Paris Holley: MANTIS Ad Network
When you meet a gentleman who relates the cannabis industry to the age of space exploration, you know you’ve met someone that is capable of navigating this exciting terrain. His interesting take on the future of business in cannabis is one that we have yet to see and as CTO of MANTIS Ad Network, we aren’t surprised in the least. Him and his partner, Matthew Price, are to credit for building the most expansive ad network in the realm of cannabis, a unique achievement for being in an industry limited by traditional outreach. He has the mind of an entrepreneur and the drive of a maverick and he’s making quite impression on the cannabis space.
What was the deciding factor for you to join this particular industry?
A few years ago, my partner and I saw a once in a lifetime opportunity to make a positive impact in a new industry through our patient focused work at Medical Jane. It was through that experience that Mantis Ad Network was born and we began our quest to find ways to bring technology to a growing market.
What skills from your previous experiences helped you in what you are doing now?
As a former enterprise consultant to Fortune 500 companies across the country, software is a domain that I have been in since my first freelance job at the age of 13. While technology is at the core of what we do, business development proves to be just as important.
Tell us about the point in the time you realized the coming of the ‘green rush’?
While the “green rush” has been a term coined during our tenure in the industry, I do not think it is an accurate representation of today’s environment. I see more similarities being drawn to space exploration than to the “gold rush” of earlier generations. While everyone is anxious to be the first to make it, no one really knows what the future holds when we do. How does one survive the climate change post-legalization? What does that look like? While a company may be the first to put its flag down, any number of regulations or cultural shifts can drastically change business models across all verticals.
I see more similarities being drawn to space exploration than to the “gold rush” of earlier generations. While everyone is anxious to be the first to make it, no one really knows what the future holds when we do.
What are you doing to impact the industry?
With MANTIS Ad Network, I think we are in a prime position to not only provide a service that is sorely needed in this growing space, but also represent what responsible marketing can look like. If you look at the growth of regulated industries like alcohol and tobacco, many lessons can be learned to help prevent similar restrictive policies from affecting cannabis. I think we all must be conscious of the images we portray in the media and how those messages are delivered. It isn’t just government regulations that must change, but also the mindset of individuals to help drive a cultural shift in our country.
Describe your work ethic to me in one word.
What does a typical work day look like for you in your business?
I wish I knew what a typical work day looked like! As a small startup, our team often wears many hats day-to-day. Between software development, client support, sales, business development, and design; each interaction brings more opportunities as well as challenges. Regardless of what role we play at the time, it is very likely that we are still in front of a computer screen.
How do you find inspiration in this industry? What have you found that has inspired you?
I think most, if not all, entrepreneurs in this space can find inspiration in knowing the positive effects of growing the industry into a sustainable economy. From the many patient stories across the country of ailments being treated with cannabis to the strides toward social equality through sensible drug enforcement and legalization. There are plenty of industries available to open a successful business in, but none as rewarding as ours.
From the many patient stories across the country of ailments being treated with cannabis to the strides toward social equality through sensible drug enforcement and legalization. There are plenty of industries available to open a successful business in, but none as rewarding as ours.
Tell me about an esteemed achievement of yours.
The fact that a small, unfunded team was able to take an idea and turn it into the largest digital platform in the space. We recently hit a milestone of 6 million people reached per month through our network, a feat achieved within our first year of operation. Moving forward, digital is going to be a huge component of this industry (especially amongst millennials) and we hope to be a driving force behind it.
How would you advise someone who wants to join the industry?
Be unique. So often I see bright minds come into the space only to hop on a train that is already heading down the tracks. Spend some time in it first, get to know the environment, the businesses, and the patients and build up enough knowledge to supplement the passion you have. My partner and I went through numerous proofs of concepts and business plans before landing on one that had some legs. The industry changes fast and competition is only going to increase over time, so get in early and solidify your position with a unique offering.
The industry changes fast and competition is only going to increase over time, so get in early and solidify your position with a unique offering.
If we are sitting across from each other a year from now, how will our conversation about the ‘green rush’ be going?
We would probably ask each other if we “struck it big” then laugh because most of the long road ahead of us has yet to be traveled. Until we see the same level of investment and growth that other sectors (such as technology) see, I would say that the “green rush” hasn’t happened yet.
What do you think? Is the cannabis the new age of space exploration?