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Inside the Legal Weed Business

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Entrepreneur Profile: Leslie Bocskor, managing partner, Electrum Partners

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Mini Bio
As American attitudes toward medicinal marijuana start to shift and progessive laws legalizing its use are enacted in various U.S. states, Leslie Bocskor’s firm is well positioned to ride the green wave of this lucrative emerging industry.

Name: Leslie Bocskor
Title: Manager of the Electrum Fund, Managing Partner Electrum Partners, and Chairman of the Nevada Cannabis Industry Association
Company: Electrum Partners
Years in business: 2 years
Business location: Las Vegas
Number of employees: 7
Chief service: consulting and financial services in the marijuana sector
Website: www.electrumpartners.com

First of all, how is business these days?

Fantastic! Nevada recently announced the winners of the medical marijuana licensees. We also just had the ArcView angel investor meeting in Las Vegas, where investors like myself got to see what new businesses were entering the market and looking for funding. We turned in nearly double the required signatures for a 2016 ballot initiative to allow citizens to vote on marijuana legalization for adults over 21. In addition, the Marijuana Business Daily show was just held here in Las Vegas, which was the largest ever legal cannabis convention of its type, with over 3,000 tickets sold at $800 a ticket.

All of those things I just described took place over the first half of November in Nevada. And let’s not forget Oregon, Alaska, and Washington, D.C., passed recreational marijuana ballot initiatives on Election Day, too. Even though we lost in Florida, 58 percent of voters voted in favor of medical marijuana. Electrum Partners, my consulting firm, has received incredible interest from current and prospective clients, and the Electrum Fund, my hedge fund, is about to launch. So business is definitely good.

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What led you to start your own company?

I’ve been an entrepreneur since I was 13 years old. I love the entrepreneurial spirit and experience. I enjoy the early stage of business as it transitions from idea to reality and reality to ongoing enterprise. I am a technophile and futurist, and the opportunity that presents itself when you run your own business far outweighs the opportunities available from other, more traditional business endeavors.

What sources did you use for startup capital?

We’re self-funded. We used capital that was available from our other ventures.

What do you think is your biggest business strength?

Let me list off a few qualities and then expand on them; strategy, vision, and trend forecasting.

I would say I’ve been able to look at all of the information available and understand what it means for significant trend development in disruptive business occurrences that can change the way we live and do business on a massive scale. This, combined with my ability to visualize how the different players and participants in an industry can fit together with business approaches, allows me to formulate strategies that are layered, effective, and incorporate short-term, medium-term, and long-term achievements and results.

What do you enjoy most about owning your own business?

That we, my team and I, get to create our own culture. We get to work on the projects we choose to and it affords me the opportunity to make decisions like focusing exclusively on working in the legal cannabis industry.

What’s your least favorite part of running a business?

Historically it’s been the pressures associated with having the buck stop here; there’s no one else to blame when things don’t go right. Currently my least favorite thing is that it eats into some of my family time.

What do you think are important entrepreneurial skills to have?

There are many, but some of the first that come to my head are self awareness, the ability to fail fast and know when to move on, an ability to delegate, keeping your ego out of your decisions, team building, and vision.

What are some challenges you’ve faced in business and how did you overcome them?

I faced all the normal challenges: unforeseen circumstances, naïve decision making, and getting into business cycles at the wrong time. Through persistence, determination, and having an exceptional network of colleagues, friends, mentors, and collaborators I was able to overcome the obstacles in my path. These types of challenges not only helped me learn, but kept me on my toes and kept things interesting. So although they were challenges, they were worth it.

What do you wish you’d known before you started out?

If I could go back in time, what I would tell my 18-year-old self is to be confident and patient. Hindsight is always 20/20.

What is the smartest move you made with your company so far?

The smartest move we made has been focusing on disruptive and new emerging industries, which led to our decision to dive deep into the legal cannabis industry. This is an opportunity like no other and only happens once in a lifetime.

How do you find new customers? What do you do to make sure they become return customers?

We’ve been fortunate enough that our customers come to us. We hope that our clients are more than customers—we like building relationships and partners over the long term. This is because we are lucky enough to choose the type of clients that we want to be partners with.

What’s your management style with employees?

Here are some of the key practice I focus on, on a daily basis:

  •  Whenever there is something that I can delegate, I do.
  • Culture is critical. We look to have our work environment be an expression of our shared values.
  • I like to invest in the people that work for me and get real joy in watching their careers advance. Helping those around you rise is a good way to help yourself rise, too.
  • I am focused on both the process and the outcome. The process because we should enjoy what we’re doing regardless of the outcome; our expression of excellence should be obvious at all times. Because in business the outcome is the ultimate arbiter, I try not to get lost on the small details when there are bigger issues to keep in mind.

What are some other companies or entrepreneurs you admire, and why?

I’m a big fan of Tony Hsieh and Zappo’s for their commitment to customer service. Also, Elon Musk for his vision and pursuing what he knows is right and doable despite what the crowds may say. Armand Hammer for his being a polymath and a true renaissance man, and Richard Branson and Virgin for their excellent customer experience.

Do you have a favorite inspirational quote?

Theodore Roosevelt: “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

What new initiatives are you working on?

We’re working on the Electrum Fund, a $25 million hedge fund investing solely in the legal cannabis industry and helping where we can in the creation of markets in other states as they create policy to allow it.

What advice would you give to someone hoping to start a company similar to yours?

Do it.

Follow Leslie on Twitter @lesliebocskor

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