Matthew Morgan, CEO, OneQor
How Matt Morgan, a misfit from Montana, took the booming marijuana industry by storm.
A typical life was not in the cards for Matt Morgan. Fortunately, he found an atypical career.
Growing up, he was fired from every traditional job he ever had, and when he tried college, he lasted just 10 days before dropping out. Next, Morgan became an electrician apprentice at the age of 19, still hoping to find a career path that he might enjoy. But like his previous ventures, this too was short-lived and he resigned after a year.
Having always possessed an entrepreneurial flair, Morgan did find quick success as a realtor, which would lead him in a roundabout way to the world of legalized marijuana. Finally, it was in the Wild West of the cannabis boom where Morgan found his home.
Within a three-and-a-half year period, Morgan would become one of the most recognizable leaders in the cannabis industry. He is the founder of multiple cannabis companies, such as Bloom Dispensaries and Reef Dispensaries, with the latter becoming the first in the world to hit a $100 million revenue run rate. In 2018, Morgan was named one of the most influential people in cannabis by High Times.
But as we all know, the highs are so often preceded by lows, and had there not been an financial crisis in 2008, he may have never entered the business in the first place.
Taste of Entrepreneurship
Growing up in Missoula, Montana, Morgan had a hard time finding his niche in the working world, but he did find one thing that he was quite good at, which ended up being a gateway drug to starting his own business—real estate.
“ really opened up my eyes to entrepreneurship,” Morgan says. “Running your own business. You know, basically, eat what you kill. It’s totally up to you, whether you’re going to survive or not. That’s the type of environment that I thrive in.”
And thrive he did. By the time he hit 22, Morgan became the managing partner of his own real estate company.
By early 2008, he had begun to take notice that prospective homebuyers were reaching out to him with very specific guidelines on the type of home they wanted to purchase. Not only were they asking for roughly the same amount of land, they were all specifically requesting that each home have a shop out back — a detached garage or external structure that could be used as a hobby space.
And if it didn’t have a shop, he didn’t have a deal.
This left Morgan perplexed. He had met most of their demands, and more times than not a deal fell through because of this one caveat. This finally left him to ask himself, “what’s so important about these shops?”
At the time, Montana’s legal cannabis industry had just started to boom, and people wanted in with a place to grow. This was an industry that Morgan was not in tune with at the time, but he started to pay attention to.
Then the financial crisis of 2008 hit and Morgan’s real estate business was dead in its tracks. He needed a new play.
Despite his youth, Morgan was old enough to have seen one tech boom and one housing boom, and had an itch that he may be in the presence of the next gold rush.
“All these crazy people talking about this marijuana stuff, there must be something to it,” Morgan says. “So I started digging into it.”
One day, after months of research, it became clear to him that marijuana was going to be the next big boom.
“That day I went and found a light and a warehouse and I was damned if I wasn’t going to grow some marijuana, “ Morgan says.
With the exception of spending some time on his grandparent’s farm, Morgan wasn’t that experienced in horticulture. He knew the basics of how to grow some crops, but after looking around at the competition, he felt he could succeed in marijuana.
“How hard could this be?” Morgan says. “There’s a bunch of hippies in tie-dye with hoop houses out in the wilderness growing, you know, grade-A cannabis. I’m sure I can figure it out.”
He didn’t. At least not at first.
Morgan set up a small operation in his garage, and after about 15 failed attempts, he finally found a grow system that worked. Then in 2009, he teamed up with another grower in Montana and they opened a state-of-the-art, 15,000-square-foot cultivation facility, one of the largest in the state at the time.
This new abundance of space gave them a controlled environment to grow a significant harvest of plants. Within Montana’s medicinal marijuana caregiver program, as long as you had a patient card, you were legally allowed to grow six plants per patient that you were a caregiver for. With Morgan’s patient list growing to over 500, he was legally growing over 15,000 plants. Not bad for a guy who didn’t know much about the business just one year prior.
But just as quickly as he had struck gold, a new law would bring things grinding to a halt.
Next Stop: Arizona
Per Morgan, in 2009 Missoula’s population was over 65,000 people and the city was home to over 60 dispensaries. That equates to around one dispensary for every thousand people.
In short, that’s a lot of dispensaries.
The state began to worry that the new industry was growing too quickly. So to help slow it down, Montana had an emergency legislative session and reversed its laws so that a caregiver could now only have three patients total. Instead of having 15,000 plants, Morgan was suddenly only allowed to have 18 plants total.
Once again, Morgan was stopped dead in his tracks. Feeling the cons outweighed the pros of running the facility in violation of the new laws, he shut down his operation in 2010.
Having tasted the fruits of his labor, he turned his focus elsewhere. He immediately began to look around the country for states with more favorable marijuana laws so he could scale a business.
“I knew I had the skills sets at that point, I just needed the right vehicle and platform to do so,” Morgan says.
Arizona ended up offering that platform.
The Grand Canyon State was about to roll out an extremely favorable and innovative program that was to be the first of its kind, and Morgan wanted to be a part of it. Morgan says the state’s population was also substantially larger than Montana’s, and it was going to allow a permit holder to have unlimited plants, unlimited square footage to grow, and unlimited weight in product. He felt like it was a “dream” and couldn’t wait to head south.
“I literally packed up all my stuff into my Chevy Silverado and I drove down to Arizona within that week,” Morgan says. “And literally, probably the best decision I’ve ever made. I was 25 years old.”
Upon his arrival, Morgan opened up a chain of hydroponics stores to help gain a foothold in the area and to network with the locals as he waited for the new laws to roll out. While doing so, he befriended the son of a senator who would become key in helping him land one of the state’s limited marijuana licenses. (Morgan chooses not to divulge the senator’s name during our interview.)
“These licenses were looked at as a valuable asset,” Morgan says. “There’s no way these guys are giving some kid from Montana one of these licenses that could end up being worth, you know, millions of dollars.”
His chances may have been slim, but a senator’s chances were very good.
After agreeing to terms, Morgan says he and the senator’s son partnered up and convinced the senator to put his name on the application. Soon thereafter, the two won a Sedona license through a lottery system and within four weeks after that, they purchased a Phoenix license on terms from its winner for $450,000. With two licenses under their belt, Bloom Dispensaries was well underway.
Like Morgan’s real estate business, Bloom took off, and in under a year grew to 100 employees and was generating $1 million in revenue a month.
Everyone came calling.
By 2013, Bloom was drawing national attention and was destroying its competition. This led to private equity firms and wealthy families to reach out to Morgan for advice and potential opportunities.
“People were starting to look at marijuana,” Morgan says. “It was still kind of in the shadows, but it was starting to come to the light.”
Due to Morgan’s knowledge in the space and Bloom’s exponential growth, companies wanted to replicate his success and learn his secrets. However, Morgan says one such wealthy family, worth billions, wanted to do more than talk. They wanted Morgan and offered to purchase Bloom in order to get him. However, after negotiations between the family and Bloom’s investors fell through, the family extended a proposal to only Morgan for him to come and launch their new venture.
Realizing a good opportunity when he saw it, Morgan accepted their offer. As for Bloom, he divested his shares and gave the company to his partner in order to remain on good terms. Now armed with over $100 million in capital from his new partners, Reef Dispensaries was born. And its growth was on a whole other level.
“I came out of the cannon like a cannonball,” Morgan says.
Reef quickly expanded to 200,000 square feet of cultivation, had two extraction laboratories, and six retail dispensaries, with one of them becoming the busiest dispensary in the world. And to top it off, Reef became the first cannabis company in the world to hit a $100 million run rate.
Despite the success Morgan was able to create at Reef, he says tensions began to grow between him and his partners. After months of disagreements, Morgan resigned as CEO of the company in November 2017, forcing a buyout and shocking the cannabis industry.
The Next Frontier
Morgan’s next major move took some time to develop.
Much like the beginnings of Bloom, an entrepreneur reached out to Morgan about a potential partnership. However this time, the individual challenged Morgan to look at the other chemical compounds in the cannabis plant other than THC, and to research how they were being used in the healthcare space. After spending close to a year discussing healthcare and the science on how to use cannabinoids, the two of them founded Oneqor Technologies.
“It’s really a hybrid of a biotech pharma company that’s leaning heavily on cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, excluding THC, the psychoactive one,” Morgan says.
After spending 10 years in the THC business, Morgan says he was becoming bored with the industry. Oneqor presents something new and exciting for him, plus he’s able to operate it almost like any other typical business. Working in a business that doesn’t deal with THC is a whole new frontier, and one with barely any restrictions.
And without the restrictions, Morgan’s ambitions grew.
On top of helping brands such as GNC create private label CBD products, Morgan wants Oneqor to revolutionize the market. He hopes to dominate the cannabinoid industry in the same way Intel did with computers by becoming the secondary brand.
“If you see a product and you know it has cannabinoids in it, I don’t want it to say CBD inside,” Morgan says. “I want it to say Oneqor inside.”
Matt Morgan’s Playbook for Building a Business
In a span of less than 10 years, Matt Morgan became a leader in the cannabis industry by creating Bloom Dispensaries and Reef Dispensaries, along with his new venture Oneqor Technologies. After some early growing pains, Morgan came up with his own playbook on how to grow a successful business.
Believe In Something
Many founders, especially first-time entrepreneurs, tend to look at only the financial aspect of creating a business, rather than if it’s something they actually want to do. Other times, people may start a company because they feel that the idea might be a fun thing to do.
Morgan believes, that although the financial upside is something to consider, you must also believe in the product and have passion for it if you’re looking to build a company. Otherwise, you may lose interest and not do the things needed to succeed.
“You shouldn’t pick something you want to do because you think it’s cool,” Morgan says. “You should pick something you do because you believe in it and you see a lot of upside potential. Or else, what are you doing it for?”
Look at the CEO
Morgan credits much of his early success to the teams he’s built. From building a C-suite team to hiring the employees for his stores, he believes that everyone is important. And to find those right employees, it starts at the top with the CEO. That means either looking within yourself if you’re the CEO, or by sitting down with your leader and asking them what their core values are. Skill sets are important, but if your employees don’t share the same values, the culture won’t work.
“You want to hire people that have the same core values as you, because you can’t teach people core values,” Morgan says. “They’re born with that…or their environment, whatever it may be. You can teach people anything, but you can’t teach them that.”
Another trait that Morgan says led to his success is the ability to go outside his comfort zone. He used to be a nervous wreck, he says, but wanted to rid himself of that anxiety. So beginning from the age of 20 until he was 28, he put himself in uncomfortable situations daily in order to grow as a person. This not only helped in his everyday life, but also as a professional and leader. It helped him with everything from speaking in front of 10,000 people to raising capital for his businesses. In order to succeed, you must be willing to put yourself in uncomfortable situations and get to the point where you’re calm and collected in every situation.
“Human beings have a defense mechanism and they don’t like getting out of their comfort zone,” Morgan says. “You don’t know what to say, what to do, how to operate. But that’s really your biggest growth potential as a human being, is outside of your comfort zone.”
Maintain Focus Among the Chaos
Founding your own startup can come with lots of unexpected surprises. Especially within an emerging field such as the cannabis industry, things can become chaotic as the rules are still being established. Unfortunately, there will be a lot of chaos around you, a lot of drama, and a lot of arguing. But the only thing you can do is figure out how to control your reaction to it and always remain focused on your goals. Find what makes you relaxed and focused, and master it.
“One thing that has really helped me with that is meditating,” Morgan says. “It’s really helped me, you know, keep my concentration, collect my thoughts. … There’s not really anything that can rock me mentally.”
Interview by Nathan Chan, feature article reprinted from Foundr Magazine, by Nick Allen
- A look into Morgan’s struggles to fit into the traditional working world
- How real estate became the gateway drug to entrepreneurship
- The impact of the financial crisis of 2008, and how it led Morgan into the cannabis industry
- From 15 failed attempts at growing marijuana to a patient list of over 500
- How a change in Montana’s laws sent Morgan’s business to Arizona
- The political relationships that helped the launch of Bloom Dispensaries
- How Bloom Dispensaries reached $1 million in revenue and dominated the cannabis industry
- Why Morgan decided to sell Bloom and launch Reef Dispensaries with new partners
- Growing Reef Dispensaries to become the first cannabis company to hit a $100 million run rate
- Behind Morgan’s decision to quit as Reef Dispensaries’ CEO and his next step with OneQor
Full Transcript of Podcast with Matthew Morgan
Matthew: How did I build my job?
Nathan: How did you get your job? How’d you find yourself doing the work you’re doing today?
Matthew: So I would say I always had a lot of entrepreneurial skill sets. But I just didn’t really know what that was when I was young because it really wasn’t talked about in the same way that it is today.
And I mean for example when I was in middle school the teacher would ask what every kid in the class wanted to be, and every kid would say I want to be a teacher, I want to be a scientist, I want to be a doctor, I want to be a lawyer. And now if you got to a middle school I think it’s like 80% of the kids say they want to be an entrepreneur right? I’d say our society has taken a huge swing on what they see as important for a life long career.
I got fired from every job I had, call it every traditional job, when I was growing up. I couldn’t figure out why, my family thought I was kind of a degenerate almost. And really what it was is I just didn’t like taking orders from other people, I didn’t like being told what to do. And I just didn’t, I don’t know, I felt like I could things better than most people. But they weren’t going to listen to some kid.
So I got my first career job, when I was 19, I made it in college 10 days, and I figured out a formal education was not what I was looking for. And so my first real job was as an electrician apprentice. And I did that for a little over a year until I figured out that I didn’t want to be an electrician for the rest of my life. From there I resigned and I was fortunate enough to get into a real estate school. And from there I excelled in real estate. So real estate was really the first place where it gave me enough leeway to kind of do my own thing, and create my own marketing programmes, and my own funnels, and my own leads. And then getting in and closing the deals. So it really showed me so mush about life and dealing with large sums of money, and dealing with people and their emotions on the biggest purchase of their life most of the time.
And so really that opened my eyes to entrepreneurship, running your own business, basically eat what you kill. Totally up to you whether you’re going to survive or not and that type of environment that I thrive in.
Nathan: Interesting. You’re one of the well known guys in the marijuana industry now, and you know you’ve described it as the next gold rush. So is that how you leewayed into that world? Talk to us, because that’s what I really, really want to go deep on this stuff, and you’ve done some incredible things. Like building a company from zero to eight figures in a year. You’ve done some crazy stuff so how did you get into that space?
Matthew: So I had my real estate company, I was the managing partner, I was 22 years old, I was extremely young for what I was doing. And people started calling me, and call it this is early 2008, before the financial collapse. And people are calling me and saying “Hey I’m looking for a house on 5 acres”, and they gave me all the specifications, but also what they did is they said “It has to have a large shop in the back”. So I’d go look around, find what I could find, and I would call them back. I’d be like “I found you the perfect property, exactly what you’re looking for. The only thing it doesn’t have is the shop”. And then people would say the deal is off, without the shop it’s dead. So finally I’m like what’s so important about these shops?
Well Montana had a cannabis industry that started to boom, even though I was not really in tuned with that world. So I just started hearing more and more about medical marijuana and then 2008 financial crisis rolled around and I was stopped dead in my tracks from a real estate standpoint. I was young, I was aggressive, I was arrogant and I was over leveraged extremely bad. But I didn’t know what I was doing exactly.
From there I started looking around I’m like what am I going to do? I don’t know what to do, I’m basically face planting into the concrete, and then it popped, a light bulb popped in my head, and I’m like, I was really young, but I saw the tech boom. I saw all these guys making ungodly amounts of money. Some of them knew what they were doing, some of them didn’t, right place, right time, so on and so forth. Then I saw the subprime boom, which eventually led to the financial collapse, and I saw all these guys making 20, 30, 50, 100 thousand dollars a month, sometimes if they owned these big mortgage companies they’re making way more than that.
And to me at the time that was a tonne of money. That’s when I realised about economic cycles. And how everything’s in cycles and history always repeats itself. So I’m like what’s the next big thing? There’s got to be something that’s the next big thing. And that’s when the light bulb went off in my head. And I’m like all these crazy people talking about this marijuana stuff, there must be something to it.
So I started digging in to it, and I was also observing a lot of my friends that came back from Iraqi war, who had extreme PTSD, to the point where they were taking many, many pharmaceuticals a day. And they were to the point of they would’ve ended up committing suicide if they didn’t find a natural ailment that wasn’t a pharmaceutical. They all turned to cannabis, and it literally saved their lives.
Matthew: So then I was like there’s a lot more to this plant then people are thinking. It’s not just a plant to get quote unquote high. It’s got to be a lot more medicinal benefits to this plant. So then I started taking a deeper dive on it for a few more months online, just trying to learn as much as I can, when I get fully entrenched in something I go all in. I finally made a conscious decision after a few months, that marijuana was the next big world boom.
And that day I went and found a light and a warehouse, and I was damned if I wasn’t going to grow some marijuana you know. I came off a big win in real estate at a very young age, so I’m like how hard could this be? There’s a bunch of hippies in tie dye with hoop houses out in the wilderness growing grade A cannabis, I’m sure I can figure it out. And so I went and got some clones and I went and got a grow light, and I was like I’ll set this up in my garage and I’ll figure it out and then I’ll scale. Well, it was much more challenging than I ever thought. And besides my grandparents farm I hadn’t done a whole lot of horticulture if you will or agriculture for that matter.
But I’m a quick study so after I failed about 15 times, I figured out relatively quick, partnered with a gentleman in Montana and we built out a state-of-the-art cultivation in Montana, which was about 15 thousand square feet. It was one of the larger ones in Montana, in its time. This is 2009.
Nathan: Sorry to interrupt, at that time was it just medicinal marijuana that you were growing and was that legal?
Matthew: Yes. So I’ve never, I’m not a guy to break the law, it’s just not my thing…
Nathan: I just want to have some clarity because in Australia…
Matthew: I understand…
Nathan: Sorry I was going to say in Australia here we don’t it’s not legal anywhere except medicinal so I was just curious.
Matthew: Yeah and I’ve actually been approached by several groups out of Australia so, we can get into that later if you want.
So I went and got my … card and then it was a caregiver programme, so you could grow six plants for every patient that you were a caregiver for. I ended up getting over 500 patients, and so I was legally able to go grow over 3000 plants. And so that’s what I did. I was producing high times quality cannabis out of this facility. Every person that was another caregiver always wanted to get access to our medicine. It was funny when I told my family when I was getting into marijuana, they were like, they’re conservative Montana people, so you have to remember that. They were like so let me get this straight. You want to be a drug dealer? I was like if that’s how you want to look at it yes, but there’s, this is a much bigger play than any of you guys see, just don’t have a vision like that. So obviously now it’s much different story, but at the time I thought it was pretty humorous that they were disgusted that I wanted to become a drug dealer.
So from there Montana, Montana doesn’t like change, Montana wants everything to stay how it was from the 1800s. So when you have this, the most booming industry the state has seen in many, many years, they wanted to put a stop to it immediately. So the town that I’m from is Missoula, Montana. And there’s about 65 thousand people there. And there was over 60 dispensaries in my town, that’s a dispensary for every thousand people.
Matthew: That’s unheard of. Montana brought in their emergency legislation session and they basically changed all the laws in the state. And it’s the first state in America to ever reverse their laws and they did it, and they made it so that you can only have three patients as a caregiver. Which essentially made it so I could only grow 18 plants total. And at growing over 3000 I was a little over the new limit. So I was basically stuck in a fork in the road and I had two options: either I shut it down and you lose the entire investment or you continue running it and run the risk of going to jail or prison.
After a long thought out process I decided to shut the thing down. I felt that the cons outweighed the pros and it just wasn’t worth it for me to keep running that facility and you know have to worry every day about getting arrested. So I shut her down, that was 2010. I started looking around the country for a more favourable marijuana programme where I could scale to where I wanted to get this thing to go. I knew I had the skills at that point I just needed the right vehicle and platform to do so. So I looked around the country, I saw that Arizona was rolling out an extremely favourable programme, the first of its kind. Innovative, no one had done anything like it. And they were just, it was 131 privileged licences in a state of six and a half million people. Vertically integrated, unlimited square footage, unlimited plants, unlimited weight.
And I’m just like Oh my God, is this like out of a dream? So I literally packed up all my stuff into my Chevy Silverado, and I drove down to Arizona within that week. And literally probably the best decision I have ever made. I was 25 years old.
What I didn’t realise while I was in Montana, because you’re kind of running with blinders on and it’s, Montana has a feeling for business and opportunities. And when you live there you don’t really see that you’re living in a bubble, that has a ceiling. But when you get out of it you see that you were definitely living in a small bubble. That suppresses your wildest dreams. So getting out of there was such a blessing for me. I went to Arizona, and with the same investor that I did the cultivation with in Montana, we opened up a chain of hydroponics stores. Do you guys have hydroponic stores in Australia?
Nathan: I don’t think so. Look I’m…yeah…
Matthew: It’s where you go by the lights, and the soil and the nutrients and what not.
Nathan: Yeah I don’t think so no. I don’t think so.
Matthew: Okay. So I opened a chain of those, three of them in Phoenix, Arizona. And you know I was just waiting for the programme to roll out. But what that did is it allowed me to network throughout the underground cannabis community in Arizona, I met all the biggest players. What else I figured out is, these licences were looked at as a valuable asset. And I’m like there’s no way these guys are giving some kid from Montana one of these licences that could end up being worth millions of dollars. So I ended up befriending a Senators son in Arizona, and we talked the Senator into putting his name on the application.
Nathan: Tell me about that. Like I’m curious. You seem like an incredible people person, networker, you’ve partnered with Dan Bilzerian on another one of your companies, you co-founded Ignite.
Nathan: Talk to me around that. I would love to go a little deeper on that, because it seems, and please correct me if I’m wrong, it seems like a lot of business opportunities, making moves, incredible kinds of decisions, have come from you networking or meeting the right people.
Matthew: You know, I’ve just always been very gifted with being able to talk to people, being able to establish common ground. I always do what I say I’m going to do. I never lie, cheat or steal with any of them. So I’ve kind of built up this really, really positive reputation in the business community and I don’t know, 99 % of people like me. Maybe I’m likeable, I don’t know. But it just always seems to work out in my favour as far as building a strong network. Having very solid friends and running around with the right business people.
Nathan: So if there’s someone that you want to meet, or there’s somebody that you, there’s a potential mutually beneficial exchange in value that could take place, do you ever feel nervous? Do you just reach out to them?
Matthew: So I will tell you one of the biggest things I would equate my success to, is, I realised very early on when I was 20 years old in real estate, that the biggest upside potential comes from you being the most uncomfortable in a situation. Meaning that, when you’re out of your comfort zone. Human beings have a defence mechanism and they don’t like to get out of their comfort zone because that’s a zone, a feeling of unknown, you don’t know what to say, what to do, how to operate. But that’s really your biggest growth potentially as a human being is outside of your comfort zone. So I started going out of my comfort zone every single day from the time I was 20 years old. So by the time I was 27, 28 years old, literally if I speak in front of 10 thousand people I don’t get nervous.
Matthew: I don’t remember the last time I got butterflies.
Matthew: No it’s gone.
Nathan: You must feel something though? A little bit of something it’s not as heightened.
Matthew: I get excited I just don’t get nervous ever. No matter what. I used to get nervous all the time, I’d be a nervous wreck. I just went out of my comfort zone so much there’s no more getting out of my comfort zone. I just don’t know what else I can do.
Nathan: Wow. There you go.
Matthew: You know it’s like I’ve walked in to some of the biggest meetings that I can think of and I raised 100 million when I was 28.
Matthew: So I met up with the son, me and the son became friends quickly, I met up with the Senator, we had a couple of meetings. I kind of painted my vision, my picture of what I was going to do. I’ll break you off a piece, he’s like sounds great, where do I sign?
Nathan: So that’s how you got one of the licences in Arizona before the programme launched?
Matthew: Right. Well I did make one mishap there and that was I thought it was going to be a qualitative system. And it ended up being a straight lottery system. So I put a lot of money into those applications to build them. I spent 300 thousand just building the apps. I could’ve wrote on a napkin and submitted 100 napkins instead of five beautiful apps.
And it is what it is but the state got scared at the last minute and did a lottery so they didn’t get sued for favouritism. So it was irrelevant what I put in the apps, everything was irrelevant, except, the name of the game at the final hour was how many balls can you get in the hopper. Now by shear luck I won the Sedona licence, which is a novelty in itself, but it didn’t give me access to the high volume retail I was looking for, because I knew at that point in time, this was 2011, I had to find a high volume retail…
So I quickly, probably two or three weeks after we won Sedona, we started hunting for the downtown Phoenix licence. They’re all geographically separated. We found out the guy who owned the downtown Phoenix licence and we acquired that for 450 thousand dollars on terms. The whole state thought we were crazy, they were like who are these kids, they’re paying how much for one of these things? That same licence today is worth 20 million.
Nathan: Interesting. So you say you started with multiple, a chain of hydroponic stores in Arizona, and you acquired some more licenses.
Matthew: Well I won Sedona, and then we acquired downtown Phoenix, and then I went and raised 7 million privately when I was 26, in Arizona.
Nathan: Why? To fund?
Matthew: To build up Bloom dispensaries.
Nathan: I see, so that was your first big play.
Matthew: That’s when Matt started killing it yeah. I was making big money at 27. I got Bloom, I was a state leader, everyone was watching Arizona because they had the most robust programme at the time. I ran Bloom up from 0 to 1 million a month in revenue in less than a year.
Nathan: Ah, so lets talk about that. So you grew a hundred staff, you hired 100 people in a year, that’s insane scale.
Matthew: Oh wait til we talk about the it’s an even more insane scale.
Nathan: Okay lets start how do you confidently hire, is that just you don’t really go through a Facebook level of rounds? Or it’s just you get a feel for someone and just go they got the job? Or what?
Matthew: No it’s much simpler than that actually. So you have to always look at the CEO and you sit down with the CEO and you ask him what the most important core values are to him. Things like honesty, integrity, hardworking, do what ever it takes. And these are some of my core values that’s why I’m saying them. And then you hire people off those core values. Not off their skill sets. Obviously their skill sets are important but if they don’t fit your culture, it’s never going to work. So you hire off the CEOs core values because the CEO is really the face of the company, and how he acts, operates, talks, walks, is going to filter down to the organisation, and everyone’s going to mimic that to a certain extent.
So you want to hire people that have the same core values as you because you can’t teach people core values. They’re born with that, part of their environment whatever it may be. You can teach people anything but you can’t teach them that. So I hire off that.
Nathan: And during that time period of your hiring, that means you’re hiring 2 people a week on average, how many rounds would you take them through? Like how quickly..yeah.
Matthew: We were just growing so quickly I was just mad dash to grab more people. So I hired my C suite first, my executives, then my HR department they just asked me, I told them what my core values were and what I was looking for. Unless it was a key hire I didn’t sit through the hires. But these massive cultivations are extremely labour intensive.
Matthew: So I had 30 thousand feet of cultivation, I had an extraction lab and I had two dispensaries.
Nathan: Crazy. Okay so talk to me about what happened next. I’m curious to hear about if you, if that’s not, if that’s crazy scale, what you give the next company? But yeah talk to me..yeah.
Matthew: So the next one is, Bloom started to get national attention. We were disrupting everybody. We were destroying competitors, and so some edgier family offices and private equity guys were starting to reach out to me and they were calling me and asking a lot of questions. This was 2013. And they’re like how’d you do it? What’s your secret? And people were starting to look at marijuana. It was still in the shadows but it was starting to come to light. And then later in the year Colorado, Washington passed and then the lid blew off.
But they started asking a lot of questions and they start to have a lot of interest and I was excited and I didn’t know what was going on so I was flying around on a private jet and talking to them. And I flew to Palm Beach, Florida. And I met with a family office out of there, they’re about a 1.5 billion dollar family. And they were like hey we’ve been looking for an operator for about 14 months, we haven’t found anyone we like, we like you a lot, can we buy your company? And then infuse it with a tonne of capital? It’s like yeah that sounds good, I’m getting of sick of raising money anyway and I want to scale nation wide, so lets do this.
So we flew back to Phoenix, we’re going to buy out your original investor, who put in the 7 million, I said that’s great. Unfortunately the investors had very unrealistic expectations about the return. Their money had been in play for about a year or so, and they were looking for a 10 multiplier on their money. So that 7 million was looking for a 70 million dollar buy-out. The family office offered him three and a half times the money, which is an extremely amazing return on your money in a year.
Matthew: They basically told the family office to get lost, and they couldn’t be bought, so we went back to Florida and the family office was like we’re going to cut to the chase, like we don’t even care about Bloom, we don’t care about those people, we just want you. I’m like okay that’s flattering, shoot me a proposal. And so they crafted a proposal and basically it was that you know they were going to give me a good chunk of the cap table, they would take the other chunk of the cap table and they were going to infuse the hundred million dollars.
Matthew: So I took the deal. My partner in Bloom, the Senators son, was like well I want to be involved. This deals mine, I’ll give you Bloom, just so we stay on good terms, because you’re like a brother to me. So I gave him Bloom, I divested out of it and I went running with New Co.
From there, I never had access to that kind of capital before. And so it was a much different environment, it was very corporate, I had to fly to Florida for board meetings, present in front of a board. So it really showed me the other end of the spectrum, which is I was like an entrepreneur cowboy type, and this showed me like the corporate America world.
And I just came out of the cannon like a cannonball. I acquired a couple licences in Arizona, went to Nevada, put it in eight applications in Nevada. 600 page applications, I got the eight highest scores in the state of Nevada, I won the most licences, I was like the new, hottest rookie of the year in this space.
Started to scale it up, it became known as Reef dispensaries. Started building all this out, I built out 200 square feet of cultivation, I built out two extraction laboratories, I built out six retail dispensaries. One of those dispensaries ended up becoming the busiest dispensary in the world. It was doing over 100 million dollars in revenue.
Matthew: I was the first cannabis company in the world to hit a 100 million revenue run rate. I’m the first, I created Khalifa Cush for Wiz Khalifa and commercially produced it to the masses. I’ve done collabs with a lot of different rappers and what not through Reef.
2016 I was nominated number one 40 under 40, by several publications .
2018 I was named one of the most influential people by High Times in the marijuana space. And yeah Reef was really that rocket ship I attached myself too that really propelled me into almost kind of like a new age type of rock star, you know what I mean?
It put me with the who’s who of everybody. And that, all this happened in a three and a half year period.
Nathan: Yeah. And it seems part of it is because you chose a really great vehicle as well.
Matthew: Right. I did, we made some very smart decisions early on with that.
Nathan: What were they?
Matthew: I… how I hired, the company culture was extremely strong, my C suite, my executives were an all star cast. I brought them from a lot of different, call it traditional industries. From large soft drink company to Disney, to CBS, it goes on and on, but I was really one of the first people to start pulling traditional executives out of other spaces. People just were not used to seeing that, it’s primarily been black market people in the cannabis space, kind of trying to level up mentally and try to figure out how to be a white collar executive. So to start building teams from other industries, was very new to the space at that time.
Nathan: Yeah that’s really interesting.
Matthew: Yeah it was. It took a lot of means and lot of convincing for some of these guys because they’re like I’m not leaving my life long career with this company to come join a bunch of pot smokers. You know what I mean? So it took a lot of showing them this really was the future. And that they were making a very strategic decision to get into this vertical versus what they were currently in because it was going to be the fastest growing vertical for the foreseeable future.
And that, I was probably the most well financed cannabis company in the country at that time. So you know you have money, you have talent, you have a strong vision and you have executors, that’s a recipe for something extremely successful. And that’s what we had was kind of a perfect storm.
Nathan: I see so talk, get me up to speed where you’re at now?
Matthew: So I’ll keep walking through. Once Reef got to a certain size I was doing about 9 million a month in revenue, and dropping about two and a half million for the bottom line, the family office started to get a little hanky on me, and now looking back I realise what they were doing. The whole time they just wanted me to build them an empire and then get rid of me as quickly as possible. And so that was tough, you know that was tough, because I thought I was another kid of the family. That was not the case at all. They used and abused me. Basically after it was built they plugged their son in to run the company and kind of put me out to pasture, say go find new opportunities, quote unquote. When they never had any intention of going forward on any opportunity I found.
So after about six months of battling with the family office I made a personal decision to resign as CEO of Reef and that forced a buy out in our contracts. And so the family office had to buy me out of my position. And I had full intentions to make Reef the largest, most kick ass cannabis company in the world. That was my trajectory, I was on the top.
Nathan: And that’s what you would have sold for all the people that you pulled across as well from all these different industries too.
Matthew: For sure. So when they pulled me out of the thing everyone was flabbergasted. They were like what are you doing? And you know fast forward Reef’s doing half the revenue it was when I was running it. The revenue is down 50%.
Matthew: Reef employees my whole family. My father works there, my siblings, they all work for Reef.
Nathan: How does that make you feel?
Matthew: You know I put them in really good positions and they’re making more money then they’ve ever made in their lives, so I feel good, it makes me feel good.
If I had something better to offer them currently with their skill sets, obviously I would do that. But I just don’t have that same security and that same machine to plug them into. So it would not be in our best interest to pull them out and put them somewhere else for less pay. It doesn’t make sense to me.
But I’ll get into what I’m doing now. I was kind of, I was, everyone in Las Vegas knew who I was after Reef, you know? They were doing so many articles, Reef. And so by default more or less I was kind of a young play boy in Las Vegas, Dan Bilzerian was kind of a young play boy in Vegas and we just ended up bumping into each other one day and we hit it off. We were the two young, wealthy playboys in Vegas. And we were basically inseparable from that day that we met.
He tried to come in and he wanted to do a JB with Reef, but the family office was like get this guy out of here, we want nothing to do with him. So the minute I resigned from Reef I put it on my social media, I don’t think it was 10 minutes after I posted that Dan called me. Like did you resign from Reef? I’m like yeah I decided to resign. He’s like can you come over right now? So I drove over to his house. He’s like you know how bad I want to build a cannabis company? I’m like yeah I know you bug me about it every week. He’s like can we do it? I’m like a sucker, I have a soft spot for my friends. I’m like yeah, I’ll build us a cannabis company.
So he’s like what’s the split? Normally I would never give the face, the count you know a big chunk, but he’s my boy and I was just like we’ll do 50/50. He’s like all right perfect thank you. So we did 50/50 deal and a hand shake, I didn’t really assume I had to right then, just because we were so close. And we started putting a formalised game plan together, him and I flew to Toronto in December of 17, I resigned in November 17, we flew to Toronto in December 17, and we basically went to all the bankers and told them what our plan was, and you know the streets were very open.
They were like so let’s get this straight. You’re the operator, pointing at me, and pointing at Dan, and you’ll be the face and the megaphone? We’re like yeah that’s right. Everyone threw money at us. We raised 48 million dollars in 40 hours.
Matthew: Yeah so that was the beginning of Ignite.
Nathan: And how, where is Ignite at now? Because you guys are massive, like before, because it’s really interesting for me, because I’ve only been starting to look into this space only in the past 12 months. From my perspective being in Australia, I spend a lot of time in the US, I’ve only been looking, and that’s where yourself, Ignite, everything you’ve done, all of your accomplishments have come on my radar. So I’m curious where are you at now?
Matthew: So I’ll just get to the Ignite component real quick. So Dan’s father is a famous corporate writer from the 80s. He has a huge trust that he did, that’s how Dan runs the lifestyle that he lives today. Once his father saw what Dan and I were doing his father became very interested. And that’s kind of when things hit the fan between his father and I. Dan and I never had any disagreements, but his father and I could not see eye to eye. He’s not, him and I don’t have the same morals and ethics. So he would never give me a contract, would never give me a piece of paper, kept kicking the can down the road. And then eventually when Dan basically forced him, he gave me a piece of paper for my ownership and it was half a percent, not half of the company.
So I ripped the contract up and walked out and that was the last time I ever talked to his father, and then Dan and I had a falling out after that, so we haven’t spoken in several months.
So that was the end of myself and Ignite. From there I, there was an older gentleman who said he wanted to do one more big play in his life. And he’s very successful. His last company he 750 million. And he’s like yo I’m 71 years old, but I want to do one more big play, I miss being in the action. I don’t want to do it with anyone but you. And we talked for about a year, until finally he’s like why don’t you quit messing with THC stuff and come take a look at the other cannabinoids in the cannabis plant. Because THC is one aspect but there’s a whole other world in the healthcare space of what can be done.
So we started digging into it and finally I said I think you’re right, the big play is really in science and healthcare and everything else so, we formed a new company called One Core technologies, and it’s got an unorthodox spelling, it’s O-N-E Q-O-R technologies.
Matthew: And it’s really a hybrid of a biotech/ pharma company, that’s leaning heavily on cannabinoids, and the cannabis plant, excluding THC, the psychoactive one. And so we’ve teamed up with a global pharmaceutical company, we’ve teamed up with a smaller pharmaceutical company that compliment each other. We’re negotiating international global deals. We have eight studies going on right now, we’re working on submitting four studies to the FDA, for pharmaceutical application. In my opinion we built the best science team in the world. We have Deedee Mary on our team. He’s the number one cannabinoid researcher in the world, out of Tel Aviv Israel. Everyone you can think of has tried to get him. Canopy, Aurora, Cronos, Acreage. All the biggest cannabis companies. He’s had 64 offers in the last 18 months.
Matthew: He’s the Michael Jordan of cannabis research. So he’s part of our team. Bob Gallo’s part of our science team. He’s the one who discovered the HIV virus. Joe Fornac is our chief science officer, he’s deployed over 100 billion dollars worth of drugs onto the market. And so it’s just really, I love being in start up. I love being in anything innovative. And to be honest with you, I’ve been doing THC so long and I’ve built so many companies it became almost stale to me. The rest is so cool and fun and exciting, I’ve been doing it for 10 years. I was getting bored.
I can literally build a cannabis company halfway asleep. I have the playbook dialled, you know? I could literally start right now and compete at the highest level with THC no problem.
And so this is like the next frontier for me. It’s new, it’s exciting. We’re currently working on listing on the NASDAQ stock exchange. I’ve never been the CEO of publicly traded companies. It’s on my bucket list to go ring the bell, so, you know that’s coming down the pipe this fall.
Nathan: Yeah wow. That’s crazy.
And this, One Qor, have you guys launched a product yet?
Matthew: So it’s a multi pronged approach. I’m doing white labels, so I’m manufacturing for current CBD brands out there.
Matthew: I’m doing private labels, so I’m in negotiations with companies like GNC and Monster Energy and things like that.
Matthew: Companies like that through the brand extension if you will. Also, I’m talking to several, a lot of CPG companies, consumer packaging companies, that don’t necessarily want us to manufacture for them, but want our proprietary formulations. We call those APIs, we call those Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients. And then the fourth would be pharma, and that’s over the counter and behind the counter prescriptions. So those are really my four revenue drivers for the organisation. And white labels currently doing very well I think, this is my third month that I’ll be at two and a half million in revenue in my third month.
Private label would be companies like, are you familiar with GNC?
Nathan: Yeah of course.
Matthew: SO I’m far down the path with GNC about manufacturing their private label GNC, different products that would have cannabinoids in them. And so it’s just, it’s another world, you know it’s big box stores. It’s retail. It’s in store merchandising. It’s crazy because I’m so used to operating in confines of you can’t go outside the state, you have to have a different company for every single state. They’re going to change the laws on you every six months. So you have to be able to pivot and adjust.
This is almost like normal business. I don’t have the banking issues. I don’t have the interstate commerce issues. I don’t have the global international issues. I can literally build a global empire with this, which I love. I’m not stuck in certain states.
By the way with Reef, I lost all banking at one point. I was doing payroll, so 450 employees, in cash.
Nathan: Wow. Why?
Matthew: No bank would give me banking. Banks aren’t supposed to bank marijuana customers in America.
Nathan: That’s crazy.
Matthew: It’s nuts right. I remember sitting in a room and there’s 20 million dollars in twenties in the room. It was like off a movie.
Nathan: Wow, that’s crazy.
Nathan: So you’ve really kind of now, you’re really going into big wholesale play, B2B play, verus the … side of things right?
Matthew: Yeah, and One Qor you have to look at it like this. One Qor technologies is my over arching enterprise. But One Qor inside is really the backbone of what I’m doing. And you’re familiar with Intel Processors right?
Nathan: Of course.
Matthew: So Intel’s a secondary brand. The primary brand is Dell and Sony, and HP. It’s the computer.
Matthew: I’m the Intel, so if you see a product and you know that it has cannabinoids in it, I don’t want it to say CBD inside. I want it to say One Qor inside. That’s my goal, is to be the ingredient brand. The secondary brand. Nobody in the world is doing it like that.
Nathan : Interesting.
Matthew: And when I roll into meetings with bankers they slobber on themselves. They love it.
Nathan: Yeah that’s interesting. Because when you think about one thing, I was reading on your website, is you describe the cannabis industry as the new gold rush. And if you think about the gold rush, during that time the people that really made the money from a commercial sense were not the people mining for gold, it was the people selling the picks and shovels.
Matthew: Yeah the stakes for the mine, and yeah exactly. The picks and shovels. That reference is used in cannabis space all the time. It’s like the people growing the pot are the gold miners and then the picks and shovels are the ancillary companies right? The guys who sell the hardware, the guys who sell the packaging, the guys who sell the grow lights. Things like that.
Nathan: Yeah, so you’ve really moved to picks and shovels now.
Matthew: Not really. I moved to a much more science biotechy play. Which I’m semi proud of myself for making such a big transition, from call it medical marijuana provider in Montana, to public markets, biotech CEO. It’s a pretty cool story. If you follow it from inception.
Nathan: Yeah, you’ve come a long way man. How come you guys will list so soon when you’ve only just started company? You need to raise more?
Matthew: Well, what you have to understand is, these types of company are getting crazy valuations from the public markets. And so if you’re not a public company you kind of get left in the dust. with so much cash, they have so much inflated paper that they can go buy people with their stock versus cash. So we’re going to be doing some MNA activity. And what better way to buy people than artificially inflated stock? More or less.
Nathan: What about that economic cycle that you talk about?
Matthew: I’ll be exited before that economic cycle hits. No, I feel like we’re doing something so disruptive and so innovative to the world, that I think we’re protected from a bubble.
Matthew: That’s how I feel. Because I’m going to change modern healthcare as you know it.
Let me give you one little example. Did you, you obviously know about the opiate epidemic right?
Matthew: My best friend died of an opiate overdose, so obviously it hit close to home. More people actually die every year from taking over the counter pain killers like Advil and Aspirin, and Ibuprofen than they do from opiates.
Over the counter, OTC, pain meds, they destroy your liver, and so more people die from vital organ failure from over the counter meds, than they do from over dosing on opiates.
Matthew: And so I’m talking about the construction workers that’s lower back has hurt for 10 years, he’s been taking Ibuprofen every morning and every night when he goes to work and when he goes to bed. Those people are dying. So what if I told you I can, let’s just say that Ibuprofen is for arguments sake, let’s say Ibuprofen is 10 parts, of Ibuprofen. The API, active pharmaceutical ingredient. Now what if I told you I could give you the exact same relief from your pain, the exact same call it solution that you’re looking for, but it’s only two parts Ibuprofen and 8 parts cannabinoids. So it’s only doing 20 % as much damage to your livers and kidneys, than the original that you’ve been taking for X amount of years. That’s where I’m going with this. Those are the type of things I’m going to be doing.
Nathan: Yeah wow. And because you’re not playing with the THC that, because I don’t know much about marijuana, because you’re not playing with the THC, that means you don’t have any, the effects of getting high and stuff?
Matthew: No, the only psychoactive cannabinoid in cannabis is THC, so if you remove the THC no, you run no risk of getting high. And that’s where the governments, open up, bring the walls down. And listen the only leg we had to stand on as to why cannabis was so bad was it was getting people high. Now I can argue on why getting high is good for you, but that’s, we’ll save that for another day.
So remove the psychoactive component, and there’s not a whole lot of argument from the regulators. And it just opens up a world of things that you can do.
There’s this false pretence that marijuana is there to get you high. No. Marijuana is arguably the most medicinal plants on the planet. Unfortunately it got shoved into a bag the last 80 years by our government.
If you look at a medical book between 1800 and 1930, I guarantee you there’s going to be at least one chapter on cannabis. And all the different things it can do for you.
Nathan: Yeah wow. Interesting.
Matthew: Now from 1930 until present day they’ve vanished out of medical books.
Matthew: Yeah. Look it up.
Nathan: And why do you think that is?
Matthew: Because a gentleman named Hurst, in America, owned all of the paper mills. And in the 1930s he saw how amazing the fibres in hemp were. And that they could replace paper and so he decided to go to government. And he had enough power and enough money to get it shut down.
Nathan: Wow. That’s crazy.
Matthew: That’s the real story on why marijuana became illegal.
Nathan: Wow. That’s crazy.
Matthew: Right. And then the rest of the world followed suit because a lot of times the rest of the world follows America to a certain extent.
Nathan: Yeah geez there you go.
Matthew: And did you also know that cannabis is the oldest cultivated crop by human beings?
Nathan: Man like I said I’m very, very foreign when it comes to marijuana.
Matthew: In your defence most people in Australia are. I mean you guys just haven’t, it hasn’t been out in the open. It’s kind of been behind closed doors for a long time.
So talk to me, you’re working on listing One Qor and you guys are working on some next level things there in kind of the pharma, kind of biotech space.
What are the biggest challenges?
Matthew: Well we’re basically doing something no ones ever done before. There’s no Roadmap, no playbook. There’s nothing. We’re creating, we’re building a new business model before our very eyes. It’s extremely challenging. You’re vision has to be so strong and you have to be willing to mess up a few times before you get it right. I just don’t think many people are built to take a bunch of losses before they get the big win. Not from what I’ve seen.
Nathan: And would you say your, up into your career thus far, you’ve taken all the losses with the companies you’ve started and which had a lot of potential but then you’ve in the end had to exit?
Matthew: I mean, yeah. With Reef and Ignite if it would have went the way I wanted to go, I would have created generational wealth from those two business opportunities. Did I make great money out of Reef? Yeah. I made a lot of money, but not the kind of money I was supposed to make. And so yeah I think all of these years and all of these skills I’ve acquired, and all the relationships I’ve built, I think it’s all lead up to this moment. This is the big play.
The closest company I can think of to what I’m doing right now is GW pharmaceutical, and they’re trading at over 5 billion.
Nathan: Yeah. Wow. That’s crazy.
So we have to work towards wrapping up Matt. But this has been an incredible conversation, learnt tonnes of things that I didn’t think I would learn. Would like to go back to kind of one thing I’ve found interesting you said was around, if you wanted to create a cannabis company, more like going the BDC play, playing with the THC stuff, you’ve got the playbook you could do that over and over again. Kind of very, very top level. What does that look like? Is it similar to any, is it similar to most, a playbook for creating any kind of successful BDC play or?
Matthew: No. I would say that cannabis, THC is probably one of the most challenging type of businesses to build in the current state of affairs. And that’s primarily due to the Federal government making it extremely challenging to build a large cannabis conglomerate in America.
I think, I’m confident that I could come in and run almost any company at this point, just because I understand how business works in general. I had a lot of Gold and Sachs guys tell me, they look at deals all day, this is the most challenging business that we’ve ever looked at. So you know if you wanted me to go run a chain of tyre stores, I’m sure I could figure it out relatively quick. But as far as the playbook to cannabis, in Montana I’ve done every position in a cannabis company. From trimming the buds, to cutting clones, to watering the plants to mixing nutrients regiments. So I understand every single little nuance of a marijuana company. And when I say it would be easier for me to duplicate it’s just because I’ve done it so many times. It would be like saying, I’m not saying I’m Michael Jordan, but that would be like saying Michael Jordan how you going to go shoot a three pointer? Because I’ve done it four million times.
I would just find an area where there’s a tonne of upside potential. I would figure out what the licencing process looked like, I would bring in either my own money or raise it, just like I’ve done previously. I’d find the right location, I’d find the right buildings, I’d design it just how I know I’ve designed it. Hire the right people and just run the thing up again like I’ve done multiple times before.
Nathan: Interesting. One of the reasons I asked that question was like crazy, I saw, it appeared crazy to me, maybe not for you. But I was looking at Entrepreneur Magazine and they were like publishing a book on the how to for starting and growing a marijuana business.
Matthew: Well the public perception of, that the media’s created, that if you can get involved in the space somehow you’re going to be rich. And so all these people that probably have no business being in the space are trying to figure out how to get in. And it is, there’s a lot of barriers to entry. If you want to start your own marijuana company on the THC side it can take a lot of capital. It’s going to take understanding how to build the proper applications to obtain the licences. Or you better have a lot of money to acquire them. It’s, there’s so much to it and the barriers of entry are so high that I just don’t think that most people weren’t built to go in to something like that mentally.
Obviously there are a few select that have done very well and they’ve figured it out and they ran it up the pole. But I think for the majority of the general population I don’t think it’s wise to try and go all in as a marijuana start up guru without the right skill set and tool belt.
Nathan: Yeah it sounds like …
Matthew: And don’t get me wrong, I’ve made a tonne of mistakes along the way. It’s not like I have a straight A report card here. I’ve hit a lot of branches on the way down.
Matthew: But those are the ones you learn the most on. You’re, I don’t remember my biggest wins, I remember my biggest mistakes.
Nathan: Yeah look it sounds like that perhaps from the outside like most businesses, but I guess because the cannabis industry is taking off, it looks like this new hot opportunity, really easy to get in on. And like you said the media kind of paints a different picture, like with a lot of businesses. Like so many people say you see these crazy stories about this young kid creating an app, and then everybody has an app idea. It is so ridiculously hard to create an app that actually people care about. So it’s a similar kind of thing right?
Matthew: Yeah it’s like people see Fortnite or Angry Birds, or whatever it may be, or Candy Crush, I don’t play games. They’re like oh I could have made that. Oh okay then go compete in the most competitive environment in the world which is apps. Go ahead. Be my guest.
What I try to do is, I don’t necessarily look for an opportunity in business. And this is going to be very good for people that are, that want to be an entrepreneur, want to do start ups, want to be founders, whatever maybe. I look for something, first of all I could never sell anything I don’t believe in. So start there. Second I look for where I think the biggest opportunity could lie. So it’s got to be something I believe in and it’s got to be something where I see huge opportunity moving forward. Those are really the two most important when I’m identifying and deciding on the next initiative I want to embark on.
And so I think it’s very important for people that want to do a start up because what I’ve noticed is a lot of people will say, you know I’ve always wanted to own a rim shop. A car rim shop. I think it would be really cool to own a car rim shop. And in my mind I’m like okay, I guess that could be cool but what’s the upside? What’s your end game here? You want to be a rim God that sells them to the rappers, it just doesn’t make sense to me because you shouldn’t pick something you want to do because you think it’s cool. You should pick something you do because you believe in it and you see a lot of upside potential. Or else what are you doing it for? For fun?
So I think those things are very important.
Nathan: Yeah and it seems like one thing you’re quite passionate about is market opportunities as well. Like the size of the market and the I guess the scale opportunity and potential.
Matthew: 100%. I’ll give you a couple of examples. When I was an electrician apprentice, I said where’s my ceiling on this thing. I guess I could own a big electrical company, but that’s not going to get me where I want to go. I’m a big, big dreamer. I shoot for the stars and land on the moon. That’s kind of my mentality. And with cannabis I didn’t see a ceiling. The other fun thing with cannabis is, everyone said how big do you think the market is in America. I said 100 million since day one. I said this since 2009. The economists and the analysts they pegged it at 20 billion. So we were 80 billion off.
Now do you know where everybody is in America? 100 billion. And then I looked the other cannabinoid market, call it the wellness market, not the rec/ psychoactive market, the wellness market to help people in healthcare and make them well and preventative medicine, the list goes on and on, that global market is in the trillions. For sure.
Matthew: So if you can be one of the pioneers of a new emerging market that’s going to be in the trillions, where do you think, literally the sky’s the limit. How hard do you want to work? What do you want to do? I want to have a global, conglomerate empire, that’s what I want out of this. So that’s what I’m going to do.
Nathan: Love it.
Matthew: And the market is growing fast enough and large enough to make that a reality. If I told you I want to own a NASCAR team and I want it to be worth a billion dollars that’s not going to happen. The markets matured, the numbers are there, everybody already knows. There’s no secret sauce. What I like about this is nobody knows exactly what’s going to happen. The market could be X or X times 50. We don’t know what’s going to come out of all these studies. We’ve just scratched the surface about this crazy plant.
My guy DeeDee Mary, in Israel, he’s curing different types of cancer with certain strains right now.
Matthew: I was on the phone with him for three hours yesterday.
Nathan: Yeah wow geez this is crazy man. Look we have to work towards wrapping up, I could talk to you all day. Two more questions: question number one is just parting words, kind of final pieces of advice that you’d like to share for anyone that is just about to launch something, perhaps just hit product market fit or early stages of growing their company.
And last question is where is the best place people can find out more about yourself and your work?
Matthew: What I would say is that what I’ve found for the key to success in a start up environment is you need to understand how to control chaos. Because that’s exactly what the environment is in a start up. It’s chaotic. And the more you go in to an industry that’s an emerging industry the more chaos there’s going to be, the rules haven’t even been set up yet. So I think you have to really understand how to be able to concentrate and focus with a lot of chaos around you and a lot of drama and a lot of arguing, because it does happen.
And one thing that’s really helped me with that is meditating. It’s really helped me you know keep my concentration, collect my thoughts, and even with I can play blasting, blaring music in my office and I would still be able to concentrate and focus. There’s not really anything that can kind of rock me mentally. So I think being able to maintain focus is extremely key. And one easy way to do that is through meditation and things like yoga.
I think that another thing where a lot of people fall short is, I don’t think a lot of people think their plan out thoroughly enough from the onset. I think you should understand what your game plan is, knowing that your game plan is going to change. That’s life, nothing plays out the way we think it’s going to play out to a tee. Things change you have to pivot, you have to adapt. So I think having a very formalised game plan whether that’s a business plan, at least an executive summary, and understand what your exit looks like. I feel like a lot of people get in a business and have no idea what their plan is. Like how does this end for you? Right? I can tell you how this ends for me. I’m going to get bought by a big pharmaceutical company. Guaranteed. So I think just having a vision of what you want to do, how you want to do it and how you want to exit is extremely important.
The other thing is persistent. Human begins are not extremely persistent and you have to be extremely persistent in a start up environment to be very successful. People fall down two or three times, by the third or fourth time they don’t want to get up. They’ve been knocked down they’re like I give up this is too hard. And it all correlates back to how bad you want it. I mean I’ve been kicked on the ground hundreds of times. I’m just resilient. I’m like a cockroach, I just keep getting up and I’ll do it again. Until I get it over the line and I succeed and I finish. Like there’s no option of failure in my vocabulary, that’s not going to happen, we might make a mistake, we might have to pivot, but we’re not done, we’re not stopping.
So I think that’s extremely important. I think understanding when you need to pivot quickly, you need to do that in a very efficient manner. I think a lot of people get emotionally attached to what they’re doing and even though circumstances have changed, I don’t think that they are prepared to pivot out of what their original plan was. So I see a lot of people hang on to things a lot longer than they should. You should be able to cut and then pivot extremely quick without emotional ties if you need to in order to maintain the success of your business.
As far as launching a new product or brand, I think you have to be very aware of who your demographic is that you’re trying to speak with and talk to and cater to.
I think I like simple things, that are aesthetically pleasing. But at the same time you want to pick certain colours and shapes and sizes depending on who you’re talking to. What resonates with a high school female is probably not the same thing that resonates with a 50 year old outdoors man guy right? So I think you have to be very cognitive of who you’re trying to reach.
Social media, has been extremely powerful for me as a free marketing tool. And I would highly recommend no one discounts the power of social media with, in our current society. So I think that it’s, there’s no better way to advertise your products and social media. There’s no better way to spend a marketing dollar than social media in my opinion. And the last couple of companies I’ve been I really lean on social media to get the reach out there.
Yeah in a nutshell that’s kind of it.
And then what was the second question?
Nathan: Oh where is the best place people can find out more about yourself and your work?
Matthew: About me? When I have free time I’m trying to work on an autobiography, so at some point that will come out. And then I have my website. If you Google my name there’s a lot of stuff. Have you ever seen my blogs on YouTube?
Nathan: Yeah. That’s how I first …yeah.
Matthew: The Never Sell Dope stuff?
Matthew: You can go on there, I’m plan on running that back up. And I have a buddy on Instagram his name is Cody, I’m always with, grew up in Montana together we’re going to start a podcast as well so that’ll be getting fired up. I do publish a lot of articles on Medium. So they can go on there and look for my stuff. Yeah that’s kind of my exposure at this point.
Nathan: Awesome. Well look Matthew thanks so much for taking the time to speak with me. It’s an incredible conversation and interview, you shared a lot of gold, fascinating stories. So yeah thank you so much for your time mate.
Matthew: Thank you brother and I appreciate the time from you as well.
Key Resources From Our Interview With Matthew Morgan
- Visit the OneQor website
- Learn more about Morgan here
- Find content from Morgan on his YouTube vlog and on Medium
- Keep an eye out for more exciting projects from Morgan, including his upcoming autobiography and podcast!