Sometimes it pays to answer those cold messages on LinkedIn.
Just ask Troy Datcher, who received a life-changing note last year from a recruiter asking if he’d be interested in joining a brand new marijuana company. Datcher was head of global sales for The Clorox Company (CLX) at the time.
Even though the leap from cleaning supplies to cannabis wasn’t obvious, he replied to the message and landed the job – as CEO of The Parent Company, which describes itself as the largest vertically integrated omnichannel cannabis company in California.
Datcher has been in the role for just five months and says it’s a steep – but exciting – learning curve.
“I'm learning quite a bit in my new journey here as the chief executive officer of The Parent Company,” he told Yahoo Finance. “A lot to learn about the industry, a lot to learn about being a CEO, and a very incredible dynamic landscape of the cannabis industry as it's forming here in the US.”
In fact, because everything is new, he says his new role is even more challenging than keeping store shelves stocked with Clorox products during a global pandemic – which he says he was ‘well equipped’ to do given his decades of experience.
Jay-Z is in the house
The Parent Company is backed by billionaire entertainer and business mogul Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, who serves as "chief visionary officer." It was formed a little more than a year ago, and made headlines when it went public on the Canadian NEO Exchange in the largest SPAC cannabis transaction to date. In all, The Parent Company houses 17 brands, including Jay-Z highly-publicized high-end brand Monogram. It is also the exclusive marijuana partner of Jay-Z’s entertainment powerhouse Roc Nation.
Datcher says the company’s stated objective is to be ‘the most impactful company in the cannabis industry’.
That’s no small goal in a competitive state with complex regulations – not to mention in a country where marijuana is against federal law.
“The biggest challenges are ones that we're all facing as California operators,” says Datcher. “There's been a commoditization of flower in the marketplace here, which is providing some challenges that are unique to the situation here in California. We've got some regulatory and legislative headwinds here that makes this marketplace a bit unique. And so we're all faced with those.”
Equity is king
Whatever the marketplace challenges, Datcher says The Parent Company will never waiver on one thing: its commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI).
“It's much easier to build an industry from the ground up with that intention than it is to retrofit it,” he said.
To that end, The Parent Company has a social equity venture fund that offers capital and mentorship to Black and other minority cannabis entrepreneurs. The fund is led by Jay-Z and Roc Nation CEO Desiree Perez. Seeded with $10 million plus 2 percent of the company’s future net income, the fund has already invested in two Black-owned companies.
“Not only do we want to provide safe, effective products for the consumers in which we serve, but we want to build an industry from the ground up that's more equitable,” he says. “That is not just a bottom line, top line objective for this organization. But we want to model what it's like to be a great corporate citizen in this new emerging industry.”
The fund’s north star is providing opportunities for building generational wealth and helping right some of the wrongs done to minority communities by the war on drugs. (Study after study shows that people of color have been punished more harshly than white people for drugs offenses.)
“I know people personally— my own family has been impacted by the war on drugs,” says Datcher. “I firmly believe that if we can actually build an equitable industry from the ground up from the very beginning, we're going to all be proud of the industry that we build, because it'll be inclusive and, importantly, it will allow others to participate in what's going to be a really thriving economy.”
So what’s the first step if you’re interested in breaking into the cannabis industry?
Datcher suggests the same path that got him to his CEO role in the first place: a direct message.
“I'd ask folks that look like me to just inquire about those opportunities. Reach out to people like me,” he says. “It's easier to find folks like me today than ever before. I'm my LinkedIn. Search away.”
Troy Datcher, CEO of The Parent Company, was interviewed for Yahoo Finance's weekly program, "A Time for Change," which explore issues of race, diversity and inclusion in the worlds of finance, business, politics and beyond.