Josh Genderson is one of the godfathers of today’s booming cannabis business. His company is now valued at significantly more than $500M.
We got together for an episode of the DealMakers podcast. He shared his journey into legal weed, the process of scaling a massive nationwide company, and some of the secrets to building a highly successful venture.
Roots in Capitol Hill
Genderson was born a fourth-generation Washingtonian. He grew up in DC. A very small community. His grandfather was the founder of a Capitol Hill wine and spirits store. A place where Josh was introduced to politics through the Supreme Court Justices, members of the Senate and even White House booze deliveries.
He attended the University of Maryland. Then set his sights on the glamor of living and working in Hollywood. He headed off to LA, inspired to become a talent agent. The sun, ocean, and people were inspiring.
Of course, working your way up through the ranks to become an agent is significantly less glamorous than you’d imagine.
They treat you like trash for 10 years. If you can take it, you might get the chance to become a real talent agent. You start out in the mailroom. Then he managed to move up to being an agent’s assistant. That meant fetching water and laundry and being treated horribly every day.
That culture got old pretty quickly. So, he moved to New York and worked in music promotion and management. The company had venues all over NYC. It was fun but meant working until 4 am, being in the party scene.
He wanted to do more and get closer to his roots, so he studied at the International Wine School. It gave him a foundation on the business side of things which he leveraged when he took over as President of Schneider’s.
He leveraged his education to start his own import company as an extension of the family business. Cellar.com is an eCommerce platform, and a distribution arm of Schneider’s, that brought wines from around the world directly to the consumer. He continued his family’s legacy, growing the business by about seven times what it was before.
One of the biggest learnings from this experience was working in a highly regulated space, full of fragmented rules, and how to stay in compliance. He learned how to navigate in this environment, and it prepared him to become the CEO of hyper-successful cannabis business Holistic Industries.
The Legalization Of Medical Cannabis
Washington DC became one of the first on the East Coast to embrace medical cannabis. Josh Genderson saw an opportune moment to get involved in the process.
When the licenses were announced, hundreds of companies began competing for them. Josh set up two companies to apply under, and they won two out of the seven grow and processing licenses up for grabs.
He was determined to create a company culture that centered on treating people well, and for being known as one of the best places to work.
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