The Leading Luxury Cannabis Brand In California
"Creating something out of nothing is exactly what I do best, and the entire industry is still mostly a blank sheet of paper."
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Whenever I’m asked why I started Four PM — my answer is always the same, Four PM is the most selfish / selfless item I spend time on each day.
Whether I’m taking the time to research a specific trend within the cannabis industry or having the opportunity to interview a cannabis industry leader — on every occasion I’m afforded the opportunity to learn something new.
Today’s edition of Four PM is no exception, and in the short conversation I had with Adrian Sedlin it became crystal clear why the company he founded in 2015 has become the #1-selling flower brand for luxury cannabis in California.
In this conversation, Adrian shared some amazing insights as to how his team is thinking about product differentiation in cannabis, the lessons he’s learned building CANNDESCENT, and much more.
Adrian Sedlin is the former CEO of Ocenture, and is currently the Founder & CEO of CANNDESCENT - the leading luxury cannabis brand in California.
What was the insight that led you to build Canndescent?
When I go back to 2015, the key insight I learned about the endocannabinoid system is that the only known plant that produces the cannabinoids that interact with this system is cannabis.
I realized that the existing pharmaceutical industry would shrink in size as a result of our enhanced understanding of the endocannabinoid system so it was really a no-brainer.
The net positive cannabis would have on human health as a result of the reduced consumption of alcohol and drugs made it important for me to have an involvement in this industry, as someone who has a close connection with alcoholism in my family.
What are some of the lessons you learned in other industries which have helped you succeed within the cannabis industry?
As a serial entrepreneur and has had a number of successful exits outside of the cannabis industry in sectors such as direct response, e-commerce, and B2G SaaS — the key lessons I apply are how to grow a company quickly, scale it, and load-balance everything from the culture to the required capital necessary to fuel this growth.
I gleaned these lessons in the first 25 years of my career, and it turned out to be a perfectly tailored experience for working in the cannabis industry — which is currently composed of all startups, growth equity companies, and a handful of mature public companies.
I would probably be the last person a headhunter would ever call, as I never had enough experience in any one industry. However, creating something out of nothing is exactly what I do best, and the entire industry is still mostly a blank sheet of paper.
As the CEO of a rapidly growing cannabis company, what are some of the challenges you personally face as you scale your company?
One challenge that most cannabis companies still face today is access to capital at a reasonable price point.
Across the industry today the cost of capital, whether it be equity or debt, is far higher than in any other industry. The reason why I cite this specific challenge is because cannabis is a growth industry, and the fastest way to bankrupt any company is to grow too quickly without having access to enough capital to support this growth.
Another major challenge any operator in our industry faces is solving problems that have never been solved before. For instance, if cannabis were a more mature industry I would have likely started a cannabis brand that had a network of growers. However, the supply chain in cannabis is so immature that there were no good sourcing solutions, so in order for Canndescent to ensure a great experience for consumers, we had to build it ourselves.
How are you thinking about product differentiation in cannabis?
Product differentiation always starts with understanding who your consumer actually is. You need to think about different demographics and psychographics, and then match them against the multiple form factors of cannabis, product lines, and price points for your target audience.
Once you understand who your customer is you have to ask yourself: What are their primary challenges and obstacles? Why should they choose my product or solution? This is what informs your continued product development and product differentiation.
What has you most excited about the future of the cannabis industry?
I’m most excited about how cannabis science will impact both the adult-use and medical markets. When I think about our current understanding of the various cannabinoids and terpenes and the endocannabinoid system as a whole, the industry is essentially a four-year-old just banging on a musical keyboard with their hands.
I’m really excited about the idea of us starting to compose “real music” and move towards creating specific formulations of cannabinoid and terpene profiles that are fine-tuned to enrich the human experience. For instance, one day we’ll be able to inform consumers that this combination will make you 20% more creative, or another combination will make you more calm or more relaxed - all backed by real research. That’s exciting.
How do you make the distinction between adult-use cannabis, vs that of cannabis as a wellness market?
As opposed to making a distinction between the two, I view it as a continuum that goes all the way from a medical patient to an adult-use consumer.
If you visualize a horizontal line that represents your current health, this line has a theoretical baseline. If you fall below, you're going to want to make an effort to get back to baseline. For medical patients who suffer from diseases such as Parkinson’s or MS, or cancer, cannabis can get you back to baseline.
On the other hand, there are many things we do in life to surpass this baseline such as exercising, having a healthy diet, and for many people they consume cannabis for the same purpose.
For me personally, one of the most positive experiences of my life was when my daughter and I laughed for almost 30 minutes straight — the conversation likely wouldn't have occurred if not for consuming a very small amount of cannabis earlier in the day which made me more open to the experience. It was one of many examples of cannabis improving the quality of my life.
Laughing, being more creative, relaxing more deeply are about improving the human experience and surpassing your health baseline. So in summary, the medical use of cannabis is more focused on bringing you back to your health baseline, whereas adult-use cannabis is about transcending this baseline.
Did you gain value from reading this edition of Four PM?