If your ears are attuned to the worlds of entrepreneurship and investment, you have probably heard the name Gary Vaynerchuk, also known as Gary Vee. The young business pioneer has been called a psychic and a Nostradamus because of his seemingly natural, "born-with-it" entrepreneurial spirit; according to DOPE magazine, Vaynerchuk was an early investor in companies like Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. Thus, he turned some heads when, in the spring of 2018, Vaynerchuk invested in a new industry: cannabis.
Who is Gary Vaynerchuk?
The business mogul in question is a middle-aged Belarusian American. He is first and foremost an entrepreneur, but he also works as an author and speaker. He is best known for his work in the wine industry and for his media agency, VaynerMedia, that he formed with his brother. Vaynerchuk is also a big investor, and, as mentioned, seems to have always had a sixth sense when it comes to recognizing the potential of new innovations.
Vaynerchuk told DOPE magazine that he absolutely loves the work that he does since he was from the very beginning a "lemonade stand and baseball card collector kid." It only makes sense that somebody like that would end up in the business world.
Furthermore, despite his success, Vaynerchuk does not like to be called an expert or a motivational speaker. He believes strongly in practical work and execution, regardless of which avenue his entrepreneurial talents take him down.
Why Did Vaynerchuk Choose Cannabis?
Vaynerchuk himself is first to admit that he knows very little about marijuana. However, he sees a lot of potential in the industry. The cannabis business is very young, and Vaynerchuk has a sense that, despite its somewhat-negative image, the industry lends itself well to innovation and new tactics of marketing and advertising.
He told DOPE magazine that he understands the medical benefits of marijuana: "Boy, do I think that there [are] undeniable health benefits to the cannabis industry, and I think it should be very proud of that."
However, Vaynerchuk speaks just as highly of the recreational aspects: "Among all of the strains and different flavors in the [cannabis] industry now, getting somebody who has actually tasted and tried them on that scale and can articulate the flavor profiles and nuances and the understanding of the subtleties needed to be that big voice."
Vaynerchuk's Ideas and Qualifications
Vaynerchuk feels passionate about knowing oneself and knowing one's product. He stresses that he recognizes his own shortcomings: He may not know cannabis (yet), but he knows business.
"What the audience will get from me is a lot of respect. I'm not going to front and act like I know shit. I'm going to tell them, 'From my perspective…'"
This "perspective" may not include the nuances of cannabis, but it does include a vast and natural understanding of communication, market trends, advertising, branding, media, and the like. He's excited to "do his homework" and become as close to an expert as possible on cannabis and its history, but until then, he is diving into the new industry with experience, fresh eyes, and an open mind.
While Vaynerchuk is only being newly introduced to the world of cannabis, he does have some comparable experience in the wine industry. He created the video blog Wine Library TV in 2006, seeking to "break down the barriers, stereotypes, and misperceptions that otherwise prevent people from exploring and enjoying the exciting and rewarding world of wine." Wine and cannabis are obviously not synonymous in many ways, but both products have faced or continue to face legal battles and poor reputations. In the same way he sought reform in the wine industry, Vaynerchuk wants to use his entrepreneurial power to help rebrand cannabis and get in on the ground floor of a business he believes will one day boom.
He also swears by playing the long game, saying that he prefers to think ahead 3,000 years instead of three years and that cannabis has the potential to play an important role in the future. Vaynerchuk wants to be a part of that future, which feels significant to those who recognize his prowess in the business world.
What Does This Mean for the Future of Cannabis?
To say that Vaynerchuk's entrance into the cannabis scene will mean automatic success for the industry is a bit presumptuous. However, it is nothing to be ignored. DOPE magazine reports that Vaynerchuk has purchased a 50 percent stake in Green Street Agency, an "L.A.-based full-service creative house…which works exclusively within the cannabis space." This move, along with other young entrepreneurs entering the world of cannabis, as well as slow progress in legalization and de-stigmatization of marijuana, could hint at a bright and profitable future for the cannabis industry. Vaynerchuk and his work are worth paying attention to.