"Step back and breathe. In any company, especially a startup, things will be hectic. My advice is don't forget why you got into the cannabis industry. It's great to crush goals and get stuff done, but don't forget to step back and enjoy a fat blunt/cannagar with your team. It's not only great for team morale but also good for you on a personal level to have a good work/life balance."
I had the pleasure of interviewing Sidney Quitorio. While working as a software engineer, he started his own company, Purple Rose Supply. The idea came to him when he was scrolling Instagram and saw a cannagar for the first time. The price point and state restrictions prevented him from getting one. He designed the CannaMold himself and changed how people around him consumed cannabis. While pre-made cannagars are usually priced at a couple of hundred dollars and only sold in select dispensaries, he noticed how inaccessible it was for a lot of people, which strayed from his beliefs on cannabis bringing people together. He began selling cannagar kits that allowed others to make their own cannabis cigar and opened the world of "luxury cannabis" to others. He grew the company along with his team while working a full-time job and continues to inspire the team with his passion and work ethic every day.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share with the ‘backstory” about what brought you to the cannabis space?
I’ve been in love with cannabis from a young age, and it felt natural to move into the industry when I discovered how easy it was to make my own cannagars (a.k.a cannabis cigars). I was familiar with Thai Sticks, the cannagar predecessor, for a few years but it wasn’t until 2016 that I attempted to make one.
After trying and failing many times to make a cannagar, I realized I needed an easy to use tool to get the job done, so I set out to create my own. A few months later, the first version of the CannaMold was born.
What started as a personal project turned into Purple Rose Supply once I realized a lot of people weren’t able to enjoy a cannagar because they cost hundreds of dollars pre-made.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
A few months ago, I was smoking a cannagar outdoors when someone asked if it was made with a Purple Rose Supply CannaMold. They ended up telling me how much they loved the product and how it changed the way they smoked, without realizing they were speaking to the CEO. It's always great hearing customer feedback, but hearing honest and unfiltered feedback like that in person was amazing.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
A bit embarrassing, but I was new to managing inventory during our first year of business. I would eyeball and make estimates to determine if we needed more inventory. I heavily underestimated one quarter, which caused us to be completely out of product for most of December during the holidays. This was a really tough lesson to learn, but now we have a proper system in place to avoid mix-ups like that in the future.
Are you working on any exciting projects now?
We're always working on ways to make our CannaMold better for our users and are currently researching what the next iteration will look like.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Without my girlfriend, Raveena, Purple Rose Supply would not be here. Aside from the countless ways she's helped me personally (which indirectly helped form the business), she's been there from the start working on all of the marketing. She's super smart, so she's taught me a lot and helped me discover one of my newfound passions, branding.
This industry is young dynamic and creative. Do you use any clever and innovative marketing strategies that you think large legacy companies should consider adopting?
We rely heavily on our partnerships with different influencers. Given the inability to advertise on traditional channels due to cannabis restrictions, influencers are a great resource in reaching prospects we may not have had access to. We also believe in the power of content and producing things our users want to see more of.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Cannabis industry? Can you share 3 things that most concern you?
1. Removing the negative stigma: My mom grounded me when she caught me smoking for the first time in high school, but now she fully supports me and even buys me cannabis-related gifts for the holidays. It's great sharing my love for cannabis with my parents (never thought that would happen).
2. Scientific & Medical research: There’s so much about cannabis that we don't know. Even once widely accepted "facts" about cannabis like “Indica will always put you to sleep” are now being debunked. Once cannabis is legalized, I’ll be very excited to see research on its potential for future medical applications.
3. Banking Law Changes: This one is more personal to our business, but if the SAFE Banking Act passes the senate, all cannabis-related businesses will be in a much better state
1. I'm worried legalization may result in an industry that's too heavily regulated & strict. I could see a future where over-regulation will significantly increase the barriers to entry, which will limit access to large companies with bigger pockets. I believe the people that would get pushed out due to this are people that have been part of this culture for a long time. Those are the people most passionate about cannabis and would drive this industry forward in a better way for the end consumer.
2. I'm worried people who will make money from the industry are not the same people that have had their lives ruined by its criminalization. I'm hoping that the different equity programs out there will help with this. Having received a cannabis-related felony myself, I can attest to the negative impact it can have on one's life.
3. Due to its current legal state, there are too many uncertainties right now and you never know what condition the industry will land in. This constant change in the industry, however, is both challenging and rewarding.
Can you share your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started Leading a Cannabis Business”? Please share a story or example for each.
1. It's going to be a roller coaster & things can blow up at random in an instant. Cannabis is a brand new heavily regulated industry, so you never know what's going to happen. This caused us to lose payment processing online for months at a time and be banned from Instagram 6 times in a 2 month time period.
2. To combat this, you're going to have to do your best to stay up to date and compliant with all the rules and regulations
3. You will fall in love with cannabis all over again. I felt like a kid in a candy store when I began going to trade shows & conventions. Trying out new strains & seeing all of the new innovations in the industry is everything you've probably dreamed of and more.
4. People will give you the side-eye when you leave your current industry for cannabis. I could definitely feel the judgment when I left tech and entered the cannabis industry to pursue my passion.
5. The industry is not even a fraction of where it will be in a few years. The sky's the limit!
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
Step back and breathe. In any company, especially a startup, things will be hectic. My advice is don't forget why you got into the cannabis industry. It's great to crush goals and get stuff done, but don't forget to step back and enjoy a fat blunt/cannagar with your team. It's not only great for team morale but also good for you on a personal level to have a good work/life balance.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
Have some empathy. I know it can be hard to do in certain situations when you don’t see eye to eye with somebody, but try asking yourself this question:
“Where would I be if I was born exactly in their mind/body & had the same exact life experiences?”
You might realize that you’d be exactly where they are, thinking what they think.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
@PurpleRoseSupply on Instagram