Deep Dive With: Cannabis Entrepreneur Brian Mitchell CEO Shryne Group – Forbes

Tasia Wells

Shryne Group’s STIIIZY Flagship Store Grand Opening

2019 Tasia Wells

I’m glad to have spent some dining-time with Brian Mitchell and his Chief of Communications, Daniel Yi recently to learn that Brian is one of those people who you enjoy being with. Brian just has a way about him that creates happiness and ambitious thoughts. I wanted to spend hours listening to all the cool things he’s already done and the plans he has for global domination of the cannabis space. Ok, so maybe he doesn’t want to conquer the entire globe just yet, but let me be the first person to say, Brian is going to do it out of sheer passion. He’s the kind of man who has stories to tell. Some of these stories have manifested themselves in his high quality product line-up. Other stories are told by his deep humility. All these stories make up the man who I hope you enjoy learning a bit more about. It’s my pleasure to share with you my lunch companion and one of the most interesting people in the cannabis world, Brian Mitchell, CEO of the Shryne Group. (I’ll bet you’ve never heard of them, as I hadn’t. Now I feel more worldly, intellectual. Smart.) Enjoy!

Warren Bobrow=WB: What did you want to be originally? How did the route to cannabis take place for you? Do you prefer outdoor or indoor grown and why? 

Brian Mitchell= BM: Growing up I thought I wanted to be a doctor. I was a pre-med at UC Davis for three years before switching to economics. Whether I realized it at the time or not, I have always been an entrepreneur at heart. During college, I worked full time with a company called College Works Painting. I learned a lot about business and it spurred me to attend the Sacramento Entrepreneurship Academy. I also saved up enough money to start investing in real estate. I had a few successful investments and soon after graduating I moved to San Francisco and formed Northstar Investments, LLC. I began aggressively buying distressed commercial real estate and non-performing notes, but a year later I got caught in the great recession of 2008. They say you learn more through adversity than through success and that was definitely the case. I was forced to get back into painting and construction to crawl my way back out of debt, and in the process I ended up building one of the largest HOA & Multi-Family painting companies in California, Signature Painting and Construction. With the profits from Signature, I continued to invest in real estate. Real estate is what got me into cannabis. That’s the nature of entrepreneurship.

Brian Mitchell

Brian and family (beautiful child!!)

Photo Courtesy: Brian Mitchell

You are always looking for value in opportunities. In 2012, I was presented with an opportunity to purchase a farm in Humboldt County. That led me to doing a lot of research on the cannabis industry. This was four years before Proposition 64, and calling it an “industry” is a bit of a stretch, but I immediately saw the value in the opportunity. All the trends pointed to adult use legalization being imminent in California and eventually the country. Colorado had just legalized it and the movement for full legalization was gaining momentum at virtually every level. In the years after that, I went on a buying spree securing real estate and getting entitlements for cannabis businesses throughout California. In the process, I also met a lot of the top operators in the industry and got an education that I couldn’t get anywhere else. Over time, I had built a vertically integrated portfolio of cannabis assets that included retail, cultivation, manufacturing, and distribution.

WB: Please tell me about your company? What is your six month plan? One year? What obstacles stand in your way? How do you anticipate removing those obstacles?

Brian Mitchell

Brian Mitchell

Photo Courtesy: Brian Mitchell

BM: Shryne Group was a natural progression for me after having spent years accumulating cannabis related assets and learning the business from some of the best in the industry, including my Shryne Group partners. I had already been doing business with them, but one day we sat down and looked at our combined asset footprint and realized we had something really special. California is the most important legal cannabis market in the world, not only because it is the oldest and the largest, but because it can influence what happens in the rest of the country and the world. California exports culture and lifestyle across the globe. It is home to Silicon Valley and Hollywood. California was the first to legalize medical marijuana in 1996, and the market has been developing since. Some of the most recognizable cannabis brands in the world are based here in California. Shryne Group has an asset footprint that covers the entire state and touches all aspects from seed to sale, and we are using it to build a house of brands. Our STIIIZY line is one of the best-selling brands in cannabis today, and we are going to leverage our know-how to expand our offerings. That’s the plan for the next six-months to a year, to keep our heads down and execute on our plan with the ultimate goal of building iconic brands with authentic connections to California and its cannabis culture. We are at a pivotal moment in the industry with steep decline in valuations in the public markets, and a tightening of valuations on private companies looking to raise money. Cannabis companies can no longer live on hype and aspiration alone. We need to focus on sound business fundamentals, including top line revenue and positive EDITDA. We believe Shryne Group will be the most valuable cannabis company in the world when it is all said and done.

WB: Who is your mentor? Did you study business? What was the moment in your career that stands out the most? Why? 

Brian

Shryne Group’s STIIIZY Flagship Store Grand Opening

2019 Tasia Wells

BM: I’ve had a few mentors over the years, the first being my first boss, Mike Bohnett, who remains a close friend. I am constantly learning from everyone around me. I have two close friends who are also my neighbors and from them I am learning how to balance a successful business and family life for example. I think being an entrepreneur means you never stop learning or exploring. UC Davis did not offer a business degree, but that’s why I attended Sacramento Entrepreneurship Academy. The opportunities to learn are always there, but you have to seize them.

WB: Do you cook? If so, who taught you? What is your favorite restaurant? Where? What kind of food?

BM: I love to cook, but I haven’t had as much time to do so the past couple of years. Both of my parents are really good cooks, growing up with an Italian mom meant we always had good food around. Italian Restaurant in Berkeley called Lo Coco.

WB: What is your passion?

BM: My life is currently fully consumed with work and raising our two young children. When I have some free time I love to travel, and spend time at our cabin in Tahoe. I also love golf, wakeboarding and surfing, but there hasn’t been much time for that lately.

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