Situation

An experienced CEO, now a NextLevel team member, was approached by three founders of a cannabis production/processing startup and asked to supply management, operational, and growth planning expertise as a member of the leadership team. Additionally, they wanted him to help the company navigate the unusually difficult set of challenges they faced as a player in a completely new industry being impacted by rapidly changing government regulation, controls, and oversight. The mission of his engagement with the company was to create a replicable structure that was tailored for the industry and could be applied to other states as legalization expanded.

Solution

To accomplish the desired objectives and to ensure the operation achieved sustainably, the CEO spearheaded the execution in parallel of three groups of tasks. One was designing an industrial scale production facility for a product in which no formal guidance or road maps existed—plant designs and production systems had to be adapted, modified, or created from scratch. Another was navigating the government approval and permitting process as well as leading the build-out, creation, and management of all operational and financial controls necessary for success. The third effort was in legislative advocacy, government affairs, regulatory compliance, fundraising, and strategic partnership formation. In all these activities he worked to secure buy-in from founders, the Board, employees, and especially external stakeholders such as legislative and city regulators.

Results

  • Achieved cashflow breakeven point within nine months of initial launch—a record-breaking achievement in the industry at that moment in time
  • Raised over $1.5 million in growth funding in a new industry that is not yet federally regulated
  • Designed and built a corporate production facility including a specialized pharmaceutical-grade laboratory
  • Successfully navigated the extremely challenging governmental approval and permitting process, participating in the legislative promotion and passage of two Bills (HB2156 and SB5052) key to the industry’s growth in Washington State

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