Michael Freelander: Indica LLC
When you’re flying thousands of feet above ground on a flight to Hong Kong and you suddenly come across an article that makes where you’re going and what you’re doing no longer relevant… What do you do? Take it from Michael Freelander of Indica LLC — You pivot. And you pivot fast! When you have that stroke of insight about what you should be doing, why waste any time? Michael certainly didn’t and got straight to work on building the most gorgeously-designed vaporizer we’ve ever seen, among doing a million other things of course (Because that’s just what brilliant men like Michael do).
What was the deciding factor for you to join this particular industry?
Well, I’ve always referred to this moment as my entrepreneurial epiphany. It was like an internal Seismic sensor went off in your mind, well before the earth’s vibration formed the oncoming tsunami that would break to the surface. I can remember the moment clearly:
Over 2 years ago, sometime in late November, I was on an international flight, reading through the results of the recent outcome of the elections in the Wall Street Journal. Though it wasn’t clear to me at first, I kept returning to one particular article related to medical marijuana and saw it mentioned that, “Nine more States had joined the movement toward legalization from the existing 10 states.” The purpose of my travels on this particular trip was related to a project in the mobile media sector. Before my plane even touched the landing strip in Hong Kong, I realized that the financial potential in the cannabis industry would far surpass any of the existing projects I had on my docket at the moment. It was time to pivot and refocus my energies.
I realized that the financial potential in the cannabis industry would far surpass any of the existing projects I had on my docket at the moment.
What were you doing before?
For many years I had owned and operated plastics manufacturing facilities here in the United States. The products we made were produced from pellets to finished goods mostly for mass merchants such as Wal-Mart, Target, Kmart, and Toys-R-Us to name a few. I was in the frontier of recycling plastics in the early 90s, initiating many programs that are currently in place today throughout the country. Most of all though, product design and manufacturing is what I have enjoyed and committed myself to throughout my life.
Tell us about the point in the time you realized the coming of the ‘green rush’?
Honestly, I think the realization came to me at a Bonnaroo event. I find that it’s very important to continually remove yourself from your standard daily routine and immerse yourself into what seems to be the currently shifting cultural tide. Four years ago was the first time I saw cannabis being consumed openly in a large public community… A generation was silently speaking of things to come.
Right now, where are you guiding your passion and energy towards?
My lightning bolt of enthusiasm goes out to all those charismatic geniuses within this industry. There is so much wisdom and knowledge to be shared, it’s absolutely mind-blowing. Contrary to most entrepreneurial strategy, I feel that pooling resources and skills is a much stronger model than the historical approach of 51% ownership in one said entity.
With so many exciting opportunities on the horizon, I personally have focused my time and energies as evenly as possible amongst my most important businesses and family obligations. These include my main company’s project to expand the Indica Vaporizer brand; my most recent endeavor in Kentucky, The Hemp Processing Project, which is based on the ideas on “Hemp Bound” by Doug Fine; and Mobius Creations, a start-up that began last year that constructs turnkey mobile, preforming arts stages for multi-day music festivals.
As you can see by my current docket, I’m personally drawn towards technology. I’m looking forward to uniting these resources, so that I can contribute and improve the segments of industry I’ve embraced. There are so many great minds and incredible ideas within this new world of ours that need a catalyst to unite them all. I’m hoping I can help facilitate this type of cooperative alliance.
Describe your work ethic to me in one word.
Tell me about a time in your career that didn’t go as planned and what you did about that? How did you handle it?
Well with Indica, I certainly can recollect my hopes to launch the product by a specific date, predominantly due to cash flow projections. I was lucky enough to be working with a strong beta-testing team who rocked my reality and read me the riot act regarding the product not meeting the industry’s high standards. This was October of 2013 and it was clear that many modifications needed to be made in order to compete and make it the game changing vaporizer I envisioned it to be. I knew at that time that I only had one opportunity to establish a reputation as a quality manufacturer and quality brand, so I got to work.
The way I decided to do this was to return to the design floor, bring in additional brains to share thoughts, and then put them all to the test. Stretching the funds was a difficult task, but in the end, 6 months later, we had a product that a consortium of bright people were proud of. It was a wonderful wake-up call and an inspired new direction for my company.
Indica Vaporizer Promo Video
What book have you read that you’ve been inspired by? Any particular read we should put on our list?
This may sound corny, but Ann Rand’s “The Fountainhead” has always been an inspirational read for me. Its nuances ripple as emerging ideas and technologies attempt their way into a static society. Business wise, I still refer to Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” – A staple for every entrepreneur.
Tell me about an esteemed achievement of yours.
That’s kind of a funny question. Over the course of my business career, I received the vendor of the year at both Wal-Mart and at Toys-R-Us. This was back in the mid-90s. The reason I call it funny is that though I had created a new product in high-volume for these customers that merited their recognition; margins were sharply reduced in order to secure this business. Yes, I did receive these acknowledgments, but my bottom line those years was not as healthy as the ones without the plaques.
On the serious side, I’ve aided in founding an AIDS project in Central Massachusetts, served as president of the Performing Arts Center in Springfield Missouri, and helped form the Arts Coalition which is a funding mechanism for the overhead of arts agencies in Southwestern Missouri.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
My father always expressed to me ,“In developing a business team, always look for people smarter than you, and surround yourself with people who can challenge and inspire you.” This is probably the wisest model for success that I know of for any entrepreneur who wishes to expand his or her horizons.
In developing a business team, always look for people smarter than you, and surround yourself with people who can challenge and inspire you.
What is the most important thing for us to know now about the legal marijuana industry?
Our businesses are all anxiously awaiting the creation and solidification of new federal and state regulations. Until these laws are federally accepted, the industry will continually walk on this ‘tight rope’ if you will. What is now shaping our business is the anticipation of these future policies. When these federal laws change, companies will need to take swift action in determining the entrepreneurial opportunities as they become apparent.
If we are sitting across from each other a year from now, how will our conversation about the ‘green rush’ be going?
Wow, I feel like Marty McFly. Not having my DeLorean nor any indication of what the world economy will do with the ever-changing price of oil, I’ll take a sweep at this. We are clearly on the precipice of grand opportunities. Though we are a young industry, still in our adolescent years, there are many seasoned mentors, and eager financiers who are prepared to educate, assist, and guide us to maturity.
To answer your question, this is how I see next year’s possible outcome: The companies and individuals that have made the best choices and alliances this past year have defined and molded the powerbrokers in the ‘green rush’ as it’s developed. In other words, I see the unification of talent, resources, and money being the corner post to our industry’s future.