Joseph Farruggia of CanIDeal, Inc.
Tell us about yourself?
First and foremost I like to create things. Through screenwriting I’ve helped create Hollywood studio movies, as a business person I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of a couple of successful startups. I enjoy seeing the potential pathways of emerging markets and making cool stuff.
As an example, when i was with Cafe.com we were the first to bring wi-fi to multiple independent Los Angeles cafe’s which gave us the experience to answer the call when Denny’s approached us to bid on their Wi-Fi business.
We were able to craft a wi-fi solution that met the customers needs as well as the business owners needs to turn tables during peak hours.
We created Denny’s wireless internet and became the sole vendor for 2300 locations. I dove into the cannabis market in 2017 when i saw a need for a central legal marketplace for the free trade of cannabis.
What gets my juices really flowing these days is that CanIDeal is on the brink of becoming the first B2B marketplace to facilitate international cannabis sales. Doing new things and creating new products is fun!
What do you think is the single biggest misconception people have when it comes to startups?
The power of small teams as well as understanding the place of a startup in the scheme of market trends. Small teams can problem solve 10x faster than larger corporate companies. Being nimble means being able to quickly pivot to meet market demands and take advantage of emerging trends.
A startup that really understands their market and can anticipate the changes ahead can really make a difference. As an example, there are currently six countries in the world with cannabis export licenses. 6 out of 192 countries around the globe and the market size is 35 billion in 2022.
Can you imagine what the market size is going to be when there are sixty countries? That’s why we are all in on being the first global digital marketplace for cannabis. We are helping to create a digital infrastructure that will grow and exist for decades. Now that’s exciting.
What lessons has being an entrepreneur taught you?
Tenacity. It’s easy to have a vision when things are going great but in order to have success one has to hold that vision and not give up during the difficult times.
Lots of companies folded up during the pandemic and it would have been easy to justify failure at that point. But i’d been through rough times before and just buckled the seat belt for the bumpy ride. I really don’t have an ounce of “quit” in me.
As Winston Churchill said, “When you are going through hell, just keep going”
If you could go back in time to when you first started your business, what piece of advice would you give yourself?
Build better cash reserves. When creating a startup there is always tug of war between the dollars required to move the company forward and cash reserves to weather unanticipated obstacles.
December of 2019 found us pushing hard to debut the product, and enhance the software while absorbing the cost of working with lots of lawyers and investment bankers to debut a new offering which we brought out in Mid January of 2020.
I don’t have to tell you how that offering went. I remember meeting with the head of a V.C. fund looking at me as we started the meeting and saying, ” This morning I watched my entire retirement savings evaporate during the market crash”. Cash reserves was the lesson we both learned on that day.
A lot of entrepreneurs find it difficult to balance their work and personal lives. How have you found that?
In a word. No. Lol. At least not yet. I’m just starting to explore what that means. I’m taking a bit more time to do things, like swimming, meditating, being with family and playing with my three cats.
Coming from Hollywood where 16 hour, 6 and 7 day work weeks are the norm when shooting a movie, there is zero consideration of work and personal life balance. It’s just now, that i’m pulling back a little bit.
Give us a bit of an insight into the influences behind the company?
I remember the “aha” moment really well. I was working on a movie about Bob Dylan. One of the producers was a wholesale cannabis broker. It was incredibly difficult to get ahold of him. One day, he apologized by telling me his phone was always blowing up with texts, calls, and emails.
Knowing that cannabis had been legal for over 10 years in California i said, WTF , isn’t there software for this yet? He said no. I was floored. I knew there was a gaping whole in the marketplace that had not yet been filled.
What do you think is your magic sauce? What sets you apart from the competitors?
Having a win win mentality. I only do deals where everyone wins. This is what builds great relationships. When the customer sees a no risk, win from using our marketplace. We don’t charge to list or buy product. We take a tiny fee from a sale. It’s a clear win for both.
Building great relationships allows us build great software, because we have a great relationship with an excellent software team.
We are represented by Robert Hoban who is literally the worlds top international cannabis attorney, he is a grounded visionary who has helped craft cannabis legislation for 38 countries around the world.
Tom Adam’s who is the worlds top cannabis market analyst regularly quoted in the NY Times, Forbes, WSJ, etc is a business relationship and a good friend. The advice and insight we receive through positive relationships is priceless.
It’s because of good relationships that i’ve been invited to be a part of the Global Cannabis Network Alliance a curated networking group limited to 200 members and 25 Elite members. Through this network, CanIDeal has been able to develop profitable business development relationships.
It’s also the reason I’ve been invited to speak on a panel in Davos during the World Economic Forum by my friend, whose company, Digital Davos, produces the digital aspect of the World Economic Forum.
How have you found sales so far? Do you have any lessons you could pass on to other founders in the same market as you just starting out?
The advice I’d give is let the experts do the job. Today, sales are driven by marketing that is data science. I’m a good salesperson but I’m no scientist.
Finding the right people who understand how to do a deep analytic dive into things like, customer profiles, customer response triggers, all things sales that are based on the latest advances in sales through computational analysis is the way to go.
Also finding a niche inside of this US and International 65 billion dollar marketplace that is growing by 16 percent a year is critical.
What do you consider are the main strengths of operating your business in California over other states in the US?
Los Angeles is a world class business city that rivals, New York. California is also literally the birthplace of the computer industry.
California is known for it’s innovative minds, across a broad spectrum of industries. It’s minds that generate business. Being around innovative minds really helps.
What (if any) are the weaknesses of operating your business within California?
I love California. I live in Marina del Rey where the weather is pretty much perfect all year long. The laws here are very progressive and favor the employees for some companies that can be a problem.
But I love the culture here, and the laws are a by product of the progressive culture that drives innovation. So for CanIDeal, California is great!
We are currently suffering through a cost of living crisis. With California already being one of the most expensive states to live in, how has this impacted your business?
Frankly, it hasn’t. Software as service can scale without the need for a lot of mid and lower level employees that are required in a brick and mortar environment. So the cost of living isn’t a factor.
It is no secret that California is the birthplace of innovation. But that also makes it incredibly competitive. How have you found the competitive environment of California?
Coming from a background in Hollywood the competition is intense i’m used to it. Also competition is happens everywhere.
In my teens I learned a valuable lesson from being a distance runner. When you focused on the competition you’re not focused on your own performance.
We can’t control what the competition is doing, what we can control is focusing on being the best we can be.
Have you considered moving your company to another state? If so, which state and why?
No. Not ever. There is no reason to do it. California has a great talent pool. One of the reasons for that is that people with innovative minds often move to California from other parts of the country.
Minds create companies. CanIDeal will always be in a place of innovation in order to keep growing. So why would we go elsewhere?
Where do you see your business in the next 5 years?
I see CanIDeal as one of the world’s leading Cannabis market brands. Solidly established as a sort of Amazon of global wholesales cannabis.
A go to destination for any business person that wants to buy and sell wholesale cannabis.
And finally, if people want to get involved and learn more about your business, how should they do that?
We are always open to hearing from people who’d like to learn about or get involved with CanIDeal. The company phone number is 424-222-4423. My email is [email protected]
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