Delegate responsibility. You need to build a team who understands the culture and develop a culture you are happy with. There will be long days, great stories, and one person can never do it all. You need your team to drink champagne and also be able to call at 2 in the morning just to hear words of encouragement.”
Kevin Shin is the Co-Founder and CEO of Grove Group Management, a cannabis private equity fund in NYC and Vancouver. NFL great Tiki Barber is also a co-founder. Kevin is known for taking a no-nonsense approach to rate, evaluate, and execute complex trades and transactions. At Grove Group Management, a next-generation investment and management company focused on the high growth cannabis industry, he’s bringing his extensive background to help others when it comes to investing in the cannabis industry. With decades of experience in investment banking, government policy and law, product development and operations, Kevin and the Grove Group Management team are dedicated to transforming the industry with proven strategies from existing categories like pharmaceuticals, packaged goods, financial services, retail and more. The root of his passion when it comes to cannabis investing is to offer entrepreneurs, especially minorities, the opportunity to improve their lives, and their entire communities through their investments. If you’re an investor or looking to launch a new business, Kevin’s start-up expertise is, literally, world class. https://grovegroupmanagement.com/
Thank you fro joining us! Can you share with us the story about what brought you to this specific career path?
In my previous life before Grove Group Management, the biggest joys in life was when I was able to bring happiness with investment expertise. I had many opportunities to give back in other countries and given the expanse and margins of the cannabis market, there was a reason to give back to America, the country I hold allegiance to.
Being able to help minorities that are afflicted by cannabis that is filling our jails, taking up resources from our police officers and our communities from our taxes is near and dear to my heart. In the meantime we get to work on the next biggest industry moment since the dot come era, it’s a proud moment to assemble a team of talent that believes in our mission and still get wide margins for our investment dollars.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
There are so many, probably the funniest one was when we looked into a corporation for investment and asked for all their financial records and the knee jerk reaction was to look at the followers on Instagram.
It happens every day when we rate corporations and the irony is we are trying to help them grow so big corporate doesn’t takeover with a merger and acquisition strategy has become so prevalent in big American businesses.
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?
Telling people that I lived in a certain township. All of a sudden I was getting gift baskets delivered to my house of CD’s to flowers while we were rating deals. Literally I got sent music cd’s with people free styling that made me laugh in my car. If people ask me now while working, I tell them I come from the East Coast. The people are so resourceful and surprisingly polite, as long as you can relax and be yourself cannabis industry will accept you regardless of race, color or even personal quirks. Makes me happy that I am teaching aspects from my career and learning from people who know the products intimately.
Are you working on any exciting projects now?
We are working on CBD based products, developing sku’s and working on the research and development side while building brands. I like the fact that we don’t have to answer to a board that is listed on an exchange since we can do a deep dive like Warren Buffet into companies without having to be pressured to spend money. It lets us make smart decisions for our investors and not pick loss leader investments just to show a transaction. We turn down so many deals and I am glad since we want a specific culture and leadership that we can use our team to make them a better corporation.
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?
Easiest question of the bunch, the wives, husbands, girlfriends, boyfriends of our team who understand that we are working to build something big and letting us work ridiculous hours. Behind every great man or woman is someone that supports them. My wife, Rene, is easily the best thing that has ever happened to me. Would list all the significant others, but the list is long. Our company is built in family values and respect, wouldn’t have it any other way.
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?
I am no marketing genius, we have the team that does that specific job for Grove Group. The one thing that all companies have to unite on is working to get cannabis off schedule 1. It is a group effort and while we are at it we should relieve some of the budgetary issues that is plaguing America. Getting people out of jail that had three strikes on cannabis charges is ridiculous and racist and the data will confirm that.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Cannabis industry?
Research and Development, the fact that corporations are now studying a plant that may be the next biggest thing since penicillin excites me. The number discoveries that we are on the brink of is exciting. Applying modern science for applications that can replace opioids that is killing Americans is great news. Zero deaths for cannabis overdose is a great statistic.
Farm bill, getting farmers off subsidies and farming crops that will support their family is giving back to America. Again reducing tax payers burdens, we can be proud about an American made crop. State legislation can not come fast enough. Contact your local congress representative, senate representative and let them know farmers can and will make money and get off the federal subsidies.
Bringing back the American dream, we used to be a country that our passports were a prized possession. We landed people on the moon first. We can tackle cannabis as a country and lead with innovation that goes back to Henry Ford and Thomas Edison.
Can you share 3 things that most concern you?
I am worried for the police of America, the first guard for our citizens. Implementing a standard that is unknown is difficult and bad things will happen. I can foresee the first accident that is driving under the influence of cannabis, and deaths will happen based on the pure physics of having thousands of pounds and the impetus of people saying they are fine since they don’t know their limit.
Lobbying efforts of large corporations, the corporations that will see their stocks tumble will put pressure against what should be a basic right, pursuit of happiness, they will try to rain on the parade before they pivot and realize cannabis is happening.
Last but not least is the “Too big to fail” mentality, people who are pouring their souls into and trusting the wrong people that will steal intellectual property. There are tons of smart people out there and if they don’t align with people like Grove Group they will be exposed.
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.I quote myself — “Everything takes longer in cannacannabis.” There are some problems you can not throw money into because the industry is so new and yet it isn’t so the melding of the minds will always take time with regulations changing constantly.
2. That my children will be treated differently because I am willing to go on record and be a leader for cannabis and the recourse that will happen. Luckily I am a minority so it is already part of the education on how to grow up. We won’t be liked by some, yet hopefully Grove Group and other leaders in the industry will change perception.
3. A funny one is learning the lingo. When I first started people would laugh when I asked them to define a term. I was lost, but with 10,000 hours you quickly learn and people will laugh at your ignorance sometimes, yet I was at times the butt of the joke.
Other than those three the transition has been easy since we operate with discipline and hold to our core the basic economics of business. We won’t overpay, we won’t be bullied, we are Grove and that is the culture that has been instilled.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
Delegate responsibility. You need to build a team who understands the culture and develop a culture you are happy with.
There will be long days, great stories, and one person can never do it all. You need your team to drink champagne and also be able to call at 2 in the morning just to hear words of encouragement.
Thank you for all of the great insights!