Eugenio Garcia is CEO and founder of Cannabis Now, a media group that offers reliable, compelling and creative content to today’s cannabis consumer by way of print, digital, broadcast and social mediums. At Cannabis Now, Garcia is closely involved with the editorial process and manages the sales/revenue, distribution, marketing and investment departments. Launched in 2009, Cannabis Now has experienced unparalleled growth, with Garcia’s vision leading the effort in bringing the magazine’s social media reach to 4.2 million followers to date, making its social media community one of the largest interactive cannabis communities in the world. In his downtime, Eugenio enjoys exploring the world with his partner and their rescue Pomeranian. Cannabis Now’s headquarters are based in Berkeley, CA.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you share with us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?
After working for Whole Foods Market for a number of years as a manager, I became very interested in the organic foods movement of the early 2000’s. There were so many anomalies of “the cultural paradigm shift” around that movement. In 2008, I started to consult in the cannabis space helping a network of small business owners with their new legal medical marijuana business ventures. Soon I became aware of the need for relevant content and a mature media expression for the new “post prohibition,” enlightened cannabis enthusiast. With $10k of seed capital, a bong hit, and a dream my partner and I launched Cannabis Now Magazine with a few key friends from college (Anna Pitman / Web Dev and social media, Todd Heath / Graphic Design, and Chris Fanuzzi / Capital ).
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
Being one of the first outlets in the emerging cannabis media landscape has been filled with so many interesting moments, both serious and memorable. Two that stick out… many times in the early years there were times when we were literally hours away from not being able to print the magazine or make payroll due to liquidity challenges. This taught me the value of being properly capitalized and having a strong value for every cent that a company spends.
In 2012 I was in a stretch limo bus waiting with Too-Short on our way to an industry event…So I asked him ….” What is the key to being successful,” and he told me “Never stop hustling” no matter how successful you are or how much money you make never forget to be humble and hungry.
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?
In our first issue of Cannabis Now we printed a satirical image of a medical marijuana card of the Governor of a newly legal medical marijuana state. Soon got an email form that Governor’s Chief of Staff demanding that we redact the image. We immediately tasked our new intern to use a black marker and mark out the Governors name on all 3K printed magazines…that took almost a week of pure work. In retrospect, we should have not only refused the request but also published the fact of their domain.
Are you working on any exciting projects now?
Yes, we are about to host the first official hemp and CBD focused activation at SXSW, and we are about to launch a new take on a hemp and CBD focused (non THC) retail store and experience in Beverly Hills CA! There will be rotating activations, educational components, and curated products through the Cannabis Now lens.
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?
Early on in our company’s life we were able to catch a specific wave of viral social media content which helped us grow our social community to over 4M strong. This community was critical in the early years of our brand and remains vital the overall expression of our value to brand partners. This social community would not have been possible without the support and vision of our current CTO Anna Pitman who also designed our first website and has been a critical ingredient to our company’s growth and development over the years.
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?
Currently, the industry is limited in so many ways by regulatory roadblocks from fully expressing its ability to market itself. However, I would say its focus on experiential and micro physical activations is better represented in this space than any other.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Cannabis industry? Can you share 3 things that most concern you?
1) The healing power this plant has to offer
2) The amount of $$ the space will create
3) Watching the acceptance of cannabis and CBD by mainstream brands
1) How strongly the feds will regulate the space
2) Watching people abuse the products
3) Watching dishonest people take advantage of the emerging market
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.
This answer could go on forever …… I would say the take away for this question is: Bring in super talented people who are the best in their fields and can adapt to this ever changing industry and environment. Don’t just hire “Cannabis” talent or experts to find solutions. We see this as a wellness business that has the same as any other business.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
Truly care about each and every one of your leaders and team members…..remember you work to support them not the other way around .
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. 🙂
If you are able to vote in the is nation…Do it! The most powerful force we have is the power of our vote both locally and nationally.
What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?
@eugeniocannabisnow on IG
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!