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Planet 13, the largest cannabis dispensary, is about to get a whole lot bigger

(BUSINESS NEWS) Larry Scheffler, the co-founder and co-CEO of Planet-13, shares his experience as his baby turns 2 years old.

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Exterior of Planet 13 building with red filter.

“One of our competitors said when we first opened: ‘just give it 6 months and they’ll be a Korean BBQ’.” Larry Scheffler – co-Founder and co-CEO of Planet 13 dispensary— recalled fondly to me last Friday. “We like proving them wrong.”

Planet-13, which turned two years old on November 1st, isn’t your average dispensary. This place has an 80-foot infinity entertainment wall, a Willie Wonka style production-line that utilizes robotic arms to make cannabis products, and a partnership with Mike Tyson! Very Vegas!

And though it’s already the largest dispensary in the world, it’s about to get a whole lot bigger this year.

For Scheffler, who seems to love just about every part of his job, the fun is just beginning.

A little history on Planet 13: As Las Vegas politicians, Scheffler and Bob Groesbeck – the other “co-” – got started in the cannabis industry right from the get-go of legalization. “We decided to get into it. It was more brains than guts, but we did it”, remembered Scheffler.

The two partners opened a small dispensary in 2018 that catered to Vegas’s 2.3 million locals, though the store faced considerable competition. After some thought, they decided to go big: why not make a superstore and entertainment venue for the 50 million tourists that come through the city each year?

By conducting zoning checks (dispensaries aren’t allowed to be within a mile of the Las Vegas Strip), Groesbeck was able to find the perfect location for Planet 13 right on the edge of the Gaming Corridor. Thus, Planet 13 became an inextricable staple on the Strip and has been excelling better than anyone had anticipated ever since – last month with Vegas at a 50% tourism capacity, Planet 13 saw 7.8 million in revenue, which is their second highest month to date.

With Planet 13 being the giant money maker that it is, I was delightfully surprised to learn that the superstore has been supporting Vegas locals during the pandemic.

“Before COVID, we only did about 14% locals but of course with COVID we had to turn around on a dime and do 100% locals, no tourists.” Said Scheffler, who told me that they were offering 20%-50% discounts to Vegas residents, as well extensive delivery options to those who need their medicine but can’t pick it up. “We have 27 vehicles and 100 drivers to make deliveries, and 24 people full-time on the phones to take orders.”

Besides the new expansion, which he anticipates to be finished by the start of Q1, Scheffler is focused on extending the Planet 13 model to new cities. As the more creative mind of the two partners (Scheffler ran a very successful graphics company for 42 years), he loves the challenge of coming up with individualized, innovative ways to bring his brand to different spaces. “I enjoy figuring out what works in a town, what the people like to see.”

At the end of the day, Scheffler is confident that Planet 13 will simply keep growing – he anticipates sales will double the moment tourism picks back up in Vegas, hence the expansion. He hopes every customer has as much fun with the shopping experience as he has in providing it: “I love it, It’s not even a job, it’s fun coming to work and creating something new every time”.

If you find yourself in Vegas and in need of some cannabis, food, or simply wild theatrics (there is no shortage of that on the Strip!), check out the massive, ever growing Disney Land-esque dispensary right at the edge of the Corridor. I sincerely doubt it will disappoint.

Happy 2nd birthday, Planet 13!

Anaïs DerSimonian is a writer, filmmaker, and educator interested in media, culture and the arts. She is Clark University Alumni with a degree in Culture Studies and Screen Studies. She has produced various documentary and narrative projects, including a profile on an NGO in Yerevan, Armenia that provides micro-loans to cottage industries and entrepreneurs based in rural regions to help create jobs, self-sufficiency, and to stimulate the post-Soviet economy. She is currently based in Boston. Besides filmmaking, Anaïs enjoys reading good fiction and watching sketch and stand-up comedy.

Business News

This web platform for cannabis is blowing up online distribution

(BUSINESS NEWS) Dutchie, a website platform for cannabis companies, just octupled in value. Here’s what that means for the online growth of cannabis distribution.

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A small jar of cannabis on a desk with notebooks, sold online in a nicely made jar.

The cannabis industry has, for the most part, blossomed in the past few years, managing to hit only a few major snags along the way. One of those snags is the issue of payment processing, an issue compounded by predominantly cash-only transactions. Dutchie, a Bend, Oregon company, has helped mitigate that issue—and it just raised a ton of money.

Technically, Dutchie is a jack-of-all-trades service that creates and hosts websites for dispensaries, tracks product, processes orders, keeps stock of revenue, and so much more. While it was valued at around $200 million as recently as summer of 2020, a round of series C funding currently puts the company at around $1.7 billion—approximately 8 times its worth a mere 8 months ago.

There are a few reasons behind Dutchie’s newfound momentum. For starters, the pandemic made cannabis products a lot more accessible—and desirable—in states in which the sale of cannabis is legal. The ensuing surge of customers and demand certainly didn’t hurt the platform, especially given that Dutchie is largely responsible for keeping things on track during some of the more chaotic months for dispensaries.

Several states in which the sale of cannabis was illegal also voted to legalize recreational use, giving Dutchie even more stomping ground than they had prior to the lockdown.

Dutchie also recently took on 2 separate companies and their associated employees, effectively doubling their current staff. The companies are Greenbits—a resource planning group—and Leaflogix, which is a point-of-sale platform. With these two additions to their compendium, Dutchie can operate as even more of an all-in-one suite, which absolutely contributes to its value as a company.

Ross Lipson, who is Dutchie’s co-founder and current CEO, is fairly dismissive of investment opportunities for the public at the moment, saying he instead prefers to stay “focused with what’s on our plate” for the time being. However, he also appears open to the possibility of going public via an acquisition company.

“We look at how this decision brings value to the dispensary and the customer,” says Lipson. “If it brings value, we’d embark on that decision.”

For now, Dutchie remains the ipso facto king of cannabis distribution and sales—and they don’t show any plans to slow down any time soon.

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Business News

Ford adopts flexible working from home schedule for over 30k employees

(BUSINESS NEWS) Ford Motor Co. is allowing employees to continue working from home even after the pandemic winds down. Is this the beginning of a trend for auto companies?

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Woman in car working on engineering now allowed a flexible schedule for working from home.

The pandemic has greatly transformed our lives. For the most part, learning is being conducted online. At one point, interacting with others was pretty much non-existent. Working in the office shifted significantly to working remotely, and it seems like working from home might not go away anytime soon.

As things slowly get back to a new “normal”, will things change again? Well, one thing is sure. Working from home will be a permanent thing for some people as more companies opt to continue letting people work remotely.

And, the most recent company on the list to do this is Ford Motor Co. Even after the pandemic winds down, Ford will allow more than 30,000 employees already working from home to continue doing so.

Last week, the automaker giant announced its “flexible hybrid model” schedule to its staff. The new schedule is set to start in the summer, and employees can choose to work remotely and come into the office for tasks that require face-to-face collaborations, such as meetings and group projects.

How much time an employee spends in the office will depend on their responsibilities, and flexible remote hours will need to be approved by an employee’s manager.

“The nature of work drives whether or not you can adopt this model. There are certain jobs that are place-dependent — you need to be in the physical space to do the job,” David Dubensky, chairman and chief executive of Ford Land, told the Washington Post. “Having the flexibility to choose how you work is pretty powerful. … It’s up to the employee to have dialogue and discussion with their people leader to determine what works best.”

Ford’s decision to implement a remote-office work model has to do in part with an employee survey conducted in June 2020. Results from the survey showed that 95% of employees wanted a hybrid schedule. Some employees even reported feeling more productive when working from home.

Ford is the first auto company to allow employees to work from home indefinitely, but it might not be the only one. According to the Post, Toyota and General Motors are looking at flexible options of their own.

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Business News

Unify your remote team with these important conversations

(BUSINESS NEWS) More than a happy hour, consider having these poignant conversations to bring your remote team together like never before.

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Woman working in office with remote team

Cultivating a team dynamic is difficult enough without everyone’s Zoom feed freezing halfway through “happy” hour. You may not be able to bond over margaritas these days, but there are a few conversations you can have to make your team feel more supported—and more comfortable with communicating.

According to Forbes, the first conversation to have pertains to individual productivity. Ask your employees, quite simply, what their productivity indicators are. Since you can’t rely on popping into the office to see who is working on a project and who is beating their Snake score, knowing how your employees quantify productivity is the next-best thing. This may lead to a conversation about what you want to see in return, which is always helpful for your employees to know.

Another thing to discuss with your employees regards communication. Determining which avenues of communication are appropriate, which ones should be reserved for emergencies, and which ones are completely off the table is key. For example, you might find that most employees are comfortable texting each other while you prefer Slack or email updates. Setting that boundary ahead of time and making it “office” policy will help prevent strain down the road.

Finally, checking in with your employees about their expectations is also important. If you can discuss the sticky issue of who deals with what, whose job responsibilities overlap, and what each person is predominantly responsible for, you’ll negate a lot of stress later. Knowing exactly which of your employees specialize in specific areas is good for you, and it’s good for the team as a whole.

With these 3 discussions out of the way, you can turn your focus to more nebulous concepts, the first of which pertains to hiring. Loop your employees in and ask them how they would hire new talent during this time; what aspects would they look for, and how would they discern between candidates without being able to meet in-person? It may seem like a trivial conversation, but having it will serve to unify further your team—so it’s worth your time.

The last crucial conversation, per Forbes, is simple: Ask your employees what they would prioritize if they became CEOs tomorrow. There’s a lot of latitude for goofy responses here, but you’ll hear some really valuable—and potentially gut-wrenching—feedback you wouldn’t usually receive. It never hurts to know what your staff prioritize as idealists.

Unifying your staff can be difficult, but if you start with these conversations, you’ll be well on your way to a strong team during these trying times.

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