Richard Portillo, Co-Founder
The Cannabis Investing Spot
Tell us about The Cannabis Investing Spot and your role?
"Cannabis stocks are impossible to fund and very volatile. We provide an opportunity for accredited investors to buy units into different cannabis projects with a small buy-in so they can test this new and emerging market. Shared interests are relative to the cannabis project that the investor is participating in. Profit sharing yields are annualized. Average expected returns vary from project to project and return is dependent on project success. I am responsible for conducting early marketing and promotion for each cannabis project. Well before a project arrives on the market, I am networking and building anticipation for the products and services we are about to offer to ensure that there is demand once the project moves into fruition."
What was your very first introduction to the cannabis industry?
"27 years ago, I started growing commercial cannabis. I never dreamed the industry would head in the direction that it is currently headed. I remember the conversation I had with a Dutch master grower in Amsterdam, on my first trip there to gather genetics in 1994. He said, "America will never legalize cannabis because of the religious right." As a cultivator, there were times when I fought legalization for selfish reasons. In my heart I always wanted full legalization, I just didn't have a clue what it would look like. I have come full circle regarding cannabis legalization at the perfect time in history. I went from the world of cultivation into venture capital for start-up cannabis companies."
What is the biggest lesson you've learned since you've been in the industry?
"Don't rush into cannabis especially if you have no previous knowledge of this market. Take the time to do your research and study the market. Live, breathe, eat this business. If you do, it is likely you will be wildly successful."
What has been your biggest risk you've taken in your career?
"With zero previous experience in the financial field and building on my expertise working with growers, developers, property managers, and contractors - my partner and I were able to create a successful approach to funding cannabis projects in the Salinas Valley with six successful projects in just three years."
What is your proudest moment since you've started down the path as a cannabis entrepreneur?
"Being park of C-Quadrant, the worlds largest manufacturing facility for CBD and THC concentrates (to date). Soon the public will be able to come and see our 48,000 square feet of manufacturing and extraction subsequent adherence facilities - all on one big beautiful property. At full production, we will be able to chew through 100,000 pounds of bio-mass per day."
10 years ago, what did you think you'd be doing now?
"I have always believed in cannabis. Ten years ago I was the owner of a very successful hydroponic shop. I had no idea my life would head in this direction. I am living the dream and plan to stay in this beautiful, emerging industry. If I'm still alive in ten years, I will be working hard at one or several of the things I am passionate about, probably cannabis."
How would you describe the cannabis industry in Monterey County?
"Monterey County planted the seeds decades ago in places like Big Sur and Carmel Valley. That history has created strains of cannabis, including Big Sur Chamba and OG Kush, which stands for "ocean grown", not "original gangster". We still have a long way to go to be recognized as real agriculture. Announcing the 2017 crop report in a press conference on June 26th, County Agricultural Commissioner Henry Gonzales said that, starting with the 2018 report, cannabis will be listed, but only as an addendum. If cannabis remains illegal at the federal level, Gonzales is not going to put cannabis into the official mix. The annual crop reports are used by a variety of people, including bankers in determining loans, Gonzales said, and the federal government which uses the data for things like awarding subsidies. As long as the federal eye is looking, cannabis will remain separate."
From your experience, are there similar traits that those working in the cannabis industry share?
"From my experience, cannabis consumers are far removed from the caricatures historically used to describe them. In fact, positive lifestyle indicators like volunteering, socializing, satisfaction with life and enjoyment of exercise and the outdoors are highest among cannabis consumers, at least in Colorado and California. This is not just my opinion. BDS recently concluded a study that found very similar findings."
How do you think people in the cannabis industry should think about the value of marketing and where should they focus their marketing budget?
"Marketing should be one of the bigger parts of a company's focus. Therefore, the best strategy is a cost-effective way to build brand awareness. The idea behind such a strategy is taking the consumer by surprise, leaving a lasting impression, and creating a large amount of social media buzz. Compared to traditional forms of marketing and advertising, the aim of marketing cannabis is to create a memorable and lasting impression on consumers. Brand equity can be positive or negative. With such a marketing strategy, imagination is more important than budget."
What is your advice for hopeful cannabis entrepreneurs?
"Trying to do everything yourself to perfection, instead of delegating to other people. It ultimately results in less work getting done. Delegate first, find good people and help them become successful. Dont allow other peoples fears, disbelief, and negativity to turn into self-doubt and pessimism. Passion drives success. There will always be people willing to bring you down, for too many reasons to list, and the moment you allow them to affect your thoughts, your perspective, or your self-belief, is the moment you will start to fail."