As one of the UK cannabis industry’s younger CEO’s at the ripe old age of 25, I was keen to share my experiences and pass on some words of encouragement to young entrepreneurs passionate to make a change and progress the world.
I want to start by saying that, I have seen a tremendous evolution in the social attitude towards cannabis. I was keen to ensure that the science of this reached as many of the grass roots debates that took place across the UK before the law change in 2018. It warms me now to see this conversation having moved into the mainstream, but with that a great deal of the conversation is overlooked and unseen. A lot of the mainstream conversation is very surface level information but there is an incredible amount of depth to this debate. We have only just opened the cannabis flow and I am excited to see what comes out on the other end.
I had the honor of entering this weird world of cannabis through a medical research degree where I specialised in the therapeutic potential of cannabinoids ininflammatory bowel disease (IBD) and colorectal cancer. I would say one key benefit of this background is that it gave me a tremendous grounding in the facts of the cannabis debate. This has been really crucial to keeping me on track and navigating the many perspectives I have since encountered. A degree is by no means a prerequisite for cannabis entrepreneurship and as such there are a whole series of opportunities that are accessible.
What I have extracted from my many interactions is that all that is truly needed is a passion for your field and a desire to learn and grow your own perspective. The power of knowledge can't be understated. Having knowledge is one thing. But having the ability to go out into the world and apply it requires knowledge and the ability to apply that knowledge requires added practice. I think this is one of the key lessons missing from university. We have a generation of incredibly knowledgable people, but few have yet developed the skill of . I think this is where the power of the university of life also cant be understated.
As the mainstream conversation has developed so too has an industry off the back of it. But with this mainstream bubble, countless opportunities are being overlooked. This provides a rich vein of opportunities for a new wave of entrepreneurs. The cannabis industry is very much alive and active across therest of the world. There are global problems to be solved. Much of our UK mainstream conversation has revolved around the isolated cannabis molecule cannabidiol (CBD). CBD being just one of a thousand molecules within cannabis. Success thus far in the cannabis industry can some from just one moleculesrecognition. There are over a thousand others to be explored and researched. This is just the chemical opportunity of the plant, not to mention its industrial potential. Beyond this too are the businesses opportunities tha facilitate the adoption of these cannabis technologies and the expansion ofthese into the mainstream. The human element to the cannabis industry is commonly overlooked with the focus drawn to the production and retail of CBD products. With this is dare say barely a hundredth of the cannabis industry has been explored or established. Now is the time for innovation and creation and awave of entrepreneurs who will shape the 21st century. This should give you an idea as to the opportunity on offer within the cannabis industry where the herd mentality seems to have taken over.
Persistence and a long-term view are integral todeveloping in the cannabis industry, it evolves every day. My recommendations would be to start by understanding the industry. Be persistent, ask questions, understand the people you speaking to and seek meaningful conversations. Understand the perspectives and problems. Let people know who you are and whereyou want to go. Young entrepreneurs are often dismissed but those groups that see your persistence and passion will see your problem solving potential andlikely support you in that venture. Reaching out to people is key, If you arethere to help then people will see that and respect that. It is rare that people speak to others with the aim of listening and understanding and your value will soon be seen. As you build your own perspective on the industry you will continue to see gaps and opportunities where your creativity can add value whilst also developing your own offerings.
When I say persistence, I don’t mean frantically knocking on the same doors asking the same questions. Be persistent in your strategy and exploration. Daily discovery should be your mission, whether it be learning about the industry, your network or yourself. Persistence is key, andnot something that comes naturally, it has to be developed. Almost like a callus. Passion must underpin this and if you aren’t loving what you do, the knock backs will take their toll. Ultimately, the knock backs are worth it andwhere you learn the most about yourself. Pushing through the early difficult days and finding your feet and seeing progress are some of the most rewarding moments. When you're the boss, its easy to divert from the path you set out on. This is where some say discipline equals freedom. The perspective you build upduring this time will be fundamental to your future and invaluable to thosethat work with you. A key lesson I have learnt from mentors of mine is to not to obsess over the future and forget about the here and now. I think the saying would be blink and you'll miss it. Life is short. So, above all, find what youlove and enjoy it! There's hundreds if not thousands of avenues to explore and a happy medium between work and play to build. Entrepreneurship is exploration, it is meant to be exciting and scary.
There are hard lessons to learn alongside the fun. Not everyone wants to see you succeed. As the old proverb states, "old age and treachery will overcome youth and skill". The reason for this? Age has e verything to lose, and youth everything to gain. The aged grasp on power and wealth incrementally slipping away with each passing day. With this you will encounter those who want to pass on their torch to younger generations and those who want to defend and cling on at all costs. My reccomendation would beto quickly identify the latter and distance yourself as there are too many good people out there that do want to see you succeed.
At this early stage in the industry there is a large temptation amongst young entrepreneurs to chase money and cut corners, sometimes straying into the realms of illegailty. Entering the cannabis industry and entrepreneurship can already be seen as a risk, doing this in an illegal world only adds to this and may draw you into dangerous circles, perhaps even criminal ones. Starting in any industry comes with its risks, but in this industry, there has never been a better time to take that risk. There are so many opportunities in the emerging legal sectors that there is no need to take the added risk of illegal dealings. It is a matter of communication.
I want to encourage young entrepreneurs to experiment with our industry. We are developing a mentorship scheme where we look to nurture these early advances and support young individuals and groups in building their vision. For those that may be interested in this please reach out to us either through email or through our website and mention your interest in our mentorship program where we will support you in developing your ideas into reality. We want to hear your ideas and build a sustainable and futuristic cannabis industry fit for the 21st century. I am keen for this to reach as many young entrepreneurs as possible and build a community that nurtures these projects.
As for you older and more experienced entrepreneurs it would be fantastic if you could us connect with the young minds that you know and let them know of the support out there and pass on your lessons. If you are a veteran and want to share your valuable knowledge and experience, we would love to hear from you. The cannabis industry has a bright future and with initiatives like this I hope that we can continue to build a collaborative, futuristic and humanistic industry that can unified through science and entrepreneurship.