Introducing, “Contributor Spotlights”, a campaign aimed at highlighting our contributors who add their voice to DCN’s platform in order to educate and connect with other entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry.
Meet Joe Khoury of iRollie, he shares with DCN readers his experience in launching, managing, and growing four canna-brands/brands that focused on maximizing digital ROI & scaling of sales on a budget. Joe’s passion is growing businesses and helping others hack business growth.
DCN: What obstacles have you faced in your journey?
Joe Khoury: We have lost thousands of dollars worth of product to a US Customs & Border Patrol seizure upon import. We have had Indiegogo & other crowdfunding platforms shut down our campaigns after being approved. Additionally, while I was developing this business at my university, UMass Amherst, I was denied many of the services/ opportunities student entrepreneurs leverage to succeed. Things like grants & pitch contests we were denied from because of the nature of our business, even though we were one of the most developed, profitable, & popular businesses at the school.
DCN: Why did you get into cannabis industry?
Joe Khoury: I got into it almost accidentally. I love outdoor activities like snowboarding, surfing, & hiking, and am an avid cannabis consumer. Everyone would roll up on the back of their phone & lose a lot of “tobacco”. So, I figured there had to be an easier way. So, I thought of a phone case with a rolling tray, learned CADD modeling from YouTube, & 3D printed the first prototypes for my friends. They used it, and had people asking where they could buy it. That is how I realized I had a product people were interested in and then began validating the idea with brick and mortars, focus groups, etc. I ended up launching the product as a sophomore at UMass Amherst in late 2015/early 2016. Now, here we are!
DCN: What was your opinion of cannabis growing up? How has it changed?
Joe Khoury: My opinion has evolved. I had the D.A.R.E program in school growing up and was taught that cannabis was the devil. In high school, I preferred it over drinking because of early morning snowboard adventures. So, I would say my opinion has come a long way.
DCN: How has your involvement with cannabis changed personal and career relationships?
Joe Khoury: It has actually accelerated my personal & career relationships. Being in an industry with so many shared challenges, the entrepreneurs really come together. So, I’ve made great friends that are all very supportive of one another, and willing to collaborate. Previously, I was working in fin-tech & this kind of community was unimaginable. Sometimes there aren’t physical communities like I had in Boston & Denver. These communities brought together the experienced people to share ideas, insights, and experiences. That is why I love DCN & the ability to share my experiences to those that do not have the fortune of physical communities.
There are some people that have been soured by my involvement in the industry, but many of them were people I was acquaintances with. The weirdest thing was launching this business at 19 with three younger siblings. You still want to shelter the young ones from some of the aspects of it, but also educate if the opportunity arises. So, that was a strange nuance once I got in the industry.
DCN: What are your hopes for entrepreneurship in the cannabis industry?
Joe Khoury: I am hoping to continue to be able to work with amazing people while doing what I love, and grow iRollie!
Click here to read Joe’s articles on DCN and learn about what it’s like being a cannabis startup!