Jeffrey Zucker is the Co-Founder, and President of Green Lion Partners, a Denver-based business strategy firm @greenlionp focused on early-stage development amongst firms in the cannabis industry. Green Lion has developed LeafList, a reputation management and networking site within the industry, and Natural Order Supply, an agricultural supply company.
Jeff is also the Vice President of the America Israel Cannabis Association, a Board Member of the Marijuana Policy Project and Students for Sensible Drug Policy and has embarked on entrepreneurial ventures in a variety of sectors, including real estate, hospitality, entertainment, ice hockey, and legal cannabis, and is a seasoned angel investor.
We recently invited Jeff for a Q&A session to talk about his background and his company Green Lion Partners.
Ganjly: What is your background and what made you decide to pursue a career in cannabis?
Jeffrey Zucker: I am a serial entrepreneur who started out doing real estate development while in college. I am fortunate enough to have fantastic business partners that I continue to grow that business with today. The success in real estate allowed me to pursue other areas of interest, including film production, hospitality, software, graphic design, and of course, cannabis. I have a great team that helps manage the day-to-day of my various businesses, and I have spent the majority of my time working in the cannabis industry over the last three and a half years. My business partner in Green Lion, Mike Bologna, and I were friends from college and was trying to think of a business to work on together. At the same time, we were seeing the early effects of adult use legalization in Colorado, and we knew we’d kick ourselves down the road if we didn’t get involved in cannabis. Initially, we saw it as an opportunity to make some money working on something we liked, but that developed into an intense passion for the industry as well as cannabis policy (and drug policy in general) advocacy. The more we’ve learned about the cannabis plant, the more passionate we’ve become about the space.
Ganjly: How many employees do you have and what kind of traits do you look for when hiring new members?
Jeffrey Zucker: In our main office, which houses my non-cannabis company, Saltshaker Holdings, as well as Green Lion Partners, there is a total of six of us. We also have five full-time employees within our subsidiaries and many partners and part-time contractors. We try to be very efficient and cost-effective with our resources, so we find it important to balance full and part-time work. When looking for employees or contractors we aim for highly skilled individuals that are incredible at things that we are not very good at or are incapable of executing. We really value expertise, the ability to work collaboratively, and perhaps most importantly, because we are working on so many projects, the ability to self-motivate and self-manage.
Ganjly: What is the most challenging experience you have had in the cannabis industry so far?
Jeffrey Zucker: The most challenging issues we face in the cannabis industry are often factors of the transitional nature of the industry from unregulated to regulated. We’ve dealt with banking issues just like many others in the space, and there are also issues with professionalism and reliability that are slowly starting to turn the corner, but it can be frustrating at times. It is imperative for us to act as professionally and reliably as possible in order to improve the perception of the industry and prove that this industry can be like any other, and perhaps even better. Additionally, there are inconsistencies in rules and how they’re enforced in terms of marketing opportunities. Running a consumer-facing brand like Dipstick Vapes has forced us to deal with the inability to advertise on sites like Facebook and Google by maximizing our social media presence in other ways, attending as many events as possible, and advertising on smaller, cannabis-friendly sites.
Ganjly: What is your proudest moment since you started down this path of being an entrepreneur in the cannabis space?
Jeffrey Zucker: I am nowhere near satisfied and tend not to dwell on the process so much as the end goal. However, I am proud of how our team has learned to be a cohesive machine that can accomplish much more than the sum of its parts. Additionally, I am honored to work with incredible activists at groups like MPP (where I am a board member) and SSDP, from whom I’ve learned much more than I can ever give.
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 your company in the future?
Jeffrey Zucker: We are hard at work on LeafList.com, our reputation management and networking platform for cannabis professionals. While the site is ‘soft launched’ we are still tweaking things on the tech side and are planning to do a full-scale launch over the next 6-8 months. LeafList provides the opportunity to digitize and improve the network and reputation you’ve built in the space. We will also be launching a second vaporizer from Dipstick Vapes this summer that should really round out our offerings. Lastly, I’d be remiss not to mention the incredible work being done by the Cannabis Community Care and Research Network (C3RN) on their Massachusetts cannabis Center of Excellence. C3RN won the competition we co-hosted with Boston University in the Fall, and they have been off and running since, hosting an incredible educational series in Boston. They will be a tremendous resource to the MA industry.
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?
Jeffrey Zucker: My advice would be to immerse yourself in the industry via attending as many events and meeting as many people as possible. From there, try to gain an understanding of not only your interests but also where your current skill set best fits into the cannabis industry. I see too many people come in without experience trying to do what sounds like a good idea without any related experience—it’s important to have the right balance of familiar and unfamiliar in these unchartered territories. There is an incredible number of opportunities in cannabis, and it can be tough to focus in on the right choices and the right partners. Be confident in the people with whom you’re looking to work and that your end goal is achievable.
Thank you so much, Jeff, for taking the time out to talk to us!
To learn more about his company, go to Green Lion Partners.