’t clear that it was inducing anxiety or reducing anxiety. What was clear is that their exploration of the fish take was dramatically increased.

Matthew: What do you think about this phenomenon of microdosing LSD that’s kind of popular in Silicon Valley right now with the tech community?

Jonathan: I would say, safely, as if not to confer the wrong message to your listeners, that it’s a very interesting area right for research in that the psychedelics are probably the best tool researchers have in the toolbox that will allow them to probe cognitive functions and consciousness in the human brain. So, it’s interesting when you think about microdosing and LSD because it’s already a microdose compared to any other substance that most humans consume that are measured in milligrams. This is measured in micrograms and nanograms. What I guess I’m saying is we don’t really know at a physiological, neuroscientific level exactly what’s happening in your cerebral cortex when the molecule of LSD is introduced. We just understand that it pulls back the shades of pre-conception in terms of seeing things for the first time and having a new look at things without the enculturation and what you’ve been taught to think or the modes of cognition that are related to your cultural upbringing. It pulls those back and allow you to look at a problem in a new way, and in fact make connections between divergent information or knowledge where connection wasn’t apparent before.

Matthew: Well said. What would you consider a normal adult dose or a typical adult dose and then a microdose? I’m not letting you off the LSD topic here Jonathan.

Jonathan: Generally we were giving the Zebra Fish, and this is pretty big for the Zebra Fish at least, but 250 micrograms of LSD. That’s a huge dose for humans. How we discuss it pharmacologically is essentially what’s the threshold dose. The threshold dose is about 30 micrograms for LSD, and that is the first noticeable cognitive effects or change from it. So, I would assume that we’re somewhere between 30, 40, 50 or less than that, so 30, 40, 20 in terms of microdoses, because I don’t think you essentially want to feel it. I’m not exactly too sure if there are people out there measuring these things in clandestine labs and giving people exact dosage or potency, analytical results. Hey, maybe we’ll look forward to discussing the next big industry being the emergence of psychedelic testing labs as the industry comes online.

Matthew: Gosh I hope so. I really think there’s a lot of promise there. Also as a footnote, just anybody interested in this subject, there’s a great Netflix documentary about DMT that Jonathan mentioned, dimethyltryptamine, I believe it is. It’s DMT, The Spirit Molecule. If you like documentaries and have Netflix, that one is really good and worth watching that explores some related topicality there. You’re at Tulane in New Orleans, kind of the hub of debauchery and then around all the clean sunshine biking people in Davis. Was that a big contrast to jump between those two places?

Jonathan: Not really. It was also considered AG land up there. I’m originally from Ohio in the Midwest where we have soybeans and corn primarily. No, while I miss New Orleans and love it dearly, it was sort of a move back to home for me.

Matthew: Jonathan, I know you’re going to tell us how to bring natural sunlight into indoor grows, but can you tell us why somebody might want to do this to begin with.

Jonathan: Most simply, plants prefer natural sunlight. That’s the light that they have evolved to thrive under. More complexly there’s three general aspects of light that you’re looking at when you’re growing cannabis. The intensity of the light, the spectral quality of the light and the photo period of the light. Of course any grower will tell you the photo period is related to flowing in cannabis. Intensity is most directly related to yield, but it’s that spectral quality and spectral composition is what leads to the finished product in terms of taste and smell, or at least the biggest influence on it. So, by replacing the spectrally empty HPS lights with the full spectrum of the natural sun, you are able to grow a more complex and more diverse and rich product like those seen in the outdoor coming out of the Emerald Triangle, but you’re able to do that indoor and not have to fight with the chaos of the natural environment that farmers have to deal with on a daily basis.

Matthew: So, that’s why somebody would want to do it. How does it work exactly? Tell us how this technology works to make this happen.

Jonathan: The main component is made by a company called Solatube out of Southern California. They’ve been in the business of tubular daylighting devices for about 20 years now. What they offer over the competitors in terms of bringing in sunlight into our space is they have the highest light efficiency transfer. It’s a fancy way to say they’re the best at bringing the purest and most sunlight into the space as possible. That’s achieved through a few patents. Namely on a reflective material called Spectral Light Infinity, which is actually made and manufactured and formulated at a molecular level to be as smooth as it possibly can, and reduce the amount of light that scatters each time the light hits it and bounces off.

Matthew: You mentioned the light bouncing off. How much light is lost as the sun bounces around the tube on its way into the grow, to the plant?

Jonathan: With the Solatubes up to and the Spectral Light Infinity lining, 0.7 percent is lost per drop. So it’s less than 1 percent, meaning that there have been several installs for example where Solatube has ran these tubular devices underground into mines that have that have a flood risk. So, you can’t have any electrical lights down or else you’ll electrocute all your miners if it floods. So, they’ve run them as far as up to 100 feet underground with 9-90 degree angles in them, and there’s still appreciable sunlight at the bottom of the diffuser down underground. It really is the best way to transfer sun where you need it to be, and there’s no other products on the market that can do it as well as the Spectral Light Infinity.

Matthew: Let’s run through an example. Let’s say you have a 25,000 square foot grow. How would the setup cost with supplemental sunlight like you’re describing differ from a traditional indoor grow?

Jonathan: I want to compare the equipment here. I think it’s probably worth mentioning too at this point that the use of the Solatubes is just one component of the sun grown indoor system. It’s a way to sort of think about a lighting control mechanism. We have the Solatubes that capture and transfer the sunlight. We have a grow room intelligence system that measures the available sunlight both inside and outside. Then that is directly linked to our artificial supplemental light. So, the full system is sort of an automatic balance between the amount of available sunlight coming in and the amount of artificial light we need to compensate in order to keep our intensities up so our yields are still met.

In terms of just the lighting equipment alone, generally if we’re talking about 25,000 square feet, a theoretical approach to these costs where it’s just based on equipment. There’s no volume rebates or anything like that, and there’s also no energy efficient rebates given to the growers who are switching from high energy to low energy, it’s about $50 a square foot for the HPS systems in terms of the lighting equipment. For the DSS equipment it’s about $35 more, around $85 per square foot for the DSS system.

Matthew: That acronym, DSS, just describe what that means for everybody again.

Jonathan: DSS is sort of a way to conceptualize the notion that I just explained, Dynamic Supplemental Sunlight, in that the system dynamically balances the sunlight with the artificial lights.

Matthew: What kind of savings could a grower or business owner expect, having that Dynamic Supplemental Sunlight, as opposed to just LED or traditional grow lights indoors?

Jonathan: This is the sort of shift in the balance of the equation. There was an increase in the initial capital costs, but your operating costs, let’s say, roughly are about $45 per square foot if you are doing the electrical load for the HPS lights and the HVAC. For the DSS system that brings in the natural sunlight we’re looking at about $10 a square foot. So, annually and HPS we could consider one this size to have about $1.1 million in annual electrical costs. Whereas the Sungrown Indoor System comes in at around $300,000. So we’re looking at a savings of approximately $800,000 a year.

Matthew: Wow, that’s massive.

Jonathan: It is. I have talked to so many operators out there who have $100,000+ monthly electrical bills, and I feel their pain, but I feel like they also sort of are feeling the crunch of wholesale values decreasing and they’re looking at their $100,000 a month electrical bill saying how are we going to make this work for another two or three years.

Matthew: Interesting, okay. That’s good to know. How do you see plants responding differently? You mentioned plants responding differently with the supplemental lighting. You mentioned that it’s the sunlight’s ideal source of energy for plants, but we’ve got kind of a hybrid system going with the sunlight bouncing through a tube, coming out to the plants, and the LEDs or traditional lights. So, those two working together, what kind of behavior have you seen the plants exhibit?

Jonathan: Right, and I’m glad you characterized that at a behavioral level because previously we were talking about molecular levels and terpenes in cannabinoid production, but at a behavioral level it’s perhaps the most evident, but also one of the most interesting. We had time lapse cameras inside all of these grow rooms when we were doing the initial R&D. First it was do the plants even grow underneath these lights. Once we saw the time lapse videos where the sun would come in through the tube in the morning and the plants’ leaves would wake up and then track and follow with the sunlight as it moves through the space, that was a pretty clear indication that the plants liked the sunlight that was coming through.

Perhaps more interestingly, we haven’t really probed this much further yet, we noticed in the second round of R&D, in terms of facility design, that the LEDs would flip on maybe at 7 a.m. and there’s not a large amount of sunlight coming into the room at that time, but once we got to 9:30-10:00 a.m., the sun started taking over and the LEDs dimmed down. What was interesting, just scrubbing through sort of the daily time lapses, is that it almost appeared that later in the flowering period the plants had sort of trained themselves to wait to wake up until the sunlight came through. So, we would have these weird scenarios where the lights would come on, remain sort of leaves down sleeping, but as soon as the sunlight came in, they all just jumped up with joy immediately and just started tracking with the sun. So, there might be something there, but I’m not too sure about the cognitive abilities of plants at this point.

Matthew: Now what happens if you need to make the room go dark? How can you carry out light deprivation in this type of environment?

Jonathan: There are butterfly dimmers that Solatube has designed to put inside of these units. You’re able to automatically just open and shut them, and when you do you’re blocking out 99.8 percent of any of the sunlight coming in. So, it’s perfect for [19.05 unclear] capable, and in fact it’s much easier just to flip a light switch than it is to be pulling tarps over and across. Also worth noting too, the technology to capture the sunlight, besides the dimmer, there are no mechanical parts. So, when you’re trying to balance the financial equation you have things in there like semi-annual or annual bulb replacements. There are no bulbs. There are no bulbs to be replaced. The maintenance these units need is a spray down with a hose, depending on how close you are to the ag fields that are kicking up a lot of dust. The dimmer, it just sits right inside and being the only mechanical part, that perhaps is where you could have additional costs, but they are very well built and replacing a dimmer isn’t a big deal, nor is it really a big cost.

Matthew: What’s the experience like to open a dimmer of a totally dark room? Do you feel like Bruce Almighty parting the clouds, “Let there be light”.

Jonathan: Exactly. Like that, or it’s sort of like you’re standing underneath a Super Mario Brothers tube and you’re ready just to jump up into it. It’s seeing and feeling really is believing in terms of the Sungrown Indoor System. So, sort of been discussing this with industry people for several years now. I’ve come to realize that what people sort of imagine in their heads when they hear the system being described wildly varies. When you see it in person for the first time everybody sort of invariably was shocked and said, this is way more simple or less complicated that what I had originally thought. I thought there was going to be bells in this, there’s bells and whistles.

Then the most sort of true testament I think is when you do stand underneath this sunlight that’s brought into the room it’s really sort of an unusual and alarming feeling, because you feel the sunlight. You can feel the sunlight, but it’s not a feeling of sunburn. You associate being out in the direct sunlight at the beach with some sort of element of I’m burning slightly. When you’re inside these rooms you can feel the sunlight and recognize that it’s sunlight, but you don’t feel like you’re getting sunburnt. That’s why I say seeing is believing.

Matthew: What about the height of the room? Does that need to be different to accommodate the tubes?

Jonathan: The height of the room can be variable. We started with eight feet. We’ve gone up to ten feet in terms of the roof structure. Generally the facilities that we’re specing out now have a room height of around 12 to 16 feet. Generally the biggest variable that effects the cost of this system is the distance between the ceiling in your grow room and the ceiling in the building that your grow room is in. So, to run an extra extension tube length all the way down, that can affect the price of the system, but like I was mentioning earlier with the cave example or the mining example, it won’t really affect the performance that much. In terms of how far the grower prefers to have his lights above the canopy of the flowering plants, everybody has different rules of thumb. Everybody has a different approach. Really what we’ve done a CCV is work with the growers and work with the builders and also the business guys to balance a system that meets their needs in particular.

Matthew: How many holes would a grower need to make in the roof, and what does that entail, that process?

Jonathan: I think it’s sort of an old adage. The more light you can get in the better it’s going to be. It proves true. Really when we’re designing a system custom built for any facility we max it out in terms of what’s the max density of tubes that we can theoretically model on the roof space. So that gets us an idea of how much maximum sunlight we can get in the space and perhaps more importantly, how the sunlight moves through the space as the sun changes its position in the sky. Of course from there we have to pull it back. It’s a balance at that point between the structural integrity of the roof and the amount of sunlight that we can bring in.

So, I work with structural engineers or the project’s general contractor to find tha6t proper balance based on what type of building they’re growing in, what type of roof structure is there, what state they’re growing in. So, it’s hard to give you a specific number of how many holes you would need in the roof because it’s all really dependent both on your floor plan, your location on the globe, and the building that you’re in.

Matthew: What does the natural sunlight do to temperature in a room or grow room?

Jonathan: That is a good question because it’s another sort of negative of having the high intensity discharge to the HPS lights in the room. They generate an enormous amount of heat, but then has to be sort of fought or reduced by your HVAC. So, regular skylights bring in natural sunlight. So, what you’re used to seeing, sort of the square design with the plastic cover on it. Those will transfer the IR wavelengths that are the heat generating wavelengths of the sunlight. What makes Solatube different from their nearest competitor is that they have technology built into the product that absorbs that infrared wavelengths and then dissipates before it even gets a chance to get into your rooms. So, they have the best light to solar heat gain ratio of any skylight product on the market.

Effectively what that meant, we had an enormous Grownetics grow room monitoring system in all of these R&D units. So, we had very granular data on temperature in particular. There was no discernable or significant measurable heat gain that we could notice while we were performing and developing the system.

Matthew: Is there a rule of thumb in terms of what types of cultivation facilities can benefit from this supplemental lighting? I’m sure there’s people listening saying, is this a fit for me or how would I know or anything like that.

Jonathan: I think it’s best to characterize growing with HPS lights as a twilight industry in that most reasonable cultivators, while they may have come up into the game by growing with HPS lights, they understand that that ship has sort of sailed, and it’s on its way across the horizon. So, they’ll agree that a hybrid lighting approach to cultivation is where the future is at. So, really any hybrid lighting approach by definition is one that incorporates natural sunlight with the artificial light. So, there’s great progress in Big AG and even in cannabis in terms of finding the right balance of LEDs to greenhouse, in greenhouses. It’s sort of the same process with the Sungrown Indoor System. The difference between the Sungrown Indoor System and a greenhouse in terms of hybrid lighting approaches to cultivation is essentially because we’re growing in a contain, you can just think of it as a Yeti cooler. The ability for the cooler or your indoor to withstand massive or drastic changes in the outside ambient temperature is far greater than what can be provided in a greenhouse situation.

Matthew: What’s the lowest hanging fruit here in terms of geographies? Is this any place with the sun? What about your home state of Ohio? Where’s the best geographies that can use this technology, this dynamic supplemental sunlight?

Jonathan: Yeah, it’s interesting. So, at face value the total savings annually that you’re going to receive is directly correlated with your average annual days of sunlight. So, places like Southern California, Desert Hot Springs, Arizona and New Mexico where they have 300+ annual days of sunlight, that’s of course where you’re going to see the most dramatic reduction in your electrical lode. What about places on the East Coast? First noting on the East Coast that while in Ohio we’re able to grow cannabis outdoors, we not have as long of a season as out in California, it can still be done, but the regulators on the East Coast are generally more concerned about security and the sort of not in my backyard approach to cannabis cultivation. They don’t want to see it. They don’t want to smell it. They really don’t want to know about it.

So, in that situation your forced indoors. So, any savings that you can get, any time that you can shut off those artificial lights, you’re saving money. So, while they’re not going to see reductions that are 75 to 80 to 85 percent reduction in their annual electrical load that you would see in Southern California. The idea of saving 50 to 60 is still pretty appealing when you’re trying to balance the sheet here on the East Coast.

Matthew: Jonathan, I want to pivot to some personal development questions to help the listeners get a sense of who you are personally. With that, is there a book that has had a big impact on your life or your way of thinking that you’d like to share?

Jonathan: Yeah, so, E.O. Wilson is a Harvard biologist. He wrote a book called Consilience. I wish I could remember the subtitle. I think it’s called The Unity of Knowledge. The Consilience: The Unity of Knowledge where essentially he calls for the unification of information. A sort of cross pollination between academic disciplines as sort of a fruitful area of discovery. I think reading that book an undergraduate has really sort of pushed me to understand and try to apply different approaches from different academic disciplines or different professional disciplines and see if there’s any value in what they’ve learned and how it can be applied to whatever I’m working on. I guess I would just encourage people, it’s sort of diversity and diversity of thought is the foundation of insight and discovery. So, by reaching out and looking at different things that might not be related to exactly what you’re working on, you may find the answer that you were looking for the whole time.

Matthew: Is there a tool that you consider valuable to your day-to-day productivity that listeners might not have heard of?

Jonathan: I’ve been doing a lot of writing lately, a lot of helping people with applications, and so there’s a new tool that I’ve been using to keep an eye on not only my spelling and my grammar, but sort of my prose. There’s a plugin called Grammarly where you can do your word processing in the Grammerly app or you can just copy and paste it into the app. It’s tests for things beyond the, like I mentioned. You’ve used the word therefore 60 times in this document. You might want to consider another word. It’s sort of beyond just spell check. It’s like you have a human proofreader there on call and on demand. It’s Grammarly.

Matthew: That’s a good one. I’ve used that too, and I really think that’s a great plugin. It’s free for most people I think. I use it in Chrome, like a Chrome plugin.

Jonathan: Right, yeah.

Matthew: That is a good one. Final personal development question. Did you ever take LSD while you were giving the fish LSD? You can tell me because it’s just you and me. It’s just you and me. You can tell me the truth.

Jonathan: I can neither confirm or deny any of that, and I will say that the DEA does not mess around with inventory control and trackability. Same is sort of true with the cannabis industry and cannabis as well. Not only was I the one in the lab managing and sort of directing that, but we had undergraduates come through as well. When you have different people coming into a lab that has controlled substances you really need to take it seriously because there’s not only… I mean in addition to the criminal charges, you’re going to lose your ability to pursue what the research that you built your career on so the risk benefit analysis doesn’t really weigh out.

Matthew: Okay, good answer. Very professional. Jonathan, in closing how can listeners learn more about you? Throw out your website and tell us how we can connect.

Jonathan: So the website is www.ccvresearch.com. It’s a good place to learn more information about the Sungrown Indoor System and how to get in contact with us. On social media platforms as well it’s just @ccvresearch and of course I’d be happy to connect and discuss things on LinkedIn as well. My last name is Cachat.

Matthew: Just for everybody listening that’s C-C-V like Charlie, Charlie, Victor Research. Jonathan, thanks so much for coming on the show today and educating us. I think this is really the beginning of a huge change from almost all electric indoor grows to supplemental like you’re doing. A move to supplemental and a move to greenhouse too, I think those are two big things, and this race for a lower cost of production that we’re already starting to see happen, especially in Colorado right now as the price falls on wholesale part of cannabis.

Jonathan: Right, exactly. It’s a pleasure to chat and that’s exactly the point that I try to emphasize to everyone is that you can see your profit margin shrinking, and the days of black market without any compliance costs or paying, maybe you pay for an attorney, but idea for paying for an accountant and a marketing department and a website team and a social media team, they’re dramatically decreasing wholesale value of cannabis and you’re increasing cost of production. You really have to consider more resource efficient ways if you’d like to stay in business and definitely last well into the future as this industry settles down from the onboarding startup stage.

Matthew: Well put, thanks again Jonathan.

Jonathan: Thanks Matt.

Generating 100s of Millions of Page Views a Month of Cannabis Content – Matt Gray of Herb.Co

Matt Gray CEO of Herb.co

Meet the cannabis content mogul Matt Gray, the founder, and CEO of Herb.co

Matt has created a cannabis content engine that generates hundreds of pieces of original content a month.  Matt’s team creates articles, skits, videos and more.

Matt just finished 4.1 million capital raise for Herb.
Listen in as he shares how he creates viral content and hints and the direction of Cannabis media is heading.

Key Takeaways:
[0:53] – What is Herb.co
[1:48] – Matt talks about his background
[5:25] – Matt’s takeaways from Bit Maker
[7:00] – How has cannabis media evolved since starting Herb.co
[8:20] – Coming up with ideas for Herb.co
[13:56] – Matt talks about helping brands get their message out
[17:52] – Demographics in the cannabis community
[24:49] – Matt talks about his predictions for cannabis media
[27:38] – Matt answers some personal development questions
32.35 – Contact details for Herb.co

Read Full Transcript

Matthew: Hi. I’m Matthew Kind. Every Monday look for a fresh new episode where I will take you behind the scenes and interview the insiders that are shaping the rapidly evolving cannabis industry. Learn more at www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com. That’s www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com. Now here’s your program.

As the public’s thirst for unique and original cannabis related content grows, entrepreneurs that understand how to attract, educate and influence online visitors are in high demand. I’m excited to talk with Matt Gray, Cofounder and CEO of Herb.co, who will share what online content people are looking for. Matt, welcome to CannaInsider.

Matt: Hey Matt, thanks so much for having me.

Matthew: Give us a sense of geography. Where are you in the world today?

Matt: Right now I’m in Toronto, Canada.

Matthew: What is Herb at a high level? Tell us.

Matt: Herb at a high level is a one-stop shop for whatever people need cannabis related. So, whether you’re looking for the perfect strain for your medical condition. You’re looking to find some interesting news on legalization, or you’re looking to find an entertaining video to just enjoy while medicated. When people think cannabis we want them to come to Herb. Over the past three years we’ve built the largest and most engaged cannabis platform in the world, have over 100 million monthly engagements on our content and push over 200 million video views a month. They’re just this destination for people to find whatever they need cannabis related.

Matthew: That is ginormous. Well done. What’s your background? How did you come to start Herb? What were you doing before this, or as Martha Stewart would say, Herb, I don’t’ know if you’ve ever heard her pronounce that, but that’s how she says it.

Matt: I have. Essentially when I was 21 graduated from a university just outside of Toronto here. I had been learning to code while in school, and found it unbelievably beneficial. I was able to finally construct a lot of the ideas that I had in my mind. I met up with a few friends after graduating and traveling off through 14 countries over 4 months, and could see this idea for basically a technology bootcamp where people with no prior coding ability would be able to come through this school, and over the course of a nine week intensive, in-person bootcamp become full stack software engineers and get jobs at tech companies.

So, we did just that. We created that program. It was called Bit Maker. Here in Toronto it was the first technology bootcamp of its kind in Canada. Over the course of three years we trained over 2,000 software developers and got them jobs at tech companies like Shopify, Hootsuite, IBM and more. That company was eventually acquired by General Assembly. Shortly after doing that I’ve always been passionate about cannabis. I’ve been a cannabis consumer since I was 19. I’ve always loved the culture around it. I love the movement that’s going on behind it. I had a bit of an aha moment when a good friend of mine, who’s brother suffers from PTSD from some childhood trauma, I’d seen the medical benefit of cannabis with this individual who is finally able to sleep through night terrors and more. Found an enormous medical benefit, and it really struck me as like, wow, if more and more people had access to this, not just to the education to know that it could help them, this could really change the world and help end a lot of human suffering.

That combined with the fact that as I dove more into cannabis, I became more and more educated as to the social injustice behind and the war on drugs, and the fact that I believe the statistics are something like 1 in 4 African American males are locked up in the states, and 80 percent of those arrested are for cannabis possession, which is fucking ridiculous. So, that really needs to change, and I wanted to be part of that change in the world. This incredible industry that’s the fastest growing industry in the world, and figured that’s the best use of my time over the next ten years.

I can see the idea for Herb, build a team around me of hackers, hustlers, artists and entrepreneurs, and over the past 2 ½ - 3 years now we’ve grown it to be the largest and most engaged cannabis community in the world. I built it totally nomadic. So, started it Denver and built it up more. The whole team was remote, coming from as far places as New Zealand to Denver to LA, SF and more. We had writers all over. We aggressively started getting into video content, producing a lot of different formats. Anything from “How To” to news segments and more. Yeah, I’ve built it to be this massive community of just people that love culture, love cannabis and view Herb as this kind of epicenter of those two things.

Matthew: Any kind of key insights you had when you’re working with all of the software developers and putting them through that intensive? Is there anything you saw, any trends in terms of some developers really seem to do well and they have certain characteristics or others don’t, or some people seem to gravitate to certain coding languages and do well with that? Is there any themes you saw that you recognized?

Matt: If you’re referring to kind of like high level takeaways from that experience and from running that, I think high level, it doesn’t matter what you do, it’s important to have empathy. Whether it’s empathy for consumers or empathy for people on your team, and being able to put yourself in other people’s shoes and see their struggle and see the opportunities. That experience really allowed me to, every day, day in and day out, put myself and my mindset in the mind of a technical individual who’s literally building the technology behind these websites and apps and things that you see.

So, with that empathy, moving forward in my life, I’ve just been able to ensure that whatever business vision that we have and whatever community we want to build, I have the understanding on the backend of what it will take technically to create that vision, which I think is enormously valuable. Secondly, it was just pretty obvious. It’s important to stay up-to-date with the newest technologies and the newest things going on. There’s a lot of exciting stuff happening. Nowadays with Voice being a new platform now, a new interface as well, what does that mean for the world. What does that mean for Cannabis and more? So, I think just like being more technically literate and understanding the shoes of engineers and their perspective is super useful.

Matthew: How have you see cannabis media evolve since you got started?

Matt: I think it’s very similar to a lot of just what you see across the entire industry. I think there’s a coming of age. Cannabis is entering the mainstream more and more and more, year after year, and it’s accelerating. So, whereas maybe four years ago you’re seeing super niche sites that maybe have a certain to them that isn’t as inclusive and friendly, and where the bar of quality of both editorial technology and design would be super low. A lot of that is changing now. There’s more and more people looking for quality information around cannabis, and there’s bigger and bigger companies in the space. People with better attention to detail, better taste for design and more. So, there’s just a general maturing of the industry, and with that you’re getting companies and brands that are really upping the bar and upping the quality of the content, which is great to see, and it only reflects well on everyone.

Matthew: How do you come up with the ideas for content? You have a lot of interesting stuff going on on your site. Is it just brainstorming? How does it work? How do you come up with these ideas to get all these views that you get every month?

Matt: I could probably go on for hours about this, but to give you the short and sweet, Cole’s notes, at the end of the day, we produce nearly 300 pieces of content every month. Even more actually. Where we’re getting all these ideas from, there’s a lot of different sources. We have a community that’s engaged like crazy, hundreds and millions of engagements every single month. So, we see what people are talking about. We also have programs we us to see what people are talking about, and we’re able to understand what content do these people want to see. What do we need to put there? What are our users asking for? So, that’s one way.

Related to that, through the backend of Facebook or Google and more, we can do research and see what are people searching, what are they talking about and create content around those topics that we know are super hot and that people want to learn about. Thirdly are through different tools that we have. So, some cool tools are things like Buzz Sumo, Tubular Labs and more. These are tools that basically allow you to monitor what’s going on online in the world, in a given space on a given keyword and more. So, you can search cannabis and see what’s the most trending topics around cannabis, say in the next hour or day or week or whatever. Through those three main mechanisms, although there’s a lot more we do, you’re able to get a good sense of what’s out there, what are people talking about, what should we be covering as a media platform.

Matthew: Do you just find the green light things that make you laugh or say hey, I see this as trending. If you write about this or do a skit about this, this would be funny to me so go for it, or how does it work?

Matt: Yeah I mean, high level, the most important metric on the social content side is share percentage. So, any content you create we make sure that we ask ourselves why would someone share this. So, what does that mean specifically? There’s certain emotions that you can trigger in humans that cause them to want to share content and make that content contagious. Some of those emotions are awe or laughter or anger and others. So, with any piece of content we’re trying to figure out how can we make this content useful, because people share stuff with practical value. Then secondly, among other things, is how do we make this compelling? Is it going to really inspire people and they’ll want to share it? Is it going to really anger people, and they’re going to want to share it, and more? We’re essentially green-lighting topics based on our perceived value of how shareable they are.

Matthew: Let’s do a quick role play real quick, if this is okay. I’m going to propose, I’m one of your content creators and I have four ideas here. I’m going to throw them passed you and you tell me which one you think would be best. Ready. This could be either an article or a skit. What might be served at a Snoop Dogg and Martha Stewart pot heavy brunch? That’s number one. Number two is, Five sneaky ways to find out if a co-worker gets high. Three, Why Elon Musk thinks he is in an artificial reality created by stoners. Then the final, How to abduct an uptight friend, get them high and change their life.

Matt: So, your question is which on is the best one?

Matthew: Which one would you say, okay, none of them are good, or if I were to pick on to create content around, it would be which one?

Matt: Perfect, yes. Here’s my thoughts on that. First and foremost it’s important that you understand your audience. Who are you trying to speak to? There’s a lot of great topics in there. If you’re running a cannabis and entrepreneur magazine, the Elon Musk is probably fire. For our community and what we see do really well, interestingly enough Snoop Dogg is the man. So, people just love Snoop, which I’m sure goes as no surprise to most people. So just based on how much I know the community loves Snoop Dogg, I think that one would do the best. Again, every community is different, every audience is different and it’s important to know who you’re speaking about because some of those topics would do better than the Snoop Dogg one, given a different audience.

Matthew: Right. Craft the message right to the audience. That makes sense. There is something about Snoop Dogg. He breaks all demographics, every single demographic likes him. I don’t know if people can’t really articulate why either. They just know they like him.

Matt: Yeah, I think it’s that he’s an OG. He’s been around for a long time. He’s authentic. He is pretty bold too. He’s a trailblazer and someone that’s not afraid to point the finger at Trump or do other things. I think he’s helped to really define culture in his own way. I think in general people have a lot of respect for him. I have a lot of respect for him. Yes, content on our site, as an example, in general does very well.

Matthew: Now, you work with brands to help them get their message out. Can you tell us how that works?

Matt: Essentially any brand, whether it’s a brand within the cannabis industry or a brand outside the cannabis industry, they’re looking to get in front of engaged people who will talk about their brand, and who will hopefully visit their site, purchase the product or more. So, we essentially at Herb work with brands all across the board. Anything from vaporizer companies to mainstream entertainment companies, apps and more, and help organically insert those brands through a basic product placement into the content that we create. Yeah, we can help brands basically get out there to the most engaged cannabis audience in the world.

Matthew: What kind of budget do they typically need to get the ball rolling in working with you?

Matt: That just really depends on what they’re looking for. We have content that’s much more quick and easier to create, things like articles, which would be on the lower side of things. Then we have full-fledge original series, which we do with a whole crew of 10+ people and it’s a real production. It varies depending on what they’re looking for.

Matthew: Obviously it takes more time and resources, money and everything to do a full skit or a video and editing and everything versus just writing an article. How do you get the confidence to do skit and invest time, money and energy in that versus an article? I mean, how do you this is the right topic for a skit? Is there a sense, like this is the right things to do, or you really just don’t know and you’re just putting it out there?

Matt: The truth of the matter is I’ve been intricately involved in running and building this product that is Herb for the last three or so years. Within that time, I’ve seen 5,000+ pieces of content go out. We’ve run deep analytics on every aspect of these pieces, whether it’s articles, videos and more. We understand all our content on a monthly basis, what core tile it would go into, whether it’s the top 25 percent or bottom 25 percent of performing content. We really have an understanding of what works out there and what doesn’t. Very similar to how you gave me those four topics there, and I could say hey, this is the one that would do best with our community. We do have a really good handle on what topics do well and that informs us in our direction with content.

That said though, on a high level, our approach with content is a 70/30 rule. So 70 percent of what we do we know it’s going to work 100 percent, and it’s a proven formula for whatever that thing is, but 30 percent of the time we’re kind of adding our own new flavor to it, our own vibe to it, or maybe being a bit experimental just to kind of constantly be keeping ahead of the curve into breaking ground into new areas, new genres and more. That’s kind of our approach on a high level.

Matthew: When you’re working with brands to help them get their message out and get exposure, do you offer any kind of assurances in terms of what you can do for them?

Matt: Yeah, we guarantee view counts. We can guarantee that these brands that work with us in the video content get out there to a certain amount of viewers. So, that’s the guarantee that we have.

Matthew: What’s the sweet spot in terms of demographics of visitors that come to Herb?

Matt: So, 82 percent of our audience are millennials, so 18 to 32. It’s about 55 percent male, 45 percent female, but they engage at equal percentages. So, males and females are just as engaged on the platform. Yeah, coming primarily from major cities like LA, Chicago, New York, Houston and more. It’s geared heavily towards college students. So, a lot of people at UCLA, University of Boulder, whoever that are people like football, college sports, like cannabis, working hard on school, doing their thing. That’s kind of where we skew heavily.

Matthew: You’re a pretty young guy yourself. If you don’t mind me asking, how old are you?

Matt: I’m 27.

Matthew: Well done, 27, that’s great. You’re a millennial then. You’re right in the sweet spot of your own demographic for your business. When you look at the millennials at a 30,000 view, can you make generalizations about them in terms of anything?

Matt: Oh yeah tons.

Matthew: Okay, tell us some stuff here. I like the juicy stuff.

Matt: I think it’s all we know this stuff. It’s everywhere these days. It’s [19.15 unclear] that’s causing you to do Instagram, Facebook. Off the bat, everyone, it doesn’t matter what you do, you’re competing for people’s attention these days. It’s the scarcest resource. So, people have short attention spans. You don’t have much time with these people. We’re impatient. If you want to get me to watch something, convince me in the first three seconds that I should be watching that. Make every second count. It’s quite the challenge for someone to create content that captivates someone these days. There’s just so much noise. That’s one important thing.

I think the other part to it is being authentic. It’s not cool if you’re going to be super forward about, hey, this is our company, this is our product, this is what we do. No one’s going to care about that. That’s an advertisement and it’s not going to keep someone’s attention. No one’s clicking on display ads. No one’s clicking on prerolls and more. Making sure that when you’re representing a brand to millennials that it’s done in a very authentic way. It’s super important, because they can sniff an ad from a mile away. It’s not going to be as effective. Those are a couple things that come off the top of my head. I could go through a laundry list of more things though.

Matthew: I was listening to the gentleman, Neil [20.56 unclear], who coined that term “millennial”. He’s written a number of books. He’s a really interesting character, and he was going through some details about the millennials and generalizations and so forth. One of the things that he said that is much stronger in the millennial group than boomers, GenX and now the homelanders, who are the generation younger than millennials, is they really have a strong sense of community. That’s important to them to be in a community, a little hive, whether that’s online or in the physical world. They want that sense of community, which I think is interesting, particularly when you’re trying to create content. Will this appeal to this little community or this hive mind out there. Would you say that’s true at all?

Matt: What’s your question in a nutshell?

Matthew: Would you say the community aspect of millennials is an important thing that needs to be highlighted or do you not see that?

Matt: Yeah, I think community is everything. I think that yeah it’s important to everyone. That’s essentially the hardest thing to create. So, if you can around your brand or your platform or whatever it may be create a community, oftentimes it’s like catching lightning in a bottle, and once you have it though it’s extremely magical and really is the value that people find to something. Facebook isn’t cool if you just go to it and there’s zero likes anywhere and zero comments and it’s just you. These platforms, these things, they have network effects. They’re more and more valuable as there’s more and more people on them. So, yeah, I think that’s attractive to anyone.

Matthew: There’s a lot of people that are of all ages listening to the podcast, but there’s people that don’t have any kind of social media presence. They may have a business, but they just don’t even know how to get the word out about their business, even though their business is doing well. I come across these businesses all the time. They have a strong business, but they have no social media presence. They really don’t have a lot of people sharing anything about them online, but they have loyal customers. What would be your suggestion for them?

Matt: It doesn’t matter what you do these days, you are a media company, you are a content company. We live in a day and an age where content is king. It’s everywhere, and it’s the best way to get your brand out there. Get out there to the world what you believe in, what you stand for. People buy why you do something, not what you do. People want to know what you’re all about. So, I think it doesn’t matter what size your business is, whether it’s just you in a garage or a 1,000 person company, I think it’s important you have a regular cadence to getting content of some form out there so that people can find you, people can learn what you’re all about. Through that regular cadence, just chipping away at it, getting a regular routine going. More and more people are going to find out about you, start following you, and you’re going to create a no brained affinity to a big group of people.

Matthew: How do you see the cannabis media evolving over the next three to five years? We talked a little bit about the past, where it’s at now. How do you see it changing, if anything? Is the attention span going to be even shorter where it’s got to be a three second animated GIF, and if they like that, they’ll click on something that’s like a little bit longer, and then if they like that, it’ll expand into something even larger. Do you think it’s going to reverse? People are going to want longer, more engaging topics that they can really sink their teeth into and sit down with for a while. What do you think is going to happen?

Matt: My perspective on this, there’s a lot of sides to it. I think it’s the latter. I think that longer form content and long form video is the new wave. It is where things are headed. Essentially the platform really informs the content to some extent. It’s one large consideration. When you look at YouTube, YouTube’s longer form, informative, useful content. It’s the largest library of video content in the world. That’s that side. You have Facebook that just announced Facebook Watch last week. They’re getting into repeatable, scalable shows, and they announced 50 different partners in that. It’s being rolled out to 1 or 2 of Facebook users in America, so same deal there.

Yes, Facebook has all been about these kind of tasty, social snippets, and that’s where it’s coming from, but Facebook is taking over the world. They’re starting to prefer and promote longer form content. So, if that’s the case, more and more publishers, more and more brands and more are going to be creating that kind of content. So, that’s the direction I see it going, and I think that although attention is very scarce, there’s something to be said for creating long form content where people can really dig into it. They can relax, they can watch it. Although maybe the audience at first isn’t as large as a piece of short form content, you’re going to develop a loyal following around that long form content that’s going to stick through it. Every Thursday that episode comes out, I got to watch it. That’s similar to what you see with Netflix. They dropped House of cards or another long form series or show and people are binge watching that over a weekend. Netflix is an incredible company. So, that’s where I kind of see it going.

Matthew: That’s great. Netflix definitely has something with this binge watching. It’s so much better way of doing it than having to wait for the next episode. It’s so much more preferable, but then at the same time, if you binge watch a whole season, then there’s kind of like a strange withdraw feeling like I want the next season now. I got to go to my Netflix dealer.

Matt: Exactly. I feel the struggle.

Matthew: Let’s pivot to some personal development questions here to let the audience get to know you a little bit better. Is there a book that has had a big impact on your life that you would like to share?

Matt: Yeah. I mean, there’s a lot of different books out there that have taught me different things and have been pivotal at certain points of my life. When I was a super young age, I think I’ve read it four or five times, like every two years, is a book called How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie. It’s a real classic. At the end of the day there were two books that I remember hearing Warrant Buffet had read that said were super instrumental. One was Value Investing and the other one was How to Win Friends and Influence People, so I figured I should read this. Yeah, it’s really common sense stuff, but then again common sense isn’t that common. So, it’s a book that just really goes over everything from smiling to not picking arguments to just basic stuff that I think are just good tenants and a good foundation to have when dealing with people in general, because whether you’re starting a company, which is just a group of people with a common vision or goal, or just dealing with family or friends. It’s all about your EQ, your emotional intelligence and your ability to just be a good person and be someone others want to be around.

Matthew: I really agree with you. I’ve read that book when I was younger. Very powerful. I still remember some of the stuff and try to use some of the principles I learned in there. One of the things that stands out for me is that you’re trying to make small talk with someone, just get to know them, it’s always helpful to ask a question that they want to answer. If you don’t know how to break the ice, you’re trying to get to know somebody, that’s a great way to do it, versus talking about something political, which puts people in a different position kind of on their heels automatically. Great suggestion. That is a good book. How about a tool? Is there a tool that has a big impact on your day-to-day productivity that you’d like to share?

Matt: Sure. From a high level, everyone I think has different principles or values that kind of govern their approach to different things. One big thing that I’m big on is I believe life is a numbers game. Whether it’s your approach to winning in a new business or getting a girlfriend, at the end of the day the more people you talk to, the more you get out there, the better your likelihood. So, as part of business I’m very big on emailing, talking to people, getting outside the building and just getting shit done. One tool that a lot of people don’t use surprisingly enough that I think is absolutely essential is a tool called [30.20 unclear] for Gnome.

To a lot of people this is common sense, but a lot of people don’t know about it. When you send an email to someone you can indicate, if this person doesn’t respond to this email, boomerang it back to my inbox in one week. So, I know that if I’m emailing you Matt about being on your next podcast, as some random example, this is an untrue story, but just a random thing. I’m like okay, if Matt doesn’t get back to me in five days about this certain question I have, come back to my inbox so I can follow up with Matt again. It’s a simple tool, but something that I find incredibly useful at the end of the day. When you’re running a business and you’re dealing with 200 emails a day, or whether you’re just starting a new business and there’s a lot of people you’re trying to corral around a common goal, this is a very simple tool that helps keep you organized and lets you forget about the follow-up and simply this boomerang tool will remind you, hey this person didn’t respond. You should follow up.

Matthew: That’s great. Normally I stop right there with two questions, but I’m going to ask you a third here, because you’re really good at this viral marketing and content creation and you can tell me which option, this is like a multiple choice question, I want you to tell me (A) how you’d answer it, and (B) what do you think the number one answer would be if you posted this on Herb. Here’s the hypothetical question. What would happen if Attorney General Jeff Sessions accidently ate a pot brownie? Would he (A) Go on Twitter and ask Donald Trump to tickle him, (B) Start laughing and literally never stop, or (C) Eat an entire bag of Cool Ranch Doritos and watch reruns of the Dukes of Hazard?

Matt: I think it’s the last one. That one just strikes me, that just sounds right.

Matthew: You think the last one is the one that if you were to post that, that’s what people would select?

Matt: Yeah, and I think the community would be just in line with my thinking as well, yeah. That’s what I think.

Matthew: He knows it right. Boom that’s it.

Matt: That’s the one.

Matthew: Matt in closing we talked about Herb. Throw out your website, and let people know how to find you.

Matt: Our website is www.herb.co. We’re on Facebook as well, just search Herb; on Instagram @herb, and thanks a lot for your time Matt, really appreciate this and yeah, a great opportunity.

Matthew: If you enjoyed the show today, please consider leaving us a review on iTunes, Stitcher or whatever app you might be using to listen to the show. Every five star review helps us to bring the best guests to you. Learn more at www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com/itunes. What are the five disruptive trends that will impact the cannabis industry in the next five years? Find out with your free report at www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com/trends. Have a suggestion for an awesome guest on www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com, simply send us an email at feedback(at)cannainsider.com. We would love to hear from you.

Please do not take any information from CannaInsider or its guests as medical advice. Contact your licensed physician before taking cannabis or using it for medical treatments. Lastly the host or guests on CannaInsider may or may not invest in the companies or entrepreneurs profiled on the show. Please consult your licensed financial advisor before making any investment decisions. Final disclosure to see if you’re still paying attention. This little whistle jingle you’re listening to will get stuck in your head for the rest of the day. Thanks for listening and look for another CannaInsider episode soon. Take care. Bye-bye.

Top Opportunities for Cannabis Investors and Entrepreneurs with Patrick Rea of CanopyBoulder

patrick rea canopy boulder

Patrick Rea is the co-founder and CEO of CanopyBoulder. CanopyBoulder is a seed-stage business accelerator program and venture fund for the cannabis industry.

Listen in as Patrick shares details about the most promising startups in the cannabis industry and gives tips to founders on how to talk with investors.

Why should you listen to this episode? 
If you listened to the first interview with Patrick three years ago, you took away prescient insights on where the cannabis industry is today. Patrick offers that 20/20 insight again in this episode and helps you understand the context of the cannabis opportunities for the next two to three years.

Key Takeaways:
[1:37] – What is CanopyBoulder
[4:08] – How life has changed since the beginning of CanopyBoulder
[5:55] – How cannabis entrepreneurs have evolved in recent years
[7:18] – Patrick talks about how he and his cofounder divide responsibilities
[11:25] – Patrick discusses the virtual accelerator model
[14:12] – Entry points in contributing to CanopyBoulder
[15:09] – Common questions from investors
[19:15] – Patrick highlights some success stories
[23:22] – Turning traction into momentum
[25:33] – Patrick talks about teaching entrepreneurs new skills
[32:40] – Patrick talks about a perfect pitch deck
[36:46] – Who is a good candidate for CanopyBoulder
[38:06] – Patrick answers some personal development questions
[43:21] – Contact details for CanopyBoulder

Learn more at:
http://www.canopyboulder.com

Read Full Transcript

Matthew: Hi. I’m Matthew Kind. Every Monday look for a fresh new episode where I will take you behind the scenes and interview the insiders that are shaping the rapidly evolving cannabis industry. Learn more at www(dot)cannainsider(dot)com. Now here’s your program.

The public has finally woken up to the massive opportunity in investing in the cannabis industry, but not all the opportunities are the same. Both investors and entrepreneurs have to decide if they’re going to pursue opportunities that touch the cannabis plant, or go after ancillary business models and investments that don’t. Here to help us get a perspective on this is Patrick Rea, Cofounder of CanopyBoulder. Patrick, welcome back to CannaInsider.

Patrick: Matt, it’s great to be here. Thank you for reaching out, and it’s always fun to talk with you.

Matthew: Tell us where you are today. Give us a sense of geography.

Patrick: I am in lovely Boulder, Colorado today. A place that I know you know very well Matt. In fact, our new Canopy office is just about five or six blocks away from The Cup, the coffee shop where we met first in 2014.

Matthew: Yes, great location. I’m really excited for you. That’s an incredible location.

Patrick: Yeah we love it.

Matthew: I want to get into all that, but for listeners that are not familiar with CanopyBoulder, because it’s been a few years since you’ve been on, give us an update. Tell us what CanopyBoulder is and everything you’re doing really quick.

Patrick: Cool. Really, CanopyBoulder, we are for investors. We’re an investment company. We’re a venture capital firm. We invest in a very active way in the form of a business accelerator, and we invest follow-on funds in the top companies that come through our business accelerator program. So, that’s for investors. For entrepreneurs, we’re a business accelerator, kind of a startup factory. We focus on ancillary products and services. We do not invest in any businesses that touch the plant for a lot of reasons. We love software, technology and services in any mix that can combine to solve the industry’s acute business problems in a unique way.

So, we’re looking for and wanting to solve the problems of the businesses that touch the plant. Generally, those licensed business that cultivators, extractors, infused products companies and dispensaries. For the entrepreneurs we’ll invest $30,000 in each company that we accept into our 16-week business accelerator program, which we modeled off of Tech Stars. During that 16 weeks, our investment community will review the companies and make recommendations for follow-on funding, usually in the form of a $50k convertible not, but we can do more. Everything culminates well with multiple demo day events where we bring in investors, industry pros, VIPs and media. Then for another month we help the teams with fundraising. For mentors and industry folks, it’s a way for them to engage in some of the most interesting dynamic and innovative startups coming into the cannabis industry. So, it’s pretty inclusive for a lot of people, and we love it.

Matthew: So, when we first talked it was back in 2014, and we met at The Cup there in Boulder, and you were telling me about this was more like a concept then, and then it just launched. Now it seems like CanopyBoulder is mature. It’s fully mature. You have an ecosystem. You have graduates. You have investors. It’s firing on all cylinders, but let’s just kind of rewind. What’s your life been like? This transition from the conception of CanopyBoulder to where you are now, to this full ecosystem of investors, entrepreneurs, all that’s happening. How has your life changed? How has your perspective on CanopyBoulder changed?

Patrick: You know, we have a bigger team. We have more experience. We have a larger ecosystem. So, I don’t know if we’re completely mature. I have a lot of friends that would probably never connect that word with me. Life gets better and better every day. We’re really, I think, executing on the original strategy, improving our tactics generally, and expanding that ecosystem of founders and mentors, industry pros, partners, investors every day. Sometimes I look at the numbers, and I’m just blow away. I mean, because so many people plan, but turning those plans into reality is like threading a needle while surfing pipeline. It’s such a hard thing to do and so many things have to come to place at the same time to make things work, and we’ve just been blessed through building a really great team, having great partners and engaged mentors and an alumni network that still comes around and helps out and does mentor presentations and shows up and makes instructions for the new teams.

We had an idea and did a bunch of research that indicated this model, this business accelerator model would work in the cannabis industry, but you never know until it starts to happen. It’s happening. So, we’re really excited about that.

Matthew: How would you say the entrepreneurs have evolved since the first cohort? How they’ve changed? Did they morph as the industry morphed, or is there any other differences that you’ve noted?

Patrick: The entrepreneurs are stronger. We certainly, in our first class, we had a really strong cohort. I know a number of them have been interviewed on the CannaInsider podcast. I think you’d probably agree that there are some teams in there with just really impressive people.

Matthew: Yeah definitely.

Patrick: By in large, the quality and the pedigree of the entrepreneurs and the teams that apply for the program is increasing and they’re more complete folks that really have that sort of entrepreneur product fit. They’re more complete teams. Fewer solo founders. It’s gotten better for sure. Still one of the biggest challenges in our business model is finding the entrepreneurs and the teams that are investment ready and worthy investment. We spend a lot of time in this big ecosystem that has been created around Canopy is really helpful in sort of herding those strong entrepreneurs into the program and we’re very grateful for that.

Matthew: How do you and your cofounder, Micah Tapman, divide responsibilities? How does that look?

Patrick: First off, really there’s four founders of Canopy, myself, Micah. We had an early stage seed investor out of Lake Forest, Illinois, Mark, who also is a cofounder. Then ArcView is a partner, and I like to consider them a cofounder of Canopy as well. So, we really have four, but from an operating standpoint, it’s Micah, myself and the staff. Micah is a perfect example of a cofounder that can really make a dramatic impact on teams’ capabilities, and we stress this to the founders here as well all the time. It’s always about team when you’re launching a business because you’re going to have to zig and zag and you need somebody that can zig and zag there right with you and support you on the down days and really amplify the up days.

I like to joke that Micah started law school around the age of five at the dining room table. His father, Ken, advised a lot of businesses that were working with tribes to build out oil and gas pipelines in the U.S., which is a very complicated business from a legal perspective. Ken is also now a thought leader in arbitration and mediation. Micah is very good with legal contracts, sometimes better than some of the lawyers we work with. He’s really good with business models, strategy and working towards shared, collaborative, positive outcomes amongst groups. So, he’s a real master here. It’s great to have him aboard. I couldn’t ask for a better partner.

In addition, Micah CanopyVentures, and that’s the growth fund that we’re raising for to focus on investments in the companies that make it to that growth stage where the company has found product market fit and the growth slope becomes really steep, capital is need to keep up with demand, not to generate it. We still have the early stage fund and the accelerator model, but we’re growing in to that next level up to support, not only the companies that come through and graduate from Canopy, but to seize on the opportunities with companies that don’t come through Canopy that we assess and think are right for investment as well at the right terms.

Matthew: Smart. Why limit yourself if you don’t have to. That’s a great idea, to work with other entrepreneurs too that didn’t go through the accelerator.

Patrick: Yeah. We get calls all the time from folks who want our help. I mean, we’ve invested in 73 companies, over 80 direct investments in these companies. You build up a lot of experience doing that. I think what we’d like to do is help not only the companies that are not coming through the program with investment, but also make sure that the other investors that come in and we build syndicates, we’re coming in at good terms that are fair and that are supportive to the entrepreneur but also balance in a way that will eventually be a win for the investor as well.

Matthew: There are other accelerators, most notably TechStars, looking to make a virtual accelerator model. TechStars is based there in Boulder, I should mention. What do you think about that model? What’s your thoughts on it? Does that take away from obviously some of the benefits of being together? Do you think it could work? Would it have to be a hybrid model where there’s some time in person or some time away? What do you think about that in general?

Patrick: Yeah, we’re very supportive of education, and we believe very strongly in give first mentality that TechStars has led with since day one. We’re very close with the TechStars group. They’re offices are very close to ours, and we’re very lucky to have a good relationship with them. We’re really comfortable right now with our approach that brings the team to Colorado for a very specific reason. There are advantages, very specific advantages, for ancillary products and services companies to find their footing in Colorado, in the cannabis industry. The reason is that the industry here is “mature”, relative to the other states.

Growth is starting to slow, but it’s still robust and a very safe and business friendly environment for not on the ancillary companies but the licensed producers. We talk to and stay very close to a lot of license producers, cultivators, the edibles, the extractors, the dispensaries. What we started hearing from them, which is very interesting, is that they’re not just trying to keep up with demand. They’ve got their head down in their business all the time, and they can barely take a day off. Things have shifted in the market and these CEOs are no longer just trying to figure out how to keep up with demand, but now they’re looking for ways to compete and steal market share from their competitors.

This has been a real interesting shift over the last 12 months here. I know you would see this right away, if you were back in town, but when you talk to these CEOs they get very specific, and we’ve heard it from a couple of them, that they’re no longer working in their business, they’re working on their business, which means they’re looking for the tech, the data, the software, the media, things that are going to give them a competitive edge. So, the business accelerator model works, and it’s great for the cannabis industry, but in Colorado, on the ground here, we think there’s a distinct advantage for the startups and the companies that come out and try to find their footing here because of that shift in the market, which isn’t really happening anywhere else right now.

Matthew: That’s really interesting. Tell me, what’s the minimum amount of money that is necessary to contribute to CanopyBoulder to become involved? I know you mentioned $50,000 convertible note. What are the different entry points?

Patrick: For investors we do have a minimum, but we find a way for people to be involved, through SPDs and the like. I’m happy to talk offline with any accredited investors about that. You can reach me at Patrick@canopyboulder.com at any point. We have opportunities for investors to come in to our funds always, if they’re accredited. We’ve got 70+ companies as well that are out there raising capital to fuel their businesses. If an investor wants to get involved in investing in the cannabis industry, I strongly recommend that they go to www.canopyboulder.com.

Matthew: What would you say is your number one or number two question, your most common questions you get from prospective investors or even current investors? What are they asking you that you hear over and over?

Patrick: Valuation is always a question. Valuation in the cannabis industry is an interesting thing. Certainly now we know pretty quickly where a company’s valuation should be, just based on the volume of experience that we’ve had. Not only are we making our own investments and negotiating terms, but we’re watching the teams go out and raise capital from outside investors, and we help with that. We’ll get involved and be a independent third party data point for another investor, for a team that’s come through Canopy and participated in that fundraising.

So, valuation is one of those things that every investor thinks that cannabis companies should have a discount on their valuation because it’s cannabis, and every entrepreneur thinks there should be a premium on their valuation because it’s cannabis. So, usually we all end up where we should, but sometimes it takes some good conversation and understanding and listening to make sure that we get there. So, valuation is a big one.

A lot of the time also we get investors that we’re introduced to and we have a talk with them and we try to understand their motivations, why cannabis and what areas they want to invest in. Have they made any investments already? We do a lot of consulting, unofficial consulting for these investors. Certainly more formalized consulting with our fund investors and our colleagues that are running funds here to help them make better decisions. We often hear from an investor that their friend has an inside track on this deal. At this point, we know the core questions to ask about virtually every segment in the industry. We spend a fair amount of time helping investors get up to speed and make maybe more informed decisions than they will on their own with their buddy who brought them a deal.

Matthew: Do you ever see investors get involved and be advisors for some of the entrepreneurs?

Patrick: Absolutely. One of the things that we’re trying to cultivate here at Canopy is more engagement. There’s a lot of investment funds out there and investors. They’re nice when they’re raising money, but then afterwards it’s kind of like a black box. The whole fund becomes this secretive thing and all the companies and what’s going on. We’re really an open model. We believe that this industry, and especially the companies that are starting in this industry, need all the support they can get, and that they need to be open to sort of the universe, and everyone who is involved, whether it’s mentors, industry people, media, to help.

We’re very supportive of that kind of concept where an investor becomes an active advisor. Maybe even become, and we’ve had a couple teams where this has happened, an investor, actually a mentor has become an investor and then joined the team. You can get some great experience on your team that way and really fill in some gaps on your team’s expertise by targeting specific mentors and investors. Right now we have a couple hundred mentors on our list that want to be active with the companies. We’ve got about 2,500 investors that have reached out to us and said they want to invest in either our funds or the companies that come out of the program. So, it’s a big community. It takes a fair bit of time to manage that.

Matthew: Okay let’s pivot to the entrepreneurs. Can you highlight a couple success stories from the different cohorts?

Patrick: Yeah, sure. Honestly every company that graduates from the program, because it’s a grind and it’s very demanding, I consider that a success. We have had a handful of teams, a couple handfuls of teams, that have done exceptionally well. BDS Analytics is one of those companies. It was a team that graduated from our first class in 2015 and they’re doing point of sale data and research and analytics for the cannabis industry. So, they collect all the data, the checkout data from the dispensaries and then they sort of mill it together, normalize it and sell that to the brands and companies that are interested in what’s really selling and what’s driving the market, not what they hear in the sales pitch from a vendor, but what’s really happening at the store level.

Roy, one of the cofounders, he was my first boss at a venture capital firm in Rhode Island, and we stayed in touch for 15-16 years and then kind of lured him into the space with this great idea because no one was doing it. We knew that it was going to be something that everybody would want, not just the brands or a CEO, but a marketing manager and even investors. They want to know what the truth is. How can you get to the real numbers? That’s one.

Wurk was founded by Keegan Peterson down in Denver, and that’s another success story where again there weren’t many, if any, players that were going after payroll processing and HR management. WE know that is a not sexy category. It’s not like VR or AI or something that is on trend right now, but as a business, it is incredibly sexy. You’re CFO is going to get really excited about this one where you have really high retention. You have really solid monthly recurring revenue and growth, and then exit multiples are astronomical in a very active M&A market.

The third I’d probably point to is Front Range Biosciences. That’s a situation where we had one of our mentors, Nick Hoffmeister, who had been a mentor at TechStars and raised a quarter of billion dollars for companies that he had started or worked with in the past. Had this idea and a team of entrepreneurs in the biotech space, and he utilized Canopy’s program and sort of wrangled them together. We made an investment in them and they’ve done exceptionally well. They’re doing tissue culture work right now, clean stock clones and things like that. Solving some major problems in the industry. All the teams, these founders have done this elsewhere, and they’re bringing over their skillsets to the cannabis industry, and they’re doing a great job building a community of supportive investors, advisors, board members around them that are there for them when they hit little speed bumps, as ever business will, they have really built a strong community around them.

Matthew: Anything you see in common among the entrepreneurs where they seem to get momentum and keep it? Because sometimes there’s these initial bursts and excitement, but since there’s not a proven business model yet, that fades quickly. When you see the spark and then the traction is there anything you can say there, any themes or trends you see where you see the pattern over and over again? Like this entrepreneur has the spark, has traction and then turns it into momentum.

Patrick: Well, I mean, I think it’s just generally their approach. The common threads that we see with the entrepreneurs, they listen. We say, you have two ears and one mouth, use them in that order. Engage and listen, be inquisitive, ask questions, take that feedback, work with your team and engage with the appropriate people to execute on these ideas. Inquisitiveness, great communication skills. They have that sort of entrepreneur market fit that they’ve done it and they have credibility and the right to win at what they’re doing. So, they have that expertise.

They even keel generally. They’re not erratic, or not horribly erratic, which enables them to be very decisive when they need to be. We had one of our founders hire in a senior member to his team recently who he had worked for in the past. So, kind of the same situation I had with Roy. This guy had been his boss, and things weren’t working out. It became apparent very quickly that this guy was just not the right fit, and that founder moved decisively and let him go. Now we’re working to find a replacement and that’s not easy. At the same time, life isn’t easy, business isn’t easy, and these are the hard things that you got to be ready and able to do. When you see those things happen you just got to really, it really bolsters your confidence in the people that you’ve invested in.

Matthew: So, you teach a lot of skills at CanopyBoulder that some entrepreneurs don’t have, specifically around negotiation and pitching and things like that. Can you tell us about that? How you get the entrepreneurs ready to talk to investors, ready to pitch their value proposition and so forth.

Patrick: A business accelerator is designed, in my opinion, it should be designed to be a very intensive process. There’s a lot you need to learn to be able to run a business, to do the sort of thrust and parry with investors and customers and partners and employees. So, we do a lot of mentor presentations and educational sessions. One thing that we focus on is venture finance and bringing everyone up to speed on the art and the science of raising capital, managing investors and connecting capital raise to your business.

We spend a lot of time talking about and making sure everybody understands venture capital, because if you’re going to go out and raise money, you will have investors that will try to throw you curveballs, or use one of multiple terms for the same thing to see if you get tripped up. It happens. People try to do that with me and I hear stories. We spend a lot of time there. We also spend a lot of time, almost every one on one meeting we have with a team. There are questions that come up and we say early on we’re not here to be the interim CEO. We just want to help you make better decisions. We encourage the teams to do the research. The saying is, we don’t care what you think, we care what a lot of other people think who will be your customers, your partners. So, go out and do the research. Get out of your head and out of your business plan and get in the market.

Pitching is a big thing as well. We’ll do pitch practice every week until demo day. Sometimes we’ll do multiple pitch practices per week. What we’re trying to do is make sure that those teams are very clear, there’s no confusion. It’s super apparent what they’re saying and how they’re going to do it. Communication is like pitching and catching. Somebody’s got to be able to catch what you’re throwing. A lot of the times you may be talking to what you think is one of the world’s most sophisticated investors and experienced people who have no idea anything about the business that you’re talking to them about. You got to keep it really simple and break it down to the fundamentals for everyone, and just go into meetings making sure that you are continually informing and educating and checking in and making sure people are picking up what you’re laying down. So, we spend a lot of time doing that.

Matthew: Well, now that you’ve mentioned it in terms of someone trying to use a different term for the same thing, I want to do a Jujitsu reversal on you, and ask you, can you give us an idea what that is. Because there’s people that don’t want to get tripped up and they want to catch that. Is there anything that you can tell us like, hey, if someone asks you this in this way and then this in another way, this is what they’re trying to get at or they’re trying to trip you up. Anything you can say here?

Patrick: In venture finance there’s a lot of terms that kind of mean the same thing. Discounts and coupons and (29:01 unclear). People will throw you curveballs. What I’ll do in the office in meetings or in pitch practice I’ll say okay I’m going to put my prickish VC cap on right now, so get ready. Then you just put on a different persona and you can just go after people and rip into them. I’ve been on the other side of the table where the entrepreneurs are and had a venture capitalist just lay into me or investors just really go after minute details and nuanced parts of a contract. It can really get you off base.

Often what they’re doing is they’re trying to assess you in how you react to stress and challenge, not necessarily how you’re going to act. When you’re uncomfortable and you’re stressed it’s really important to maintain calm and clarity and make sure you understand what they’re talking about. It’s okay to say you don’t know, and defer to your team. We coach the teams that if some investor is going deep on something, say, that is a great question that I don’t have the answer to, but what I can do is let’s schedule a call and I’ll have my lawyer or I’ll have my CFO or I’ll have somebody on, and we’ll workshop this one. I want to make sure you are completely comfortable with what we’re doing here. Sound good. Do the parry, deflecting off to another meeting is sometimes all you need to do.

Matthew: Yeah, I know what you mean. It’s okay as long as it stays in the realm of constructive, but sometimes, you’re right, you just someone that’s like I’m just going to move into the agitation gear and see if I can ruffle some feathers, and I just want to see what happens.

Patrick: It’s going to happen, it’s going to happen in life. In any relationship you’re going to have a moment where it moves into that uncomfortable zone. How you handle that is sometimes more important than how you handle the good times. Because if you can make it through those moments of agitation and uncomfortableness with someone, you then built another sort of block in the foundation of a relationship with someone. We definitely put our teams through that on a regular basis. In pitch practice, every week we do pitch practice and we say, after somebody’s done their pitch we say all right investors, what questions do you have. So, everybody in the group starts asking questions as if they were an investor. Then we’ll say okay, let’s shift to feedback and then we give feedback. It’s sort of like a dress rehearsal for the Q&A I guess.

Matthew: Let’s talk about pitches just a little bit more because investors want to use their time efficiently and give feedback to entrepreneurs, and entrepreneurs want to have a great pitch deck. So, if you were to wave a magic wand and give a perfect pitch deck template to an entrepreneur listening, what would it look like in terms of length, the number of slides, the size of the font, what not to include, what to include?

Patrick: That’s one of the first sessions that we do here. Right now I’m looking out and everybody has posted up on Windows, the walls, their first version of their pitch decks. We’re Tuesday in the second week of the program. It’s very important to keep it simple. We practice for a pitch in front of a room full of investors as our primary content piece. What do you need to pitch in front of a room of investors that are sitting around. You got a screen behind you. In that one, you want to keep the deck very visual. The more words, and there’s actually research that goes to support this, the more words and numbers that you have on a slide, the less effective of a communication tool that that slide will be.

We encourage the teams strongly to have strong visuals that support the narrative, because if your investors are reading your screen, they’re not listening to you or they’re just partially listening to you. They might miss some of the nuance that you’re trying to communicate. In addition, if they’re reading and they rip through the content of the deck and they reach for their smartphone, you just lost them. The smartphone is your enemy. You want to keep their attention and keep them nodding and following along as long as you possibly can.

Ideally we’re targeting a five minute pitch, and in that five minute pitch we want them to grab attention immediately. We want them to identify and to find a problem, a very acute market problem quickly. We want them to quantify that market or that problem. It’s not the size of the cannabis industry. It’s the size of the target addressable market that your business will specifically solve a problem for. So, then you want to go into the solution. How do you solve this for this problem? If you have a demo, can you show the demo? No, live demos. That’s always a recipe for disaster. Screen capture videos, animating, whatever you can do. Demo. Then talking about your team. Who’s going to do this and why are they uniquely qualified to be successful.

What have you done so far? What kind of traction do you have in the market or with your idea? That’s another important thing to show some data points and be tracking certain data points. Ideally they’re moving up and to the right. Then you want to talk about timeline. What are the financials, rough financials of the business? You know they’re going to be wrong. You just want to avoid that sort of crazy hockey stick or something that won’t tie to your more detailed financial model. You want to communicate how you’re going to make money. What’s your investment ask? How much are you raising and what sort of valuation metrics or caps or whatnot? What runway that’s going to give you. How are you going to use the funds. And then we like the teams to wrap up with those three reasons why they want to invest or investors will want to invest. Why they’re special. Of course at the end you want to say thank you.

Matthew: Great summary. That’s very helpful. For prospective and current entrepreneurs that are listening and are wondering is CanopyBoulder a fit for me? Am I too young, too old? Am I the wrong type of person. I’m not very techy, or I’m too nerdy? There’s a lot of ways people disqualify themselves in their mind where they say oh I’m not a fit for this or I am. Maybe you can tell us who you think is a good candidate and what you’re looking for.

Patrick: I think good candidates are folks that have experience in what they’re wanting to do. If their business is very IP heavy, they understand intellectual property. If they are data heavy business that they want to do, then they understand data and analytics. That’s really important. Age? Certainly if you’ve never worked really in a business before, or you don’t have any startup experience, maybe you should go and get some experience first before you launch into that first startup. For folks who have more experience, you’re in high demand. Investors really appreciate more seasoned managers and business people who come into the industry. They definitely have a better chance of raising money for sure.

Matthew: Patrick, I like to ask a few personal development questions for listeners to get a sense of who you are. With that, is there a book that has had a big impact on your life or way of thinking that you’d like to share?

Patrick: Yeah absolutely. There’s really two books, and they both were published by folks who have been a part of or have founded or have cofounded TechStars. The first one is Venture Deals. That is really a great primer for venture capital and venture investments. The idea is it’s written for entrepreneurs so they can be smarter than your VC or smarter than your lawyer in a negotiation. It really is something that I would highly recommend any aspiring entrepreneur read or download and listen to while they’re going for a jog or a walk or a bike ride. Very important to make sure that you know how and when and where and why people invest, and when, where, how people raise money.

The second book is Do More Faster, and it’s a real great foundational piece that helps the entrepreneurs that come into the Canopy program understand how we need to work. An accelerator is a set period of time generally, compared to an incubator, which it often doesn’t have deadlines. We’re also investing, so we want the teams to come in and be doers. They want to get things done and Do More Faster is a grouping of little stories that cover all sorts of different things, from avoiding cofounder conflict to optimizing your email communications, to any number of the things that we’re going to cover in the program here. So, it’s a great book to read and use to think about a lot of the important things that you’re going to cover when you are starting a business.

Matthew: Is there a tool, web-based or otherwise, that you consider vital to your day to day productivity?

Patrick: Yeah, absolutely. I’ve got three. Slack. Slack is our internal messaging service that we have all the teams on. We encourage all the teams to get their teams on it. Again, something that TechStars uses and is really a great way to get your team out of your inbox. It works really great, sort of these private text and chat ribbons for business. The second is Calendy. It’s a scheduling tool for folks. The thing I probably like to avoid most in my job is that nauseating email back and forth trying to set up a phone call. Can you do it at this time or that time? Sometimes I’ll be like hey, just to avoid this, do you want to pick a time that works for you and works for me. Here’s the link to my calendar. For the right people it works really well.

The third thing is DocSend. DocSend is this great tool that we encourage all the entrepreneurs and founders when they’re putting together better due diligence packets to put it up on DocSend. What you can do is kind of like Dropbox or Google Drive, but it has all these analytics. So, you put a password on a document, upload it to DocSend and send that to an investor, he or she clicks on the link, puts in the password. You get an alert. They’ve gone and looked at your documents. Then, you can actually go in and look at their experience with your documents. So if you have a 15 slide deck, you can go and see that investor is looking at for the longest period of time. Are they interested in the finances? Are they more interested in the team? That can help you have a more productive and informed conversation with that investor.

Matthew: Very cool. You’ve got a lot of legal documents whirling around there, between entrepreneurs and investors and stuff. Do you use a tool to manage that at all?

Patrick: Yeah. We have a great group of law firms that we work with, and they help keep everything together, but that’s just one of those things where you’ve got to be organized and diligent about tracking, organizing and keep tabs on all the investment documents. It’s one of the easiest things to drop, and I’m not saying I’m perfect or we’re perfect with it, but yeah we have a ton of legal docs. We use a Google Drive for our teams where we put in all those things from subscription agreements to safe templates to convertible notes to operating agreements, IP assignment and contractor. We’ve got a library of legal documents that we give to the teams. That can be a massive savings for them when they’re trying to develop their own stuff.

Matthew: That’s great. Well, Patrick, how can listeners connect with you and find CanopyBoulder?

Patrick: We believe very firmly that there’s nothing better than showing up. So, we’re right downtown Boulder. If you’re interested in being involved in the cannabis industry, we strongly encourage you to come out to Colorado and spend a day or two just seeing what it’s really like. Because sometimes media representations of what’s actually happening aren’t necessarily accurate. We love to have people into the office to sit in. If you’re an entrepreneur, reach out to us through www.canopyboulder.com, and we can schedule some time for you to sit in and learn about what’s going on.

For investors, same thing. We have a whole forum on www.canopyboulder.com where you can go and express your interest. Again, we’ll reach out to you, follow up, profile, get an understanding of what you’re trying to accomplish and try to honestly help you make better business decisions because I think the more and better business decisions that we can all make, the healthier this industry is going to be. On social media, I’m pretty active on Twitter @patrickrea. We’re very accessible all the time because we’re trying to build this really fun, exciting, helpful community so we welcome all comers.

Matthew: That’s great, and I want to encourage any listeners that are serious entrepreneurs and also accredited investors to reach out to Canopy because we need everybody to make this the biggest industry in the United States. We really need talented people out there, both in the investor community and entrepreneurs. I’ve had people ask me if it’s too late. I’m like are you kidding me? It’s not too late. It’s nowhere near too late. This is perfect timing. Please reach out to Patrick and Patrick thanks so much for coming on and telling us what’s happening in the investor/entrepreneur realm, and I wish you all the best for this cohort. I’m sure we’ll be having some of them on the show to let listeners hear what they’re doing.

Patrick: Thank you Matt. We are having a great time, and the vision of helping the industry grow is something we’re working on every day. You’re doing that as well, and I just want to applaud you for what you’ve accomplished and what you’ve done also for the industry as well. It’s something that should not be overlooked at any point. So, thank you.

Matthew: Thank you Patrick.

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