Chip Baker is one of the nation’s premier cannabis experts. He is running The Real Dirt, a cannabis podcast on iTunes that provides accurate insider industry information from the nation’s premier cannabis businessmen who pioneered legalization.
Education-wise, he doesn’t have much but he has an incredible drive and learned it all on the streets. On the other hand, many well-educated entrepreneurs have tried to enter the hemp and cannabis industry and failed.
In this episode, Chip shares how he ended up in the hemp and cannabis industry, and how he is able to survive this very saturated marketplace. Now, he is helping aspiring entrepreneurs stabilize their start in the space. Stay tuned to learn more about that and his efforts in pushing this industry forward.
We failed at plenty of things but the thing is we always want to keep going. – Chip Baker
Some Topics We Discussed Include
3:03 – How Chip ended up in the cannabis and hemp industry
7:16 – What sets him apart from the other entrepreneurs who haven’t been able to hit the milestones that he has
17:30 – The challenges that he encountered when he was getting started in business
22:05 – Things in the old industry that he misses in today’s marketplace
36:08 – Some words of wisdom
41:17 – Helping budding entrepreneurs stabilize their start in the hemp and cannabis space
44:46 – How his consulting business works
50:57 – The Real Dirt focus
56:41 – Where to find the Real Dirt
People Mentioned / Resources
Connect with Chip Baker
Connect with Sonia Gomez
Sonia Gomez: Hey guys, Sonia Gomez coming to you from Denver, Colorado. Super excited to be here on another rock your socks episode of the hemp revolution podcast where we are sharing this story of the entrepreneurs who are pushing this incredible industry forward. And sometimes, every once in a while we get a golden nugget coming in who’s been down the river and through the woods and experienced some incredible success in all of the businesses that they have been building.
And in today’s episode, we have one of those, I like to call us the old had some of us veterans, some of the people who have really been a part of coming out of the mountains and into the valley is to help you guys realize how incredible this plant and all of its derivatives can be and are for ourselves, our families, our friends, and the communities that we are a part of.
As you know, it is our mission to empower you with the truth about cannabis. The industry that is surrounding it and as well as hemp so that you can make empowered decisions about how you’re caring for yourself. The people that you love that conditions that you may be suffering from and if you’re a budding entrepreneur looking to break through the glass ceilings of getting involved with this incredible industry, check us out at theemeraldcircle.com and if you are a person looking for products you can trust and depend on to deliver the results you’re looking for check us out at medicalsecrets.com we are happy to help.
Today guys, no introduction is necessary. I have with me the incredible Chip Baker who is running the real dirt podcast is the owner and founder of the largest hydroponic store in the country. They are in Colorado, they are in Oklahoma and expanding across the United States. Right from down the street in my neck of the woods in California and now taking ownership of the movement down in Oklahoma. Put your hands together. Welcome, Mr. Chip Baker. How’s it going?
Chip Baker: Man, it’s going great. Glad to be on the podcast, Sonia. We’ve been talking about this for a long time and a great introduction. Probably most of it’s not true, but thanks for the marketing of it.
Sonia Gomez: That’s okay well let’s shine a little light on that on the real situation absolutely give a quick and dirty on who you are what you’re up to and how you ended up in the cannabis and hemp movement.
How Chip Ended up in the Cannabis and Hemp Industry
Chip Baker: Well I ended up just like everybody else did I smoked a joint and fell in love with cannabis. And you know that’s the true head you kind of mentioned or the old school or the veterans because how it started is you know people wanted the supply of cannabis people wanted ganja in some form and mostly it was people like me and you who let this my last joint how and get another right and you figured out how to grow it and like you know cannabis started growing you and you were cultivating cannabis and it was cultivating you and it’s just it’s elevated so many artists in that platform.
Now it’s different. If you want to get involved in the cannabis industry you can look it up on YouTube, Google you know numerous Facebook groups like you know y’alls great Facebook group the green rush Facebook group and the information just ready. So almost anybody now can hop into the cannabis industry.
No matter if it’s ganja or hemp no matter if you want to grow your own medical cannabis or you want to start a recreational cannabis facility and numerous states that have gone recreational or if you want a small mom and pop hip operation or a CDBD extraction operation, we literally help people do all of that and in kind of some form we are involved in everything cannabis that we can be.
Sonia Gomez: Hell yeah we are. It was I was talking to somebody else who said that his relationship with Mary Jane was like a marriage he never wanted but what can never let go of and I crack up because you know, being a Latina, I have jealous tendencies. I’m like, you know, what about me? And–
Chip Baker: So you get jealous of James smoking weed?
Sonia Gomez: No I wasn’t jealous of James smoking weed, but when he was growing it every day, like getting out there–
Chip Baker: He’s spending more time with the plants than you spend with me.
Sonia Gomez: Yeah, no, I’m like, Okay, awesome. We’re gonna go on vacation. He’s like, I ain’t going fucking nowhere. And I was like yeah exactly! I’d be like, cool. We’re gonna go to reggae on the river, he was like, no rip off on the river is not my game. And I’m like, oh man. So that’s what I think that my other guest meant was just like, once you get in with her and like you said, it grows you, you grow her. You know, it’s just the way that the relationship works in harmony. And she takes a lot of time and attention and nurturing and love and support. And I say she because that’s how you know, realize.
Chip Baker: It’s a marriage. It’s the best way to describe it when you’re truly truly into it and it’s your life. It’s what you want to do. And it’s what I’ve done my whole life. That’s what I’m going to continue to do my life with. That’s why one of the reasons I’m here is to help spread this plant.
It’s a marriage. It's the best way to describe it when you're truly truly into it and it's your life. It's what you want to do. And it's what I've done my whole life. - Chip Baker Click To Tweet
Sonia Gomez: You are one of what I call the survivors. There is a lot of people who are close friends, close family, you know, neighbors, community members who have truly deserve the notoriety truly deserve the attention. And that’s exactly what it is notoriety, acknowledgment for the work that they’ve put in over the years getting to understand and develop this plant. It strains all of its derivatives, and yet somehow, not everybody that we thought could or should make it with their know-how has been able to crack the code on coming mainstream.
You, on the other hand, skated right on down the river and into the valley and have been able to build a really significant business. That for those of you guys who are listening should definitely check out, you know, whether you’re growing yourself or if you just want to look at a business model from an entrepreneur who has the history behind him and is entering into the mainstream. It’s an excellent story to follow.
But chip, you did a few things differently in order to build your company. What do you think sets you apart from the other folks that we know and love who haven’t been able to hit the milestones that you have.
What Sets Him Apart from the Other Entrepreneurs Who Haven’t Been Able to Hit the Milestones That He Has
Chip Baker: I was raised in an entrepreneurial family and that absolutely had a lot to do with it. But the big thing is, I was taught my early age to try to make things from scratch. Right so we shopped at the farmers market, you made a cake it all came from scratch and really that’s vertical integration is what we call it now. And that really is the reason that we’ve been able to survive and do so well because we’re involved in everything cannabis.
So we import products, we manufacture import products from China, we manufacture products in Colorado We buy from distributors, we sell to the distributors, we sell to the growers, all the grow equipment, all the lights, all the fertilizer, we make potting soil, you know, everybody needs potting soil, I get to see this loot, I’m buying it in the same type of environment that distributors and the other manufacturers have it.
I talked to the end-user on a daily basis, which most of those people don’t get to do. So I get to talk to the grower. And I know like how the whole supply chain is working from China or India to the US and all the way through. And really, that gives me this incredible perspective of what’s going on right now in the marketplace and what’s going on in the future.
I get to see the purchasing trends. I get to see you know, and it all starts with the growth right you have had to have a sea tray to start seeds or clouds, you gotta have propagation tree. There’s tons of propagation equipment being bought and sold you can bet that the year is going to be big. Right you can also bet the thing you got to do is buy a ton of grow material for vegetative growth.
The next thing you got to do is buy you know a ton of flower material and just be on that whole cycle and know how it works because we talked to the growers, they’re like, oh, things are coming in earlier this year on the outside market, it’s like okay, well let’s get all of our harvest equipment in let’s get all of the trim machines all the bags and it just it gives us this great perspective you know, we’re month we’re all also involved in legal cannabis and all of its forms.
So we had this other ground-level view of it, right, like okay, we know how hard the taxes are. We know how hard it is to sell in Colorado, California, Oklahoma. We know the differences of what people want. Oklahoma and California for instance, there’s a huge organic market in both of those places in Colorado, not so much.
Sonia Gomez: It’s much crazy?
Chip Baker: Well, you know, I think it’s really indicative of the whole world. The Colorado is really a beautiful place and they want things to be beautiful in organic often isn’t beautiful. Right. And another debate here, I’m sure you guys out there that are pros. You can make it beautiful. Most people just can’t. It just is great. It’s a great smoke, it’s incredible smelling weed as a great terpene profile. It just organic usually just doesn’t look as good as synthetic. We enhanced, I’ll say product, but I digress.
People want to say focus on one thing in business all the time and do it well. I just can’t do that. And I didn’t think I could do it. But I really focused on the grower. Right? That’s my customer and I want to service him in her in any way. possible and know every single thing about what they’re going through. And you know exactly like what their other people are going through here.
Here in Oklahoma, for instance, everybody’s building out Grover and for the first time, right? They’re mostly locals it’s all 204 hundred and gross. They come to the shop and they tell me what their requirements are and they’ve only got 200 or 400 amps so they’re buying like 12 lights 24 lights 48 lights, like that type of scenario. Right? Like I already know like, what’s going to happen because this is how it used to be in humbled and in Colorado is that was all the power you had to grow.
It is 200 and 400 amps you had born to dance, you’re lucky you power upgrades, in Colorado really started the whole power of great movement. You know, easily power upgrades. But we already know all the calculations immediately. Oh, you’re going to do 12 you know, 12 lights. In Oklahoma, you got to end isolated building you’re going to need point five-ton per thousand-watt on average it’s going to cost you by $800 per light to put your program together because we see it so much you know and you know right now in Oklahoma for instance also because we see this I see all these home growers and 200 and best way possible.
Good half the time is not that big of a scene, you’re really going to be able to learn and put your energy into it so we’re going to see a great week come out and we’re going to see a lot of great growers get developed down here but because of this were in Colorado, man you know love Colorado do great business there but it’s just different marketplace you could get funding move into a building to have 1000 1500 2000 amps of power, and start off really big.
With hundreds of lamps and you may have just gone from like, you know, a small grow room of 5 or 10 lamps all the way up to like now you got 200 or 400 lamps, you know, and we saw it happen there too. We saw it go from everybody was in 20 and 40 lamps then everybody went 200 lamps and now everybody’s in 400 lamps you don’t have 400 lamps like you’re you might be struggling to make it up.
So you know, we see how like fast it runs and the same kind of things going to happen here to a different degree.
Sonia Gomez: Yeah, I agree. You know, I got to be perfectly honest with you. Like I am not the person to ask what state we think is going to happen next because Oklahoma was like, if you would have asked me is Oklahoma going to legalize before any one of these other states like Oklahoma is right next to Alabama and Mississippi like they doing shit? Okay, got it better chance going into Texas.
Chip Baker: You said it at the beginning of this. It’s hard to tell who’s going to be successful and who’s not? Yeah, right. I’ve had better people than me. Try to do what we do. And they haven’t been able to do it, man I can barely read and write. Right, I have incredible drive and I do see patterns and things, but like my education like I don’t have that much of an education. I went to high school I got a few years of college, but I learned it all on the streets and I’ve seen other people with master’s degrees come in degrees in biology, botany, horticulture and just fail. You’re like, oh, this guy’s got it, man. Yeah, this guy’s making cell cultures. Let us put the 15 years.
Sonia Gomez: Yeah.
Chip Baker: You just never know. You just never know. We failed at plenty of things but the thing is we always want to keep going right and we see it say it is success to failure. That’s for sure. I believe that I want to jump in the deep end. I want to drown a little bit, and then come back up and be like, okay, don’t do that again, do it this way, jump back in the deep end, right until you succeed at it.
And I know other people don’t do it that way and many people like especially if you got a master’s in business, you know, you come to a different like, okay, I’ve got a business plan. Here’s something to do, I’m gonna get financing, this will be the first quarter, second quarter, third quarter, fourth quarter this all gonna plot out but in reality with entrepreneurship, especially when you start a business out, none of that show stuff works. Right?
Like you can plan as much as you want to plan and then when things go wrong. whole plan just is out of whack. So we really try to play business and in life like a football game, you make a play. You want to win the game, you got a goal and a design to win the game. But you play it play by play. Make a play the all goes down, you huddle up, start over again. Make another play. Right?
I don't miss not being able to use proper accounting software, because that's really what life has made it all happen. - Chip Baker Click To Tweet
Sonia Gomez: Yeah, one of my mentors said 99 yards does not make a touchdown. And this is, this is a super impactful little phrase that I’ve used quite a bit here because I continuously herein on my own consulting companies who come with me and they’re like, we’ve got this whole book and it’s our plan and it’s our strategy. And we’re going to do this and it’s going to look like this. And I’m just like, Yeah, but when are you going to get the girl bro? Like, your plan, buddy? Like, let me just explain something to you get one hail storm.
There’s one, there’s a conference runs into the wrong hole like a completely different situation. I still say 80% of your time should be spent on the planning 20% on the execution because the planning has to include Plan B through E. Because you absolutely there is no one size fits all when it comes to this plant. It’s literally it is like a woman there’s no one of us that is like the other, you can’t approach one girlfriend the way that you did the one before. Yeah, God is like the adventures, every scenario is different and your environments are different. There’s pieces of it that you can control, thanks to the technology that sold through outlets like yours.
Chip Baker: We’re talking about weed life and business right here because it all seems to like it’s all together.
Sonia Gomez: It’s the life of business with weed. So I’m really interested from you like you said that you failed forward and really being able to get back up from scraping your knee and elbows to get willing to continue to push forward. Share with us a little bit because I think we have a lot of brands, a lot of businesses, a lot of growers.
There’s tons of folks who listen to this from all different walks of life. All that we share in common is that we want to see this industry succeed. And we want to figure out how we can be a part of that success story. So for you, what were some of the challenges that you face when you are trying to get started in your business, as a supplier serving growers.
The Challenges That He Encountered When He Was Getting Started
Chip Baker: The biggest problem I had when I started my first oil company in 2002, where I was one of the first importers of coco fiber into the country for the hydroponic market. Botanicare kind of beat me to the punch on a bag product, but I was right behind them. My biggest problem then and now is focusing on my local market. We want to do this bigger, better things all the time. I want to tell everybody about how great my new soil product growers are, and it’s great everybody in the country should be using it.
It’s hard for me as a business person to expand the business and manufacturing of anything without financing yourself. Right this industry, it’s mostly self-financed, right? We literally started on 1200 bucks, and I got another 1200 dollars from somebody, and we had $3,000 somehow, and we bought our first load of coco fiber. And it literally just, we just kept putting money back in and kept putting money back in, working the day job kept putting all the time and the money back in and it finally came around so that the like idea of the product I had in 2002 the idea of the products I have right now really are limited by like how I can get them out into the marketplace. And if you think about it, no matter who you are in your local marketplaces the easiest one to get into is the best one to get into.
Man, if you’ve got like the legs of a local market and distribution, then you can take that and move it to wherever you want or sin wherever ever you want. But it’s this it’s this thing that you have to overcome. And man I’m struggling with right now of finding a solid company, right it is growing so fast. I can’t really keep up with it. It’s hard for me to ask for new customers even though I think everybody should try this great new product I have because my old customers are buying it.
It’s such an unanticipated level. Right that it’s like okay, I got one guy he’s buying one truckload, two truckloads, three truckloads, 10 truckloads now, you know, and it’s hard to pick up new customers when you can do that and he’s a local guy. He’s my like a local connection for it until I’ve liked I’d love to like do sell all over the country with this product.
But my local market is so fascinating here in Oklahoma and here in Colorado like it just constantly keeps reminding myself okay like this is where we need to focus. This is where we need to organize. Yeah, want to sell to Canada, Guam, Mexico, to all these other places you have these people here they need the product, they need what and it doesn’t matter if you’re hemp farmer same thing, right? You’re growing hemp national company. I mean national product people ship it all over now.
The banking regulations just cleared up like today or something for him farmers. And there’s still people in your local community that are buying CBD that’s coming from way across the country. Let’s just so right you don’t have to be in this necessarily national marketplace. You just wanted to get business. And that’s that’s the thing I struggle with all the time. I don’t want to tell everybody about it. I want to do it all and I love marketing and I love the advertising of it all and I love talking to people like you about it. Business is going so good. I can’t really expand.
Sonia Gomez: I love I mean, I love and I hate that because I, I hear it quite a bit people are, you know, they’re always trying to think macro versus micro. And I was talking to somebody yesterday who does a lot of the financing for Canada for the cannabis industry. And I asked him the question, what can we tell a new business and a new brand who’s trying to figure out success, so they can even qualify for additional funding if they wanted to grow. And he gave me this formula, if you can get 100 locations selling $1,000 worth of product for you within 100 miles of where you live, you have yourself a million-dollar business and people will put money behind you.
I think it’s the same your numbers are obviously a little bit different. But if you can get 100 customers who are spending that kind of money with you within 100 miles from where you live, the word of mouth will start to spread you know naturally my question for you and you’re really clear about who you serve even though you do and can provide everything. You’re really catering to the cultivator in-home grower either. Yeah, the grower like, and for me, like, that’s awesome because it all starts there, right? If you can’t grow it, like the fact we’re going to do trying to sell it. My question for you is, is there a piece of the old industry that you miss in today’s new marketplace?
Things in the Old Industry That He Misses in Today’s Marketplace
Chip Baker: Stacks of cash, man!
Sonia Gomez: I say all the time. I’m like, me if I just had one–
Chip Baker: No, the cash is actually a pain in the ass. I actually don’t miss that at all. No matter if it was what it was hydro stores in the past all of our customers. It was all cash. Right? all cash and honestly that ended up like causing me and other people, tons of problems get kicked out of tons of banks. I actually don’t miss the stacks of cash, I would much like in everybody prefers it to is just like wire transfers, electronic transfers in credit cards.
And I know it’s a little pain in the ass here there but I don’t miss the cash transactions I don’t miss the like not being able to use a bank, I don’t miss not being able to use proper accounting software, because that’s really what life has made it all happen, right is to be able to operate like a conventional business, with accounting software with point of sale software with inventory manufacturing control software to align it all with your bank account to be able to see where every single sink is because that’s how you make money is you track all of your inputs and you know all of your costs, all your revenue, and that very bottom line works but you got to be able to track it all.
And when is this shoe box accounting when there’s a shoe box full of money there and like that time You work at all, it’s just so difficult. So I don’t really miss that, you joke about it, but I don’t really miss that. I tell you what I do miss though, is, and this might come off arrogant or conceited or but I’m just today in the good old days, growers were superheroes. If you’re a grower, you were a rock star. If you had the greatest, the best weed and that’s got me into more doors than anything else I’ve ever done has been able to have a great week, and then at some point, it just changed where it was just like normal and everybody had the superpower.
And it was kind of like, you know how like Reiki is, you know, has to come from the master. Right? That’s how growing used to be. You had to get in one or two ways, the experience had to be had the knowledge had to be handed out to. And that did create this certain Fraternal Order that doesn’t really exist now, you know, it was a group of outlaws that they decided that they wanted to like risk their lives risk their freedom in order to like, better themselves and better the world because hey, let’s face it, money is really what propels all business.
And this was, you know, private market cannabis is really good business. And to some, it still is really good business. Right? But you really risking stuff back then. And you know, when, you know, I can’t remember when you guys weren’t humble, but like, I got there in the 90s and–
Sonia Gomez: early 90s.
Chip Baker: Yeah, the deal was, you know, if you got busted with under 100 plants or 100 pounds, then you just got this three-year probation felony wobbler thing right? And so that allowed people to like grow just that much weed and that they got busted then they only get this felony wobbler three-year probation. And you know, that really existed for a long time, but, it allowed people to have a certain amount of risks.
Sonia Gomez: Calculated risk
Chip Baker: Row a 100 plants, not got 98 right I got 50 but they’re twice the size, whatever people’s thing was, you know how it is. I’m going to bed at this place, I’m going to flower this place. So only have 100 plants on any one place at one time, all kinds of like ideas. But man, there was just this camaraderie there was also this like thing that you get more time where, you know, the growers at that time and for a long time and in many places still are. You’re on the front line of the war on drugs. There is literally armed people trying come after you on a daily basis where there’s the police or the robbers, right? And you’ve become a veteran.
You mentioned that earlier and someone asked me if I was a veteran recently meaning of the war, Iraq or Afghanistan, I was like, oh, the war on drugs? They didn’t quite get that but then I explained it to him a little bit like Okay, I get it. I also don’t miss those times either. Because man, what sucks is bailing your friends out of jail, huh? Right. You know what sucks is your best customer gets busted and can’t pay you the 1500 thousand dollar invoice he has.
What sucks is like when people get shot and killed, maimed and robbed and scared and you know, assaulted, because someone’s coming to rob them for this plan. All that shit sucks man and people who are like, black, you know, I just wish it never would leave. alive I guarantee you they never had anyone shoot at them never had a fight over their water with their neighbor never had like some testing contest with their neighbor over who could grow whatever they wanted.
You know, your two big cops are gonna come I’m gonna come cut your plants down, you know, like all of that it’s just yeah, it’s just gone, right? I mean, you know how crazy it is, we know what happened up there. It’s just a crazy, crazy place. I mean, it’s like you know, it’s like Sergei vo or something how like, incredible it is all the different factions that are there and working there to like, just be debaucherous right. You know, knocking down hillsides, growing ganja on it to grow it on public land to like growing on your neighbor’s land to like, I mean, still like the number one missing capital of the country proudly. Right.
So yeah, don’t miss any of that shit. Give me 50% taxation on it, I don’t care. Right? Let me ask you, what do you miss about it the culture? Because it is a cultural thing. What do you miss about it?
Sonia Gomez: I think I missed the community. I think the thing I miss the most is the community and the pecking order of respect. You know, I think that’s a lot of what I missed because I grew up like they’re making movies about the folks that I grew up with and I’m watching that shit on Netflix. And I’m like, Oh, that’s my thing, you know, like, so I’m, it’s pretty crazy for me because I grew up running, you know, barefoot and in diapers and a lot of these what felt like trees, you know, in these incredible gardens, and it was nothing for me, but what that plant allowed, what that plant and what that culture allowed to be cultivated was a real, tight-knit community of people who weren’t the know and I still I recognize that like the new age millennial version of like, you got to know a guy because this industry still is a tight-knit industry, the players are players were well established. So you know, there is still that but the respect is not people don’t have the same amount of respect. Like you said, it was like a superhero was like being in the presence, you know, if you knew the grower, you were you. You were right at the source. You know, it was like, and like that movie below, where he like he stopped being the middleman and he went direct to the source. Like if you knew who that was, that was everything. Like secretly you felt like you had superpowers. You know what I mean?
Chip Baker: It was a superpower because you were spreading an ability to enlighten people. ability to change the world with that cannabis does.
Sonia Gomez: Yeah and people were really famous for what they were able to do and there was like a whole culture around it. People were close and they treated each other like family and they were protected–
Chip Baker: The outlaw stories that like, Oh, hey, Uncle John got away with this, like that type of thing.
Sonia Gomez: Yeah, but even like further you like, let’s just talk about the distribution and like people were coming out of the humble hills I’m bringing it all the way down to San Diego and even though I was raised in North Northern California, if I was down in Southern California, and like I was going to this dispensary where I’d be like, oh, that I know where that came from right there like that, you know, and there’s like, some, an aspect of that, that makes you famous.
Chip Baker: The late 90s that right, but sorry to interrupt you, but humble really was where all the commercial weed in the country came from because Mendocino had like, wasn’t happening at the time. It wasn’t until 2002 where that really started to change and they legalized mendo and then it kind of like had the sheets thing happened but humble were called into what we was coming from the commercial large amounts It was either there or it was from Canada. Right? There were maybe pockets of places around the country for sure. But hey, I was in the hydro industry, so I know where all the gear was being sold. Right?
Sonia Gomez: Yeah, no, totally and I fully recognize the know that so when I would see things coming out of Garberville and Radway all the places up there it was it was just really cool to see how big the reach was. And who actually knew who now, nowadays and when I go up there and I’m looking at the next generation, these young buck kids and their big ass tracks who are all benefiting work and I’m just like you spoiled brats deserve to get turned over somebody’s knee and what.
Chip Baker: I think that’s what they said about us though.
Sonia Gomez: You know what I was just gonna say.
Chip Baker: I remember the same thing. You know, I experienced this just recently when I when we came to humble, we met this great group of people, old-schoolers that had been doing it since the 70s. And their perception was, man, just like, put like 10 plants out, like good to keep it small, you know, keep it under 50 plants, but keep it small. And our perception at the time was like, now the world’s changed, you have to know your curtilage and you hide it within your curtilage as big as you possibly can water it. Right?
Because they get the times like if they couldn’t see it, they couldn’t smell it then they couldn’t come in so greenhouses were these perfect ways to hide it or in the trees in the canopy with a perfect. Right But and they said that about us they were like, Oh, you guys are getting too big. You know that 1200 square foot greenhouse too big too. You’re gonna get trouble. Right? It’s like you can’t see it. My shit you can’t come over.
Sonia Gomez: Yeah it’s the generational evolution right generational transmission. I just That the younger generation doesn’t necessarily have the fundamentals of respect that you guys had right that transition you’re right these into the 90s like there where–
Chip Baker: You can hop right into it at whatever level you want if you get financing then you can go and go up there any place and like okay, I’m gonna sort of 10, 10 greenhouses 10 hoop houses structure right now I got my however much hundreds of thousands of dollars a month private financing or whatever and I could start that I can Google it, I can YouTube it, I can see how these other people chop it down harvest it and we had to grow with all that knowledge.
And yeah, you know, as we’re sitting here talking about it, I remember we wanted to like indoor was starting to come back into fashion and greenhouse. I mean, not greenhouses, generators. Right? We’re powering these big grows out in the hills. At that time, you had to ask people how to do it,most people wouldn’t tell you. Right? Like they didn’t want to talk to you like I was a new guy. like nobody knew who I was. The generator store wouldn’t talk to me. Right the growers that were doing it only I didn’t really know anybody was doing it I just kept hearing about is I mean, these guys got hundreds of likes and generators, like how do I do that? You know, and now you look at it.
Sonia Gomez: Yeah, now you can just look it up the new age of the internet. I think the landscape really started to shift in 2002 to 2000, maybe five, six, when the cartel started to come in and take over rain around that space, which for me is that’s right in the same time where I was in this near-fatal surfing accident and had to move from like, humble headies stoner to a much more conscious advocate and how I was going to represent the evolution of this plant.
Fast forward me into Colorado and right at the time, when your store was popping up. We were owning and operating in 2009-2010 we came over to work with the DLR on the legislation that would legalize cannabis owned and operated one of the first licensed dispensaries here and recognize that there was a pretty significant gap from the technology that brands wanted to release versus what the consumer understood about the potential of the product in your business, because I’m educating right now helping people understand like what the actual opportunities are, no matter where they live, what can you take advantage of and being, you know, owning a cultivation center or store or you know what I would call an ancillary businesses, certainly a part of that.
So for yourself, I’d love to hear some key pieces of advice that you could offer a new entrepreneur in this space who wants to get in and be involved without necessarily having to physically touch the plant themselves? How would you advise somebody gets involved in this in this movement?
Words of Wisdom
Chip Baker: As much research as you possibly can, ask as many people that are successful in the business and not just the yahoos, right because there’s tons of yahoo’s we see him all the time. Well, if I had a room that big, I would do it this way. You know, that’s not the guy you want to hear from. Yeah, well, I had a room like that a few years ago.
This is what happened? So like the research, we talked about this all the time and we jokingly among us called them pink shirts, and I’ve got a pink shirt too. So don’t get me wrong, it’s what it really means is someone that that has more money or experience outside the cannabis industry wants to get in the cannabis industry with zero knowledge but they have this confidence from previous business or from their financial status or their ability to fund it, however, it goes that they can hop into it without knowing anything about it.
You know, it’s like a greenhorn. Right? It is kind of the same thing. And people call it blue shirts, pink shirts, we, you know, say pink shirts. So it’s hard if you want to be into it it’s a legal business, it’s something you want to be in but you know, everybody’s going one direction left. And maybe think about going right. Right, like you know everybody wants to grow weed everybody wants to extract we are hemp, everybody wants to make, maybe that’s not what you should do maybe you should think about like, okay, everybody wants to grow weed how can I service this guy?
How can I supply him something right like you know people say off the top of their head oh you’re the picks and shovels and industry that’s my primary business called a bit Colorado called a garden supplies a coal mine Colorado, you know picks and shovels people there who made all the money in the gold rush? That’s to some to be degree true because people remember two things from the Gold Rush Levi’s and Eureka. Right when the gold miners struck rich, they yelled Eureka because they were going to run to Eureka, California in order to stake their claim. Right, and Levi’s because everybody knows that story.
Man, it’s hard to get into picks and shovels right now like incredible amount of money, an incredible amount of connections even right to make a pick or shovel might not be such a bad thing for you. Right? To support the people in my industry with support, that’s means, like we needed to the ancillary people need support just as much as the cannabis people. Right? Like I have, you know, attorneys and CPAs and CFO and insurance people and packaging people, and that all service me for consultants for different things.
So there are all types of ways to get involved with cannabis, other than just growing. Right? And even if you are a grower and you want to come into it, really think about that, like man, it’s hard to scale it to get it big. Right? you’ve seen it. You guys have seen it on your website, your own personal life. You’ve seen people try to scale the great thing they can do really small. They can’t scale it. Right? and it’s just difficult, even if you’re a grower, you know, maybe think about that, like, hey, I left brown weed, but man, I’m awful. I’m better at my transportation company. So maybe I should transport people’s business we, you know, or here in Oklahoma, it’s required for you to dispose of it.
Sonia Gomez: You’re making such a perfect point right now, because I say that, you know, it’s archaic to think that the only way to get involved with this industry is to touch the plant, the advanced way of thinking is, how can I bring the question you should be asking yourself as how can I bring the most value to this industry, sometimes that’s going to look like developing new skill sets so you can bring your existing skill sets to the table and help existing brand and business grow. Sometimes that means, you know, bringing CBD into your already existing business. And sometimes that means starting your own business.
But really, I love what you’re saying about like doing your research and making an educated decision because until you understand what those opportunities really are, it’s tough to make your move. And you have to find that perfect formula of what are my current skill sets? What are my current assets and who are my current relationships, but from there, you’ll be able to make a pretty solid move forward? And the next thing I’ll say is invest in a mentor or an advisor who can offer you that shuttle. You know, you’re doing quite a bit of that right now and supporting people getting established in Oklahoma of all freaking places. Tell me a little bit about how you work with folks to stabilize their start in this space.
Helping Budding Entrepreneurs Stabilize Their Start in the Hemp and Cannabis Space
Chip Baker: Oh, yeah, totally. Hey, before I get in that, I want to say one more thing. A newly budding business person that wants to get involved in it. Don’t be greedy. The weed industry is not about the millions of dollars. Every single day I have someone come to me plumber. electricians like the army you guys are making lots of money you know and they try to charge me twice as much well fuck you, man, come on. Like I’m a normal business person these are with the taxation on cannabis is extreme. Right, and in my picks and shovels business, it’s volume and it’s low margin and hench Don’t be an asshole. If you come in and you’re like want officer service for cannabis people at a real price, not a premium price? Right, you’re going to do better business.
If you come in and you say, “Hey, man, I’m going to fill your I’m going to change your carpets out” here’s a great one because we’ve had people do this to him, I want to come in and customize your carpets and cultivate Colorado cultivate OKC I’m going to change them out all the time and it’s gonna cost you this much like “Oh man, we think that’s a great idea”. And then we find out a year later, that’s twice as much as everybody else pace. Right?
So like what do we hire the first guy and now like six or seven years into it, we’re with the same people that gave us that other cheaper regular service. So don’t be greedy. Treat the cannabis customer, like he’s anybody else. respect him that level and you’ll be the best business ever.
Sonia Gomez: Man that’s like perfect words of wisdom. That’s exactly what this segment is called.
Chip Baker: So you had another question though. I’m sorry. I just had to say that.
Sonia Gomez: Well, my final question was going to be well, not my final but I wanted to ask you about the consulting that you’re doing right now with you yeah, in Oklahoma you pretty much jumped ship from Colorado you still have your businesses here but you moved out into that you followed the green rush right into–
Chip Baker: All the way–
Sonia Gomez: Yeah, you followed the wave. So now you’re doing consulting I mean, you’re running a full-service business plus your brick and mortar. Tell me about your consulting staff.
How His Consulting Business Works
Chip Baker: With Cultivate Colorado in hydro stores in general, we were all the original consultants. Right as a potting soil manufacturer. You know, I was one of the original consultants, and this is how it went, “Hey, Chip, I’ve got this big field I want to put soil in it. How do I do it?” “Oh, man, well, here, they’ll be doing here’s how you do it. You buy this stuff for me?” Yeah, right. So like, we’ve been doing it forever and didn’t really call it consulting is like our service. Right? It’s, you know, we try not to, we don’t want to consult people on how to grow weed just on the technology around it. Right one we figure like, if there’s a million ways to do it, and it’s hard to tell people how to do it one way, right.
But what’s not hard, is to help people build a grow room, or driver room, or bedroom that can support the million different ways of growing weed. Right? And that’s kind of what we do. You is and it doesn’t matter if it’s him It doesn’t matter if it’s gone doesn’t matter if it’s six light one light LED, you know, whatever it is vertical, you know grow like like we can talk to you about it all because man we got the experience my our staff is just so experienced Chris and Oklahoma is you know everything about growing outdoors and in greenhouses and indoor technology and in Colorado, my guys up there all those guys are so versed in large scale, you know, indoor cultivation and regulations that you can just call us up and ask us almost any question, right? It’s like, Okay, you got this size room, we’ve sold 100 rooms just like yours.
So I’m not trying to like mini consultants, they’re like, want to give some special magic, right, and really what we want you to keep coming back to us. Right, and the thing about the magic you use it like, oh, man, that’s how he did it, with magic, but if it’s this reality, they’re like kind of wow Chip or Jacob or Chris or Darryl or Jimmy, they really helped me out. I’m gonna go back to Cultivate Colorado. Right and, you know, cultivate OKC. Right? So it’s no real different.
One of our mottos is, you know, build design. It really should be like, dream in design or something because really, like dream it up with people every single day. You know, people just yesterday, one of the oldest questions I get, man, I want to put a grower in a shipping container. Right? People do it all the time. There’s people you could buy and trade from a totally bad idea. You probably shouldn’t do it, but people do it all the time. Okay, but a totally bad idea. You shouldn’t do it.
And guy yesterday, he was like, man, I need to buy a shipping container that’s already made to grow pot that’s already permitted. That I can just sit right on my phone and plugin because my county let me do that. Right now. Okay, there you go. Here’s this people to do it from but like, most of the time people come and say that to me and we talk about, get them into a real room that they can expand and like, well, I got a bar and I’m going to put the shipping container in the bars like the shipping container way build the barn out. Right?
You’re going to use your black cow and this is the coolest thing ever. I grow eight pounds in it. I can’t expand at all unless I go buy one of these again. And a man I’m not hating on these things at all, like one of the first commercial where a room that I saw in California was 444 hundred in a shipping container into beds, two aisles, two beds, you know, vertical setup, basically, where we live. So that was 25, 30 years ago–
Sonia Gomez: We’re not gonna there’s no age around here.
Chip Baker: No, I’m just saying how long it was ago where people were growing vertically in these containers. So it’s not something new right now. But uh, you know, we’ve just had the experience. We literally know what your tonnage of AC is going to be. When you come in and talk to us. And even though we don’t sell AC, you got to look at your overall power source in order to see how many likes you can power. Because people come in and they’re like, “Hey, I got a 5000 square foot room” we’re like, “Okay, well that you can put 200 lights and they’re like”, “Great. I want to put 200 lights in there. How much power you have?, I got 200 amps”. “Okay, we have 48 lights. That’s it”.
I’m not really doing anything new. But we are really, really stoked to be in Oklahoma the enthusiasm as and with the local grower is just incredible here. There’s very little arrogance in Oklahoma that we have a few customers you live on. I know it all man, leave me alone. You know, give me this, this, this, this and this give me the best price on it and we’re like, totally happy to help that person. Yeah, right California, Colorado, that is the customer. They know exactly what they want. They’ve been doing it a long time. They don’t need any help. And we like to help people. Right?
So it’s like, I’m not saying it’s boring in those environments, but like, you know, you’re just checking people out. And here like, every single day in the shop, I get to talk to somebody that’s never done it before did it 20 years ago, it’s been growing one light, you know, whatever. They’ve got a commercial garden. They’ve their plumber, their furniture store or their subway store, and are they starting to get these incredible stories and entrepreneurial stories. And I feed off that and they give that to me and in return like we give them back like good information.
Sonia Gomez: You know that you’re also serving abroad you’re getting you’re fixed serving a broader audience through your own publications. the Real Dirt is focused on supporting the grower. Tell me a little bit about how you got started with the Real Dirt what kind of topics thing there and then where they can find you.
Chip Baker: The Real Dirt, I’m going to have to thank Hollis Carter, Michael LePage for helping me start the real dirt podcast. I didn’t know anything about marketing, really digital marketing and met these two guys and they kind of had a consulting type company going on, which turned into this incredible networking group called Baby Bathwater. And Hollis said to me one day as I’m like telling them all this crazy stuff I’m trying to do I want to do like hip hop and I was like, “Yeah, I love podcasts. I love radio. What do you mean?” So do you think you’d be able to talk for an hour about we know it’s like, yeah, of course, I’ve been talking to an hour about weed, right, like limit me, right? It’s only an hour.
So Hollis really helped me establish the podcast. And I went my first season which is which I’m coming up on my third anniversary right now, the first season, I went and called 13, 14 of my most successful or interesting friends, and had them come over to my basement studio and smoke tons of weed and talk about whatever they’re right. And it was great fun. I had such a good time doing it.
I was already upset with how much bad information was out on the marketplace, that I felt like this is a really great opportunity for me to get good information on like what really is growing on with weed, but really grown on hemp. And that’s what I’ve been able to do and we’re going on our third season. I’ve got maybe 70 episodes.
I’m not as regular maybe it’s some other people in their podcast is not my daily business. Our sole thing with the podcast is just to you know, hear new Interesting people stories, connect with people that that need our help that wants to talk about growing cannabis that needs growing medium that need good equipment, and just connect with those people in that way.
And I’ll tell you what has given me is, and I can call almost anybody up in the cannabis industry right now and talk to them, or before they wouldn’t necessarily talk to me. And you can do it too, right? And they’re like, “Oh, I got this podcast on leaves Real Dirt” and, you know, blah, blah, blah, and they listen to a podcast and it sounds like Scott is kind of like Cheech and Chong, you know, like, Howard Stern line, you know? Who is this guy and so I get to talk to these incredible people and ask them questions I’m interested in the right because it’s now it’s become about me before it was about my customer.
And you know, now like, I just, I just had an interview with Green Bros, the guys who are calling green both the guys who have these automated great automated technology for harvesting and trimming and processing. Because being a seether I see their equipment is different everybody’s and I’m just interested in and I was like “I want to meet the only meet these people I want to talk to about what they’re doing and how they got here”.
I’ve seen their business grow from nothing to what it is now. And it’s, I get off the phone, I’m pumped, they’re pumped, I just got this great story from somebody, their whole entrepreneurial journey, why they’re doing what they do. And man, I just get so high on it, that it’s just great, just great feeling. And then my guests later tell me how much it clarified to them what they were doing in their lives or their business. They’re able to talk through it and you know, I’m good at asking questions, and I really want to know it’s totally authentic with me. You know, I’ll be like, “What the fuck were you thinking when you did that?”
Sonia Gomez: I love that right?
Chip Baker: But yeah, Real Dirt podcast is the best thing I’ve done. If you’re ever interested in the podcast, whatever your industry is it’s a great way to access your customers no matter what you’re doing if you know or car wash. Right You got a car wash man, tell people how to wash your cars on the podcast and as you can reach so many people with it every single week, people contact me I’ve never talked to, I’ve got this great friend in Morocco now who he barely speaks English, I’m pretty sure he’s using a translator and like we text each other message each other almost every day, it’s like a pen pal!.
I don’t really monetize it anyway, I do have some sponsors I’ve started some sponsorship stuff. But it’s really been turning out to this like artistic expression on my part, because there is this whole technical thing of recording the show, like thinking about, like the episode and what I’m going to ask people, you know, and some people do that in a real formal manner some people do it like me and you, but we like, you know, you got a couple of things you want to talk to me about, and we just have a conversation. And that’s how I prefer it. I also try not to sell stuff necessarily hard, I do have sponsorships and I do appreciate it when people, you know, buy stuff from my grocery store, or buy my growing medium but I’m not really trying to push that so hard I want to push the education.
Sonia Gomez: Well, people who care more about the people behind the products anyways, and that’s why they’re going to get invested into a company or a product or whatever and that’s what I love about my podcast. You know, we were a media company so that’s what we do as well as information and we found a really streamlined way to attract you know, the folks that we want to talk to money is not the qualifier you have to be a human being who is doing things that make an impact in your community and in your business. And that’s who we want to hear from because everybody has their story, everybody has their approach and those are the things that make us human beings, rather than human doers.
And I think that this industry especially has a bad rap for being a cash-rich industry, but also presents a lot of opportunities for people to come in and get, I’ll use the pun, with the Real Dirt from the folks who are actually pushing this industry forward. And truly understanding what it takes and what we need, which is collaboration, you know, opportunities to access and impact on a higher level. Where can folks find you if they do want to work with you and listen to what you got going on?
Chip Baker: You can contact us any day on Instagram. We’re the Real Dirt podcast together really active Instagram site. You can also check us out on Facebook the Real Dirt podcasts on Facebook, cultivatecolorado.com, cultivateokc.com, all those places you can check us out and let me not forget growerscooker.com, that’s our potting soil company, you can contact us at any of those places, but Instagram is absolutely the best. Facebook, Facebook’s really good too. If you send us a message you’ll be communicating with me or with Travis. So it’s not some agency or somebody you know, India or China, even though if I could replicate myself that way, I totally would. I just, so we’d love to hear from you and if you’ve got any questions about cannabis, man, we more than likely someone else has that question too. So ask it!
Sonia Gomez: Holly yeah, do with the dirt and listen to the real dirt. I’m so into your podcast and you bring a lot of value to our communities. For those of you who are listening, you know that we have a pretty significant following online and Chip is always right there in front of you answer the questions. The green rush community is on fire with all these growers and you just such an incredible community of people in there who are passionate about this plant from soil all the way to sell.
These are the people that we love to serve every single day because they’re working with and on behalf of the plant all the time. So really appreciate your work and your time Chip. You’re welcome and the incredible commerce that you have built on behalf of these communities and the people who are benefiting by being a part of your organization. It’s really incredible to watch. I can’t wait to continue to celebrate your success. Any final words before we end today’s episode?
Chip Baker: Man, let’s just keep overgrowing it. That’s how we’re doing it. That’s how again this far as we just overgrew all the obstacles and I’m just going to keep doing it. You keep doing it to Sonia.
Sonia Gomez: Thank you so much. Hey, for those of you guys who are listening, thank you so much for being a part of this incredible community. We are so proud and honored to serve you with the truth about cannabis and hemp so that you can make empowered and educated decisions about how you want to be a part of this movement, but also how you want to care for yourself. The people that you love conditions you may be suffering from or otherwise care, beautiful gift of life. If you’re a person looking for products you can depend on Check us out at medical secrets calm and if you are a business looking for folks like myself or chip to support you in getting the key relationships, resources, direction that you need to flourish in this industry. Check us out at the emeraldcircle.com, we are happy to help. I’m your hostess with the mostess, Sonia Gomez and this is the hemp revolution. We’ll see you on the next show, guys.
Chip Baker: Thanks, Sonia.
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