In this episode, Barbara and Mike discuss:
- Why it is important to start doing the Startups
- How SEO makes your business strong compare to other
- Changes in the CBD world a what that means for consumers
“It’s never too late in the game!” – Mike Pachan.
Connect with Mike Pachan:
Learn more about Mountain Made:
Connect with Barbara Hales:
Business website: www.TheMedicalStrategist.com
Show website: www.MarketingTipsForDoctors.com
Dr. Barbara Hales: Welcome to another episode of marketing tips for doctors. I’m your host, Dr. Barbara Hales.
Today we have with us an exciting person. He is the CEO of Mountain Made, and he claims to be an undiagnosed entrepreneurial addict. But guess what, Mike, your secrets are out now. Startups are his game, and he loves everything business, which is great because we like to get tips and hear about everything business to implement the steps and become more effective.
He also has many exciting hobbies, but I read something a little bit interesting to me which is homesteading. What’s that all about?
Mike Pachan: Homesteading becomes my wife and I’s passion over the past four years. We moved up into the foothills of Colorado and looked to take this home, build it into a house and become as self-sufficient as possible. We’ve been putting in quite a bit of work over the past four years, and it’s been a blessed experience.
Dr. Barbara Hales: So, you’re off the grid.
Mike Pachan: We’re not off the grid, not yet. We are working towards it. We have 5 chickens and 15 raised bats. We have a stable water supply and have a generator on-site. We are slowly taking the two acres, building it out, allowing more ecology to grow, and building our own small cottage-style environment.
Dr. Barbara Hales: Do you have a farm that you’re creating as well? Are you raising your own vegetables?
Mike Pachan: We fenced in about 2400 square feet of space during the COVID pandemic that became our project to keep us busy. We have a mix of wildlife from small critters like chipmunks and squirrels to big animals like deer, elk, bear, mountain lion, bobcat, fox, a couple of snakes now and again. So, we have fenced-in protection. We do some living soil, constantly building ecology and microbes in the area. And it’s coming along well. This year, we had more.
Dr. Barbara Hales: How do you keep the critters from eating everything that you are growing?
Mike Pachan: We fenced it in six feet high. We have some electricity running on the outside to deter them. It’s quite the project, but it’s fulfilling.
Dr. Barbara Hales: So, tell us a bit about the startups that you do.
Mike Pachan: I’ve been in the cannabis space for 11 years. I spent my first five years working for other people’s small businesses, mainly in the medical and recreational retail settings, a little bit in the back of the house with cultivation back then. You had to do a little bit of everything. That’s really where my knowledge and skill set come from interacting with medical cannabis patients for that amount of time. I’ve helped several 100,000 people.
In 2015, I was ready for a change and trying to go a different direction in the industry and was sort of just by happenstance started moving wholesale products from cultivators to dispensaries and found a knack with my love of customer service. We created a small business which is a Qualified Intermediary between the grows and the dispensary, like a manufacturer’s representative where we could know the good product, decent product, and bad product and apply it to a business development sales setting. I’ve been doing that business model for six years and enjoy it reinvested some of those earnings into a mountain made, which was initially a fitness company.
Helping people get ready for their activated lifestyle life out in the mountains out in the hills and started to put some cannabinoid-based supplements under that brand this year. We were going to grow the product line and have cannabinoid offerings, not only with CBD but also into some of the new isolated molecules readily available on the market.
Dr. Barbara Hales: Being that you’re in Colorado, I’m sure that you are not the only one that offers services like this. We will want to know how is it that you stand out above your competition? What is it that you do from a business sense that says, “Hey, I’m the one you should deal and interact with. Forget about everybody else.”
Mike Pachan: That’s a great question because there is a lot of people entering the space. One thing that’s helped me succeed in the cannabis industry sounds a little anecdotal, but I think that there’s a lot to be said about it is a sense of humbleness. People look at the Cannabis and Hemp space and believe that we’re a lower-level operating set of people. And they come in with this attitude that they’re “gonna.” And I call them the “I’m gonna be people.”
“I’m gonna be the Jeff Bezos of Cannabis.” “I’m gonna be the Henry Ford of Cannabis.” They fail. The industry has a karmic value, and it tears them down, and they wash out pretty quickly.
To all the people who want to get into this space, be humble, and know that you didn’t start this, and you’re probably not going to finish it. You’re going to be a small integral piece in the bigger puzzle but come in ready to learn. That’s what I did for my first five years when I got into this space in the mid-20s. Let me tell you something, making $10 to $15 an hour when you have a solid skill set, you are in your 30s, your friends are on a vacation while they’re making six figures, and all these lovely and humbling things. But it taught me the skills I need to be professional at what I do now.
It’s a great place to start, and anyone could do it. But what most people aren’t bringing to the table is the amount of hard work and attention that I give to my customers. So, the people buying a product from me know that if there’s a small or big fire, I will be Johnny on the spot and will attend to their needs. And I’m going to go above and beyond what most people are willing to do. For instance, our industry is very compliancy driven. I’s and T’s on paperwork have to be perfect, and labeling has to be perfect. There are no excuses for that.
I’ve had a client call me at 1 pm and say, “Your delivery is here.” And there’s a misspelling on a label, and that label is on 100 units of a product you just dropped off. It’s not acceptable. It can’t be in their shop. It’s non-compliant. I go to my vendor, I have them reprint labels, immediately I get in my car, and I drive an hour and a half to their site. And I apply those correct labels, personally, so that the job is done and done correctly. And then, that product can sit in their facility and get distributed out to their retail storefronts. And that’s a regular practice for me to go to that level to make sure things are done because time matters that that issue cannot sit overnight. It’s not allowed by the state.
Dr. Barbara Hales: Are you mainly brick and mortar, or do you sell most of your products online?
Mike Pachan: The Mountain Made CBD is pretty much exclusively online sales. We have a few wholesale clients. Many of our wholesale business was interrupted by COVID19 with the number of companies that didn’t make it through lockdown because they were small. 6, 9, 12, and 18 months into their retail business is not a lot of time to grow. Many of that business has been interrupted by the wholesale, M Patchin Ltd. in the cannabis space. It’s 100% in Colorado, and it’s face-to-face, brick-and-mortar driven. So, the cultivators have brick and mortar, and the dispensaries have brick and mortar and again, interacting between them. I’m doing a little bit of both have one business based on the web and one based brick and mortar.
Attracting More Customers
Dr. Barbara Hales: For your web business, what would you say is your website or landing page that attracts people to your business instead of the other 25 other businesses listed in Google when people do searches?
Mike Pachan: Mountain Made CBD is doing something different. We’re focusing on high-dose CBD. I think that the science and the clinical trials show that CBD is best taken in large doses. So, our base product is a 50 milligrams CBD tablet. That way, you can saturate the endocannabinoid system with that CBD. We offer products that complement each other.
So, in the morning, you can take our build. We have a boost line, also defense, and a combat line made for midday consumption. And then we have two products for the evening. So, we’ve built a strong platform for people to begin a cannabinoid regimen. We have high bioavailability. And we’ve also done our due diligence and stayed away from the broad spectrum and full spectrum hype. And we can go into that maybe a little bit. We’re launching an exact spectrum line here this summer. We also show that CBD and soon to come other Cannabinoids are proper with activated lifestyles or people that are actionable day-to-day.
I think a lot of the hype behind CBD is that it is mellow, sedated, and chill and take it in the evenings. I couldn’t disagree with that more. CBD is a standalone molecule that is not sedative. We find that when you take 50, 100, 150, or 200 milligrams of CBD in the morning and pair it with caffeine, you’re getting a lot of prefrontal cortex action, you see a reduction of anxiety, and an increase in drive focus in the brain. We’ve done some brain mapping to confirm that.
I think our brand is showing people that Cannabinoids can help you be functional, driven, focused, and accomplished in your full-day setting. Not just this idea that “Oh hey. I use CBD or smoke a little bit of Cannabis in the evenings to relax. It’s way more versatile and functional than that.” That’s what we’re trying to show with the Mountain Made brand. You can have an activated lifestyle, as we call it, on Cannabis, Hemp, and Cannabinoids. I use Cannabis lightly because we do not sell Cannabis online. It’s expanding medicinally and recreationally. We still want that message out on the website that Cannabinoids, whether they come from Cannabis or Hemp, have a lot of functionality behind them. And that they need to step outside of sort of this main message that’s being sent because I personally think it’s super inaccurate.
Dr. Barbara Hales: For people interested in the higher dose product, are these people have prescriptions from their doctors? Or can anybody acquire your product at a high dose?
Mike Pachan: The Mountain Made CBD can ship nationwide because it’s a Hemp-based product, not a cannabis-based product. And again, the Cannabinoids, specifically CBD, we’re coaching in higher doses. We’ll be launching some other Cannabinoids that we think are effective or have efficacy at smaller doses.
When people say, “How much do I need to make it work?” That is a fascinating question with a variety of ways to branch out because what is work? What does work mean? If you’re looking for work to mean tumor reduction, you will need a different dose than if work to you means day-to-day anxiety reduction. And that’s where dosing for specific Cannabinoids comes into play. So again, on Mountain Maid, we’re selling CBD, but to get into a general discussion in Colorado, where you have access to THC.
With my background helping patients in medicinal settings, we saw patients whose goal or work was tumor reduction. And their dose of THC was way higher than someone who said, “I have a little pain in my elbow. I need a topical for this.” And THC is analgesic in theory, and in theory, the right antitumor right. So those doses are different. Based on what works, people lump work into one meaning when they’re doing with Hemp and Cannabis because, again, I don’t think they understand what they’re talking about. So that’s an important point to press on customers or consumers is to find what work is for you. And then you’ll explore a dose that fits that need.
Dr. Barbara Hales: Have you been reaching out to medical professionals and hospitals in your area to let them know about you?
Mike Pachan: Way back in 2013, when I was a struggling entrepreneur, I answered a call on Craigslist. And they were hiring. One of the doctors’ clinics writing medicinal cannabis scripts wanted someone to go door to door to doctor’s offices like me, like a pharmaceutical representative, and talk to them about Cannabis. So, I interviewed, and they were excited about my knowledge set. And I built myself my own little binder. And you know, I was talking about terpenes. Back then, and Cannabinoids put on a suit and tie, and I went door to door for four weeks and got thrown out of every single doctor’s office. They laughed. They thought it was a joke. I was just ahead of my time, right. And the gentleman I worked with on the project, he and I still speak to this day, and we laugh.
Professional Referral System
Dr. Barbara Hales: So, at this point, since the landscape has changed, a little bit, at least, do you? Do you have any established professional referral system that you’ve built up?
Mike Pachan: We have a small one. We work with a medical cannabis clinic in Ohio, we wholesale the product to him, and it moves well at his clinic. And then, we also have a referral system online with him. We had attempted to have a pharmacist on-call through the website and full-time as well. He’s since gotten a full-time job and compound pharmacy. And at that time, our SEO on the website just wasn’t effective. A big part of what we’ve done over the past nine months at Mountain Made was tearing apart the entire website got it work on SEO. We would like to get back into that thought and that program. Because what was nice about the pharmacist is, they could pick up a phone call and give medical advice, where you’ll hear me on these podcasts constantly say, “I’m not giving medical advice. I barely graduated college. I know a bit of Cannabis and Hemp, but I’m not a qualified health physician.“
Maybe we’re just a little bit ahead of our time. Down the road, you’re going to see more of that. We even had that pharmacist offer if our volume of customers goes up on the website to start compounding in our facility to meet more specific needs. Because as work narrows down, some patients will need more specific dosing. We think that’d be pretty cool to do, and we are launching a nice set of creams or topical, transdermal lotions. And maybe with Dr. Shane’s help we could tailor-fit some neat sets in. Right now, we’re running more bulk products tailor fitting a compounded product would be a little more time-consuming.
But I think that goal down the road is something to look for. But to answer the question directly, you know, we don’t have much of a referral system currently. I still think that the medical industry is learning a lot. I also think many folks in the medical establishment are going through getting burned by people who are self-qualified and claiming to be professionals and just really aren’t. I think folks are still functioning on a lot of broad-stroke knowledge and need to continue to drill down and fully understand what they think they’re talking about as information opens up.
SEO and Website
Dr. Barbara Hales: I commend you for saying, “Listen, I would like the business to be better. Let’s look at that website, the SEO the keywords, break it apart, and reword it to boost our search engine rankings and increase our visibility.” When you redid your website, did you notice a big change?
Mike Pachan: The change was significant. The first two people that we had do SEO for us pretty much stole from us. It’s a tricky part of the internet to deal with. I refer to it as the used car, a lot of the internet, you better go in and you better kick the tires, you’d better turn the key and you better stick your head under the hood because you’re going to get smoked the first couple of times to do SEO, and its learning curve. The third company that we deployed flagged 1700 errors on our website that Google noticed seven times every day.
The second company that did SEO for us left us with an overall ranking of 26%. We’re now at 87 and growing. Therefore, significantly different. We retooled everything. We have a professional blog writer who is writing in exact SEO format. And we’re pretty excited about what the next six months will bring the company. Mainly because, as revenue goes up on the website, our goal is to continue to launch innovative and high efficacy products and touch as many people positively as we can. Again, referring back to those five years behind the counter in a medical dispensary, Cannabis, and Hemp does not work for everyone. By definition, it can’t. If it did, it would be snake oil. Snake oils work for everyone.
This is not snake oil. But when it does work for people, it works. And it does great for their lifestyle. And it enhances the quality of life. And I’ve seen that enough times repeatedly, where we’re excited to get Mountain Made more like a household name and continue to educate people about what Cannabis and Hemp are, and more importantly, what they’re not.
SEO Tips and Tricks
Dr. Barbara Hales: I’m glad that you touched upon the fact. Unfortunately, you had the experience. But I’m glad you touched upon the fact that you had to go to a few different SEO companies before finding the best fit for you. So, if you were to discuss the situation with professionals, what would you say people should look for and ask for before hiring the company that would be best for you to avoid the burnt experience you had?
Mike Pachan: If you’re a small business owner and first, second, third-time entrepreneur, taking lumps need to be isn’t as enjoyable as putting wins on the board. It’s part of the process. Unfortunately, if you ever get down on yourself, I watch the machines that build America on the History Channel on Sundays. And its stories about household name brands that you know, but the background story and how most of it took 5 to15 years to find their stride. What I would do in the land of SEO is to vet eight companies, bring it down to five, ask those three or five what websites they built, get the name of those websites.
So, if Company A built website one, send website one over to Company B, and say, “Run this through your SEO systems and tell me what it spits out, tell me what qualified metric-based ranking it spits out.” Then ask Company B for the website they built, send it over to Company A, and have them challenge each other because they have software that they can type in and see right away how Google views that website.
That’s something we didn’t do. And I wish we had because that’s an easy way to start to filter out quickly. So, challenge their work. And they’ll show you a dashboard. You know, Google will rank you 1 to 100. It will show keywords that are up. The second SEO company that will use their game was semantics. So, at the end of the six months, we said we’ve gotten nothing out of this. And they said yes, you have five words that are number one in Google.
And I said, “Okay, we asked you six months ago that we wanted our keywords to have between 50 and 200 searches a month. Show me how many searches these keywords have a month.” And the answer was zero. Their definition of work was to get words listed as number one, which they did. But those words did not fit our definition of work, which we set six months previous in which we wanted 50 to 200 search volumes a month they were zero.
So, we’re winners and losers all simultaneously, where the new companies are very transparent, and they’re showing us a list and say, “Here are the keywords we think.” CBD is a very competitive space. You want to rank for CBD oil. There are 200,000 people a month searching for, which sounds exciting. There are also the top 10 companies that are putting 50,000 dollars a month into holding their ranking for CBD oil. We don’t have that kind of budget.
So, for us, our niche market has keywords where we have 50 to 200 people a month searching for those words, and no one else is really challenging us on those ranks. So, we’re going in for those. If you capture 3% of the business that searching for you, and you have 6 to 8 thousand people a month, that’s 200 to 300 units a month that we’re selling, in a lean business with low overhead, which we’ve managed to hold over the past couple of years. We’re crushing it, then from there, we can reinvest that high revenue situation into rankings for more competitive words and slowly step ourselves into it.
My focus in my time and Cannabis is that I’ve seen enough people fail because they’re not lean, take on too much investment money, think it’s going to be easy, and it’s not. So, I run lean businesses. So, if you have tough times, you can make it through until you figure out what you’re doing. And I think that’s important to note in the cannabis space as you can get. Those first five years, I’ve seen companies that were on top fold quick because they took on too much investment money, and it just didn’t pay itself off.
Professionals with Little to No Budget
Dr. Barbara Hales: Professionals who have essentially no budget and are in a competitive business type in the community in which they reside. What would you recommend? Do they? Are you saying to find keywords that still represent them but are not, you know, readily used by the larger franchises or corporations?
Mike Pachan: Just getting a few wins on the board good. When we started the wholesale company, the sales were just trickling in, and we hustled seven days a week to keep building off of that. And that’s super important. So, what low-hanging fruit is available that the masses of people are flocking after because when a widget gets exciting and starts making an impact in the marketplace, people flock to it.
By the time you get into the flock, you’re getting ready to hit that bubble, and when it pops, a couple people always make it, a lot of people don’t. So how can you niche yourself out to protect yourself? Again, I don’t think many people are speaking about how functional Hemp and Cannabinoids are because they don’t even understand what widget they’re selling. They know CBD made a lot of people some money. So, they’re slapping a company together and chasing after it. We’ve niched ourselves out so well and will continue to do so that I think we’re in it for the long run, and is the customer and consumers continue to educate themselves on what they should be looking for. Where are they niched? Out in those areas, we’re waiting for the market to figure out what Hemp is. And once they figure that out, they’ll be searching for us.
Dr. Barbara Hales: For professionals in the health field that say, “Wow, you know, there’s so much money being made, I want in on the action.” I have a few questions about that. Would you say, “You’re too late in the game,” Or would you say, “There’s always room?” And secondly, would you set for those people who say, “I don’t know much about this, but I want in on the action?” So how would you advise on both of these questions?
Mike Pachan: It’s never too late in the game. Again, what I do and in a lot of my time, you know, like working on the homestead, is listening to a lot of podcasts and absorbing stories, and then I sort of speak in stories. It’s just kind of how I communicate. This is a great story. The folks that fellas that did methods soap, and if you’re not familiar with method lookup method, it’s since been sold for several billion dollars. But these were two folks in San Francisco that said we don’t want to work for anyone else. We’re going to do our own thing. They had zero experience in the, you know, detergent style industry space, right? That’s what they did. Soaps, detergents, cleaning products, they had no experience. They based it on the idea that no one in that industry was doing exciting packaging and exciting ingredients.
It’s been around for centuries, and no one had really entered and disrupted it. No one thought there’s any room. These guys did great. Right, they came up with new packaging and a new idea behind buying cleaning products, which sounds boring until they just kept hitting, getting up to that swing and missing splitting and missing. Same thing with the cannabis space. I’m going to cannabis space is only like 10 years old. It’s so fresh people, you know, jump on these bandwagons where everyone is doing the same product.
It seems like it’s the Red Sea. But what you don’t know is that there’s a vast array of things people just aren’t even doing yet. Because again, they’re too focused on how other people are making money or this perception that other people are made. There’s a lot of people that are going broke right now in the Cannabis and Hemp space. You’re just not hearing those stories. There’s so much room for innovation.
My suggestion is if you really want to get into the industry, it is similar to where I got in on what people call a low level, and just start to look, listen, learn and absorb. And then you’ll start to see through the BS and go, “Man, there’s a ton of room.” Why does one product sell over the other you get a part-time job in a dispensary and spend a year working part-time in a dispensary and absorb more knowledge than I could give to you talk to you every day.
The customers hold the key. If you’re talking to the customers, you’re getting firsthand experience. You got to humble yourself down a little bit and start at the very bottom of this industry and look in it.
Dr. Barbara Hales: How do you get into it?
Mike Pachan: Just having conversations with people. The part of where I want to grow my wholesale company next is consulting because I can sit here and talk about the industry all day long, and I love it. It’s the little niche things that you’re just not going to see. But again, my suggestion is, is don’t quit your day job at all. Just get into it. As an entrepreneur, I learned that you always have a source of revenue as an entrepreneur as you’re exploring something else. It makes that exploration phase less stressful. I’m going to quit my job and do this full time, and then it falls apart, and you have to start all over again. It’s a headache.
Dr. Barbara Hales: That’s probably the best advice that anybody could get is, you know, you get a little money coming in.
Mike Pachan: Keep some money coming in on what you do. And then, start to look. The hard part with Cannabis and Hemp is you can go to these expos and if anyone tells you they’re an expert, they’re probably not. I’ve been doing this for 11 years. And I tell people all day long, I don’t know anything. I don’t I know anything. Right? Because again, I’m constantly learning.
Some people I’ve been doing this on the black market for decades before me, and those people humble me. You know, we’re all still learning together. It is. So, think of it like it when you take your taxes every year, you don’t go to like just someone’s house with a handwritten note that says, “I am a CPA.” That’d be a red flag. In the cannabis space. There’s nothing that qualifies me as an expert, or anyone is a master grower. That’s garbage terminology. Whereas you have a little handwritten note that says I am a master grower, you’re probably not.
People who self-certify in this industry probably have the least experience. Find the people who are willing to go, “Man, I’ve been doing this 10 to 30 years, and I’m decent at what I do.” Those are the experts. Those are the people you want to latch on to. You know, be fair in the relationship. If I had a nickel for every person who took me out to lunch to just talk and just wanted free information. I’d be doing this from a yacht. Don’t be predatory, be fair.
Throw someone a couple 100 bucks and say, “I’m new and I have this idea. Can I hear your thoughts for a while?” And people will open up to you. There are many excellent resources out there just start, you can go to a budtender, which is an entry-level job in this industry. And if they’ve been doing it for three to five years, they’ve helped 1000s of people and have 1000s of feedback loops that they can playoff. And you might not consider them an expert because they might not have a LinkedIn with a CEO title and all these things, but these people know what they’re talking about.
Dr. Barbara Hales: At this point, I would like to recap some excellent points that you’ve made along the way for our listeners. The first one is to know that certain fundamentals are true for every business regardless of what the business is. The first one, which is so important, is to take care of your clients, put out fires immediately, improve your reputation, and create loyal clients or patients. And they will also be a great source of referrals.
The second one, which doctors know plenty about, is one of compliance. You have to be to code 100% of the time. It also hones you down as more of an expert or gives you more opportunity to narrow and focus on specific products instead of just being a jack of all trades and being willing to sell anything because then, obviously, you’re known for nothing.
And also, that SEO and website creation is crucial for your business to be successful moving forward. And the best thing that you said was that clients and customers hold the key to your company and where you should be focused and be humble. And I think that’s a beautiful message. So have I gotten that all right?
Mike Pachan: That’s a great summary of what it’s like to own and operate a small business in the Cannabis and Hemp space.
Two Key Takeaways
Dr. Barbara Hales: Before we leave, I would like to ask you, not just for Cannabis, but for anyone that is thinking about being a startup in any space, what would be like, two keys that they could walk away with to say, this is what I should implement, or this is what I should be cognizant of?
Mike Pachan: I think two things. One is you’re going to have to be patient. And that’s the hardest part about small business. Look, listen and learn, and jump on some podcasts. Listen to other entrepreneurs’ stories, and just come to realize that the people you look up to probably did what they did for 5 to 15 years before you knew about them.
The second part, I think, is crucial. I always have notebooks on me. I spent years writing and notebooks business plans for businesses that never came to fruition. The idea that you have today is probably not going to be the product widget or service that makes you successful. It’s the seed that you planted in the ground, and you’re going to cultivate it, watch it, sprout trim it take care of it, you think you planted tomato, and you got a pepper, that’s okay.
That’s part of being patient and molding that idea, the bright idea you have today, and you can reference this with. Look at the real successful people. I’m mildly successful, right? I do decent at what I do. Look at the people you look up to that are moguls. What they’re mogul for is probably not what they tinkered within their garage 10 to 20 years ago. That’s okay. Let it evolve, cruise, cultivate and grow into what you’re meant to do in your great success. So, be patient, and don’t fret that the idea is evolving and changing and failed because it’s generation one, two, three, and four.
Dr. Barbara Hales: There are so many pearls here. So, for people to keep in mind is don’t even think about opening your doors. Before you have a business plan. You have to know what your goals are and the direction in which you’re going. And it’s crucial to be flexible and evolve, just like the human species and the animal kingdom.
If you don’t evolve, you die. Well, it’s been a real pleasure speaking with you today. This is another episode of marketing tips for doctors. I’m your host, Dr. Barbara Hales. Thank you so much for being with us today.