Each week we highlight entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry for our viewers to learn more about the leading cannabis executives of our time.
Meet Michael Tenszen
This week, we highlight Michael Tenszen, Founder, and Owner of Diskreshen.
In our interview with Michael Tenszen, we asked a variety of questions to learn more about Diskreshen, and what it takes to build a business in the cannabis industry!
Who is Michael Tenszen?
For better or worse, I have done a lot of very different, unrelated things in my life. I graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor’s Degree in Physical Education. However, by the time I graduated I had lost interest in that field and went on to finance where I did a stint in the investment industry. As luck would have it, that really wasn’t what I was looking for either. From that point, I’ve been a carpenter, a retail store manager and a bunch of other things that didn’t turn into careers. For about the last 9 years, I was in the mortgage industry working for a niche mortgage brokerage. The real impetus for starting my own business, aside from hating the mortgage business, was a buyout that gave me the time and a bit of money to get started and here I am.
DCN: Michael Tenszen, congratulations on being featured as this week’s entrepreneur of the week and for all that you both do! can you please share with our readers your elevator pitch for Diskreshen?
Michael: Diskreshen is a Calgary, AB, Canada based wood shop that specializes in handcrafting bespoke stash boxes and accessories for cannabis consumers.
DCN: What ignited the spark in you to start to launch your business? Or how did your idea evolve?
Michael: I’ve always had a burning entrepreneurial spirit in me but just hadn’t found the right thing. When I took a box building course a year ago, something tweaked and I knew that this was it. Looking around the industry, I realized that while everyone smokes cannabis, very few people have a practical, nice to look at, a place to keep it, along with their supplies.
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?
Michael: Yes, everyone was very supportive. My parents were a little bit surprised and skeptical but overall, very supportive.
DCN: How are you helping the cannabis industry in a positive way?
Michael: I’m trying to take that negative stoner image/stigma and turn it into something beautiful, creative and functional. I despise the big marijuana leaves and bright Jamaican flag images emblazoned on products and am working my hardest to create functional art. Something someone would be proud to display in their living room.
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?
Michael: My major accomplishment is just staying with it. Instead of getting discouraged and giving up many times over when things weren’t looking so good, I stuck it out and am still sticking it out.
DCN: What are some challenges you faced early on and how’d you beat them?
Michael: My major challenge was getting the word out that my product and I existed. With advertising legality challenges, I was forced to be creative. I don’t think I’ve really beat it yet but it’s definitely been at the forefront.
DCN: When building a business, you have to make many adjustments in life. What did you give up to get where you are today?
Michael: I’ve given up the stable, reliable world of employment to go it on my own. Having a steady paycheque (paycheck) every two weeks really is hard to give up but I know the payoffs from my own business will be worth it.
DCN: What is the best piece of advice you can give to others looking to launch a company in the cannabis industry?
Michael: Look deep inside yourself and find what really gets you excited and go for that. Find a unique niche where you can fit yourself in and don’t stop.
DCN: What’s the hardest part of founding and running a startup?
Michael: Doing everything yourself. I’m the carpenter, accountant, web designer, social media guy, errand boy.
DCN: What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Michael: 1) Time management – it’s way too easy to let time get away from you. You need to be ruthless with your time.
2) Money management – you need to be able to account for every dime. If you don’t know what your costs are, you won’t know if you’re making money until it’s too late
3) Promote yourself – you need to be an expert at promoting yourself (which I’m not) and not be shy about telling everyone about what you’re up to.
DCN: Who is your role model, and why?
Michael: Believe it or not, I don’t have any role models.
DCN: How do you stay balanced? Any hobbies outside of your work?
Michael: I like to keep fit by exercising, going on hikes with my wife and just generally getting outside when weather permits.
DCN: What book has inspired you the most?
Michael: Probably Tim Ferriss’s 4 Hour Work Week. Lots of great ideas and different ways of looking at the world.
DCN: Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
Michael: Saddleback Leather Co. – they seem to hold a lot of the same values I do and pump out some beautiful, handmade product.
DCN: How can we as an industry continue to make a positive difference in society?
Michael: We’ve got to keep moving forward and away from the old stereotypical image of marijuana that has done so much damage. If we want to be seen as a respectable and viable part of society, we can’t be seen as a bunch of pot smoking burnouts.
DCN: Thank you, Michael, 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!
For those looking to learn more about, please check out Diskreshen.com!