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 David Hedrick. David is the founder of Surf and Terps Canna Cafe. Surf and Terps Canna Cafe is a veteran founded cannabis and terpene aromatherapy coffee experience and has been set up at various cannabis venues throughout the Northeast including the Tetrahydroclub in Rhode Island, the “Terptopia Sesh” in Cambridge, MA, and has recently relocated to Central Maine.
In our interview with David, we asked a variety of questions to gain further insight into being a cannabis entrepreneur, and what it’s been like launching Surf and Terps Canna Cafe.
First off David, congratulations on being featured as this week’s entrepreneur of the week! Can you please share with our readers a little about yourself?
David Hedrick: Thank you for this opportunity and of course. I grew up in Massachusetts and spent 7 years in the United States Army as an 82nd Airborne Infantryman. I spent most of my time on the border at a place called Camp Tillman named after the NFL player and Army Ranger Pat Tillman.
When I returned, I went to the Naval School for Explosive Ordnance Disposal, earned my badge as a bomb squad technician and did protective details in support of the United States Secret Service. After being honorably discharged, I started class at community college and ended up graduating from UMASS with a degree in Exercise Science.
Wow, thank you for sharing and for your service. When did you decide that cannabis was a direction you wanted to look into?
David Hedrick: To be honest, it was at UMASS when I began my studies. That is where my passion for wellness became influenced by cannabis when I got my medical card. Though the dispensary system struggled to be implemented, as a caregiver I ended up creating my own brand of healthier edibles catering to dietary sensitivities. My first brand attempt at being an entrepreneur was called Lokifoods, a nonpsychoactive cannabinoid food line including granola bars, juices, and teas.
As I spent more time exploring the cannabis industry, I attended many events in support of New England Veterans Alliance Inc and spoke publicly at a local campus and the Home Grown convention in Augusta, Maine. Currently, I find myself at the most exciting point in my cannabis career, growing medical cannabis in Maine which I consider the best state in New England to start a cannabis business. I look forward to growing as a unique terpene themed canna cafe brand and as a medical cannabis cultivator.
Why cannabis and coffee?
David Hedrick: While I was experimenting with various cannabis products that I obtained as a medical patient in Massachusetts I was also experimenting with various coffee makers at home such as the Aeropress, Chemex, and French press. I began to see similar language used in terms of extraction, flavor profiles and even discovered that caffeine can work to enhance the experience of coffee.
As I was living in a town on the beach in Massachusetts with many beach themed brands, I came up with the name of “Surf and Terps” as a play on the popular restaurant item “Surf and Turf”. I ended up getting contacted by a company called True Terpenes which brought about synergistic flavors and effects. My brother, an accomplished graphic designer made my logo and I continue to grow and evolve today, as I am always trying to learn new things.
With Surf and Terps Canna Cafe it is a veteran owned cannabis and terpene aromatherapy coffee experience, can you share more behind Surf and Terps Canna Cafe and it’s experience?
David Hedrick: It is a brand with collaboration at its core and with a particular favoring to healthier infusions modeled after cafe items such as water, granola bars, chocolate, teas, and juices. In addition to specialty pour over coffee with infused honey, farm sourced milk and vegan creamer, cane sugar and stevia, the optionally medicated coffee and cannabis experience are modulated by terpene isolates and profiles dispensed from an ultrasonic aromatherapy diffuser.
With aromas varying from essences of pine to citrus, customers get a fully customizable experience of stimulating their endocannabinoid system which is medically based, but recreationally appropriate. As a brand that prides itself on being adaptable in various legal environments in New England, it can also be scaled from a table at any cannabis related event with future plans of a fully operational coffee shop.
How are you helping the cannabis industry in a positive way?
David Hedrick: I am passionate about how cannabis can heal various medical conditions from diabetes, traumatic brain injury, or as an exit drug from alcohol and harmful pharmaceuticals. I have attended many events promoting the cause of cannabis for veterans with New England Veterans Alliance Inc.
As a former 82nd Airborne Infantryman and bomb squad technician, I use cannabis daily and am interested in strains with rich and unique phytochemical profiles including lower THC varieties of hemp. With my studies in college being around kinesiology and my entire outlook focused wellness, I try to include items that are satisfying and healthy. I believe that nutrition is a highly underrated form of therapy and particularly when combined with targeted cannabinoid therapy in addition to lifestyle changes.
Who would you say is your role model?
David Hedrick: Bruce Lee is one of my favorite role models, mainly because I’ve always been interested in martial arts and philosophy, not merely for self-defense, but to better myself as a person. I like him because he is much more than a fighter, but a person with his own actualized philosophy as well standing against the classical rules limiting his martial art.
What are the top three skills an entrepreneur would need to be successful?
David Hedrick: Discipline, adaptability, and perseverance.
How do you stay balanced?
David Hedrick: Usually if I’m crunching down on work that means I’m spending lot’s of time in an artificial environment. It’s important to get outside and make up for the lack of sunlight, terpenes, and movement. Exercise such as kettlebells, yoga, swimming, and hiking are also activities I enjoy to unplug, get out of my head, and back in the body. I also like going out to eat with my friends and some occasional video games.
What is the best piece of advice you can give to someone who is looking to launch a business in the cannabis industry?
David Hedrick: If you are looking to launch in the cannabis industry, it is important to study the laws. Also, watch how people are operating in response to the laws changing. Everything in business is about optimal positioning and you want to be in the best state possible to operate. Also, differentiate yourself in a big way, strive to be a game changer, and read scientific research. If you have new ideas coming constantly, even if people chase your ideas, they can’t keep up.
What is the hardest part of launching a startup?
David Hedrick: The hardest part of founding a startup is believing in yourself. You aren’t the person you were yesterday and the voice inside your heart has to be louder than that of the naysayers. I never thought an Instagram handle could turn into a cannabis terpene coffee startup, but I was inspired by those who I consider my closest friends to run with it and stay true to my path.
Is there anything that surprised you about being an entrepreneur in the cannabis industry?
David Hedrick: One thing that surprised me about being an entrepreneur in the cannabis industry where the journey would end up taking me. I started out as a college student who got his card but without safe access. I ended up having to find my own way, and it has led me to different states, meeting growers, artists, and scientists, all who believe in the healing power of cannabis. I’m just glad to have the chance to share things that I enjoy and am passionate about with other great people.
Being a founder, we are bound to make a mistake or two, what was one of those big mistakes that actually turned into the biggest learning lesson?
David Hedrick: My biggest mistake as a founder is being too easygoing. When I started out I was eager to jump on board with any company or investor that gave me a chance. I learned that it is common for people to use you for your ideas and give you promises of success. It’s always better to do it yourself even if it means periods of temporary discomfort.
What book has inspired you the most?
David Hedrick: Tim Ferris is one of my favorite authors and Tools of the Titans is one of my favorite books for businessman or entrepreneur. I also enjoy other books on subjects like philosophy, such as the Tao Te Ching.
How can we as an industry continue to make a positive impact in society?
David Hedrick: We can continue to make a positive impact on society by being enterprising individuals with a social conscience. In my local community, the opiate crisis needs the most attention, but I am only one person with limited resources. All causes need an economic backing, so we need to bring small cannabis businesses together to defend our rights to grow and use cannabis as an exit drug. You cannot give someone a drink from an empty cup, so don’t be afraid to invest in yourself so that you can give more.
Thank you, David! It was so great being able to feature you as this week’s entrepreneur of the week and share with our readers more about your journey launching a cannabis startup.
For those looking to learn more about Surf and Terps Canna Cafe, you can email David here.