Investor Insight: Thomas Quigley, Tampa, FL
As he sat across from his doctor, listening closely as he was formally diagnosed with a late stage of cancer… he had thought that that was it; Thomas thought he was going to die. He wasn’t able to tolerate the proper medication and he was out of resources… until he discovered cannabis. Now, Thomas Quigley, CEO of Common Bond Collaborative, funds, mentors, and grows businesses in the cannabis industry to achieve success. Cannabis changed the direction of his life and now he’s stepping in and doing his part so that cannabis has the chance to save the lives of others.
How did your entrepreneurial journey begin?
I think I was born with an entrepreneurial spirit. When I was a kid I would put on a baseball uniform and go door-to-door collecting donations for my team… only; I didn’t play baseball (My mom made me return all my collections). From promoting warehouse parties in South Florida to starting, building, and exiting a $750M phone card company; working a 9 to 5 was never in my DNA.
What was the motivating factor for you to invest in the cannabis industry?
I exited Krush Communications, my telecommunications company, because I thought I was going to die. I was diagnosed with stage 4 liver disease and couldn’t take pain pills. Then, I had back surgery and they found a mass on my pancreas. Growing up, I never smoked weed. But at 45, I discovered cannabis and quickly learned the miraculous nature of this plant. The mass on my pancreas turned out to be scar tissue and through diet and exercise I was able to reverse my liver disease and my diabetes (yes I had that too). That left me with no job, a passion for cannabis, and sizable checkbook burning a hole in my pocket.
I discovered cannabis and quickly learned the miraculous nature of this plant.
One thing many first-time entrepreneurs struggle with is raising money. How would you suggest someone to overcome this problem?
Money isn’t what they really need. What they really need is what the money can buy them: Resources. $1M in funding will make you a successful business owner like a $5,000 guitar will make you Jimi Hendrix. Angel/Seed/Series A companies have a 90% fail rate. We started Common Bond Collaborative to flip that to a 90% success rate.
What we do is provide the services startups need now and pay later. We take equity, revenue shares, debt, and a number of creative solutions to help underfunded startups succeed. We become part of the company and get hands-on to ensure its success. It provides value for the company, security for the investors, drives innovation, and builds communities.
When it comes to raising capital, there has never been a better time to have a great business with the opportunity for backers to share in its success. Thanks to the success of the tech sector, there is more angel and VC money looking for the next Uber than ever before and now it’s looking at cannabis. Crowdfunding has also entered the cannabis space.
Who’s Common Bond Collaborative?
What are the key reasons why startups fail?
#1 would be not filling a market need. You need products and services people actually want, not that you simply provide. Lack of access to smart capital and mentors would come next, and followed by that, not building a strong team.
Can you share your thinking on how to identify a company as a great opportunity?
Sure. We select companies based on: Integrity, Passion, Experience, Knowledge, Skill, Leadership, Commitment, Vision, Realism and Coach-ability. Sound financials and market analysis are great, but every startup is different.
What are the key cultural differences between successful and mediocre startups?
Being coachable. Successful startups are built on a team. Unsuccessful startups have one or two people who think they can do everything themselves. I’ve taken that road and failed more than once before I succeeded. Embrace collaboration and mentorship. Build a solid team and always focus on creating value for your business, your customer, and your partners.
When a company is dealing with internal issues due to disagreements between multi-partners, what role and procedures do you play to save your investment?
We are in a unique position at Common Bond Collaborative because we are directly involved with the day-to-day operations in the companies we invest in. Mitigating disagreements is usually quelled by defined roles and responsibilities. But every situation is different.
How do you build a sustainable competitive edge?
Focus on value and be the best communicator in your space. This builds brand power which is the ultimate competitive differentiator.
As an investor, what are some of the key things you wish cannabis entrepreneurs knew?
That putting “canna” on a business name does NOT make you unique, groundbreaking, or viable. Solve real problems facing the industry. Don’t try and “Cannify” businesses that have existed for ages.
What needs to happen in order to create a billion-dollar company in the cannabis industry?
I don’t think there is any one thing that needs to happen. Any number of things will happen over the next few years that could accelerate cannabis sales. The loosening of banking regulations could lead to a feeding frenzy from the larger financial firms who have been waiting on the sidelines. That could set off a string of high value IPOs. Medical breakthroughs will attract the attention of the soon to be TRILLION dollar healthcare industry. Right now, we’re going to focus on building a few hundred $50M companies.
The loosening of banking regulations could lead to a feeding frenzy from the larger financial firms who have been waiting on the sidelines.
How do you decide between shutting down, keep funding, or selling your start-up?
Do you have a buyer? Find the balance between your passion and lifestyle. Then, make sure your numbers are real and can satisfy both of those things.