I had the pleasure of interviewing Adelia Carrillo, CEO of Direct Cannabis Network. DCN is a leading digital B2B news network covering the latest tech, entrepreneurs and innovative companies in the cannabis industry. To date we have featured over 100’s of entrepreneurs and 1,000’s of startups in the cannabis industry, they are being viewed in all 50 States and 190 countries and have done this with no marketing budget and organic growth.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What made you fall in love with Cannabis?
Cannabis allowed me to fully become me. Almost 5 years ago now, I was experiencing a life-changing moment, my fiancé and I found out I was pregnant. Quickly after, I was rushed to the emergency room and was told I had to have emergency surgery which led to pregnancy loss. Following the surgery, I fell into depression, I could barely leave the house without having a full blown anxiety attack and the medication was not helping me recover, as a last resort I turned to cannabis. Almost immediately, I began to notice a difference physically and mentally within me. I became intrigued by cannabis, I began learning about the history of this plant, the medicinal benefits and why it became a schedule 1 drug. From there I knew I wanted to educate others on this plant but didn’t yet know how. I began looking up the things I enjoy which are tech, startups, and entrepreneurship. I saw a missing voice and ecosystem for cannabis entrepreneurs which led to the development of Direct Cannabis Network. All of this led me down a path of discovery, of self-love, of confidence, of awareness and strength pushing me to become an even better human more and more each day. I still have my bad days, but I would not be the woman I am today without the help of cannabis healing me through a moment where I was completely lost and in pain both physically and emotionally and that is why I love cannabis.
What do you think makes you & your company stand out? Can you share a story?
DCN has put a focus on the entrepreneur with the landscape always growing in cannabis media, DCN has made it a mission to build an ecosystem for the entrepreneurial community that provides a voice for the startups, a platform for the professionals and a community for the entrepreneurs. We also have aligned our values with our mission and decided that we wanted to do things differently by putting a focus on original content, avoiding a “pay for play” model and not covering our website with banner ads. This has led to having to get creative in growing and monetizing but we believe that building an ecosystem and community aligned with our values is more important and will benefit DCN and our ecosystem for the long run.
What do you wish you knew before entering the cannabis industry? Give us the Good/Bad/Ugly
I always knew to launch a business you would be on this endless roller coaster, however, I had no idea that building a business in cannabis would be even longer and filled with more loops, ups, curves, and downs. Almost every day you are faced with an unknown challenge you would never have to face in another industry, like banking issues, insurance gets canceled, account services being dropped. However, I also wish I knew about the community and relationships that would evolve and how they would be so much more meaningful because you would be meeting other individuals who were just as passionate about the plant as I was.
Are you working on any new or exciting projects?
We are launching our new invite-only dinner series event called Unplugged for cannabis founders and investors, first dinner event will be in San Diego.
What advice would you give to other leaders in the cannabis space to help them thrive?
Build a strong support team, ideally with mentors, other founders in other companies and even other industries. Entrepreneurship can be a lonely journey at times and sometimes you will have so many moving parts that it is good to be able to connect with other humans who are not necessarily living and breathing the day to day that you are in your business. This will allow for fresh eyes, new advice and a different insight to help you see things a bit clearer or to help get you out of the self-doubt funk that can creep up on you. This industry is very faced paced yet at the same time also very slow, so take your time to build and stay focused on what needs to be done. Don’t allow FOMO or the fast-paced approach start affecting you where you start moving so fast you lose focus on what is truly important and needed for the business.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
There have been many amazing humans who have helped me along the way and who I am forever thankful for, but there are three amazing women who truly have been there for me when I just wanted to completely throw in the towel. The first one is Amy Chang, CEO of Delta Nutrassentials, she has always been the voice of reason, allowing me to see both sides to every experience and situation. She is honest and realistic. The second one is Whitney Beatty, CEO of Apothecarry, I could be extremely frustrated or having a complete breakdown and she will be there listening and reminding me that it is okay to feel this way but also providing me boosts of confidence when needed and the third person is Melissa Stapley, CEO of MJ Hybrid Solutions, where we have developed a friendship where we not only motivate but push each other to tackle our goals and do the things that intimidate us but make us better leaders. This is what I mean to build a strong support team, I know I can call, text or reach out to these ladies at any time and they know they can do the same with me, but I don’t know if each of them truly know, how those conversations or little text messages actually pushed me through some rough moment and inspired me to keep going and to not give up on myself.
What are some of your pain points within the cannabis space?
I think the hardest one is seeing the disconnect between OG’s and new cannabis entrepreneurs, it’s going to be a hard moment as we try to find a balance between a community and industry. I find it so very unfortunate how many new professionals are coming into this space and have no regards on the history of this plant, how many lives were affected by the drug war and how many lives are still in prison for this same plant many others are now making money off of. And the second part is funding and having stable revenue, to be honest, however, this pain point has allowed me to get a clear understanding of what needs to be done to build stability within the company. This has led to a more strategic approach when it comes to our business model. In regards to funding, I have decided that my main focus is to build our team and focus on our revenue. My goal is to drum up the excitement for DCN and draw in the right investor who can see the long term vision and capabilities supporting a company as DCN would be for their portfolio. As our company grows our valuation increases and being able to turn this company around and have investors begin to approach us in my biggest goal I am moving towards at this time, but it truly is a day by day process.
Can you share the top five trends in Cannabis in the areas of businesses/product/innovation and technology?
I believe the top five trends are in AG Tech, Consumer Electronics, beauty products, medical tech and health, and wellness products. Each of these plays a roll with the cannabis plant and showcases….To be continued
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”?
“If you hear a voice within you saying ‘you are not a painter’ then by all means paint and that voice will be silenced.” — Vincent Van Gogh
“You get in life what you have the courage to ask for.”- Oprah Winfrey
Is there a person in the world, Past or Present whom you would like to light up with? What would you talk about?
Nikola Tesla. He made great advances in the new and still developing field of electricity. He not only introduced the idea of wireless power transmission but also predicted cellphones, TV and event elements of the internet long before any of these things existed. He was a very intelligent and amazing human who advocated for equal rights for women and wanted to make energy available to the whole world for free. I would love to discuss his thought process and his view on finding ways to evolve and better humanity. Through everything he ever achieved, he didn’t do it to become rich, I truly think he did it because he knew that humans were capable of so much more in life. Perfect example, many people may not know this but it would only take 0.6% of the surface area of the United States to power the entire country with renewable solar power.
Jilea Hemmings is the CEO & Co-Founder of Green Nyle. She is running a series on Leaders In The Cannabis Industry.