Wendy Robbins and Karen Paull are the hosts of The Marijuana Show. The @themjrealityshow brings together nine cannabis entrepreneur contestants each season, helping educate them on navigating the industry through their educational arm, Bud Camp, and their final investing tool/incubator, High Finance. The show has offered over $20 million to its contestants to-date.
We recently invited Wendy and Karen for a Q&A session to talk about their background and their awesome TV series, The Marijuana Show.
Ganjly: What are your backgrounds and what made you decide to pursue a career in cannabis?
Wendy Robbins: I have directed, produced shows for almost every network. 2 Emmys, another nomination, I also co-invented The Tingler head massager and made $10 million. That lead me to coach entrepreneurs on how to bring products to market and develop systems to maximize optimal efficiency. Kelly Ripa sought me out to star with her in a TV series called, “Homemade Millionaire.” That lead me to write a bestselling book, “Why Marry A Millionaire? Just Be One!” I’ve been a cannabis consumer for years and wanted to be in the industry. Since production is something I’ve done for 15+ years, and coaching and public speaking are all familiar, it made sense to do The Marijuana Show.
Karen Paull: I owned my own digital media advertising agency for a few years where I booked over $25 Million in business for large online publishers. Prior to that, I had a long corporate career in advertising sales, spanning CBS television to VP of Advertising Sales for Snapfish, where I helped orchestrate an acquisition by HP for $300 Million. I am a numbers person, love spreadsheets and excel, kind of a creative nerd. I am also a thespian with a BFA and an MFA in theater, and I have taught, acted, and produced theater including Broadway (Evita) and Off-Broadway. Since college, I have enjoyed cannabis as a creative muse and still enjoy recreational use.
In 2014 when Colorado opened up to recreational, Wendy and I thought of opening a dispensary and we attended a workshop. After meeting dozens of entrepreneurs with great ideas and little support, we naturally started offering them advice and coaching, and then we got stoned one night and a light went off, “Let’s do a reality show about the business of Cannabis!” And The Marijuana Show was born!
Ganjly: How many employees does The Marijuana Show have and what kind of traits do you look for when hiring new members?
Karen Paull: Our company hires the most contractors during production; for Season #3, we had over 50 people on payroll including camera, lights, make-up, catering, production assistants, and many more. During the rest of the year, we have between 4 and 10 consultants working on marketing, press and the site. In truth, Wendy and I put in about 60 +hours a week and have for 4 years, so we are about to hire more to our team. Traits we look for are a track record of success, great references, and most of all creativity and the ability to be quick to change with the tides of our industry.
Ganjly: What is the most challenging experience you have had in the cannabis industry so far?
Wendy Robbins: The hardest thing is that it’s federally illegal, schedule 1 – meaning there is no medical benefit… yet we have spoken with thousands of people who have benefited from the plant. The Government has a patent on cannabis based on medical benefits. The war on drugs so far has cost $50 billion. 15 million abuse prescription drugs.
U.S drug sales are over $450 billion. Pharmaceutical drugs caused over 55,000 overdoses last year. Cannabis causes no deaths. Vets lose their benefits if they use cannabis, so there is a huge addiction to pills problem. You can’t take your medicine across state lines legally. It’s time to #legalizeit. There are also the obvious obstacles: little to no banking, changing regulations and laws, the current federal administration, it’s difficult to advertise using social media, not being able to promote on TV, etc. Entrepreneurs really need to have a compliance officer and a great legal team to ensure they don’t go to prison.
Ganjly: What is your proudest moment since you started down this path of being an entrepreneur in the cannabis space?
Karen Paull: My proudest moment?–great question…there are so many. I will list a few: One was getting Luke, a 24-year-old on our show, over $750,000. He has Cloud Co farms and pitched us on Season #2, yet he had no farming experience or seeds in the ground. Just a family farm and a big heart. Now he is profitable and thriving, and it’s one of many success stories on our show. When we were early stage, around 2014-15, we also pitched and received an investment of $1 Million from an investor who believed in our vision, much like we believed in Luke…so we truly have compassion from the entrepreneurs’ perspective intimately.
Ganjly: Do you have plans for new products, services or events and would you be willing to drop any hints about what we can expect from the Marijuana Show and your other companies in the future?
Wendy Robbins: We are launching two new services: Bud Camp – “Mentorbox for Ganjapreneurs and Investors.” Online classes where students ask questions of experts. It’s a VIP monthly membership program.
We also are launching High Finance Fund, an exclusive global hemp, and cannabis equity fund.
It is run by women, myself – Wendy Robbins and Karen Paull. We and our team have access to amazing deals and we are advised by brilliant and experienced hedge fund managers and attorneys.
Ganjly: What is your advice for hopeful cannabis entrepreneurs who are considering joining the cannabis industry? What are the positives and negatives they should expect?
Wendy Robbins: Have a solid WHY you are doing this business. Your why needs to make you cry. Find your passion. Have a solid emotional reason why you are in the industry. If it’s just about money, find another business. It’s about the clients you serve. Prepare to work longer hours than you ever have. Make sure to have systems in place for everything. Hire and train the best teams. Keep training. We have all gone into a lot of dispensaries where the budtenders are not properly trained. Your accountant needs to be familiar with cannabis laws like 280E. Your lawyers need to be excellent litigators and keep up with current, changing laws. We created Bud Camp, an online education accelerator, to help entrepreneurs navigate the tricky parts and learn from successful teachers on how to succeed.
Thank you, Wendy and Karen, for taking the time out to talk to us! We truly appreciate it. You ladies are awesome!
To learn more about their show, go to The Marijuana Show.