Aviv Hadar’s Oregrown Industries has inked an expansive deal with an Israeli partner.

Suzanne Stevens Apr 19, 2018, 11:27am PDT

Aviv Hadar woke from a dead sleep at 3 a.m. in 2012 with the idea for his
next business venture: a cannabis company.

His first call was to his mom, who supported the idea. His second call was to his childhood friend, Kevin Hogan. Hogan said he was in and, in 2013, the two launched Bend-based Oregrown Industries. Today, the company operates an 84-acre grow in Deschutes County and retail stores in Portland, Bend, Eugene and Cannon Beach. It has 45 full-time employees, more during peak season.

Hadar has founded a handful of technology companies, including Think Brilliant Media Studios, which created the viral “I’m with Coco” campaign, and the content creation company SoulPancake.

He’s now applying that entrepreneurial energy to help grow not only Oregrown but the state’s cannabis industry as a whole. He is a founding member of the Oregon Cannabis Association, and a member of the National Cannabis Industry Association and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission’s Rules Advisory Committee.

We talked to Hadar about his global vision for Oregrown and his search for private capital.

How did you pivot from technology to cannabis? I spent a lot of time following around the band Phish … (and through that) my friends and I were involved in the (cannabis) industry. I met my wife, Christina, after Phish broke up. I went to school in Montana and jumped into computer science. I eventually dropped out and founded a software business. I had some success and some nice exits. Christina was from Oregon and when she brought me here, I fell in love, the surfing, the snowboarding, everything. The idea for Oregrown literally hit me one night at 3 a.m., right as Colorado laws were changing. I woke up from a dead sleep and started working on the business.

You started as a grow operation but soon added retail stores. Why? We realized people were not representing our products the way we wanted so we opened up the stores. Our Bend flagship store is one of the top performing in the country and has generated revenue annually in the high millions. We’re a retail beast. Given how crowded the retail market is in Oregon, how critical is product differentiation? Until there’s interstate commerce, this industry is in a box. You need to differentiate yourself in terms of the products, how you retain and acquire customers, and how you diversify your customer base. You need to appeal to people who are not the stereotypical customer.

How have you done that? We were early in not using marijuana leaves in our branding. Our flagship store, people think it’s an apparel store or a grocery store. We are right downtown in Bend. We are elegant in presenting our brand. There are a lot of people who want to shop discreetly and would rather come to our shop than to shop in one with a big neon green cross on the outside. We’ve also differentiated through our apparel line. We’ve brought in fashion pros. We’ve poached people from QuickSilver and LG and are working on our fall 2019 line.

Have you taken on any outside investors? We haven’t, but we are starting to explore it now. We know what we are worth, we have intense expansion plans, and that includes global. I was born in Israel and Israel has federally legalized cannabis. We already have a partnership with an Israeli company. We are approved, through that partnership, to export seven to 10 countries. It is a huge opportunity. If you look at Israel cannabis export news, you’ll see a couple hundred million dollars in deals have been signed in just the past couple of days.

What’s the biggest challenge for the industry going forward? Quite honestly, it’s capital. As the years continue to turn, you’re seeing a different level of consolidation or mergers. Every time … there’s bigger, more sophisticated money getting involved. In three, four years, who’s going to be entering the Oregon cannabis scene, it’s going to be nuts. We’re talking to investors who have made billions of dollars in tech. Now they want to know where to go in cannabis.

Source: Portland Business Journal

Posted in Oregrown at May 5th, 2018. Comments Off on Portland Business Journal: Oregon cannabis entrepreneur seeks investors, eyes global expansion (Oregrown).

As I looked over my ballot last week, I was struck by what is not on it, as much as what is, and what it means for the future of Deschutes County.

Last winter, even after the Deschutes County Planning Commission proposed reasonable regulations for cannabis businesses and strongly recommended that the county not opt-out of cannabis business licensing, a narrow but vocal interest group pressed for a ban on all cannabis businesses and tried to force voters into a “do over” on Measure 91, the 2014 statewide ballot measure that legalized and regulated recreational cannabis businesses in Oregon.

They very nearly succeeded. It would have been a hollow victory, to be sure. A recent poll of Deschutes County voters found that local support for legalization has increased since 2014, a trend borne out by this week’s election results in La Pine, where voters defeated a proposed local ban by a stunning margin.

But even a losing campaign would have been costly and divisive, and the extended delay would have further hamstrung the efforts of farmers and small-business owners to create jobs and economic opportunity in a thriving, well-regulated, local cannabis market.

Fortunately, after bringing stakeholders from all sides to the table through a Marijuana Advisory Committee, and after numerous public hearings and comments from hundreds of local citizens, county leaders wisely repealed the opt-out ordinance and allowed licensing to move forward.

As a result, local cannabis farmers and processors are now engaged in a licensing process that includes rigorous oversight by the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, the Oregon Health Authority and the Oregon Department of Agriculture. Farmland that has been underutilized and in some cases neglected for years will be put to profitable agricultural use, fulfilling a goal of our Deschutes County Comprehensive Plan that has long eluded us.

Meanwhile, the economic engine that ground to a halt during the first half of this year is slowly cranking up again, and beginning to make good on its promise of renewal in Central Oregon. Investments that had been put off for months are finally moving forward. Businesses are growing. At the company I founded in 2013, we are building out the greenhouses at our 84-acre Tumalo farm and preparing to create at least two dozen new jobs in a major expansion of our downtown Bend dispensary.

In the wake of a string of election victories legalizing cannabis for adult use in California, Nevada, Massachusetts and likely Maine, it is clear that rational regulation and economic growth, rather than the violence and corruption of prohibition, are the future of cannabis. Central Oregon is well positioned, because of our geography, climate and permaculture, to grow some of the finest cannabis in the world.

In the coming years, we hope to see the laws and rules around cannabis evolve to allow Central Oregon to make the most of this economic opportunity. Licensing for on-premise consumption, and reasonable regulations allowing public “tastings” like we have for beer, wine and spirits would go a long way toward fostering the vibrant craft industry that Oregon’s cannabis industry is poised to become.

In the not-too-distant future, the federal government’s long, failed and ignoble experiment in prohibition will come to an end. When the laws banning sales between states come down, Oregon cannabis will be in great demand across the nation, and we will see a genuine economic boom. Just as with craft beer, our region is poised to reap both economic and cultural benefits. Look around. It’s already happening.

— Published in the Bend Bulletin on November 10th, 2016

Posted in Oregrown at November 14th, 2016. Comments Off on In My View: Deschutes Commissioners Made Good Choice on Marijuana [Bend Bulletin].

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Posted in Oregrown at September 26th, 2016. Comments Off on Stay Up to Date on Everything Oregrown.