Adelia Carrillo is the CEO/Co-founder of Direct Cannabis Network, the leading digital news network covering startups, entrepreneurs and innovation in the legal cannabis industry.
Adelia has created a resource ecosystem that empowers canna-preneuers to thrive in the new mainstream marijuana economy. DCN is quickly becoming the most popular digital destination to get the 4-1-1 on up and coming industry leaders, savvy companies and products that are changing the game, B2B events, news, business tips and career advice. It’s like having a 24-7 mentor to help you grow your business and build your brand.
Hi Adelia! It’s so great to connect. We are so excited to tell your story. How did you come up with the idea/concept for DCN?
The idea and concept evolved through my love for startups, tech, and entrepreneurship. First and foremost, I will always consider myself a cannabis patient before cannabis entrepreneur. My journey started when I began researching and looking for the things I enjoyed, like tech and entrepreneurship, but quickly became frustrated because I couldn’t relate or resonate with the available outlets at that time. I also began to see a missing link which was a need for an entrepreneurial ecosystem where entrepreneurs, investors, and professionals could come to connect, learn, and grow together, through our content, online directory and in-person B2B events. However, none of this would have come to fruition if I personally didn’t go through my own experience with cannabis.
What attracted you to the cannabis industry?
The reality is I never thought I could have a career in cannabis, but cannabis found me. Almost 6 years ago I was hit with some health hurdles. I, unfortunately, had a pregnancy loss that ended with me having to go into emergency surgery because the pregnancy was affecting my life. After the surgery, I had to work through the physical and emotional pain and after not a lot of success through my doctors, I turned to cannabis as a last resort. It allowed me to heal both physically and emotionally while also allowing me to finally see the woman I was always supposed to be. Seeing my life in transition is what truly attracted me to cannabis as a whole. I saw how this plant can do so much good for humans and the world that I just knew, I had to give back and do my part.
The cannabis industry is becoming a very crowded segment and advertising restrictions are fierce, how do you find your voice and build a loyal customer base?
Being a media company does help a lot with this hurdle, our content is focused on companies, entrepreneurs, business news, and business education, with topics like these and having quality original content, your audience started to grow organically right away because they begin to share with their audience. However, I had to find other ways to make sure DCN was able to continue to grow with no marketing budget and all these advertising restrictions affecting us, which means I had to get creative.
The best approach was promoting DCN with my own voice. I go after speaking opportunities that resonate with DCN’s mission, podcasts, interviews, pitching events and networking events that I can go to and talk about DCN. This has helped tremendously with DCN’s voice continuing to grow organically and has actually built an even stronger loyal audience because they get to see the passion behind my voice that goes back to what we are doing at DCN for the cannabis entrepreneurial ecosystem.
I love the fun and playful content on DCN, like Inside-Out with DCN, High Noon Challenge and Coffee and Cannabis. Where do you get your inspiration?
Well, to be honest, many times it has been when I have been in my backyard smoking a joint with my fiance, talking about ideas for both of our businesses, sharing feedback I get from the DCN audience and team, and masterminding on how to add that DCN twist to our content. I honestly laugh now when thinking about this question, literally, almost every idea came because of this nightly tradition. From there, the idea is then presented to the team to review and gain their feedback, once it is approved on all accounts, we then begin to transform that idea into an actual series whether it is editorial or for one of our shows.
In your opinion what is the biggest challenge in the cannabis industry right now, specifically for women? What motivates you to keep going?
I think the biggest challenge is surviving and learning how to block out all the noise. When I first started my journey in the cannabis industry, I wanted to do it all, I wanted to be everywhere, that fear of missing out is real. However, over time I began to realize that I have to be hyper-focused on DCN, because at the end of the day, we are here to help entrepreneurs and if I can’t put my time and energy into making DCN a stable scalable company, then our mission and vision for DCN and the cannabis entrepreneurial ecosystem will never come to fruition. There will always be events, there will always be opportunities, but there was an absolute chance there was going to be no DCN if I couldn’t learn the importance of putting my energy and focus solely into the company and being a bit selfish for a while.
Do you have any advice for new startups or entrepreneurs getting into the cannabis industry?
Do your research, educate yourself, get out there and network so you can see if your idea is actually needed in this space before you jump into the cannabis industry. Also, you hear all these conversations on the “green rush” (a term I absolute dislike), it is not a green rush, it is a new industry, that is trying to build its foundation as it comes from being a community for decades, this means you are going to be hitting a new hurdle every single day, you are going to see companies even big companies come and go, you are going to see new regulations drafted that just don’t make sense. Stability is a long road away and I say all this not to scare any new entrepreneur, but to let you know just a tip of reality that you are going to face when in this industry. If that passion is still in you and you know you have found your path and are ready to join us in the trenches then we all welcome you with open arms.
What brands or products do you predict are going to take 2019 by storm?
Companies are going to start looking at ways to incorporate cannabis even more into everyday life. So with that being said, the next move that would make sense to me would be consumer electronic products and fashion and beauty products starting to make big waves this year.
Where are you located? What’s the weed scene like there?
I am located in San Diego, California. It is a slow growth scene when it comes to business and startups, but I am starting to see more and more startups launching solving a problem so that excites me. When looking at the community and advocacy side though, I would say San Diego is very strong in the area, however, San Diego County as a whole is so large with your North, South, East, and West city areas, that it tends to separate everyone, which is common because I see that happening also in the non-cannabis startup community as well. It is exciting to see more and more people fixing that though by creating so many unique events and monthly meetups. Events are definitely going to be what helps grow the industry together in San Diego and anywhere really. With that being said, I have to shoutout Eventhi.io, they are a startup in San Diego (and to be transparent, a startup my fiance launched) that has a marketplace filled with cannabis-related events and experiences.
How can cannabis brands be included in your directory or advertise on DCN?
For those looking to gain brand awareness, offer your services to cannabis entrepreneurs and startups and to be apart of the DCN community, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org and our team will be happy to share more about our membership, advertising opportunity and event sponsorship opportunities. For those looking to stay updated on the latest tech, entrepreneurs and innovative companies in the cannabis industry, be sure to visit www.directcannabisnetwork.com and follow us on social @_dcnetwork_