C49. Gate C49 at Denver International Airport to be exact. It stands that Southwest Airlines always has their gates in the most remote parts of the biggest airports. I imagine the gate fees are cheaper. In any case, that’s where I am writing this post.
For the last 8 weeks I’ve been looking hard at a space that has interested me for a long time. I’ve traveled around, talked with people and started testing some of my thoughts around this “new” industry. As a serial entrepreneur, I love emerging markets that haven’t been fully-defined. They have so many challenges and opportunities.
And that’s exactly why I’m going into the marijuana business.
Let’s be honest; the horse has left the barn with respect to marijuana legalization. Recreational marijuana is not only going to be legal here in Oregon (thanks to the voters of this fine State), its already legal in Washington and Colorado. In addition, 22 States (containing 148M Americans) have already entered the medical marijuana game. Yes, at a Federal level, marijuana is still considered a Schedule 1 Drug but even after my brief look into the industry it looks like the momentum has finally tipped in the Pro direction.
The fact is marijuana has some amazing health benefits. From battling anxiety, relieving back-pain, fighting glaucoma, stopping seizures and even potentially stemming the tide of certain kinds of cancer. But now its headed into the mainstream and there is going to be a whole new swath of consumers that will be trying marijuana for the first time. What does that mean and how is it going to play out?
The opportunities, technology and advances being made in the marijuana industry over the last few years is nothing short of amazing. From massive indoor grow operations, advances in extraction, edibles, vaporizers and then an entire pick-axe-and-shovel opportunity around implementing the rules and regulations with software, packaging, growing equipment, etc. There is just so MUCH to think about.
Big business is taking note as well. Earlier this month Privateer Holdings, a Seattle-based private equity firm that owns stakes in several marijuana enterprises, raised $75M from well-known Silicon Valley investor Peter Thiel. In the last 2 years over $100M has been spent snapping up marijuana-related companies and the trend is looking like it will continue. Last year alone over $90M was invested by venture capitalists across some 2 deals. By some estimates this is projected to be a $40B market by 2019. The tax revenue implications are huge and Colorado is already reaping the benefits on $45M in recreational and medical sales in 2014 alone.
What’s interesting to me is what the interaction will be between the established growers/distributors and this new wave of investment and mainstream entrepreneurs entering the market. The term I have heard in my discussions is when the “Grows meet the Pros”. This is one of my biggest questions (and concerns) as I look at the market.
Oregon has a reputation as a premier producing state. People talk about the marijuana that is grown here all over the world. I’ll be damned if we’re going to let this massive market pass us by like tech did in the 90's.
Ask just about anybody I’ve had coffee with in the last 5 years and they will tell you I’m rather transparent about my business dealings. This time is going to be no different. I don’t know exactly what I’m going to do in this space (well, I have an idea) but its just too much of Wild West opportunity not to look at. So, I’m going to use this space as a way to think through what the best opportunity is going to be. I’ll also share exactly what I’ve learned as well as my conversations and learnings as I travel the country talking to people about what the Marijuana New World Order will look like.
Won’t you join me? :-)