Each week we highlight entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry for our viewers to learn more about the leading cannabis executives of our time. This week, we highlight Cullen Raichart of Greenbroz.
Meet Cullen Raichart
Cullen Raichart is the Founder and CEO of GreenBroz, Inc. As an entrepreneur and investor in cannabis for more than 12 years, and Veteran of the United States Armed Forces, Cullen is driven to create American-made products that offer solutions to the growing cannabis industry.
Prior to founding GreenBroz, Inc., Cullen worked in the corporate world for a Fortune 500 company until realizing his passion for creating innovative products. His goal became the streamlining of the cannabis harvesting process and, in turn, reducing growers time and costs. Cullen is considered a distinguished inventor whose drive has earned him a reputation as a pioneer in automation in the emerging agricultural cannabis industry.
GreenBroz, Inc. won the inaugural Marijuana Business Pitch Slam in 2014. Cullen’s vision for end-to-end harvesting technology has led GreenBroz, Inc. to become a world leader in automated harvesting solutions.
In our interview with Cullen Raichart, we asked a variety of questions to learn more about the GreenBroz, and what it takes to build a startup in the cannabis industry!
DCN: Cullen, congratulations on being featured as this week’s entrepreneur of the week and for all that you do! Can you please share with our readers your elevator pitch for GreenBroz?
Cullen Raichart: GreenBroz is the world leader in cannabis harvesting solutions, that includes everything post-grow.
DCN: What ignited the spark in you to launch your business?
Cullen Raichart: My parents owned a printing shop, and in an effort to grow the business my dad bought a very expensive piece of equipment that promised to elevate the business to the next level. Unfortunately, the machinery never worked right and ultimately led to the demise of the business. This hit me hard and informs the values behind my company today.
I feel strongly that when a business invests in our equipment, they should get high-quality, thoroughly tested, top-of-the-line machinery. First and foremost the equipment needs to work perfectly, and secondly equipment cost should not jeopardize a company’s success.
I started designing my first machine in response to a friend’s request for a tumbler. He couldn’t find anything on the market that worked for him, so I set out to solve the problem of engineering a square tumbler that was efficient and gentle. That first project became our Alchemist Tumbler.
DCN: When you finally decided that you wanted to launch a business in the cannabis industry, what was your experience like when telling your family and friends? Were they supportive?
Cullen Raichart: My family was ok with it. I got into the industry in 2007 and much of the stigma had evaporated at that point in my circles, and my company was machine-based, so I wasn’t directly touching the plant. At the time I was a single dad raising two kids and didn’t have a partner I needed to be accountable to. So, I had the opportunity and freedom to really go for it.
DCN: What is unique about your business?
Cullen Raichart: I think the innovation of what we do is really unique. We are constantly pushing to solve problems and design challenges. This is what keeps it interesting for me. Every day it’s a new challenge. I’m a mechanical engineer, so I really get into the small details of every last part on every machine.
DCN: What are some challenges you faced early on and how’d you beat them?
Cullen Raichart: The challenges were product acceptance and an outlet for sales. Instead of adapting some other technology, I had designed a machine specifically for cannabis processing. Where do you bring this machine to be sold when nobody wants to carry it for fear of the legal ramifications? This was a real issue early on. We gave this whole thing a lot of thought in terms of how we were going to market our products. We decided to be fully transparent from the get-go, and said “We are a cannabis company, selling cannabis equipment, for cannabis people.” I think this earned us the respect of the producers early on.
DCN: How did you come up with the name of your company?
Cullen Raichart: In coming up with the name, we had to be cognizant of how retail outlets would feel about our name and our brand. We were trying to get into stores and wanted to keep just a little bit of separation between our branded name and the culture side, because in the end we were selling to businesses. GreenBroz seemed like a nice compromise, since it embodied the green and included “broz” as a nod to the culture without being too in-your-face for the retail market.
DCN: What did you give up to get where you are today?
Cullen Raichart: Almost everything. I think you have to be prepared to sacrifice if you want to build a successful large-scale business. Your family and your friendships suffer. I could not have built this multi-national, multi-million dollar company without it taking almost all of me in the startup phase.
I reached this point where I was making six figures, working for a Fortune 500 company and had gotten to a point where I was comfortable and could have easily just coasted, but I remember having that clear moment where I realized that not going for it and playing it safe would be much worse than going for it and failing.
DCN: What is the best piece of advice you can give to others looking to launch a company in the cannabis industry?
Cullen Raichart: Tap into your perseverance. Failure is your biggest ally. You need to understand that failing is going to happen again and again when you start a business, but it’s not a bad thing. Failing is the thing that furthers your business. It informs and teaches you how to adapt. The people I see succeed are those that take failure as a necessary phase to iron out the kinks and not as an end in itself.
DCN: What’s the hardest part of founding and running a startup?
Cullen Raichart: The hardest part is learning all the things you don’t know and identifying all the things you don’t know. When you first begin you are not even aware of all the things there are not to know. It can be overwhelming. You have to be concerned with taxes, licensing, permits, etc. All of these areas come with pitfalls to be avoided, so there is a lot to learn. Secondly, when you’re first starting the sheer speed with which all of these things have to happen can also be daunting. As a startup, you can’t afford to take too long to get an area of your business squared away and up and running.
DCN: Is there anything that surprised you about being an entrepreneur in the cannabis industry?
Cullen Raichart: The speed at which the industry has developed and the speed at which our company has maintained to keep pace with everything. It feels like jumping into the cold, deep end of the pool. It was very much sink-or-swim the first couple of years. Now we’re at a point where we can really focus on expansion, but it’s still fast and furious.
DCN: How do you stay balanced?
Cullen Raichart: I like to drive and I like to ride. I drive a race car and ride motorcycles. Both of these are similar in that they get you out of your head and into the moment. You have to be right there. It puts you into kind of a flow state. When you’re on the race track taking corners at 140-160 mph you really can’t stress about what’s going on at the office. It’s exhilarating and oddly relaxing at the same time.
DCN: What book has inspired you the most?
Cullen Raichart: I would say “The E-Myth Revisited”. I read this when I first started the company and it kind of set the tone for all the steps that I had to take to structure the company. I’m coming into this as an engineer, so there were a lot of business and finance related things I needed to learn.
DCN: Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
Cullen Raichart: With respect to branding, Apple has done a phenomenal job. They also connected with people really well with all their messaging and their products are cool. Elon Musk is interesting, in terms of the way his company has pushed the envelope right to the edge with the technology they’ve developed. He started this electric car company and now he’s going to fly rocket ships. You can’t help but be inspired by that kind of ambition and drive.
DCN: How can we as an industry continue to make a positive difference in society?
Cullen Raichart: You have a lot of people in the cannabis industry that think a bit differently, and I think this is a huge asset and can be a vehicle for positive societal change, and also in terms of the way in which innovation impacts company culture.
There is tremendous opportunity in the cannabis space to shape business practices. Because it’s still a relatively new industry, for example, the way you value employees can be set up in a more modern, functional way. Offering opportunities for upward mobility, paying attention to gender equality in the workplace and shaping a future that’s good for both the company and the employees. This is good for society in general and it’s good for business.
DCN: Thank you, Cullen, for sharing your story and offering such real and insightful advice to DCN readers! Any final words you would like to share with our readers?
Cullen Raichart: It’s a great time to be in this space and I feel fortunate to be a part of the industry. I think people will look back 20 years from now and realize how revolutionary this time period was.
For those looking to learn more about the GreenBroz, you can visit www.greenbroz.com