Tell us about yourself?
I am a native Texan who grew up in Houston, went to college in the Chicago area and moved to NYC for 8 years to work on Wall Street. My wife and I moved back to Houston in 1994 and have two children.
I grew up as a fan of cannabis legalization, but my views were based on my political philosophy, libertarianism, and not from my joy of consuming, which took place as an adult.
I have been running a subscription service for investors interested in cannabis stocks, since 2013 (420 Investor), and my partner, Joel Theard, and I started New Cannabis Ventures in 2015.
New Cannabis Ventures, which is supported by corporate advertising, is free to the public. We provide the most important industry news and conduct about 8 interviews a month of public and private companies.
We offer resources like our seven cannabis stock indices as well as a revenue tracker that allows our readers to stay on top of the revenues generated by leading public companies along with their profitability.
What lessons has being an entrepreneur taught you?
I have learned from both 420 Investor and New Cannabis Ventures that pleasing the consumers of these platforms is the most important thing I can do.
I have learned as well that being early can yield substantial returns. I think as well being highly consistent and not too fancy has helped me achieve success.
If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
Back in 2013, I sold only monthly subscriptions. My service went from zero subscribers in September, when I launched 420 Investor, to 2000 six months later. As the market pulled back, my subscriber count dropped dramatically.
I learned quickly that monthly subscription isn’t a good idea commercially in a hot area like cannabis. I moved to only annual subscriptions later, and this is the right way to build a business with volatile levels of interest.
A lot of entrepreneurs find it difficult to balance their work and personal lives. How have you found that?
I am a workaholic, so, yes, balance is difficult! My devotion to work is very full. I spend every single day working on the cannabis industry. In the past, I clocked my work-week at 75-80 hours per week. In April, on Good Friday and my 32nd anniversary, I went for a ride on my bicycle.
I was riding in a bike lane near downtown Houston and was the victim of a hit-and-run driver. I was almost killed and spent two months in the hospital recovering. I have never been happier in my life than now, though I am not yet fully recovered physically.
I was not able to work at all for about 45 days, and my businesses survived. I used my downtime to think about how I can make my life better and am excited about the paths I am pursuing. A more balanced life is a big part of my plan!
Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?
Neither Joel nor I are media industry veterans, and there was a lot we didn’t like about cannabis industry news reporting when we launched. NCV was very different from the existing group of companies that were covering the cannabis industry 7 years ago!
What do you think is your magic sauce? What sets you apart from the competitors?
The greatest difference between ourselves and our competitors is our focus on high-quality companies and our unwillingness to take money to say good things about our advertisers.
Our readers appreciate our taking the higher path! I think they also appreciate how we have built NCV as a fact-based entity that puts the reader at the top in terms of priorities.
How have you found sales so far? Do you have any lessons you could pass on to other founders in the same market as you just starting out?
After a slow start for the first 15 months, business has boomed! We understand that the industry and interest in it can be cyclical, so we do experience lower years financially at times.
We are in the middle of a bear market in cannabis stocks that has weighed on our revenue in 2022. We remain profitable! We have always been focused on controlling our expenses.
What is the biggest challenge you have faced so far in your business, and how did you overcome it?
As I mentioned above, I was nearly killed in April while riding my bicycle. With my future outlook not well understood at the time, the business had to replace me in the short-term and think about the long-term if I didn’t recover well. Kudos to my partner, Joel! He motivated our team to get the work done.
Our workers took on some additional responsibilities, and we stuck to our schedule of weekly newsletters and monthly industry reports. I think that there is a lesson here for the readers: Don’t make the business too dependent upon any individual!
What do you consider are the main strengths of operating your business in Texas over other states in the US?
We are an internet company, so we could be based anywhere and do our work. We like the low cost of doing business in the state.
Are there any disadvantages of operating our business in Texas?
We love that there is no state income tax. The Franchise Tax is not very costly. Being in Texas prevents us, though, from soliciting investment from our readers for our clients.
Texas has a pretty diverse population. How have you found the quickly changing demographics have impacted your business? Have you got new opportunities? Managed to expand your business into new areas?
We work with cannabis companies or companies serving the cannabis industry only, so we have no clients currently in the state given the illegality of cannabis for the most part.
The state’s medical program is tiny in terms of the number of patients, and there are just three licensed companies struggling currently .
It is often reported that, in Texas, politics and business are intertwined. Have you noticed this? Has it impacted your business?
Being based in Texas hasn’t been a problem for us at all and hasn’t impacted us at all. Now the cannabis industry is bad in Texas! For a lot of reasons, we are looking forward to Texas, which has a terrible medical cannabis program, moving to adopt adult-use legalization in the future.
We aren’t holding our breath until then, but we envision the state as having perhaps the best adult-use program once it implements it. Texas has a lot of cannabis consumers through the illicit market and a lot of strong entrepreneurs that are currently locked out. What a win for so many people in the future!
With rising prices across Texas (and the US as a whole) have you been impacted? Do you have a plan for dealing with inflation going forward?
I believe inflation has hurt our customers and potential customers a bit, but we aren’t seeing any of our prices rise substantially. No, we don’t have a plan.
What do you want to accomplish in the next 5 years with your business?
We have been very focused on North America only (Canada and the U.S.) and primarily on retail investors interested in cannabis stocks. We have no plans to move outside of cannabis, but we envision geographic coverage expansion and a shift towards institutional investors.
And finally, if people want to get involved and learn more about your business, how should they do that?
Email us at [email protected]! If you want to talk to us, send an email requesting that, and we will schedule a call.