Five Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started a CBD Business, With Corey Mangold Co-Founder of Gigasavvy

If I could inspire a movement that would have the most impact on people around the world, it would be to develop a standardized manufacturing and testing protocol to be adopted globally. If we all adhered to the same level of testing, regulations, seed-to-sale tracking, and emissions testing, it would better ensure that no matter where in the world you are, your consuming cannabis safely and don’t have to be concerned that this amazing plant is going to cause you harm because of how it was grown or how it was made. Consumer safety is incredibly important to me and I would love to help develop a global standards program.

I had the pleasure to interview Corey Mangold. Mr. Mangold is the Principal and Co-Founder of Gigasavvy, a leading southern California creative marketing agency. He has established a thriving agency that has launched and managed campaigns for Toshiba, Knott’s Berry Farm, Johnny Rockets, Hi-Chew Candy, Tenet Healthcare and Northgate Markets. Mr. Mangold has also worked tirelessly to create a thriving culture at Gigasavvy that has been recognized, 3 years running, as a “Top 10 Places” to work in Orange County. As the President and Co-Founder of Orchid, Mr. Mangold brings 18 years of start-up experience and a knack for developing successful companies. Mr. Mangold’s vision and extensive experience in marketing/advertising, branding, design, sales and product development has already established Orchid as the new brand to beat in the market.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share with us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?

What led me into the cannabis industry is a culmination of nearly 30 years. I was developing business ideas and strategies from a very young age. At the age of 18, I began my first venture in the software development industry and built and exited companies in Northern California until landing in Southern California in 2007. In 2008, I started my most recent venture before Orchid Ventures, a nationally respected advertising agency Gigasavvy. During my 20 years of building businesses from the ground up, I began pursuing my passions, which led me to cannabis. For nearly 15 years I hadn’t used cannabis, and after suffering major anxiety and daily panic attacks, I began using both THC and CBD-based products. I began to see major improvements in my daily life, and the stigma of cannabis in my household died a quick death. I began viewing cannabis as a medicine, and not a recreational drug like alcohol or tobacco. Through my own studies and research, I developed a keen understanding of manufacturing processes with cannabis and began to better understand the levels of quality. This understanding led my partner Rene Suarez and I to create a brand with a sole mission of creating the highest quality cannabis products in form factors that would lead to a great user experience.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

Building a company in the cannabis industry is not for the faint of heart. Many interesting things have occurred along the way. One of the funniest was in 2017 when I was on a road trip through California and had to stop by our manufacturer’s facility to pick up some product samples. Driving down the road, my co-worker and I realized that we were driving to what used to be a state prison to pick up cannabis. We realized a state prison had been closed down and turned into a licensed cannabis manufacturing facility, and I was there to pick up marijuana. The irony in that had me laughing for a good bit.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

The funniest mistake I made when first starting was thinking that this was going to be like any other business or industry I have been previously involved in. I thought “business is business.” Well, I learned quickly that being involved in an industry coming out of prohibition while still having a massive black market was not only difficult but very frustrating at times. You think you can just send someone an email, or a calendar invite, or conference bridge to find out that these forms of communication are foreign to some of those that have been involved in the industry for years. I had to learn very quickly how to communicate effectively and also do proper due diligence before engaging with any partners.

Are you working on any exciting projects now?

Here at Orchid Ventures, we are working on a lot of exciting projects. We just launched on the public markets in March, and are deep in the trenches right now building up revenues and developing new product lines and brands. I’m very excited for what the future holds, and we are working tirelessly to turn our dreams into a reality.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

During my life-long career as an entrepreneur, I’ve had a lot of time to develop relationships with great mentors, but none as significant as my own father. My dad, now retired, has been a CFO of mid-size companies for 40 years. At a tender age of 4, I began watching the stock tickers and working on taxes in pencil with my dad. I knew at a very young age that my dad had a special mind, and I needed to absorb as much as I could from him. When I was 14 years old, he started his first venture in the artificial landscaping industry building water features and artificial rockscapes. I watched him struggle through the years of infancy in a new company, to landing major contracts with Disney. I also watched him struggle through collecting on accounts receivables and the other very important aspects of business. When I was a senior in high school, I was blessed with my now 21-year-old daughter, Katelyn. I had a choice to either go to college and become an employee, or go out on my own, carve my own path, and build my first company. I chose to become my own person and develop my first company. My father was there behind me and supporting me every step of the way. He’s been a great sounding board and has always given me great advice that I have been able to put into action. I wouldn’t be here without my father.

This industry is young dynamic and creative. Do you use any clever and innovative marketing strategies that you think large legacy companies should consider adopting?

When it comes to marketing in the cannabis industry there are definitely unique approaches that must come into play to be successful. With my relationships and experience with Gigasavvy, we have unique access to marketing platforms and technologies that will enable us to be innovative on the marketing front. When it comes to marketing in this space, you have immediate blockers from Facebook/Instagram and Google. Hopefully, those restrictions will be removed once marijuana is descheduled and legalized federally. Until then, the biggest gap is the POS (point of sale) platforms that are in use at the retail level. In other industries where you can collect POS data, have Beacon at store entries, you can better build out an accurate attribution model and track from a display or mobile advertisement being shown, to tracking that person into a store, and tracking the sale itself or conversion. Without this technology in existence at the cannabis retailer level, marketing becomes very difficult and risky. Most companies are heavily relying on billboards, print, and other traditional methods that are very difficult to track and to tell if your campaign is successful or not or what the actual return on investment is.

Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Cannabis industry? Can you share 3 things that most concern you?

The three things that excite me most about the cannabis industry are the global expansion, regulation, and legislative changes that are beginning to occur, scientific testing and medical research, and product development with lesser-known cannabinoids and terpenes. The global markets are expanding quickly, with new countries legalizing cannabis and import/export, which will entirely change the industry and move us into a global marketplace. The medical research is very exciting because the younger generation of doctors and research scientists have a keen interest in cannabis due to its amazing characteristics and application as a potential game changer in the medical industry. We are already seeing articles of cannabis being used in opioid treatment and recovery, which is very exciting to see. As for product development, as more medical research is compiled and more research into other cannabinoids, we’re going to see amazing products developed for weight loss, sleep & anxiety, and a host of other medical conditions where THC-V, CBG, CBN, etc., will offer great benefits.

There are several things that concern me regarding the cannabis industry. First and foremost is the ever-growing black market. In California, we are seeing major issues with lack of enforcement, and hundreds if not thousands of illegal storefronts in Southern California alone. Consumers heavily frequent illegal shops as there are no taxes being collected, so a consumer’s cost for products is much lower. This year the state of California will miss out on hundreds of millions of dollars in tax revenue due to the black market. With most of the major brands selling to the black market and the number of black market retailers, enforcement is my biggest concern. When all these stores go away, and companies like WeedMaps stop advertising these illegal shops, all the revenue will have no choice but to go through the legal markets and be taxed appropriately. The second concern is the slow speed that the United States is moving towards full national legalization. If we don’t make changes quickly, then the rest of the world is going to engage in import/export and create a global market with the U.S. sitting on the sidelines watching. The third biggest concern I have in the cannabis industry is the removal of the stigma of cannabis and educating consumers around the world. To remove the stigma, we first need all the major cannabis companies to adhere to good morals and business ethics and be a source of inspiration and not a stain. To remove the stigma, we have to build credibility with consumers and non-consumers and educate on the benefits of cannabis, cannabis marketplace, and the overall development of cannabis as a viable product that may offer great benefits to people of all ages.

Can you share your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Leading a Cannabis Business”? Please share a story or example for each.

  1. I wish someone told me how expensive it would be to build up infrastructure. When we started Orchid, we did a small raise with friens and family, and underestimated how much would have to go into scaling the brand. From day one, the demand was much greater than we could supply, which made access to capital incredibly important. We were also naive in thinking we could simply raise more capital through traditional resources which aren’t readily available currently in the U.S.
  2. I wish someone told me how to compete on an unfair playing field, while some companies like Orchid adhere to all regulations, and while many don’t. It’s like owning a MLB franchise and all your players are clean, but many teams you compete against are on steroids.
  3. I wish someone told me how important due diligence would be when trying to find good partner companies. Fortunately things are evolving quickly and more and more companies are entering the cannabis industry from other industries, but in the beginning, it was very hard to find partners that had the business acumen, and ability to scale in a rapidly growing sector.
  4. I wish someone told me how much ego comes into play in this industry. Most people you meet in this industry are the best grower, or the best extractor, or the best retailer. This again is slowly going away, but in a new growth sector, often people feel they are the best because data isn’t available to show them otherwise. Now with more regulation and testing and SOPs coming into play, people are beginning to be humbled and realize that we all still have so much to learn.
  5. I wish someone told me that I would have to effectively lobby for legislative action to enforce the laws so the black market doesn’t thrive and steal away from the legal market. I was very ignorant in believing that all the cities and counties would immediately shut down all the illegal operations, and those missed revenues would funnel through the legal markets and provide amazing revenue to the county or state thus providing more public services and benefits. I now realize how important lobbying for effective and meaningful legislation is critical.

What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?

I would advise other CEOs or founders of cannabis companies to embrace the modern business culture and learn how to best work with millennials. Millennials are very misunderstood, and in fact, are incredibly hard working and smart. With Orchid and Gigasavvy, I’ve learned how to properly manage people in a way that utilizes their strengths and minimizes the need for micro-management. Hiring someone that is an expert at their job, and staying out of their way so they can do it, is very important when managing young or veteran professionals.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

If I could inspire a movement that would have the most impact on people around the world, it would be to develop a standardized manufacturing and testing protocol to be adopted globally. If we all adhered to the same level of testing, regulations, seed-to-sale tracking, and emissions testing, it would better ensure that no matter where in the world you are, your consuming cannabis safely and don’t have to be concerned that this amazing plant is going to cause you harm because of how it was grown or how it was made. Consumer safety is incredibly important to me and I would love to help develop a global standards program.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

Readers can follow me on Instagram @OrchidCEO or @CoreyMangold.

Five Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started a CBD Business, With Corey Mangold Co-Founder… was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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