Troy Dayton: CEO of The ArcView Group
Troy Dayton, CEO of The ArcView Group, has been one of the truest pioneers of the modern day Cannabis Industry. He began his Cannabis career in the late 90’s, getting involved at the ground floor of the Marijuana Policy Project’s drug policy reform campaign and later co-founding Students for Sensible Drug Policy. Years later, Troy is an elected board member for the MPP, as well as a founding board member of the National Cannabis Industry Association. His experience inside and outside of the industry has taught him countless lessons that every entrepreneur can learn from. When he entered the Cannabis industry, his goal was to legalize cannabis and build a responsible and profitable industry. His company, The ArcView Group, has certainly contributed to that goal, raising more than $650,000 to support legalization and facilitating the funding of 72 cannabis-related companies to the tune of $45Mil. However, according to Troy this is just the beginning.
What is the story behind your involvement with the cannabis industry? What was the motivation behind it?
My involvement with the cannabis policy reform movement began as a senior in high school. I had tried cannabis and I thought it was crazy that people were being punished for consuming it. It just turned my stomach and inspired my sense of justice to want to change that. In 1995, I went off to college in Washington DC, right as the Marijuana Policy Project was getting started. The Internet was becoming a force for politics and I realized that this was an issue I was really passionate about. It was an exciting time as we were right at the beginning of the modern drug policy reform movement. I got involved and never looked back.
What were you doing before you launched ArcView?
I was the lead fundraiser for the Marijuana Policy Project. I was based out in Northern California with the goal of talking to high net worth individuals who could be major donors for the Marijuana Policy Project’s efforts. Also, I was charged with going out and talking to the burgeoning new legal cannabis industry.
The most dangerous thing we can do is to see the positive headlines and believe the job is done. We’ve got to keep fighting.
Over time, I noticed was that there was a gap in the process. Companies that were in the cannabis industry often had great ideas, but had a difficult time reaching investors. They didn’t know how to give an effective pitch and or they didn’t have the skillset to really take things to the next level. On the other side, I saw these high-net-worth people, many of which were just donating in hopes of changing laws because they simply cared about the cause. Those investors were becoming interested in this industry that they were helping to start, but didn’t really understand it either. That’s why, in March of 2010, I teamed up with Steve DeAngelo of Harborside Health Center. We launched the ArcView Group to help address some of those issues.
What other industries would you compare to the green rush?
Many facets of the cannabis industry are analogous to the renewable energy industry and the organic foods industry. I think those are great examples of where the hippies keep being right. It’s not a mistake that the best business ideas of the last couple decades have come from the counter culture. New ways of thinking are bubbling up from a group of people who are inspired to see the world change in a particular way and then spread those ideas through the development of profitable mainstream business models. I think we’re seeing the same thing happen with cannabis. If you look at renewable energy, it has spread across the world because people figured out ways to make it profitable. Organic foods have spread across the country and across the world for the same reason. I think cannabis legalization is going to spread across the world as well because we’re finding ways to create a profitable, responsible and politically engaged cannabis industry. That’s going to move the political needle.
Right now, where are you guiding your passion and energy toward?
We started ArcView with the belief that if we could build a credible, responsible and profitable industry, we would ultimately end cannabis prohibition. Currently on of our biggest goals is to end federal marijuana prohibition by 2020. In the upcoming 2016 elections, legalization is going to be on the ba lot in five to seven states and, if we do well, I think we have a great opportunity to realize that goal. However, in order to make the 2016 ba lots successful, it is critical that we inspire people to donate to those efforts. The media has done a great job of giving this issue a sense of inevitability, which is a dangerous thing because it’s only a sense of inevitability. It is not inevitable. It’s only inevitable if we are able to raise a certain amount of money to pass ba lot initiatives and that amount surpasses anything we have raised for our issues previously. By itself, California will cost more money than we have ever spent on any initiative in the past. Then on top of that we’re going to have four or five other states on the ba lot.
The one thing that was needed then and is needed now is people’s actions and dollars.
The most important thing is for people to continue actively supporting the cause. It doesn’t matter if you are an entrepreneur in the space or you simply care about the cause, we are so close that we cannot afford to rest on our laurels. The most dangerous thing we can do is to see the positive headlines and believe the job is done. We’ve got to keep fighting. When I first started in this field, most people laughed at me when I told them what I was doing to change the world. They would tell me exactly why cannabis would never be legal and that my plight was hopeless. Almost overnight, the story changed and now everybody says it’s inevitable. It wasn’t hopeless then, and it is not inevitable now. The one thing that was needed then and is needed now is people’s actions and dollars.
Who is a person that you consider as a role model? Maybe someone who has been a mentor to you, why and how did this person impact your life?
There are a number of people who have had a great influence on me, one of the most important being my business partner, Steve DeAngelo. There are few people who have been doing what I do longer than I have, but he is one of them.
A great example of his influence on me came back in 2012. It was a dark year for the cannabis industry and in mid 2012 ArcView almost went out of business. I had lost a lot of faith in what we were doing. In fact, I had begun to consider building another type of career. But Steve never wavered in his vision, commitment and belief that ArcView would become what it is today. He stayed encouraged that the cannabis industry would grow and build into something pivotal for the world. I really admire him for his unbelievable sense of vision in addition to his willingness and effectiveness when it comes to inspiring people Having personally been the recipient of that inspiration means a lot to me. I’m very grateful to Steve and have learned a lot from him.
What inspires you the most about this space?
I’m inspired by the chance to do well by doing good.
I’ve always had a deep-rooted entrepreneurial spirit. For example, over the years I have dabbled in the Dot Com boom, the renewable energy boom, I even had a business when I was a junior in high school. I’ve always had this real desire for business development. A desire to be on the cutting edge of entrepreneurial efforts
Another thing I have cared greatly about is changing the world. Multiple times as I grew up and in my career, I kept on having to choose between changing the world and making a lot of money. I thought I had to choose between them and never thought that all of our efforts to change these laws would one day lead to the next big business boom. Lo and behold, that’s exactly what happened. Turns out I don’t have to decide whether to change the world or to make a lot of money through business. I can do both.
That is why what we are doing right now really excites me. At ArcView, we are creating an engine for freedom. Creating an engine that can support itself as well as support the development of both jobs and wealth. I think that is very exciting.
Tell us about an esteemed achievement of yours.
I am very proud of what we have accomplished at ArcView. Roughly forty-four million dollars has gone to seventy different companies who have pitched at ArcView. That capital is some of the first outside investment into the sector. The ability to play a role in bringing businesses together with investors, to mature the industry as a whole, is something I am extremely proud of.
At ArcView, we are creating an engine for freedom.
Now this may sound odd, but on a personal level, I think my greatest achievement is quitting tobacco. It is a really addictive substance and I have tried to quit so many times over my life. I’m proud to say that around five years ago, I finally had my last cigarette. That achievement is something I hold dear. I think it is a great example of how you don’t need to make a substance illegal for people to decide for themselves how they want to interact with it.
Where do your great ideas come from?
Sometimes it’s about hanging out and consuming cannabis with other smart people and sharing thoughts with each other. Often times this is where the ideas come from. Once and I while I stop and think, ‘ Am I really the author of my own thoughts?’ I don’t know where they come from. They just show up.
For me, often times it’s not so much the idea itself, it’s noticing when an idea meets a need and a passion and then being willing to take the risks and the steps to bring it to fruition. I don’t think a single idea that I’ve worked on is really an idea that I came up with. In almost all cases, somebody else shared it or it was borrowed from something else. I just happened to notice that it was a unique moment in time to apply that idea towards a need that people had that could serve a larger goal. Too many people think they need to re-invent the wheel or create a product no one has ever thought of. To be successful you don’t always need to be original, you need to find what the world needs and then do that.
What are you doing to insure you continue to grow and develop as a leader in the cannabis space?
I’m not so sure that my goal is to be the leader. I think my goal is to make sure that ArcView keeps providing the most value that it can while also providing a light for people to remain committed to the cause. I think that’s really important. In terms of what am I doing personally, I think the biggest mistake many entrepreneurs make, myself included, is allowing your business to consume you. For me it happened earlier in my career. I found myself getting stressed out and losing sleep, worrying about payroll or some news story that just came out. All of that stress can really take its toll on an entrepreneur. So now I am working to maintain much more of a work-life balance. What my business really needs is for me to be calm, spacious and thinking clearly, not killing myself under massive amounts of work.
Making the shift from an early stage company to a mid stage company and really owning that piece of the leadership puzzle is really important for entrepreneurs. I would go so far as to say that it is just as important for early stage entrepreneurs as well. If I could do it all over again, I would not have sacrificed my happiness in order to make it happen. I would have found a way to do both. That’s my biggest advice to entrepreneurs. It’s going to be hard, it’s going to be a struggle, but you don’t need to sacrifice happiness in order to make it happen. Nothing is really that important.
I’m inspired by the chance to do well by doing good.
If we are sitting across from each other a year from now, how will our conversation about the green rush be going?
I hope really well. I think as long as the political efforts continue to move forward, than the industry will grow and mature on its own. My hope is that a year from now, we are sitting on massive piles of cash for the campaigns in 2016. In addition, that we are heading into an election season where at least sixty or seventy five percent of those ba lot initiatives, including California, are projected to pass. That would be the very best outcome for both this industry and this movement.
While we are talking about the industry and the Green Rush, it is also important to remember the real societal impact positive legislation could have on a global scale. There are people out there still sitting in prison, not just in the US, but all over the world for this plant. We owe it to them to do this right and to not miss a single opportunity to end marijuana prohibition anywhere on earth. We need to honor the people who have made great sacrifices because of these terrible laws. I want to make sure that this is a crowning achievement of for both the cannabis industry as well as people around the world who care about the movement.
What helps you separate your personal and professional life? How are you acting to inspire change? Join the conversation and comment below!