Each week we highlight entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry for our viewers to learn more about the leading cannabis executives of our time.
Meet Kerry Harris
This week, we highlight Kerry Harris of Jekyll+Hyde Group.
Kerry is a serial entrepreneur who has worked with some of the world’s best known and best-loved brands, Kerry is the former President of The Canadian Business Unit of global PR firm Weber Shandwick. A respected brand builder, business strategist, international speaker, writer, visiting professor at Ryerson University and now a cannabis entrepreneur, Kerry bring over 25 years of mainstream business experience to J+H Group.
In our interview with Kerry, we asked a variety of questions to learn more about Jekyll+Hyde Group, what it takes to build a business in the cannabis industry and much more!
First off Kerry, 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 Jekyll+Hyde Group?
Kerry Harris: J+H Group is a cannabis-focused business — we have three divisions; our acquisition group which is actively looking for deal flow and soon to close on two major acquisitions, our brand building agency already working with some of the industry leaders and a soon to be unveiled media platform designed to be an engagement platform for the industry.
DCN: What ignited the spark for you to start to launch your business?
Kerry Harris: The sheer force of the industry and the exciting opportunities for business and personal growth — as a veteran of the mainstream business community looking for a new venture, the cannabis sector offered an unparalleled opportunity to create something with legs, so to speak!
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?
Kerry Harris: They were — there were a few raised eyebrows from some of my more conservative family members but for the most part everyone has been very supportive and I must say intrigued by this new venture.
DCN: How are you helping the cannabis industry in a positive way?
Kerry Harris: Our goal is to work with industry leaders and help position the industry to consumers and other key stakeholders as a credible, disciplined business full of smart, hardworking and innovative professionals
DCN: As we go into 2018, what is one huge accomplishment that you or your team achieved last year that you would like to share with our readers?
Kerry Harris: We signed LOI’s on the first two acquisitions that will form the basis of our company going forward.
DCN: If you could talk to one person from history, who would it be and why?
Kerry Harris: I would want to speak to Nelson Mandela. His ability to stay positive during so many years of imprisonment, continue to push forward his dream, forgive those who wronged him and bring together an entire nation is awe inspiring. I am convinced that he must have moved on a higher plane!
DCN: What creative strategies did you use to execute on minimal cash flow?
Kerry Harris: We work with a passionate and committed investor group who came to us through our networks and connections in the cannabis space. Very early on, we identified our niche in the marketplace, put together a strategy and plan and started to act on it with passion and authenticity. Our investors clearly recognized the business opportunity that we had outlined and came on board based on our collective skills sets and proven abilities to build business and brands.
DCN: What did you give up to get where you are today? What did you have to sacrifice?
Kerry Harris: I gave up lots of evenings and weekends — I’m not sure I sacrificed anything but I did have to make some choices for my business that impacted my friends and family.
DCN: What is the best piece of advice you can give to others looking to launch a company in the cannabis industry?
Kerry Harris: Get deep into it — this is a sector that you cannot dabble in. Jump off the deep end, get connected to key influencers and get educated so that you can really connect with those individuals who matter in the industry.
DCN: What’s the hardest part of founding and running a startup?
Kerry Harris: Finding funding, balancing the need to stay lean and focused on the immediate road ahead while staying firmly ahead of the curve. Knowing when to pivot and doing it quickly.
DCN: Is there anything that surprised you about being an entrepreneur in the cannabis industry?
Kerry Harris: On a positive note — just how open and eager to help, professionals in the sector are. I have met some amazing people who are happy to share knowledge with you, assist with business connections, listen and answer your questions and share their personal stories (good and bad) with you — it’s been eye-opening!
DCN: What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Kerry Harris: A thick skin, a passion to be always learning and the ability to quickly pivot after you realize that what you are doing isn’t working!
DCN: Who is your role model, and why?
Kerry Harris: Michelle Obama. She is an inspiration to women and has recognized where she can contribute to the greater good and then pursued those goals in a focused and disciplined manner. She is smart, accomplished and not afraid to take risks.
DCN: Building a business can be very time-consuming, how do you stay balanced?
Kerry Harris: I love to travel and have been “on the road” for the better part of my life. On quiet weekends, you can find me in my kitchen “team cooking” with my husband and friends and family. And, I love to write — I’ve finished one book and am working on another.
DCN: What is a favorite book you would like to recommend to our readers?
Kerry Harris: My favorite book is “A Fine Balance” by Rohinton Mistry., tied with “A Long Walk To Freedom” by Nelson Mandela. Another book that inspired me the most is “The War of Art” by Steven Pressfield.
DCN: Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
Kerry Harris: Apple — their ability to innovate is amazing. They are constantly surprising me with new products and features and they are a “lovemark” that knows no boundaries. I actually cannot live without my iPad!
DCN: How can we as an industry continue to make a positive difference in society?
Kerry Harris: Stay innovative, vibrant and disciplined. Grow as a sector, employ smart and visionary people who will contribute to their communities and then give back to those communities that cannabis businesses live and work in.
DCN: Thank you, Kerry, for sharing your story and offering such real and insightful advice! It was so great being able to feature you as this week’s entrepreneur of the week! Is there anything you would like to share with our readers before we let you go?
Kerry Harris: I’m so excited to be working in this space — the opportunity to grow and develop is amazing and I look forward to being just a small part of those efforts helping to shape the sector as it moves closer to the mainstream.
For those looking to learn more about Jekyll+Hyde Group, click here. Find them on Instagram: @jekyllandhydebrandbuilders