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 Peter Pietrangeli. Pete is the Founder of Acme Elixirs, a cannabis extract company that creates vape pens, CBD chews, tinctures for medical and recreational use.
With nearly ten years running a successful L.A.-based dispensary, Pete is well-known and regarded in the industry. He’s an expert on everything from interpreting confusing policies and predicting the next moves on the state or national level, to speaking on specifics on growth, cultivation, strains, and distribution.
In our interview with Pete, we asked a variety of questions to gain further insight into what it’s has been like building a business in the cannabis industry, why the cannabis industry and much more!
First off Pete, congratulations on being featured as this week’s entrepreneur of the week! Can you please share with our readers more about Acme Elixirs?
Pete Pietrangeli: Acme Elixirs was founded in 2015, and our mission has been to always maintain a strong commitment to consumer health and the environment by providing the highest-quality, lab-tested vaporizing pens, cannabinoid (CBD) chews, tinctures, and cold-pressed hash to achieve the most therapeutic cannabis experience on the market.
At Acme Elixirs, we use the latest extraction technology to create oil derived from organically grown cannabis without harmful solvents or additives and already in less than 3 years, we are rapidly expanding our distribution and brand recognition. I believe that Acme Elixirs will continue to establish itself as one of the fastest-growing leaders in the industry.
What ignited the spark in you to start to launch your business? Or how did your idea evolve?
Pete Pietrangeli: Acme really derived from my passion for filmmaking and cannabis, and how they tie together. My idea evolved as a means to medicate personally as I became a father and wanted to be more discreet. Working in the film industry, I wanted to offer the same discretion to people on movie sets and in the public eye.
How are you helping the cannabis industry in a positive way?
Pete Pietrangeli: I believe we are helping the community by being honest with them and with ourselves by pulling products off the shelves that don’t meet quality control, avoiding pesticides, and steering clear of additives that we don’t have research to support using. Also, being clear on our labeling and packaging and being as transparent as possible when it comes to what the uses are. Full transparency in an unregulated market can be challenging!
Who is your role model, and why?
Pete Pietrangeli: My role model is Michael Jordan. He is from the Midwest too and he became highly successful, not just in basketball, but also as an influence on the world. He’s someone I’ve looked up to as a person, and I like to visualize him gliding through the air from the half court line when I’m trying to manifest success.
What would you say are the top three skills needed to be a successful entrepreneur?
Pete Pietrangeli: #1 is drive – you have to be ambitious and you can’t just look at what other people have and assume it’ll be the case for you. #2 is Passion – you have to stay diligent when the passion turns into hard work. Remind yourself why you got into it. Lastly, being open to opportunities – things like networking when you just want to go home and watch “Game of Thrones.” There is no sleep for an entrepreneur when there is an opportunity available.
I know I have missed many “Game of Throne’s evenings, because of opportunities I saw that could potentially be beneficial. Those are three great points. So with your last comment, how do you stay balanced?
Pete Pietrangeli: I stay balanced by my children, ages two and eight. They keep me balanced by default at times, but they are also a constant reminder to keep my head on straight.
What is the best piece of advice you can give to others looking to launch a company in the cannabis industry?
Pete Pietrangeli: Make sure this is what you really want because once you start in this industry, you have to really see it through. The industry is not what people think it is anymore; it’s a maze of permits and a web of legal madness and a cluster of taxes. I don’t want to discourage anyone, but this industry is becoming saturated, so we need people who are truly passionate and have a calling for it, versus the people who just see opportunity.
What’s the hardest part of founding and running a startup?
Pete Pietrangeli: Taking care of your people through fulfillment and scaling is extremely hard. Sure, having orders to make is a good problem to have, but still, a problem that needs immediate attention. Proving the model to scale and meeting the demand – if you’re lucky enough to bridge that gap!
Is there anything that surprised you about being an entrepreneur in the cannabis industry?
Pete Pietrangeli: What has surprised me is how quickly the market has fluctuated since we started building the brand, and the level of saturation. Also, how much the price of cannabis has gone down in the last few years, even though we saw the writing on the wall. It’s become very aggressive within the last year alone as we see the market dip to something I’d never have predicted.
Being a founder, we are bound to make a mistake or two, what is one mistake you made that turned up being one of your biggest learning lessons?
Pete Pietrangeli: By initially building my business around a third party that holds the expertise and trade secrets without fully understanding them myself led me astray. From that, I learned I need to know about and, ideally, control what is happening from start to finish. You never want to over-promise or under-deliver, which will ruin your sales, brand, and reputation.
What book has inspired you the most?
Pete Pietrangeli: “Cat’s Cradle,” my introduction to Vonnegut, but really everything by him has inspired me, mainly because of his irony. He’s just a guy from Indianapolis who has an all-knowingness about life and love and death. He is, by far, the biggest influence on my life.
Excluding yours, what company or business do you admire the most?
Pete Pietrangeli: In the cannabis industry, I’d say I admire DNA Genetics the most because they literally have planted the seed for the industry to grow (pun intended) into what it’s become. They were the pioneers who went to Amsterdam! They aren’t the only ones, but they stand out to me, specifically in creating L.A. Confidential, my favorite strain. They are true pioneers, operating in the gray area (before it was a term being thrown around so much) and are now a successful, international brand that everyone I know uses. Their seeds have helped so many people build their own version of the American dream and become financially independent.
How can we as an industry continue to make a positive difference in society?
Pete Pietrangeli: By working with each other as opposed to competing with each other. I think we still need to be uniting and encouraging the boutique, organic, conscious growers to align with each other so we are still relevant when big business and big tobacco come in. I think since everyone is so used to being a renegade and pioneer in the industry up until this point, we haven’t had the sense of community we might have had in other work environments, and we need to come together sooner rather than later.
Pete, thank you so much for sharing such great insight and advice for our readers! And again congratulations on being this week’s entrepreneur of the week.
If you want to learn more about Acme Elixirs, click here.