CEO Interview with “A Golden State”

golden state weed brand cotnainer

Premium Flower From A Golden State

As the cannabis industry matures and users acquire more sophisticated palettes, more and more companies are moving into the luxury cannabis space, offering high-end blends and second-to-none customer service to those willing to pay a premium price. Weed is no longer just “weed” — the plant is entering the mainstream, becoming a part of the everyday lexicon of North America, and that inevitably means a rise of connoisseurs is upon us, all searching for the best.

One such company hocking next-level luxurious marijuana products is A Golden State, founded by ex-Wall Street investment bankers Nishant Reddy and Simmon Saraf (an appropriately former job if ever there was one for a luxury cannabis company). To whit, A Golden State recently launched what it proudly proclaims to be the most expensive 1/8th on the market, at $80 a pop, for blends like Sierra Lemon (Sativa), Cloud Top (Hybrid), Snow Dream (Indica), and many more.

What sets A Golden State apart is that they use entirely their own genetics, having control over the entire seed to sale process. This produces super high-quality, organic cannabis. Growing their plants indoors in Redding, California, A Golden State can, therefore, ensure they are using sustainable energy and the purest snowmelt water straight from Mount Shasta.

We spoke with co-founder Nishant Reddy about how A Golden State came to be, why he left investment banking for cannabis, and social justice issues still plaguing the system.

What was cannabis to you before you started A Golden State?

As a late teen and in college, my maturity and knowledge of cannabis was much less and I was really only using it for fun. As I entered my professional life on Wall Street, I was using cannabis for very different reasons. I have always been an extremely disciplined person, whether it was college athletics or the demands of being an investment banker. There was no room for me to be stoned all the time, nor did that fit into my preferred lifestyle. Likewise, I had all but cut out alcohol because it was contrary to the health and wellness-focused lifestyle I was living. It was also counterproductive to being successful at work.

Cannabis, as I quickly learned, could replace alcohol, compliment wellness, and provide none of the harsh negatives resulting from drinking. This realization would eventually serve as the foundation for my professional transition into the cannabis industry, and as some of the core visions around the many companies, we have since launched, including A Golden State.

Why did you leave the lucrative and relatively easier world of investment banking to dive into the new and often challenging cannabis industry?

Working for someone else, and within the confines of a large corporation are not inherently who I am. Although I loved my time on the Street and what I learned as a banker, the job was not allowing me to use my strengths and apply them to my passion. I wanted to build something great, so the decision to pursue working for myself was an easy one once I was ready and capable. However, the transition from working for myself to my entire focus is on cannabis was gradual and intentional.

Why is customer service so important to you?

a golden state glass containing weedWe are in the consumer product good business; without customer service, we don’t have loyal customers and without customers, we don’t have a business. I’ve learned by listening and emulating leaders I look up to a great customer service focused companies such as Warby Parker, Jet Blue Airlines, and Patagonia. When we set out to create A Golden State, our mission was to create the highest quality, natural cannabis that we would be proud to use ourselves. It’s an honour to be able to share our products with others. What continues to drive us is that we have the opportunity to innovate and redefine what the premium cannabis experience is. Happy customers are everything to us.

You’re a minority in an industry largely populated by white folks — do you ever feel at a disadvantage?

Absolutely not. Life itself isn’t fair and no two people start life on an even playing field. My business partner Simmon and I do not focus on the playing field, or if the competition has an advantage. We focus on the known challenges that come between achieving our goals. We focus on improving ourselves to overcome those challenges. If anything, being minority leaders in this industry gives us more of a passion and purpose to continue to do good work, and even the playing field for other minorities following in our footsteps.

We have a tremendous focus on social justice through the legalization of cannabis. We believe legalization is such a monumental movement in this country. It is our responsibility to utilize it and the correlated earnings, as a result, to help create a more balanced society. We are currently working on multi-state expansion efforts and have partnered with local groups to ensure 10% of our workforce is comprised of reintroduced felons, as well as having a local social equity advisor. We’ve even pledged between 2%-10% of our revenue in community reinvestment programs, especially in communities that are underserved.

One of the largest and most pressing social justice issues surrounding cannabis is the unfair policing of minority communities. For decades, the police have been sending tens of thousands of minorities to prison over unfair marijuana laws and unfair police practices, while white communities are often left alone. Inevitably this creates a generational problem and leads to adults who now can’t qualify for student loans, food assistance, find work, and for what, a dime bag!?

Now that cannabis is legal in some states, and becoming increasingly legal in the rest, it’s time we use this opportunity to fix the years of wrongs. This includes all of the efforts I described above: expungement clinics, workforce reentry programs, vocational training, investment in minority communities, schools, and so many more. In addition, this also includes social equity licensing opportunities in states that are pursuing legalization and issuing licenses.

What’s next for y’all?

Sky’s the limit, and there’s no ceiling on our aspirations. We’ve had such incredible success thus far, and we’re really proud of what we’ve built. A Golden State has had such a welcome reception in the marketplace, and as a brand, we’re focused on launching additional products. In the near-term, AGS pre-rolls and extracted products are two exciting newcomers!

As the most expansive and quickly evolving industry in the world, Cannabis pioneers are taking their share of the market with new technology and products. We’re always on the hunt for these personalities and individuals. Stay up to date with our Featured section for more stories and interviews with industry experts and pioneers.