448: We got Michael Malcolm here for the Family Tree S2: Prelude. You’re representing Cronja (Culture). So let’s get right into it.

Q: Who does Cronja look to advertise their products? Who’s your target market?

Mike: Really our target market is, um, what’s the best way to say it? I mean, obviously we are for the cannabis community, you know, but I think our products are probably more geared  to a higher end market, I would say, just because of the price point of some of our products.

We’re looking to really just build community with everyone though. So we don’t want it to feel like we’re excluding anybody, but I mean, at the end of the day, the trays cost $60 retail. Everybody is not gonna pay, It’s only a certain type of person that’s gonna pay $60 for their rolling tray.

 But that type of person is probably somebody that’s going to be a professional, whatever that may be. So they got a little bit of money to spend. They might look for a higher end product. So they’re not looking to buy the cheapest thing when they go into the store. And then the other thing is too, is travelers, you know, I’m a big travel guy.

I have my personal Cronja tray right here. I’ve had this tray for years, probably three years now. This tray has been all over the world with me, bro. Everywhere. I take this tray with me everywhere. When I’m out in the city, this tray is with me, when I’m out of the country. This tray with me. I got a few more.

The purple and black joint here. This an exclusive, it’s not out yet. 

448: Okay?

Mike: We got a purple on purple joint. It’s not out yet cause I’m doing some product testing. I’m working on some new colors and stuff like that. Different colorways, because really the goal is we really want ’em to drop like Jordan’s. We never do a lot of ’em.

Right now the company is still small, so we do small exclusive drops. So we might only make, out of a certain colorway, right now we might only do like 100 to 200. 

Audience: “ It’s great for travel”

Mike: Yeah, see Tanya knows! We’ve got a lot of friends in here. What’s up Rachel?

I can’t like everybody’s stuff right now. What’s up Elianna? But yeah, so that’s really the goal, you know, people that’s out and about, got stuff going on. You know, and like I said, you don’t want to roll your weed up on a newspaper. (Laughs) Cause I mean, you know, at the end of the day we stoners, people will break down some weed on anything! (Laughs)

448: (Laughs)

Mike: So we’re not necessarily looking for people that are going to rip out a piece of paper outta notebook and break down their weed on it. Even though I’m not above doing that. I’ve done that plenty of times. But our goal is to kind of go for a more sophisticated market.  I don’t want to necessarily say luxury, because I think that has a certain type of connotation to it, but just a higher end market.

People who  enjoy some nicer things, that’s all. Which I’m sure like most people do. People are real picky and choosy about what they choose to spend their money on, you know? 

448: Yeah, absolutely. I think it’s  upon all of us to really tap in with each other and really like, reevaluate what you spend your dollars towards, because people don’t understand the significance of economics.

Economics are powerful. Economics can be the difference between two different people’s situations being different, you know? Yeah. It all comes back to economics and so people are gonna spend their money on what they spend their money on. But as far as like, if you know your brother got a product shop with him. I stopped buying raw papers. Now. I buy the Boqué’s because I know them and they’re just like us.

Mike: Yeah. So Is that how it’s pronounced? Bouquet? Or both?

448: Yeah. Or both.

Mike: Okay. Okay. 

448: So you gotta be intentional with your dollars. So I definitely get it. 

Mike: For sure. And that’s all it is. I mean, we ain’t really necessarily did anything super revolutionary.

At the end of the day, these are valet trays and valet trays can be bought, but when you brand it and you come up with certain color schemes and then you are intentional with it. When it comes to cronja, the trays are really just one of the many products that we have in our pipeline right now.

When I first joined the company, we were in two stores in two different states. And then I came on as Head of Product Development and marketing.

448: Y’all are selling in 22 stores now, right? 

Mike: Yeah. We’re in 22 stores now in five states.

448: Mmmm!

Mike: Yeah. And that’s just since December. So a little bit of background on Cronja. The two founders of Cronja are Ryan Cron and Bryant Bowens. It’s Ryan and Bryant. Right. (Chuckles) And so both of them have been my homeboys for a really long time. And I’ve been seeing what they’ve been doing in the cannabis industry.

They have licenses in LA. They have a distribution license, manufacturing, co-packing and delivery licenses. And they’re up and running in downtown LA. And so as I’ve been going through my cannabis journey, like I said, I’ve known them before I actually tried to be in the industry, and I knew that they’ve been in the industry way longer than I have.

So they gave me a tray a long time ago. Before I was even part of the company. And they saw everything that I was doing with my own brand and my own movement. So shout out to them. Cause I really feel like they really showed me how not to just do cannabis business, but how most businesses do things. If people really want you to be a part of their business and they really want you to help them grow their business and they mean well for you..

What they should do is, give you equity in the company. So that’s kind of like what my guys did. They didn’t just say, “Hey Mike, we want you to give you some free product and we want you to be our brand ambassador.” or “We want you to do some affiliate marketing.”

Which again, now, no disrespect to nobody cuz I know people eating off affiliated marketing! So I’m not trying to put it down. But what my guys did for me was.. They came at me and were like, “Man, Mike, we got this company, we need your help.”

But, they’re in build mode. Right. Cause like I said, they got the distribution license, they got the manufacturing license, they got the co-packing license, they got the delivery license, and they’re still growing that business. Cronja is the brand in front of those businesses, I wanna say behind those businesses, but it’s really in front of those businesses.

Right? Cause the brand is out front.. So they’re like, “Man, we got all this stuff going, but we just need help in certain areas. We need help with our marketing and our branding and getting the word out there and, and getting it in front of people.” And they basically saw everything I was doing it.

So they were like, “Man, we’d like to offer you a piece of the company to bring you on and to help us grow.” And, you know, of course they pay me as well, so I was like, you know, that sounds good. But I just really appreciated that they didn’t just come with “We’ll give you some free product.” I was showing the product anyway on my Instagram, so that wasn’t even a thing. 

448: Right.

Mike: They ain’t come at me like, “Oh man, we’re gonna give you some free product and then if you sell some, we’ll give you some money.” Like that wasn’t the conversation. They were like, “Look, we value you, but we know off the top we can’t afford you.”

“So because we can’t afford you, we’d like to offer you equity in our company to help us continue to grow” And we did that. So when I started we were in two stores in two states, and now we’re in five states and 22 stores. And that’s just been since December of last year (2020).

448: We remember when you first showed the product off, we remember when you you first announced the partnership, so sharing that backstory of  how many stores they were in prior to  bringing you on and y’all have leveraged that. 

Mike: One thing, it’s another  thing I wanna say on that real quick. It’s not all me. You know what I’m saying?

It’s a team of us, you know. So we got Ryan, we got Bryant. Those are the two founders. Also we got my homie GLC, who’s like my brother. Um, people who know who GLC is, he’s a Chicago legend. Rap industry legend period. But he’s definitely a Chicago legend. He’s one of the partners in the company.

And my homie Ozzie out in LA. He’s also a partner. So it’s what? Five of us? You know, so I don’t ever want to take credit and say like, Oh man, I did this all myself. Everybody’s doing they thing and, yeah, that’s all it is. 

448: Yeah, most definitely. That says something about the power of growing a team. So, real quick, the last question and then we can hop over to the Zoom. 

Q: How important would you say it is for up and coming brands and startups to do moves like that? Like what Cronja did, bringing you on board. How do you think that would bode over if more companies did that? 

Mike: I think that it’s a good move, but it has to make sense for everybody. You know what I mean? I would never tell an up and coming brand or up and coming entrepreneur that they need to give away equity in their company, their baby that they’re building for someone to help market their company. The way my deal ended up happening is because we were really friends for years.

YEARS, bro. Years before any business between us. We’ve BEEN cool! But, so I would say it like that, you know, it’s gotta really make sense  because we’re talking about a lot of money, bro, you know, a lot of money. So you don’t wanna just give up equity in your company. Um, but it can be a strategic move.

I mean, I think that I would actually like to answer it from the other side where it comes to people looking to get in. For the companies, for the brands. It can be very, case by case basis about whether or not that’s a good move for your company, Right. But let’s say it’s me, right, And I am being offered, like I said, free products or payment on affiliate marketing.

In that type of situation, I would say that most people should look for more skin. Like, okay, if I’m gonna help you build this company up, right? You already got the company, so I’m the one coming in, and you need my help? Okay. I need a piece of the action. And that’s the way I approach a lot of my deals these days.

I know people right now that are winning licenses in different states. And they need help. They need my help for consulting, whether it is helping them find people that they can hire to help operate their businesses, or the real estate part of it, or the financial part of it. Fundraising and things like that.

If I do certain things for people, usually I just wanna get paid and be done with it. But if I do enough work, to really build a company and help create something that didn’t exist initially? Oh, I want a piece of the company as well! (Chuckles) I don’t want to just get paid.

You know what I’m saying? So that’s what it is. It’s like when my homies did that, a light bulb went off my head and I was like, “Man!” And they explained it to me, why they were giving me the equity. So it really helped me understand, my own worth and value. Because they saw it!

They were like, “Man, we know we can’t afford you”. And my partners ain’t broke. Right? So when they say they can’t afford me, that means I’m worth way more probably than I was even thinking, to them. You know what I’m saying? And it just sparked something in me to let me know that that’s the way that I should be moving, going forward on a lot of my deals.

Now on the flip side of that is, one thing my attorney told me is that now I got more equity. Along with equity I got in another company. I gotta be careful now because I’ve got more exposure. Because if they do something that could reflect on me, but that’s just business in general, you know?

But that means more when you are an owner of a company. Versus being an influencer for a company. Because if you are an influencer for a company and a company does something foul you can just stop being an influencer for them. But when you have ownership in a company and equity in a company, you can’t just be like, “Oh, I don’t talk to them anymore.”

No, y’all got business together. You know what I’m saying? So that’s the only thing. It’s just making sure that you got all your paperwork right and making sure that you protect it in case anything bad should happen. That’s the most important thing. Nobody ever thinks of any bad things happening when it comes to business or working with friends, but we all know that it can happen regardless.

So you just make sure that you got all your I’s dotted, and T’s  crossed. That’s what I got to say about that. But shout out to the homies Cronja again. I can’t say enough about Ryan and Bryant, about the thoughtfulness that they had when they approached me with it. It’s been a great decision.

448: Let’s end it there and then we’ll hop on the Zoom. 

Mike: Okay. Cool. Bet. Peace. Catch us on Zoom. 
448: Yeah, everybody gotta wait for this to come out!

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