Adelia Carrillo, the CEO of DCN was a guest on Mota Marketing’s series called Cannabis Marketing Live episode to discuss: What it Takes to be a Successful Cannabis Entrepreneur.
Mota Marketing is going to go straight to the expert and talk about entrepreneurship in the cannabis industry. Adelia Carrillo, the Founder & CEO of Direct Cannabis Network (DCN) is bringing what she has learned since launching DCN, and interviewing hundreds of cannabis entrepreneurs.
In this episode, you’ll learn:
→ Why it’s critical to always remember your WHY
→ The importance of Facing your fears
→ Advice for new entrepreneurs
Tell us a little about yourself – how did you get started in cannabis?
Adelia Carrillo: First and foremost I am a patient first. Like many others I consumed cannabis when I was younger but I did not have the knowledge of the medical benefits. It wasn’t until 4 ½ years ago when I faced my own medical issues did I really understand that value of cannabis. I found out I was pregnant and very quickly was not showing positive signs, I was put on bedrest and then a few days later was rushed into the emergency room. I ended up having an emergency surgery and after the surgery was prescribed a cocktail of prescription pills. The medicine didn’t work, it actually worsened my health and my fiance suggested that I try cannabis. I remember it clear as day, because I literally laughed and said, why? So I could get the munchies. I literally had no idea how beneficial cannabis was going to be for me, emotionally and physically.
That is when my journey began. I started researching this space and coming from the consumer electronics industry and being surrounded by tech and innovation, I wanted to learn more about the entrepreneurs, the startups and the tech that was happening in this space. I saw there was no real entrepreneurial ecosystem in cannabis and that what when my aha moment ensued.
What is the Direct Cannabis Network?
Adelia: Direct Cannabis Network is digital news network, that covers the latest tech, entrepreneurs and innovative companies in the cannabis industry. We have created an entrepreneurial ecosystem through our online content, our digital B2B directory and our private B2B networking events for cannabis startups, entrepreneurs, investors and business professionals.
Takeaway #1 – Why it’s critical to always remember your WHY
As entrepreneurs, we talk a lot about remembering your “why”. I want to break that down for people.
What does it mean to remember your “why”?
Adelia: When I first came into this space, I was very mindful that I was coming into a community that has been underground for so long, so many individuals have risked their lives for this plant and there are still so many who are still locked up for doing the same thing that so many people are now making money on and I wanted to make sure that the voice DCN represented were the stories and the journeys of each entrepreneur who decided to risk their careers, their lives to fill a need in this space. So for us the “WHY” is important to showcase, because if we continue to share the “WHY” it can help with the moral as cannabis becomes an industry.
Why is that important – for the entrepreneur? And for the business?
Adelia: Now for entrepreneurs and businesses when you understand your “WHY” as a company, you will be able to fall back on that every time you feel lost, every time you feel like giving up and every time you begin to go through those hurdles in startup life. The “WHY” will also help you when describing what your business does and why it is needed and why you do what you do.
What companies in this space do you think are doing a great job with communicating their “why”?
Adelia: Papa & Barkley is a wonderful example, they share the story of how Papa & Barkley evolved, by a son’s mission to ease his elderly father’s immobilizing back pain, a condition that forced the family to place him in hospice. This beginning also plays into the people they aligned themselves with when building their team. Their team consists of caregivers, scientists and professionals who are also on a mission to unlock the power of cannabis to improve people’s lives. Now when looking at their products, again it coincides with their why. They have created products that are not intimidating, these are products I confidently can recommend to my parents, in-laws and relatives knowing that will help ease their ailments. Products- tinctures, salves, oils, capsules and soaks to name a few.
Now, the one thing each entrepreneur and startup needs to realize their “WHY” may not be similar to Papa & Barkley or DCN, the “WHY” really goes into what need or problem you are solving.
Let’s apply it to DCN, what is your “why”?
Adelia: Now, when looking at the business for DCN, we are here to provide an ecosystem for the entrepreneurial community that provides a voice for the startups, a platform for the professionals and a community for the entrepreneurs. Our WHY is to help be a positive influence in the foundation of the cannabis industry as it evolves. We have the opportunity to make this industry, a role model industry, an industry others can look at and changes their values and principles of how companies, brands, and humans can and should work together.
Takeaway #2 – The importance of Facing your fears
Baseline – we all have fears as entrepreneurs.
As entrepreneurs, we’re often pushed outside our comfort zones – in all of the entrepreneurs you have interviewed, what areas would you say are most common fears cannabis entrepreneurs have?
Adelia: When speaking with entrepreneurs, I have found that so many of them (myself included)
Have a fear of failure, a fear of the unknown/uncertainty, and the fear of going in the wrong direction.
An example is with a recent discussion I had with a founder, he was afraid of choosing the wrong demographic for his product. We all are moving so face and wearing way to many hats in the beginning of building a startup. At times, you may start to steer in the wrong direction and may lose the focus of your target audience and when you lose focus your product may not be engineered correctly for this new direction you have moved towards- this can lead to burning cash which can lead you to a path of not having enough capital to scale your business.
In your experience, why is it important to face them?
Adelia: The past two years, I have pushed myself to face my fears, in turn, I began to realize that as I faced each fear, how much those fears held me back. I missed out on quite a few opportunities because of those fears and when you don’t face them you are just filling yourself with this energy that will in turn start to build in all aspects of your life, as a leader, as a individual and as a human.
What are the benefits of pushing past them?
Adelia: The real benefits when pushing through those fears for me personally were the following:
A) it never turned out how I had imagined,
B) It actually gave me a boost of confidence and that helped with my role at the CEO of DCN and as a leader.
C) I was reminded that I can do anything I put my mind too, even if I failed, because at that point it becomes a learning experience and it is bettering my thinking skills and will help me manueve if I ever am faced with a similar experience.
Takeaway #3 – Advice for new entrepreneurs
What advice do you wish someone had given to you when you were first starting out?
Adelia: 1. Be extremely mindful of the team you are building.
We can’t do it all on our own; we need help, but we need to make sure we get the right help. So take the necessary time to evaluate the team that you need and then hire the best people you can.
2) Understand the value you bring as a company
I get so many inquiries about people wanting to partner and partnerships are great, but they need to provide value for both companies and if you don’t understand the value that you and your company brings you could end of not only de-valuing yourself but being taken advantage of and doing more work and getting very little return.
3) You will need to learn to say NO
Adelia: It takes more courage to say “no” than to say “yes.” But if we do it, we protect ourselves from making poor decisions. To be honest, this is something I still have trouble with I want to do it all, I want to help everyone, and at times forget that for DCN and myself to be able to create this ecosystem we are building, I need to make sure first that DCN is stable and that it has my 100% focus.
My bonus advice is one that I thankfully knew before launching DCN, but one that I believe entrepreneurs need to hear, especially if they are coming into the cannabis industry. Everyone talks about this “green rush” -which I hate to say it, but I absolutely dislike that description, if you are coming into this space, thinking you are going to become a huge success making a whole lot of money right away. Throw that thinking out the door, you will not become an overnight success. Event companies like Amazon and Yahoo took over 3 years and the majority of companies take up to 10 years to really make it. So if you’re the goal is to be the next billionaire startup owner then you need to be prepared for a long haul.
What advice did you listen to that you wish you hadn’t?
Adelia: I honestly can’t think of anything, at the end of the day, when advice is given to me, I appreciate the advice given but then really analyze if it make sense for me, and for the company. If I decide at the end of the day that it works but in turn fails, that becomes a learning lesson.
What are the three things you think are important for new cannabis entrepreneurs to know?
Adelia: Educate yourself about this plant, the history, the medical benefits. Build a connection with this plant, you don’t need to consume everyday, you don’t need to consume at all, but you need to have some sort of connection and understanding why so many of us are so passionate about this plant and the community, while also showing respect to the real OG’s who helped make this become a reality for us.
Building trusting relationships is key. If you reach out to someone, don’t just ask for something, provide value in return. We all are working so hard and we want to help each other out, but you also need to do the work like we have. Nothing comes easy and if you are not willing to put in the work, then maybe you need to rethink your thoughts on becoming an entrepreneur.
Don’t get sucked into the “cannabis bubble”. The cannabis industry I hate to say it, but it can get distracting and take you away from your focus on the business. You need to really understand the value of your time and FOMO is real when everyone is reaching out asking if you are going to this event or this conference. Do you part in the industry but always fall back to your WHY, your mission and values and make sure that everything you are doing aligns with those three things.
What is your favorite cannabis product?
Adelia: I love joints. My favorite joints right now are by Original Hawgs Breath Family Farm, Lowells, and my favorite brand which I haven’t had in a while are the Hepburns.
What is your favorite networking events or conferences?
Adelia: New West Summit is one of my favorite because it has all things I enjoy, media, tech, investment. MJBIZCON is a must-attend, you get to meet cannabis professionals from all over the world, plus can finally put a face to those humans you have been talking and working with via email over the past year! However, there are so many amazing new events happening and the best resource to find the best events in the cannabis industry, is a startup called EventHi. They have a marketplace of all the latest cannabis events happening nationwide.
Indica, Sativa, or both?
Adelia: Sativa or a Sativa Dominant Hybrid. I avoid indica at all costs, when at events or conferences. However, I have found especially for someone like me who is always on the go and always working, Indica is the perfect slow me down, chill, sleep.
Host and Guest
About Adelia: Adelia Carrillo is the Founder & CEO of Direct Cannabis Network. DCN is the leading digital business-to-business news network covering the latest tech, entrepreneurs and innovative companies in the cannabis industry. With her roots in the corporate and consumer electronics industry, her passion for technology, startups, and innovation has been a key strength in her transition into the cannabis space. Becoming a voice for the upcoming startups, uniting the cannabis business community, Adelia is building an inspiring yet prominent voice in the world on the topic of cannabis entrepreneurship.
You can find Adelia at: www.Directcannabisnetwork.com www.facebook.com/directcannanetwork Twitter: @_dcnetwork_ Instagram: @_dcnetwork_
About the host: Cannabis Marketing Live is hosted by Kendra Losee, CEO of Mota Marketing. Kendra is passionate about using marketing to help businesses grow and succeed! In addition to working with clients to determine their marketing strategies, she recently launched a course teaching social media to cannabis entrepreneurs. From social media to traditional marketing, Kendra’s 20 years of marketing experience helps her lead the way in cannabis marketing. And she couldn’t be happier about it.