How Chip Baker got into the business of marijuana

Before I tell you about today’s guest, I want to tell you that I was watching the election results and saw that marijuana was legalized in California.

I didn’t sit back and say, “Great, now I can smoke.” I said, “Great. I wonder who is building a business that is going to profit from this?”

That’s how my mind works. Well, today I have a guest that is someone in this space.

In an email to me he said, “For the last 15 years, I have been involved in the manufacturing, distribution, and retail sales of picks and shovels to the ganja and cannabis industry.”

In this interview we’ll talk about the companies he founded.

Chip Baker is the founder of Royal Gold, which he sold.

Chip Baker

Chip Baker

Royal Gold

Chip Baker is the founder of Royal Gold, the original coco soil company.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey, everyone. My name is Andrew Warner. I am the founder of Mixergy.com. It is the place where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their business. I do it for an audience of super ambitious entrepreneurs who listen, who pick up a few ideas, who then build incredible companies and often come back to do interviews about how they built these incredible companies.

Today I’ve got a listener with me. But before I tell you about him, I’ve got to tell you that when I was watching the election results and saw that marijuana was legalized in California, I didn’t sit back and say, “Oh, great, I’m going to get to smoke.” I said, “Oh, great. I wonder who’s building a business that’s going to profit from this. I wonder how much money is going to get made because of this. I wonder what is going on in the business of marijuana.” That’s just the way I work. That’s the way my mind goes.

Well, right now, I’ve got a guest who’s been in the space. In an email to me, he said that for the last 15 years, he has been involved in the manufacture, distribution and retail sales of what he calls picks and shovels to the ganja, cannabis and marijuana industry–actually, all those three words are the same thing. He’s the guy who helps the people who make it build their businesses. I think what an incredible company. What an incredible thing to do.

He has made roll lights, coco fiber based potting soil, fertilizer–we’ll find out about his business. I invited him here to talk about one of the companies that he’s started. It’s a company called Royal Gold. And the idea behind it is, well, actually we’ll find out about it. We’ll find out about how much he sold the company for and so much else.

We’ll also talk to him about his new company. It’s called Growers. It’s a new fertilizer business. We’ll also talk a little bit about Cultivate Colorado. It’s a hydroponic supply store. Hydroponic is code for weed. And he has a new podcast called The Real Dirt. It’s a cannabis industry tech podcast. Look, we’re basically going to be talking about a guy in this space, in the cannabis world.

And this interview is sponsored by two companies who I wonder if they’re going to regret that they allowed me to run their ads in any interview. The first will help you hire great developers. It’s called Toptal. The second will help host your website right. It’s called HostGator. Today’s guest is the founder, his name is Chip Baker, of among other things, Royal Gold. Chip, welcome, man.

Chip: Hey, thanks for having me, Andrew. It’s really a pleasure to be on today. When you described me with all of those companies, it doesn’t quite seem like me.

Andrew: It does seem like you’ve got this got this conglomerate in the weed space. But one of those businesses–and we’ll talk a little bit about these companies, but the one I think we’ll spend the most time on today is called Royal Gold. You sold that business. How much money did you sell it for?

Chip: You know, Andrew, money is always an uncomfortable thing to talk about personally, but I’ll say this–the company sold for about $8 million and I was the majority shareholder of it.

Andrew: And still, at the end of it, it was not like this satisfying, happy-go-lucky life that we imagine and we’re going to get to what happened there. I see you smiling because you know what I’m talking about. Let’s see how you built it up and let’s see who you are as an individual. You’re a guy who set out not to get into the cannabis industry. You’re a guy who set out to get into the photography industry.

Chip: Yeah. I started out as a photographer. I still love photography, lifelong photographer and started working as a studio photographer in 1999, 2000. 2000 came the digital revolution and that industry crashed overnight.

Andrew: Really? Just because digital cameras were coming out, people weren’t going into a studio and saying, “Take my photo. Make me look good.”

Chip: It took a couple years to change. It was all product photography what we were doing. And what happened was companies said, “Hey, Joe, over here, he likes photography, let’s get a camera. It’s a digital camera. We can take a million pictures and pick the ones we want.” That’s really how it changed. The processing of photography also changed. At the time, I was working at a company that processed photography, made prints and their business just plummeted very quickly. By 2001 or 2002, that industry was almost gone.

Andrew: And around that time, you saw one of your neighbors messing around with soil. What did the neighbor do?

Chip: Let’s see. . . I can’t remember his name–Dan from McCullen Mountain Farms, he was making potting soil and selling it to all of the local cannabis growers at the time. Cannabis is also marijuana. We use the cannabis term. It’s the name of the plant. It’s not slang. So you’ll hear me say cannabis or ganja all the time.

Andrew: I was going to ask you because I’m not sure I’m using the lingo right. Essentially we’re talking about the same thing when we talk about that.

Chip: Yeah. There’s a lot of politics behind it, but we use the term cannabis. It’s cannabis sativa. That is the genetic description of the plant. So we speak about it that way.

Andrew: I see.

Chip: Same way you would if you were, you know–well, maybe not, but a poinsettia grower, I was going to say. They refer to it differently–slang term, we’re trying to get rid of marijuana, basically.

Andrew: He was doing this for marijuana.

Chip: Yeah. He was doing this for marijuana, doing really good at it. He had a great organic product made from a product called sedge peat, which is composted grass and whatnot that’s been composed under water for years, hundreds of years. He was mining this product and making a potting soil for the local economy.

Andrew: Who would have thought that there would be money in dirt? I never think about it. I think about it as the kind of thing I pass by Home Depot when I’m on my way to get a new light bulb or something. But you do because your family was in this. Your family grew stone fruit?

Chip: Yeah. I came from an agricultural family. My parents’ generations, they weren’t farmers, but my grandparents and aunts and uncles, they were all farmers and I had a connection with the land, we’ll say. I realized what organic fertilizer was early on. My grandmother taught me about compost tea and using compost and animal waste in the garden to fertilize it.

Andrew: I see.

Chip: That’s kind of where it started. Right.

Andrew: So your neighbor was doing well with this, but you said, “I think I can do better.” What did you think you could do better than your neighbor?

Chip: Dan’s product was made on this technology from the ’70s, ’80s really and they were just digging up the sedge peat composting with chicken manure, and I wanted to use this other product, this coco fiber byproduct. Now, everybody knows the coconuts shell. Those long fibers on the coconut shell are pulled off and used in textiles throughout Asia. The short fibers fall to the ground and they’re waste product, but with the proper processing, we can turn it into potting soil.

I’d been turned on to coco fiber years before, and I thought to myself wow, what a sustainable product. Coconuts fall to the ground every day. This is a waste product. It actually holds more oxygen, more moisture than traditional peat moss, which is strip mined in northern climates. So I had this vision that there was going to be this economic environmental reason why we were all going to go to coco peat or coco fiber in the potting soil industry.

Fifteen years later, it’s true. All the major people use substantial amounts of coco fiber. Now several Asian countries–India, China, Sri Lanka, Philippines, they all export coco fiber and previously it was just Sri Lanka.

Andrew: So that fiber that’s on a coconut, the stuff that we usually throw away when we eat it at home, someone goes and grabs that and helps turn that into fertilizer?

Chip: Yeah. They pick it up with little tweezers. Just kidding.

Andrew: I actually imagine like a Dollar Shave Club razor and they’re shaving it. How do they do it?

Chip: What goes on is they’re running the coconut shells through textile equipment and the long fibers come out and literally the short fibers get shaken and go to the ground. So those all literally get swept up by hand, put into a pile and rinsed through rainstorms for 18 months, maybe, sometimes longer. They take that product, also by hand, break it up with the hand hydraulic press, one brick at a time. The bricks will be like this big. They package them up in containers and sent them to us.

When we get them here into the U.S., we take them and hydrate them and rinse out the sodium and chloride that’s naturally in the coco fiber. Sodium and chloride, they’re not healthy for plants to grow and they kill plants. So you’ve got to rinse away. It’s an incredible growing medium.

Andrew: This is roughly 2002. You don’t have a huge operation at this point. Are you just taking it into your bathroom and washing it the way I would wash a dirty shirt?

Chip: I did do some of that, actually.

Andrew: You really could just put in the sink and wash this stuff that you were just talking about?

Chip: Well, only until my wife caught me doing that, then that stopped. What we were doing initially was we were importing these containers at a time and we were selling them out to people as raw materials. So they could take the coco bricks. They’d hydrate it themselves and mix it into their own potting soil.

Or my first big sale was actually to a hydro seed company. They were taking this product and putting it through their hydro seed process to plant grass on the side of steep embankments on the highway. That lasted for a little while until the internet really become viable overseas and everyone started getting contacts in Sri Lanka or India to import the stuff directly.

Andrew: Before that, you were just making phone calls.

Chip: I was making phone calls. Yeah. I would talk to Sri Lanka at 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning. I don’t speak Sri Lankan and they don’t really speak English that well. It was an adventure, for sure, but as soon as the internet came along, it was great. I type in sentence or two, they reply and we understand what we’re saying.

Andrew: The internet was around before 2002, but you’re saying for them?

Chip: Asia, exactly. They may have had some connection to it, but 2002 to 2004, it really started to take off there. I’m not sure what happened. Then soon after that, companies like Alibaba and China.com all started popping up and really helped import all this stuff.

Andrew: By the way, you’ve got one of the warmest voices I’ve ever had an interview. It’s because you set up the mic so perfectly. You’re on an iPhone right now recording, huh?

Chip: No, I’m on my computer.

Andrew: I see. You were telling me earlier you’re an iPhone person. I guess you meant you usually are on the iPhone.

Chip: FaceTime, yeah.

Andrew: Got it. Yeah. This might be one of the most sober interviews about cannabis ever. Do you want to light up or something?

Chip: Sure, I can fire up. No problem.

Andrew: You can do it?

Chip: Absolutely.

Andrew: You’re in a hotel. Can you actually–if you do it go for it.

Chip: Yeah. Give me a second. Hold on.

Andrew: Go for it. While you do that, I’m going to say that this smoking is sponsored by–I don’t know that this is actually the right time to talk about my sponsor, but I don’t know if they’re going to have any issue with it. I don’t know. I think I live in a bubble where I’m just curious and I forget there all these issues around the things I’m curious about. So maybe now is not the–actually, before we light up, let’s just say my sponsor for this interview is a company called HostGator.

HostGator is a place where you can go and get any website hosted. In fact if you hate your hosting company right now, you don’t have to deal with it. What you need to do is go to HostGator.com/Mixergy and switch to Mixergy’s preferred hosting company, HostGator. When you do, you’re going to get a company that will be there when your site goes down. You’re going to get a company that will automatically migrate for you if you’re on WordPress or make it easy for you to migrate yourself if you’re not.

You’re going to get a company that will hopefully have a good sense of humor about the kinds of ads I do for them and you’re going to get a company that’s going to give you $100 in Google AdWords. Go check them out at HostGator.com/Mixergy. If you’re starting anything new, shoot me an email, let me see what it is. I’d love to see what you guys are building on HostGator’s hosting platform.

And HostGator, if you heard this, I will not consider you too square if you tell me you would rather not be associated with these interviews. I’m not editing it out.

Chip: Right. For some reason, I bet that many, many, many people that work for HostGator use cannabis.

Andrew: Yeah. It’s way more common than I imagine. I’m not much of a smoker and I still a little bit to this day feel like–not much, I don’t like it. I feel a little bit like a square still. I still feel in the high school mindset admitting I’m not into it, making me feel like a punk.

Chip: That’s not how it is. The interesting thing about cannabis now, so much technology is starting to take off about consumption, whether it’s the new vape pen technologies or the cannabis food. It really makes entry level for people who aren’t used to it or feel odd about smoking, it really gives a good entry level to. The vape pens are really light because the modern cannabis is really strong.

Andrew: Is that what you’re going to smoke with, a vape pen?

Chip: No. I like to roll joints, Andrew. I’m a joint guy, for sure. I’m twisting it up right now for us.

Andrew: That’s something I could never do. I remember I was backpacking through Europe and this guy showed me how to roll cigarettes. Then I went to Amsterdam and I could actually buy weed. I bought a premade joint. I was just like, “Eh. . .” not crazy for it, but I couldn’t stop trying to roll tobacco until I got it right. I would smoke it all the way down, which would make me incredibly dizzy, just so I could practice rolling another one. It’s fun. It’s an art if you can get it right.

Chip: Yeah. There’s a lot about rolling joints and relationships. The thing about rolling a joint is you have to commit. You have to prep everything and commit. It’s very similar to a relationship or to business.

Andrew: What do you mean?

Chip: Prep and then commit. Well, the big thing on a joint is people fill the paper up. Let’s see if we can–people fill the paper up. Can you see me there?

Andrew: Yeah.

Chip: And you’ve got to prep it.

Andrew: What does that mean to prep it?

Chip: So you get it in your little boat here.

Andrew: Move the boat up a little bit higher.

Chip: Okay. There we go. You get it in this boat and you have to prep it with your finger a little bit. Then you roll it back and forth gently.

Andrew: Okay. Again, just a little higher so we can see it. There we go.

Chip: Roll it back and forth gently. Here’s the commitment part. You have to move your fingers in order to roll it right.

Andrew: Okay.

Chip: So there’s the commitment. You’ve made your roll. There it is. It’s a little ugly for us today.

Andrew: It will work. All right.

Chip: So interesting–in my podcast, The Real Dirt, we smoke lots of weed. Some of my guests, they really get into it and some of them don’t so much. But almost all of them want to smoke weed by the end of the podcast.

Andrew: Just because you’re doing it and it’s part of the experience.

Chip: Or just as we’re talking about it. In social situations, if me and you are hanging out, Andrew, I might not necessarily roll it up or fire it up because you just told me you don’t really–

Andrew: I would insist on it and then I would have a drink.

Chip: Right. Well, I might have one of those too.

Andrew: I would like it.

Chip: All right. So where were we?

Andrew: What do you call it, spark it up, fire it up?

Chip: Fire it up, spark it up. Those are good terms. Fire it up, that’s a good term. What have we got here? So many different types of cannabis these days. This is Angel OG from Natural Remedies in Denver, Colorado. They’re one of the leading suppliers of high-end cannabis there in Denver. They’re not a sponsor either.

Andrew: I see. Were you always into weed, or were you more into fertilizer and the land?

Chip: I’ve always been an environmentalist. That’s really what drew me to make potting soil is that I saw this vision that I could take waste product, whether it was sawdust or coco fiber, and process it, turn it into something useable and end the waste stream on it.

Andrew: Okay.

Chip: Our landfills fill up every–they’re just filling up every single day. Every single municipality in the country has an old landfill and the landfill they’re filling up right now. Through composting of organic matter, that really can save so much of our waste products.

Andrew: Be genuine with me. Was it that that you want to do right by the environment, or did you see it the way I saw the world, which is we’re going to more legalization? The people who will make picks and shovels are going to get rich. I want to get on board with that.

Chip: Okay. Well, money is always a motivating factor, for sure, for business people. I’m a lifetime entrepreneur. As a kid, I would sell candy and firecrackers.

Andrew: I did too. I forgot that I sold firecrackers until I heard that you had.

Chip: Well, you know, stuff little kids like. So it was a motivating factor. I saw Dan selling this product to all of my neighbors. I knew that I felt like I could do a better job. I’ve also been competitive and I see things in the business world and think often, “I think I can do better than that. I think I can do better than that.”

Andrew: Okay.

Chip: So that’s really kind of how it started. In the early years, there was no money involved in this. I was young. I had some very idealistic views of money and the world and the environment and over time, those things changed a little bit. I kept many of my environmental views and still have them today, but I absolutely know if you want to change the world, if we want to be environmentally sensitive, we still have to make money at it, right?

Andrew: Yeah. You know what? That’s one of the things I learned from preparing for my interview with Tom Szaky of TerraCycle. He was doing really well by taking products that people throw away and turning them into purses and wallets and stuff like that.

He said, “Look, we always think that because we’re do-gooders, people should buy our stuff, but nobody cares about our do-gooder part. It’s a nice to have. It makes them feel good. But ultimately what they want is they want a product they love. They want a product that works. If they’re buying soap, they want the soap to do the job and then they feel better about buying it because it’s better for the environment.”

Chip: Right.

Andrew: So the combination, he said, was the only way to actually have impact instead of holding your nose up in the air and saying, “I’m too good for commerce.”

Chip: Right.

Andrew: So you got into it. You started buying this stuff. You started buying the fibers that were ordinarily tossed on the ground from Sri Lanka. They were shipping it out to you. Who were you selling to? Was it your neighbors door to door? Was it to Dan?

Chip: Initially it was my neighbors. Then I had one contact who made hydro seed. That was the initial contact.

Andrew: When you’re going to your neighbors, do you know who they are you know the people are growing in their house? I wouldn’t know someone was growing in my house.

Chip: Okay. So this is Humboldt County, California and people have been–contrary to what anyone there may say–everyone grows weed there.

Andrew: Okay. You just kind of knew they were there. Were you literally knocking on doors saying, “Hey, are you growing?”

Chip: No, a large network of friends. There’s also a rural community. Rural communities, they really survive on your neighbors and your hospitality with your neighbors. So, you do know your neighbors. Also, Humboldt County is an island, so to speak. There are only a couple of highways in and out. If you have product there to sell, you can sell it.

But yeah, basically I just called up all my friends and neighbors and pitched them this idea. I had been making potting soil and compost and earthworm castings for a number of years. So, I already had this homespun reputation with my friends. Yeah, it just started that way, really easy.

Andrew: Okay. Then you said that’s where something else happened. What happened next? You sold initially to your neighbors and then. . .?

Chip: I sold initially to my neighbors and then some hydro seed people.

Andrew: What’s a hydro seed?

Chip: Hydro seed–they mix seed and media–that’s what we call anything you plant in a pearlite, peat moss, coco fiber, it’s all growing media–so they mix seed in this media, add water and then they blast it on steep hillsides in order to grow grass on steep hillsides, just an agricultural product, not cannabis-related at all.

Andrew: Okay.

Chip: And then I got some decent revenue from those people because they wanted this product and they got several containers a year and it started to like become a business. I had phone calls and emails, but no revenue, maybe $60,000 or something the first year, first couple years it was probably like that. It took me a few years to even break $100,000.

Andrew: And then you got a small packaging machine, which means you were starting to actually become like a real business.

Chip: Yeah.

Andrew: And then you told our producer you started selling out and couldn’t get more.

Chip: Couldn’t get more. Right. I didn’t understand some basics of supply and demand.

Andrew: Yeah. What was going on? I guess I kind of feel like if I run out of supply, I just call up the factory and they’re going to make it and ship it over, but that’s not the way things work.

Chip: No. It’s not the way things work. So, in Sri Lanka, that’s what we were getting from the time. They have, I believe it’s three rainy seasons. I’m sure somebody will correct me and tell me there are more or less, but three rainy seasons. It inhibits when they can actually bring the coco fiber to the market because the roads get washed out. So, you have these dry seasons that become the shipping seasons. So you have to order all this product six months ahead of time.

Andrew: I see.

Chip: So I ordered what I thought was going to be six months’ worth of product. I sell it in six weeks. And then they have to wait six more months to get product.

Andrew: So then you told our producer, Ari, that you ended up going for a month without revenue and you were back to zero. I get why you’d go for months without revenue. You have no product to sell. But why did that take you back to zero?

Chip: Well, it took me back to zero for a few things. At the same time, this internet revolution was going on. So I lost the hydro seed sales. I was just making packaged product for myself. Now we’re in 2006. It’s 2006 now. And all my customers like lost faith in me–six months without any product, I’d gone away.

Andrew: I see.

Chip: That’s what started me back to zero.

Andrew: Got it. Right.

Chip: I may have kept one customer, and they were called Berkeley Indoor Garden Supply. They’ve since gone out of business, but thanks, guys. You stayed with me and really helped me out.

Andrew: I get it. I see what you mean. If my local grocery store closed for six months, I would find other places to get groceries and forget about them when they came back. So, now you’re back to ground zero.

Chip: So to speak, yeah.

Andrew: You then hire a co-packer. What’s a co-packer?

Chip: Right. So I thought I need to expand and in most industries, the product that you’re buying isn’t made by the people whose name is on the product. There is another company that manufactures this product, packages it and puts their label on it. They call them white labels or co-package. It basically means there’s another potting soil company, that another potting soil company blended all of my product and packaged it in my bag. So, at the time, I had a $50,000 packaging machine. These people had 15 acres of packaging and mixing machines. So I really felt like it was going to step my game up. Initially, it kind of did.

Andrew: And then you ended up with problem.

Chip: And then I ended up with a problem, right.

Andrew: Which was?

Chip: Well, the problem with coconut fiber if you have to wash out the sodium and the chloride in order to make it usable for plants to grow in. The copacker I was using, they didn’t see any difference in any of this and blew me off on how to package it, used their materials, packaged the product, sent me 30,000 bags of bad product. I was backordered at the time, so I sent all the stuff out all over the West Coast.

Andrew: Without testing it first?

Chip: Without testing it.

Andrew: Is there a way to test it?

Chip: Sure. There’s a way to test it. I was actually relying on the copacker at the time who was sending me tests. Their tests looked fine. But that was not the case.

Andrew: Oh man, okay.

Chip: We ended up sending out 30,000 bad bags, killing off numerous peoples’ crops, these high-value cannabis crops.

Andrew: Now I want a whisky right here.

Chip: Yeah.

Andrew: That is awful.

Chip: Right. It felt awful for a while. That’s for sure.

Andrew: Do you ever at that point say, “You know what? All these guys, they’re just getting rich off of web apps,” which was what was hot back then, 2006. “They don’t have to deal with packaging, shipping, copacker, none of this stuff.”

Chip: Totally. That’s when it started. That’s when the light came on, right.

Andrew: What was the light? Did you then switch business because of this?

Chip: Totally. I switched business because of that, and that’s when I built Cultivate Colorado in Denver, Colorado, 2008, 2009. And straight retail business–I’d buy products from distributors, put them on my shelves and sell them to end users. Simple.

Andrew: I see. No more packaging, no more calls to Sri Lanka, no more worrying. But meanwhile, you just had 30,000 bags of bad product go out to people. You killed their plants, which is really painful. What do you do about that?

Chip: We politely admitted our mistake without blaming anyone over it. And I think this was a key part of it because I called people up personally. I sent people letters and said, “Hey, I made a mistake in my processing. This is bad product.” I didn’t blame it on anybody except myself, even though it was not my fault other than that I did not test the product. So I guess maybe that was my fault. I was responsible for it.

Andrew: Yeah.

Chip: I took responsibility. Some of those stores never bought from me again. Others said, “Hey, no problem. Thanks for letting us know, Chip.” Then there were some people who I’d sold the product directly to, growers directly to that lost hundreds and thousands of dollars’ worth of product because I killed it. One grower in particular, I just told him I’d give him product forever. I said, “You can have product forever.” And maybe five years later, he told me, “Okay, Chip, it’s good.”

Andrew: We’re even.

Chip: “I’ve taken 10 or 15 semi-truck loads of product from you now. We’re even.” So, yeah, I just ate crow, dined on it.

Andrew: What a pain. And you’re not rolling in cash at that point, you’re just getting by.

Chip: No. That broke me right there again, second phase of business collapse.

Andrew: You know what? I’m here in San Francisco. I’m seeing the local entrepreneurs here. I see how much they see the possibility in cannabis. They see that marijuana is getting legalized all over the country. They see that eventually this will be big business. They’re getting into it directly or more often than directly, they’re investing, angel investments and the like. I think even some of the best accelerators are investing in it.

I wonder if they’re aware of this. I wonder why they don’t just say, “I’m going stick with software. Let this thing grow on its own. I don’t want to deal with the headaches that Chip’s had to go through,” because you know what? With software, you have a problem, you just hire guys from Toptal, one of my sponsors, they’ll fix the freaking code. Yeah, it’s going to cost you extra, but the code will work and you can actually test it and life is good.

Chip: Right.

Andrew: Which is probably a good opportunity now for me to tell people about Toptal.

Chip: Yeah. Absolutely.

Andrew: It’s a network of top developers. Do you know these guys?

Chip: I’ve heard of them on your other podcasts.

Andrew: On Mixergy, yes.

Chip: Yeah, Mixergy.

Andrew: I really am spreading the word. I don’t think they’re unlike MeUndies and Dollar Shave Club and the others who are sponsoring everything, Toptal needs like a certain kind of target audience–people who have businesses, people who need development, people who had someone to look at code, people who have real users or intend to get real users. Anyway, so they’re not advertising all over. They have that target audience here at Mixergy.

The reason they’re advertising here is to let the world know if you’re running a dev shop, if you’re running a software company and you need more developers, you don’t have to go through the usual process of trying to hire developers away from Google the way everyone else is. You can just go to Toptal. They have these best developers.

Chip, check this out. You were an entrepreneur, so you’ll dig this. There are a few dev shops where entrepreneurs call up these development shops and say, “I need someone to develop an iOS app, an Android app, etc. What these dev shops do is they go to Toptal and they say, “We need an iOS or an Android,” or whatever it is that their client I looking for and then they hire a developer from Toptal who actually does the work.

So the end client is basically interacting through these dev shops with people from Toptal without ever knowing it because that’s just the way these shops work, which is brilliant because there’s no way that a dev shop can actually have all the different kinds of developers they need just sitting around waiting for a client to need them.

Chip: Sure. Yeah. It’s copackaging.

Andrew: Right. Copackaging in the development world. It actually exists. It’s a little-known secret. I’m actually letting the world know this exists right now. If you have a consultant company and you need to hire developers for some of your clients, you can just work with Toptal, get the right developers for the right project on a project by project basis.

If you’re an entrepreneur, if you’re a business, if you’re a CTO and you need to hire more developers and it’s actually becoming a little bit of a challenge for you, well it’s always a little bit of a challenge, becoming a huge challenge, I urge you to at least check out Toptal.

Here’s the URL that if you go to, you’re going to get an incredible offer that’s made just for Mixergy people. The offer is 80 hours of developer credit when you pay for your first 80 hours if you go to Toptal.com/Mixergy, Top as in top of the mountain, tal as in talent, Toptal.com/Mixergy. They’re going to give you 80 hours of developer credit when you pay for your first 80 and that’s in addition to a no risk trial period of up to two weeks, which is phenomenal.

Chip, back to your story. You’re back to zero.

Chip: Back to zero.

Andrew: Why are you in this business? Why didn’t you just say, “I’m back to zero, screw it. I’m going to open up a store. Life is going to be easier.”

Chip: Stubborn determination. Thanks mom.

Andrew: That’s it. You knew, “I can make this work,” and you couldn’t let it go.

Chip: I couldn’t let it go. I had a vision. I really did. I still have this vision. I wanted to complete it. I wanted to see it.

Andrew: So you go out and now you can’t use this copacker anymore. Who packages for you instead of them?

Chip: No. I ended up buying another potting soil company or actually saw a warehouse for rent and called the number on the warehouse. The guy had rented it out to a previous potting soil company on Fox Farm, which is one of the largest companies in my industry, Fox Farm Soils. So they had some equipment in there.

And this guy, Gary Island, saw something in me, told me that right there. He’s like, “I see something in you, Chip. You don’t have any money, but I’m going to let you rent this place for four months for free and get it up to par. I think you’re going to do fine with your business.” Gary helped me out over the years doing similar things, mostly not taking rent for months at a time. Potting soil is a seasonal business. Even though cannabis is grown indoors, outdoors, greenhouse, there’s still the big seasonal push that happens in spring.

Andrew: I’m shocked that you wouldn’t give up on this thing. We’re really looking at something the story started in 2002. Did you at that point feel like, “I’m a loser. This failed.” At any point did you say, “I’m done?”

Chip: I never said I was done. But there was more than one time where I didn’t know if I was done or not. But really what happened was opening up the stores in Colorado. Cultivate Colorado–that really started giving me some revenue. The stores immediately started taking off. I started selling my own product to my stores to create a brand. It just kind of started to happen, just as fast as it stopped, it also started.

Andrew: I see the stores. Is this CultivateColorado.com?

Chip: CultivateColorado.com.

Andrew: Got it. You’ve got two different stores, one in Denver, one in Stapleton. Because they were doing well, that gave you the confidence and maybe even the financial resources to continue, right?

Chip: Absolutely. We started the Wheatridge location, my first store there in 2008 or 2009 on $90,000 in inventory, borrowed $90,000.

Andrew: You borrowed the money and then you paid for the inventory. Okay.

Chip: I borrowed the money and then I bought all the inventory on it. Then my distributor, NGW, they also cuffed me a fair amount of inventory for a period of time as well. In May of 2010, cannabis became–it already was legal for medicinal uses here, but something happened in 2010 and everybody decided to do it.

May of 2010, we did almost $1 million in sales at that Wheatridge location. That’s really when the soil started taking off, the hydroponic equipment started taking off. I’m selling in Colorado and in California now, places in Oregon, Washington, Canada, Vermont, Michigan, now they wanted it and we just started selling product.

Andrew: At your height, what was the revenue?

Chip: It was $8 million or $9 million.

Andrew: $8 million or $9 million a year–where did you get your customers?

Chip: By the time I sold Royal Gold, which was earlier this year, most of their customers are distributors and it’s not–we don’t deal with the public anymore, didn’t deal with the public. There are three or four major distributors, plus my store is Cultivate Colorado.

Andrew: I see. One of the issues that you had was getting financing. I actually heard this NPR piece about the banking system and the marijuana industry and how they will not allow stores to open up accounts, etc. You were able to open up accounts, I imagine, because you were just selling soil.

Chip: At the time, I was. Really most of the banking problems only came later. But at the beginning, no one knew what I was doing, like, “Oh, you’re making dirt?” There was no money coming through at the beginning. It wasn’t until much later that the financing with the banks became a problem. All the major banks, they don’t want to deal with cannabis people, whether they touch the plant or don’t touch the plant.

Andrew: Really? I didn’t realize that. So you then couldn’t open up a bank account? That whole thing was an issue.

Chip: I couldn’t use a national bank. We couldn’t use national banks and we still don’t. We use a regional bank that’s been great for me. They’re great bankers. I’ve stuck with them over the years. I do have some loans and whatnot with national banks, but they pick it apart. Something that should only take two or three weeks will take six months. They’ll look at every single thing.

Andrew: For me here at Mixergy, they make it so easy they actually push it on me. I’m not even kidding, phone call after phone call, “You should borrow money. You should borrow money.”

Chip: When a new guy comes to the bank, he always does that. Then they find out who I am. They start getting this headache. Sometimes they never call back. If they have the persistence and they call for six months, it will generally work out. It’s been a bootstrap business, everything from the get-go. I think part of what you were talking about earlier, earlier I wanted financing. This would have been 2008, 2007 just to by inventory.

Really the problem then was I just didn’t know what I was doing with business, man. I didn’t have proper records. I just started QuickBooks files and it was an all cash business. It was business to consumer sales. So I just didn’t know what I was doing. I was bigger than my [inaudible 00:39:41], for sure.

Andrew: You ended up getting money from somewhere that you regretted later on. Where’d you get your money and why’d you regret it?

Chip: I sold equity in 2010 to continue to finance the company, to grow the company and you know. . .

Andrew: I see it in your eyes. You closed your eyes. There’s nothing else that you resisted in this conversation, including sparking up. There was nothing at all.

Chip: We’ll have to spark it up right now. I picked for me a poor business partner. Nothing wrong with him personally. We just ended up seeing completely different. I saw black. He saw white.

Andrew: What does that mean? Be more specific. What did you see and what did he see?

Chip: It literally if I wanted to–so I sold off equity in order to expand the company and keep it going, 2010 after this big–or 2009, 2010 after this big problem we had with all the bad product. So I sold off equity to him. He got a percent of the company, and we just started butting heads immediately almost.

Andrew: Because what? What did you want and what did he want?

Chip: If I wanted to buy this size front end loader, he wanted to buy another front end loader.

Andrew: Oh, to that degree.

Chip: If I wanted to put a pile of soil here, he wanted to put the pile of soil here.

Andrew: Okay.

Chip: We just couldn’t agree. If I wanted to spend $5 this way, he wanted to spend $10 this way.

Andrew: Did he have a say in the business on a day-to-day basis?

Chip: Yeah, he had a say in the business. He was working for me previously. He was actually in management. So he was managing portions of the business before he bought into it.

Andrew: Okay.

Chip: But also, might not have wrote the best operational agreements, the best equity agreements. I didn’t know anything about equity finance at the time.

Andrew: What are some mistakes that people can make in the operational agreements? What’s an operational agreement?

Chip: There are two things you need to know about equity and operations. One, equity should always be this easily, clearly defined number of, “I have put in this much money or this much work that’s valued for this much money,” and the business is worth this much money. It should be clear, just like that. It’s often not.

Andrew: What do you mean? How do you keep it from being that clear? What’s it like when it’s not clear?

Chip: Most people, they just come up with a random number of ownership that they want for the work that they put in or the capital that they put in. It’s not directly proportional to how much the business is actually worth.

Andrew: So I might come to you and say, “I want 40% of the business because otherwise it doesn’t make sense for me to be involved in it and I’m willing to put in $20,000.”

Chip: Absolutely.

Andrew: That’s not clear enough.

Chip: Right.

Andrew: What’s a better way to phrase that?

Chip: Well, that’s clear enough. The problem most people have with equity and the problem that I have is someone wants more than they’re getting. So they say something like, “Well, the business is worth $1 million. I’m going to put in $200,000, but I want half the business. I want 40% of the business.” That’s the big problem people have with equity, at least the way I see it.

Andrew: Okay. Did you document it right?

Chip: Yeah. I think we documented it right. We might not have had the best attorney, but we did have documentation.

Andrew: What’s the operating agreement?

Chip: So the operating agreement, what that does is it allows the operation of the business, defines the operation of the business between the partners or the management.

Andrew: So it decides who’s in charge on a–

Chip: Who’s in charge and who’s doing what?

Andrew: Basically who can fire whom.

Chip: Who could fire–well, who could fire whom and who was responsible for what.

Andrew: I see. Okay. You guys didn’t have that clarity.

Chip: It was just so vague. We had one for the legal purposes. But in any committee, you have to have an odd number so there can be a vote and someone wins.

Andrew: Because if there are two different people, then you can argue forever, but if you have a third, whoever the third goes to is the deciding stop. But did you give 50% of your business away? No, you said you owned a majority of it earlier in the interview. So doesn’t the majority owner have–

Chip: Yeah. There was my mistake in my operational agreement. I gave a significant amount of power in the business to my equity partner. My mistake. And at the time, I was building these businesses in Colorado. He was already in management. It just didn’t seem like anything wrong. It seemed like, “Oh, this is a natural thing to do. This guy is managing some portion of my business,” and just like give him a couple more resources, give him some equity and things would work out, right?

Andrew: I see.

Chip: Just like if I hire a manager today or if you hired a manager today, you’d say, “These are your responsibilities.” And you might train them or check up on them a little bit, but at some point, the job is going to be done appropriately and you’re going to walk away if you get a good manager.

Andrew: Yeah.

Chip: I was actually at that point with him. We had a pretty decent relationship. But things change. People change. Ideas change.

Andrew: You guys went through this for years. Is that one of the reasons why you sold?

Chip: That’s absolutely the reason I sold.

Andrew: That was the reason? You guys couldn’t see eye to eye anymore and you said, “I’ve got to get out.”

Chip: “I’ve got to get out.”

Andrew: How did you find the buyer?

Chip: He got a Small Business Administration loan, which I know is crazy. He actually got one of those.

Andrew: Yeah, right. I can’t believe that because that comes with government backing, right?

Chip: Right. He got one of those, and he got a private investor, someone who had tried to buy into the business in the past. So he picked up another partner, another investor and got a bank loan.

Andrew: I see. That’s how you ended up getting all that money. That means he’s still owning the business?

Chip: He now owns the majority of the business.

Andrew: Got it. He bought you out, I mean.

Chip: He bought me out.

Andrew: And you’re completely done. Did you become a millionaire because of that?

Chip: Become?

Andrew: Could you put $1 million in the bank from that, at least?

Chip: Yeah. I got several million dollars out of it.

Andrew: Wow.

Chip: I got to pay off all my bills and expand into my new product line called Growers. I bought a new production facility, new equipment and building out a new potting soil and fertilizer manufacturing plant outside Denver, Colorado.

Andrew: That’s got to be a great thing for you, though. But still, it was so painful you told Ari, the producer, that you actually had to get out of the country. You and your wife went where?

Chip: We went to Mexico for ten days.

Andrew: It took you, you said, three months to get out of the monkey mind. What do you mean by the monkey mind?

Chip: You know, the Neanderthal mind or the monkey mind is often described where your mind goes to the worst what if places. I had so much PTSD from the split up of the sale of that company because it did not go smoothly for literally a year, it was attorneys, non-communication, bad communication, arguments, yelling, attorneys, attorney fees. So it didn’t go good.

Andrew: And you still believed maybe something bad was going to happen even afterwards or you just were so shaken up that you–well, you tell me.

Chip: Yeah. That’s the thing about PTSD. When you’re going through it, you’re macho and everything’s fine. I felt that I was calm on every single legal appointment, every single conversation. Other people told me I was as well, remarkably so. Then just after the fact, it all hits you. We try to be stoic for the moment. You’ve got to deal with it. At some point in your life it’s going to come back on you.

Andrew: I see. How did you get through it?

Chip: Every day it got better and better.

Andrew: Just because you were able to put it behind you or did you do something to get through it?

Chip: Well, with the sale of the business, all the responsibility went away. I had this heavy burden from–we had multiple lawsuits with neighbors. There were problems with employees. I always had this burden of responsibility for the employees or whatever was going on.

Andrew: Yeah. I feel that.

Chip: So as soon as the business was sold, I didn’t have the responsibility of the employees, like, “Hey, is everybody going to have a job tomorrow? Am I going to be able to pay everybody in order for them to pay their bills? Is the lawsuit with the neighbor and the county going to work out?” As soon as I sold the place, it started to go away.

Andrew: And then why did you get back into it then?

Chip: I didn’t really need the money at that point.

Andrew: You didn’t? Because you had the stores.

Chip: I had the stores. They were going well. We always lived really frugally. I’ve had some really good real estate investments over time. The money came second. I was just glad to be done. Then I realized like, “Wow, I can go buy brand new equipment. I can go–I get custom made mixing equipment for potting soil. I can hire the best scientists. I can hire the best market researchers.” It offered me–

Andrew: Because of the sale, you were able to do all that?

Chip: All this other access, right?

Andrew: Is that why you got into Growers? You said, “I can do this again, this time do it right, maintain equity, hire the right people?”

Chip: Yeah.

Andrew: That’s what it was?

Chip: Right. That and I am a sucker, as we talked about it earlier, I might not know when to quit. I really do have this environmental push to have an environmentally conscious business that’s making money, and potting soil is a great industry to do that. Being in Denver too, I also get to distribute to the East Coast. It’s major business opportunities for me there, for sure.

Andrew: I might have used the world fertilizer and soil interchangeably, but they’re not, are they?

Chip: No. Potting soil is the dirt.

Andrew: And then on top of it, I would add fertilizer.

Chip: Fertilizer is the nutrition that you feed your plants.

Andrew: You were in which part of that?

Chip: I do both, actually.

Andrew: Okay.

Chip: It’s primarily a potting soil company. But we also make liquid fertilizer and dry fertilizers as well.

Andrew: I see. And now you also have The Real Dirt. I see you’ve got four episodes on iTunes already.

Chip: Yeah. I think we’ve released one episode. The other 15 episodes we’re releasing all Netflix-style in December, December 16th.

Andrew: All at once?

Chip: All at once.

Andrew: Which is not the way most people do things, but I like that. I like that approach.

Chip: That’s me. I usually don’t do things the way everyone else does. It just was happenstance. I wanted to do this, but was ahead of myself or behind myself at the same time. So I brought some recording equipment, started inviting people over and before you knew it, I had 15 or 20 episodes recorded.

Andrew: And you’re smoking with most of them and talking about the business.

Chip: Yeah. Absolutely. Some of the–Christian Cederberg, he’s one of the leading attorneys in the industry.

Andrew: That’s already published, isn’t it?

Chip: We had great conversation. I don’t think it’s out. Maybe there’s a list of them. But I don’t think you can listen to it.

Andrew: Oh no, you’re right. It says, “Coming December 6th, 2016.” You’ve got like previous in iTunes right now. Doesn’t it suck that everything has to have an E for explicit?

Chip: Right. I guess it’s adult content.

Andrew: I guess. You know what part stinks for me is if I use the F-word, I have to mark my podcast as explicit for Apple to be okay with me.

Chip: Okay. There are plenty of F-words in my podcast.

Andrew: Yeah. And I’m sure people curse on mine too. I know they do. The New Yorker does. The New Yorker is considered a really respectable publication. I think we have to readjust what we mark explicit. Now, it’s possible that because you’re talking about something that’s illegal in many states, probably most states, that you would need the E. But I don’t think I would on Mixergy for most episodes.

Chip: Man, it’s a first amendment issue, man. For sure. This is freedom of speech.

Andrew: The first amendment is the government. It’s the government telling us what we can and can’t say. This is not a government issue. We’ve gone away from the government, which owned the airwaves, that said you can’t curse, etc., to individual companies owning it and then still imposing all these restrictions, which is such a weird way to do things, especially since what they’re doing is not saying, “Let’s stop. We get to reinvent things. We get to decide from scratch what is okay and what isn’t.” Instead what they’re doing is saying, “What was okay on television? Let’s copy that.”

Chip: Right.

Andrew: That’s my frustration.

Chip: That’s how the movie–

Andrew: I should get off my soapbox.

Chip: That’s how the movie censors have done it for years, right?

Andrew: Yeah. Let me ask you about this guy who introduced us, Hollis Carter. I know him.

Chip: Hollis, yeah.

Andrew: I’ve known him for years. What’s your deal with Hollis? How do you know Hollis?

Chip: Hollis and Michael–Michael Levitch and Hollis Carter, I don’t quite know how to describe them. Can you describe them?

Andrew: I feel like they–I don’t know Michael. I know Hollis. What I know about Hollis is he’s a guy who wants to live the way he wants to live. That means going snowboarding or skiing. That means hanging out here. I don’t even know if he–I imagine he’s not a guy who drinks. I don’t know for sure if he smokes, but I imagine he does. He likes hanging up with smart entrepreneurs who are living life their way and prefer to live life their way over making more money.

Chip: Sure. Yeah. That’s a good way to describe it.

Andrew: They tend to be wealthy anyway, despite that.

Chip: Yeah.

Andrew: How would you describe him? What’s his thing, BabyBathwaterInstitute.com, that’s what you were a part of?

Chip: I would say that Hollis has been a successful digital marketer over the years and has established himself that way. He’s done fairly well.

Andrew: Selling like eBooks and stuff or books on Amazon, something like that.

Chip: Yeah, eBooks, customized programming, many things. I don’t know everything he’s sold, but he’s done really well at it. He’s a marketing strategist for many people.

Andrew: Okay.

Chip: They’ve created this company called Baby Bathwater, which is a mastermind marketing entrepreneur network group. So I’m a member of Baby Bathwater and there are half entrepreneurs, half marketers, pretty much. They exclusively invite people and we get together several times a year and talk about marketing and business ownership.

Andrew: That’s it? You guys just get together and drink–by the way, that music in the background was on this website and it happened to load up a video. That’s what it is, you guys hang out in a good environment and it’s a curated people, like the founder of Dollar Beard Club, who I loved on Mixergy, it’s that kind of person he attracts.

Chip: They invite everyone specifically for a different reason. They often invite people to meet another person. So, it’s like, “Hey, let’s invite Chip and Chip and Don can meet. Let’s invite Andrew and Andrew and Ron can meet.” It’s almost like a dating service.

Andrew: Yeah, but ordinarily when people do that, it comes across as very networky and a little too uncomfortable.

Chip: Here’s the biggest difference. They really don’t want you to use it as a social media event or have any type of sales push, like its connection, why you’re there. I know people do business while they’re there, but it’s really about the connection. After the fact is when the business is supposed to take place.

Andrew: You guys will hang out and do what together?

Chip: That changes it. I’m at a tradeshow right now, the MJ Business Conference. After we speak, I’m going to go to it and I’m going to get pitched over and over and over and over again. Everybody wants to sell me or buy something from me.

Andrew: Yes. But that’s not what happens when you’re hanging out with–

Chip: That’s not what happens with those guys.

Andrew: What do you guys do instead? Do you ski?

Chip: So they have a few different types of events. They have these mastermind events that are held at a local camp, like an old boy scout camp outside of Boulder. They’re really intimate. There’s usually only like 10 or 20 people. And I’m using the term mastermind loosely, but that’s really kind of what it is. They’ll take a focus person in some field, gather some other people around and we split our businesses down. We talk about how we can all help each other with what we’re doing and build the businesses back up.

Andrew: Then you get to hear other people’s input on how you could be improving your business and you get to give them input. I see.

Chip: Yeah. Absolutely. So it’s a great learning environment because you’re with people that are actually doing it instead of just going, reading a book or going to a seminar to listen to like, “How you start an internet marketing business?” I got involved with these guys. They were working with another company in the cannabis space and didn’t know anything about cannabis, right?

So, Justin Sandy, he works with them. He’s like, “I’ve got this buddy, Chip Baker. I’m pretty sure he can answer any question about weed that you have.” So, they invited me out for dinner. I thought it was interesting. We chatted for a while. At the same time, I started to do research on internet marketing. I built these incredible businesses without any internet marketing whatsoever.

Andrew: I see.

Chip: It was all brick and mortar gumshoe, knock on people’s doors, old school contacts. Developing these new businesses, I wanted to enter into the 21st century and use digital marketing techniques to increase my business and grow my business that way, sell my business that way.

Andrew: So you wanted to–I see. So you wanted to hear from them.

Chip: They were looking for cannabis information. We hit it off. Hollis is from Atlanta. I’m from Macon, Georgia. He’s from Atlanta, Georgia. I’m from Macon, Georgia. Southerners outside the south tend to bond together easily. There’s a covalent bond or something there, I’m not sure.

Andrew: Plus he has a very comfortable with himself and comfortable with his surroundings attitude. I’m very much a New Yorker. I’m very antsy. I’m comfortable and happy where I am at this point in my life, but I don’t know what it is. Our energy levels are a little bit different and I feel like I need to get to his level when we talk. He’s in a better spot. He’s happier. He’s more comfortable.

Chip: Some people don’t have to try. He might be one of these people.

Andrew: That don’t have to try?

Chip: Yeah. I feel that I need to try. I need to work hard on it.

Andrew: You do?

Chip: Yeah, totally.

Andrew: Why? You come across very comfortable here. How do you feel?

Chip: Because I’ve been trying hard at it.

Andrew: How do you try to get to this? What do you to try to get this comfortable?

Chip: I’ll force–like when I go to this tradeshow, I’ll force myself to go talk to people that I don’t know. I put on my radio voice and I say, “Hello, I’m Chip Baker.” I speak with more enunciation. I purposefully think about my body posture. That’s what I mean by try. I push myself to go out.

Andrew: I see.

Chip: My mother’s told me since I was a kid I’d just walk up and introduce myself. But I’ve always felt like I had to push myself to do that.

Andrew: I get it. I used to be that way. And then I would go up in the room anyway and say, “I think I’m done.” For me it was I didn’t know what to say. Once I learned how to say it and what to say to interact with people, then it became fun. Then it wasn’t this weird, “Will it work out or will it not?” It was, “I know it’s going to work out and I’m okay if it doesn’t because it usually does work out and I’m happy if I have 90% success rate.”

Chip: Sure.

Andrew: We should go out to one of these conferences because I love to talk to everyone. I will talk to every single person before I go back up to the room and then I will bring other people into the room to hang out and have a drink with me.

Chip: Great. Yeah. I enjoy the social atmosphere of it, for sure. I’ve always had close friends and there were just a few people around. We’ve almost always lived in rural America and that kind of happens. I try. I work at it. If we want to be good at anything, that’s what we have to do. We have to work hard at it and recognize our faults, see the things that we’re good at, foster those things and work on the things we’re not good at. That’s how you’ve gotten this podcast.

Andrew: And everything else.

Chip: Right.

Andrew: Well, congratulations on all your success. Congratulations on selling the company, getting to start over fresh your own way, getting to smoke up as part of your work, that’s got to be fun.

Chip: Yeah.

Andrew: If anyone wants to check out your podcast, they can go to whatever podcast pp they like and search for The Real Dirt and it comes up pretty fast.

Chip: TheRealDirt.com. You can look us up there.

Andrew: You got TheRealDirt.com?

Chip: TheRealDirt.com.

Andrew: Wow, didn’t even have to go for the .co. That worked out well.

Chip: Yeah. I got lucky on that one.

Andrew: Now you’ve got–the difference between your store and The Real Dirt website is The Real Dirt website is creating with more marketing in mind.

Chip: Yeah. Absolutely. So, this is–

Andrew: They’re both WordPress sites, but one actually has like bigger images, easier to subscribe, clearer call to action.

Chip: That’s great to hear. This is after a year of studying digital marketing.

Andrew: Yeah.

Chip: It’s so hard. You can’t just hire people to do this. I’ve been frauded on numerous occasions to hire people to do this. The site, the Cultivate Colorado you see right now. I’m not saying I was frauded over it, but here’s what happened. “Hey, I don’t know anything about digital marketing. I want a website because a website is going to make it happen for me.”

You pay somebody $5,000 for the website. It doesn’t work out right. Next year, you go to somebody and say, “I want a website. This isn’t working out for me.” “Well, the other guy didn’t do it right. Pay me $8,000 and I’m going to do it right.”

Andrew: Start fresh.

Chip: Right. It just progresses and progresses.

Andrew: Yeah. You really do have to be connected to people who know it to know who to even ask for. Well, I know you are right now. Actually I was going to say if anyone wants to reach out to you with suggestions for what you could do or offer to do it, but forget it. Do you want that? You’re good. You’re taken care of. I think we’ve got a really good interview here. They should follow up by going and checking out your podcast and of course if they happen to be in Colorado, they can check out your store. It is CultivateColorado.com for that URL.

My two sponsors for this interview–let me just stop here and talk about this whole thing with sponsors. I’ve never had a sponsor tell me what to do and what not to do and I never will. It sucks if I lose a sponsor over content. But I do know that I’m coming from a good place and I’m happy to lose sponsors, audience, whatever.

Here’s my goal–I want to understand how people build their business. I will get into whatever business I can to understand how they did it, what we can learn from them, what we can bring back to our companies. If we’re not curious, then we’re dying. Listen to one of my heroes, the only person who I listen–actually, there are two guys I look towards to do interviews. One is Howard Stern because he gets people to open up and the other is Charlie Rose because he does intellectual interviews.

Well, when Charlie Rose interviewed Bill Gates, he was asked what he learned from it, what he got from it. He said, “Bill Gates is just curious. That curiosity is what helped him get where he was.” I’m like that too. I think the most successful entrepreneurs, the most successful people have that curiosity.

I love, Chip, that you were willing to come on here, be open. I know you’re not walking away from this hiring new developers or doing biz dev with my audience the way other people are. You’re not looking to expose yourself to venture capitalists for your business for doing this interview. I actually don’t even know why you’re doing this interview, but I appreciate that you are. I know what’s in it for us. We get to learn from you. What’s in it for you?

Chip: What’s in it for me? I am interested in the reach, for sure. I do other things besides just sell products, manufacture products. I’m always looking for new and better employees. I also consult venture capitalists groups on cannabis investments.

Andrew: I see.

Chip: TheRealDirt.com is my new podcast, which is a venture of love. I’m really excited about that. I’m interested in talking to you, actually, Andrew, because I feel like we know each other because I’ve listened to all these podcasts. So, I don’t know how it is for you because I feel like we’re friends because I hear you in my head all the time.

Andrew: I do too because we’ve spent–I think after the first few minutes of chatting before we started, I felt that closeness. I do agree that it’s the conversation that was in your head when you were listening to my interviews made it easier for us to have a quick get to know you and bonding conversation before we recorded. I think that’s one of the benefits of podcasting. You’re going to find that for yourself with your podcast, for sure.

Chip: I’m just trying to entertain myself. Really that’s the biggest thing I’m trying to do in life. If I can create some good product and make some good money and build some great relationships over time, that’s just an added bonus.

Andrew: Well, now that we’ve gotten to know each other, if you need anything, hit me up. If you’re in San Francisco, come let’s hang out. I’m right in the heart of the city.

Chip: Absolutely. Yeah, Andrew. There are all kinds of cannabis tradeshows that occur in the San Francisco area, the NCIA. That’s a big one, the MJ Biz. Those are both big ones. They’re all legitimate, big industry, big banking people involved with it.

Andrew: Yeah. This is a growing industry, unlike photography–it’s like the opposite of what photography was when you were getting into it.

Chip: Right.

Andrew: When an industry is shrinking, when it’s dying, when people don’t want it, it’s very hard. You’re really climbing uphill and al the effort feels like it’s wasted. Frankly, a lot of it is. When you’re in an industry that’s growing, that’s expanding, it just feels so much better. Everything you do seems to work 10 times better.

Chip: Right.

Andrew: All right. Thank you for doing this.

Chip: Can I ask you a couple questions, if you don’t mind?

Andrew: You want to do it right here on camera with people listening or you want to do it privately?

Chip: We can do it privately. How about that? It’s about your podcast.

Andrew: Okay. Sure. I’ll close it out here by saying to my two sponsors thank you. If anyone wants a developer or team of developers go check out Toptal.com/Mixergy. If you need a great hosting company, go to HostGator.com/Mixergy. I’m grateful to them for sponsoring and to Hollis for making this introduction. Thank you all for listening. Bye everyone.

Chip: Bye, guys.


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