1.HIGHNY: What made you want to segue into the cannabis business?
GEORGE: The High Knife segued me into the cannabis business. The timing seemed right after the initial idea came to me so many years ago (more on that next) and I’ve always believed that the hypocrisy of cannabis not being a freely legal substance in the U.S. was bound to eventually be erased.Cannabis is the most beneficial and least harmful drug on Earth. Creating a device that is convenient and multi-functional for cannabis users meant alot to me.
2. Where did you get the idea for The High Knife?
Around 2000 I was smoking a joint and used the scissors on my pocket knife as a roach clip. I thought it would be cool to have a pocket knife with a roach clip and maybe an integrated pipe. But 2000 wasn’t the right time to create a “Stoner Army Knife” and although I revisited the idea a few timesover the years I didn’t know how to proceed.Cut to 2014 when the state of cannabis legalization was progressing and my idea suddenly seemed relevant to a burgeoning market. I began to piece the idea together and after preliminary drawings we created a “Frankenknife” prototype cobbled together in a friends’ garage. That prototype then found its way to a factory in China via a sourcing company I enlisted to help me navigate the business of not only manufacturing the High Knife but the stash box and other packaging.
3. What was the biggest surprise or unexpected challenge you faced after starting your business?
The most unexpected challenge is being broke while trying to launch my business. Using all our savings and small loans from friends and family to create the first minimum factory order left us with no money for marketing and travel to trade shows. No matter how far reaching your social circle or influence, it won’t sell enough product on its own. I also got my first shipment in right after the holidays when everyone is broke and no one is buying, so that wasn’t surprising just frustrating.
4. What advice do you have for new cannabis entrepreneurs?
Network. I have found that only since January when I began to actively network with cannabis advocacy groups, the connections I have made have helped moved product, but more importantly have given me invaluable advice regarding the marketplace and strategy. I have also made some friends so that’s just the icing. Also don’t be a moron like me and put money aside for marketing…no matter how awesome your creation, if nobody knows about it you’re gonna be tripping over boxes of product stacked up in your bedroom.
5. What has been the best experience/funny story so far since starting your business?
After a long day of going store-to-store trying to convince stone-faced smoke shop owners to buy the High Knife, I ran into a 20-something neighbor who excitedly told me that he’d just attended a party and a guy started to tell him about this cool new pocket knife with a built in pipe that his friend had just bought. That was the first time I’d heard a stranger (and not someone I’d relentlessly barraged with my pitch) talking about the High Knife. As lame as that sounds it was a tiny victory. High NY is the largest cannabis industry networking event in New York.Click here for their next event http://bit.ly/HighNYM