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California Cannabis & Capital (Podcast)



  • Marie Montmarquet, co-founder of MD Numbers, talks about the advantages of running a small family business. Avoiding over-corporatization, staying focused on the details, but knowing partnership may be inevitable.
  • We also discuss the differences between Northern and Southern California cannabis cultures, willful vs woeful ignorance, failed policies and unavoidable unfriendly loans in the cannabis industry.
  • Self-funding, maintaining and raising capital as a minority and first business owner. Fighting for real social equity programs - pessimistic on macro level; optimistic on a community level.

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Marie Montmarquet is co-founder of MD Numbers Inc., a family of vertically integrated cannabis brands - MD Farms, Marie's Deliverables, and Legacy Coterie - that provide a range of goods and services to the California supply chain, retail customers, and equity community.

Over the last decade, Marie has created several successful cannabis businesses along with her brother Allen Hackett with whom she co-founded MD Numbers Inc. and its subsidiaries. Marie and Allen are also minority owners of Cannabis Express, having built one of the Bay Area's biggest delivery providers.

Marie is also focused on being an advocate for social justice and equity in the industry. She advises the cannabis equity program for Success Centers and offers monthly tours to MD Farms for equity applicants.

Topics include:

  • 5:30 - Wanted to be an environmental lawyer, but got interested in cannabis and looked into opening a business in California, as Tennessee, where Marie is from, it's still illegal for medical and rec. Learned commissioned sales, and then got to San Francisco area; learned about multipliers, POS system and how products are sourced, which all helped in starting her own cannabis company.
  • 9:00 - Strategic partnerships - walking the line of vertical integration. If deal makes good business sense, that's the most important factor - can it stand on its own?
  • 12:00 - Starting MD Numbers in 2015 with her brother Allen. California micro-climates - in every area of the state, you have to understand these subtle differences. LA vs Bay area, for instance, any flower had to be called something OG in LA area for people to buy it. Bay area loves exotics, triple A strains. LA was always less regulated than Northern California so it was like the Wild West. Lot of less expensive flower in LA so they realized they needed to start their own farm for it to pay off for them. Cultivation and distribution permits and teaching people about cannabis through educational tours.
  • 18:00 - Founding the company with her brother - have to poke holes in all your business ideas, not surrounding yourself with 'yes' people. The devil is in the details and when you figure those out and the option remains viable, it will likely be successful. Getting away from corporate tendencies. Almost did predatory deals where they would have lost their farm by now - crazy deals out there, good to have a partner that helps make the right decisions. Advantage in small family run business.
  • 25:30 - Started self-funding; could open a business for much cheaper 5-10 years ago, was doable. Not as much now; raised Series A from family and friends, farm is now a few phases farther along - have never had a friendly loan, aside from a loan at 20%, which is only friendly in the cannabis space. Most funding has been 50%.
  • 29:00 - Getting funding as a minority business owner. As a NewCo, much harder to raise capital period. In California to get certain permits you had to first prove you had been doing it illegally first, which typically meant less than stellar business plans and corporate governance, which makes it harder to get good financing, typically even harder as a minority first business owner. MD Numbers just reported first cash flow positive quarter. Still difficult to raise capital. Traditional loans looking for more collateral than a small business like theirs can offer. Advising and raising up community; guiding them through advisable loan structures.
  • 35:00 - Fostering social equity within cannabis industry - only storefronts being opened now in California are minority-owned but being taken advantage of - like High Times, who acquired 13 storefronts from equity owners, some who never signed off on the sale or see the financials. Vulture culture. Most big companies aren't making money either, they have a lot of permits - lot of money coming in and a lot of unprofitable business and in between is the issue of equity. How come big business gets to come in before social equity is funded or really given out in the way it was intended. Must be trying to fix the fact that people are still sitting in jail for cannabis when big business exists down the road.
  • 45:00 - Focused on growing their business - in terms of growing, cultivation and controlling production; expanding into brick and mortar. Focused on growing quality, not just high-yielding, flower. Getting out of debt, expanding cultivation footprint at the retail - instead of at the bulk/distribution level. Offers monthly farm tours to equity applicants to educate people about horticulture and the cannabis plant from two black business owners. Ways to effect change and get ahead of many federal issues that will affect communities long-term.

This article was written by

On The Cannabis Investing Podcast, host Rena Sherbill provides actionable investment insight and the context with which to understand the burgeoning cannabis industry. Interviews with C-level executives, analysts and sector experts give you investment ideas to consider, help you think through your investing approach and provide you a new lens with which to understand this ever-growing sector.

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