Before joining the ranks of the Open Vape team, makers of the O Pen vaporizer, David Kochman was a Partner with Reed Smith in New York City. He practiced commercial litigation for the most part, but when one of his clients began getting into the cannabis space Kochman realized the legal cannabis industry was where he wanted to be.
“We’ll call the current state of the cannabis industry the second floor now, not the ground floor anymore,” says Kochman.
True, the industry is beyond its ground floor days, and that means people are shrugging off the social stigma that’s been long associated with cannabis in general. And the people growing the industry tend to fall into two categories, according to Kochman: those who have been embedded in the industry historically and those who follow traditional routes to secure jobs in the industry.
“Some people make the mistake of thinking that the people in this space are all shady or undereducated, which is dead wrong,” says Kochman. “Most people are simply focused on an untraditional path, and that’s an inherently entrepreneurial trait. The bottom line is that there’s a huge opportunity for cannabis.”
But therein lays a problem. The people who have been embedded for decades might know how to grow a superior product, or synthesize better oils, but they lack the knowledge of how to grow and scale a professional business. It begs the question of how you populate the middle space.
“The people on the business side with experience need to step over the line and embrace cannabis,” says Kochman. “It’s a risk. You’re not turning your back on all the experience you’ve got, but you’re wrapping yourself in the cloak and saying it’s your industry. That’s pretty scary but it’s also exciting. And that’s the opportunity I see – populating the middle.”
What happens in those situations is people like Kochman find themselves in a unique position to in effect craft the rules for the future of the industry. And the entrepreneurial side of things comes into play when thinking about how to build the future.
For example, Kochman realized that the oil Open Vape was using in their vaporizer cartridges was going to be a dominant force the industry over. The innovation, then, is set to hit across the market vertical of delivery methods, or ingestion.
“Being able to have precise doses and knowing exactly what you’re taking is where people want to go,” say Kochman. “When you combust cannabis you waste roughly 80 percent of the flower and there’s no way to know exactly how much THC and CBD you’re getting. But if you drink alcohol you know what a beer or a shot is going to do to your body. People want to see that same precise experience with cannabis.”
To that end, the founders of Open Vape wanted to be a cornerstone brand of the cannabis industry, and that’s what attracted Kochman to their team. To date they’ve been able to innovate and scale by nailing down some nuances that all entrepreneurs should remember.
These founders of Open Vape realized they needed to bring in experts, pass off the wheel on projects suited for said experts, and keep their ego in check the whole way. There’s no reason for companies to in-fight here, they just need to look for strong partners and keep pushing forward together.
“It’s too early to ascertain precisely where the industry will go, exactly, but the possibilities are endless and bounded only by our imagination,” says Kochman.