In this episode Benoy is speaking with Mishka and Steve Ashbel, brothers and owners of MMD Shops of California, on the intricacies of entrepreneurship in the cannabis industry, the important role passion plays in growing your business, and the future of the cannabis industry across the country. They discuss the power consumption of cannabis cultivation, how that growing industry will create an opportunity in renewable energy, and the inevitable integration of solar and cannabis industries.
Benoy Thanjan is the Founder and CEO of Reneu Energy, as well as an advisor for several solar startup companies. Reneu Energy is a premier international solar energy consulting firm and developer, and the company focuses on developing commercial and industrial solar, as well as utility-scale solar plus storage projects. The company also sources financing for solar projects and hedges both energy and environmental commodities. Reneu Energy has brokered $27 million in environmental commodity transactions.
Benoy received his first experience in Finance as an intern at D.E. Shaw & Co., which is a global investment firm with 37 billion dollars in investment capital. Before founding Reneu Energy, he was the SREC Trader in the Project Finance Group for SolarCity, which merged with Tesla in 2016. He originated SREC trades with buyers and co-developed their SREC monetization and hedging strategy with the senior management of SolarCity, to move into the east coast markets. Benoy also worked at Vanguard Energy Partners, Ridgewood Renewable Power, and Deloitte & Touche.
Mishka and Steve Ashbel
MMD owners and brothers, Steve and Mishka Ashbel, opened their first medical marijuana dispensary in North Hollywood, California in 2006, and have been at the forefront for advocating for safe and legal access to cannabis for over a decade.
They currently have four shops in California and are a leading resource for cannabis entrepreneurship across the country. They are currently pursuing the idea of taking MMD Shops public.
Insights from this episode:
The origins of MMD Shops and entrepreneurship in the cannabis industry, including licensing and legal challenges.
A brief history of legal cannabis and the issues early cannabis entrepreneurs faced paving the way for a new and growing industry.
How the continued normalization of cannabis will affect the landscape of retail competition.
The energy consumption involved in cannabis cultivation and the role of solar power and renewable energy will play in replacing traditional power sources.
How the thriving cannabis industry will create an increased demand for solar power and lead to an integration of profitable, growing industries.
Quotes from the show:
On solar power in the cannabis industry: “…they are inevitably bound to make a marriage together, that’s going to happen.” – Mishka Ashbel, SMP #54
“It is becoming such a big and real industry that it’s not just for people who love consuming cannabis, it is developing as an industry” – Steve Ashbel, SMP #54
On discussing partnerships in new cannabis markets: “If it happens to be that somebody, in wherever they’re listening, and cannabis is new and emerging and they are looking for a strategic partner that has license operational experience, we are very much open to those discussions.” – Mishka Ashbel, SMP #54
“The right to choose your health and wellness and what you put into your body is incredibly important and we’re incredibly passionate about that.” – Mishka Ashbel, SMP #54
On using cannabis to alleviate illness symptoms: “We never say it’s a cure. We say it’s about the quality of life.” – Mishka Ashbel, SMP #54
“We very much encourage that everybody get into the licensed cannabis space. Don’t go into the illegal trade. Those days are over. We need to move on and turn this into an industry. It needs to be taxed, it needs to be regulated.” – Mishka Ashbel, SMP #54
On the normalization of cannabis: “We are not competing with other cannabis retailers, we are competing with Starbucks.” – Steve Ashbel, SMP #54
“I think a lot of people are scared of failure, but failure is the best teacher in life. That’s where you learn to adapt.” – Benoy Thanjan, SMP #54
“Cannabis producers use way too much energy; it’s not efficient, it’s not efficient at all.” – Mishika Ashbel, SMP #54
SMP 45: Productivity Tips and Entrepreneurial Advice from the CEO and Founder of the Number 1 Millennial Platform Called Mogul with Benoy Thanjan and Tiffany Pham
Reneu Energy Holiday Party
Interim Control Ordinances (ICOs)
Mishka and Steve Ashbel