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How David Miller is Leading Growth in the Hemp world with Flow Gardens Ep. 102
Episode 1025th January 2023 • Fascinating Entrepreneurs • Natasha Miller
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David Miller believes in making an impact to support organizations that further the betterment of society through synergizing expert advice. David is a progressive thinker and visionary. For 15 years, he was the founder and CEO for the #1 fastest growing financial company in 2017. He is currently the President of a Cannabis R&D cultivation company and Board Member for a Bi-Partisan PAC to Legalize Cannabis. David's education includes MIT's CEO Masters Program, Oglethorpe, and the University of Tennessee with focus areas in Entrepreneurship and Finance & Accounting. He has held board positions or involvement with the Emory Global Health Institute, NewStory, Deki, GCAPP, TGC, and Entrepreneur's Organization among others. David and his loving wife dedicate their personal time to their blended family of three children, Hudson, Deacon, and Paxton, their adopted cousin Destinee, and their three dogs Jersey, Gogo, and Alfie. He loves traveling and being outdoors. If you treat him to 1/2 dozen Pacific oysters, then you're almost guaranteed to have lunch with him!

Where to find David Miller

Website: flowgardens.com

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This episode is sponsored by Entire Productions- Creating events (both in-person and virtual) that don't suck! and Entire Productions Marketing- carefully curated premium gifting and branded promo items. 

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Transcripts

David Miller:

So everybody is racing to the highest THC percentage that

David Miller:

THC cannabinoid and the other very important cannabinoid CBC, CBG, CBD.

David Miller:

Those are all kind of falling by the wayside, and they do have

David Miller:

health and medicinal benefits that haven't been fully understood yet.

David Miller:

So that's what I mean is that we're able to focus on those

David Miller:

alternative cannabinoids.

Natasha Miller:

Welcome to FASCINATING ENTREPRENEUR.

Natasha Miller:

How do people end up becoming an entrepreneur?

Natasha Miller:

How do they scale and grow their businesses?

Natasha Miller:

How do they plan for profit?

Natasha Miller:

Are they in it for life or are they building to exit?

Natasha Miller:

These and a myriad of other topics will be discussed to pull back the

Natasha Miller:

veil on the wizardry of successful and FASCINATING ENTREPRENEURS.

Natasha Miller:

My book, RELENTLESS is now available everywhere books can be bought online,

Natasha Miller:

including Amazon and BarnesAndNoble.com.

Natasha Miller:

Try your indie bookstore too, and if they don't have it, they can order it.

Natasha Miller:

Just ask them.

Natasha Miller:

The reviews are streaming in and I'm so thankful for the positive feedback

Natasha Miller:

as well as hearing from people that my memoir has impacted them positively.

Natasha Miller:

It is not enough to be resilient.

Natasha Miller:

You have to be RELENTLESS.

Natasha Miller:

You can go to the RelentlessBook.com for more information.

Natasha Miller:

Thank you so much.

Natasha Miller:

David Miller is the president of Flow Gardens, a cannabis R&D

Natasha Miller:

cultivation company based in Tennessee.

Natasha Miller:

He has a background in the financial services space and exited his

Natasha Miller:

business to join this company, which he's passionate about.

Natasha Miller:

We talked about what FlowGardens can and can't do since THC in

Natasha Miller:

Tennessee is still illegal.

Natasha Miller:

What the opportunity for growth in this space is and the challenge

Natasha Miller:

of changing the perception of this plant that has been demonized.

Natasha Miller:

Now let's get right into it.

David Miller:

Whenever I was little, I was maniacal about

David Miller:

numbers and writing them down.

David Miller:

And those little Beckett like sports booklets, I would always track the

David Miller:

value of my baseball and basketball cards on this little cardboard thing.

David Miller:

So I've always been really, really good at numbers and tied

David Miller:

that into something that was me.

David Miller:

and I was never really a thing for formal education.

David Miller:

My parents wanted me to go to school, you know, they forced me to fill out the

David Miller:

application, so I'm really glad I did.

David Miller:

I got a finance degree as quick as I could in three years, three and a half years

David Miller:

at Tennessee, and then I got the heck out and I said, I'm really good at numbers.

David Miller:

How do I go make money?

David Miller:

That's the only thought I gave to it.

David Miller:

So I took a job offer in Atlanta, worked for a financial.

David Miller:

Found out really quick that corporate America and I didn't mesh and I opened

David Miller:

up a financial firm in 2008 and was wildly successful, the fastest growing

David Miller:

financial services firm, in 2017 and had great employees, made a lot of

David Miller:

money, but something wasn't there.

David Miller:

So I stepped down and hired a president and kind of took two years to really

David Miller:

look at myself and say, "David, what?

David Miller:

Important to you."

David Miller:

"Follow the passion, follow your loyalty, and money will follow."

David Miller:

And that's a byproduct in my eyes.

David Miller:

It only took me like 20 years to figure that out.

David Miller:

But that's what I did.

David Miller:

And my best friend that I grew up with went to college with

David Miller:

and he passed away of cancer.

David Miller:

It's been about 10 years now, and I saw how cannabis changed his life and how

David Miller:

he had to get it on the black market.

David Miller:

He did use Marinol as well, but doesn't, you know, one of those,

David Miller:

fabricated or synthetic drugs didn't nearly work as well.

David Miller:

And then I have some, experiences with understanding how cannabis helps PTSD.

David Miller:

So those were the two main underlying factors.

David Miller:

And I said, you know what?

David Miller:

I can impact people's health.

David Miller:

I can impact people's happiness.

David Miller:

I can really believe and get behind.

David Miller:

Oh, and I'm sure there's probably a way to make money in it as well.

David Miller:

So that's the long answer to your short question.

Natasha Miller:

I like that.

Natasha Miller:

So you're following your passion.

Natasha Miller:

You are sort of bucking tradition, right?

Natasha Miller:

The traditional financial world, corporate buttoned up and you

Natasha Miller:

go to what is still considered sort of a fringe business, right?

Natasha Miller:

Cannabis, it's not federally legal.

Natasha Miller:

I live in California, is very accessible here.

Natasha Miller:

And funny enough, and I think I told you this when we were studying

Natasha Miller:

at MIT, that I didn't use cannabis at all when it was illegal because

Natasha Miller:

I'm kind of a rule follower.

Natasha Miller:

I also thought that I would act like crazier, that I jump off a

Natasha Miller:

bridge or something was ridiculous.

Natasha Miller:

And of course now taking a gummy to go to sleep in five milligrams,

Natasha Miller:

it's not like I'm rocking and rolling is absolutely acceptable

Natasha Miller:

to me and to everyone around me.

Natasha Miller:

So tell me about what Flower Gardens does.

Natasha Miller:

What is the company?

Natasha Miller:

What do you focus on?

David Miller:

Yeah, so Flow Gardens is an indoor cultivation

David Miller:

research and development facility.

David Miller:

We're in East Tennessee.

David Miller:

It is not legal to grow what the government calls marijuana.

David Miller:

It's something with greater than 0.3% THC.

David Miller:

So we can still grow the cannabis plant, which looks exactly the same as marijuana.

David Miller:

It just has less than 0.3% THC.

David Miller:

So what we do is, and it's a huge blessing in disguise, is we are doing

David Miller:

research on alternative cannabinoids.

David Miller:

We won our Chief Grow officer Eric Melzer.

David Miller:

The best cannabis in the country, in my opinion.

David Miller:

We won the Emerald Cup a couple months ago with some of his flower, which

David Miller:

you know is in the Emerald Triangle there in San Francisco where you are.

David Miller:

I think we were the only people not from San Francisco or California

David Miller:

there, everybody whose jaws dropped whenever these boys from East

David Miller:

Tennessee won the best flower.

David Miller:

But anyway, so it's a blessing in disguise because we are able to study.

David Miller:

And focus our genetics and the chemotype and phenotypes, you know,

David Miller:

what type of plants, what's in the plant, the cannabinoids and terpenes.

David Miller:

Not to go too deep into it.

David Miller:

We're able to study that and that is not the THC.

David Miller:

The THC is what gives you that, what everybody knows,

David Miller:

gives you that psychotropic or.

David Miller:

The C B, D, the cbc, which is another one that he just found that

David Miller:

has a high CBC percentage, just another alternative cannabinoid.

David Miller:

So we're excited about that and how that interacts with all the different terpenes.

David Miller:

So that's the long answer again.

Natasha Miller:

Well, so you said it's a blessing in disguise.

Natasha Miller:

Are you alluding to the fact that if you did have carte blanche to

Natasha Miller:

work on THC, that maybe your focus would be afraid or go to that.

Natasha Miller:

But because you're limited, you're now exploring these other places that

Natasha Miller:

other people aren't focusing on and coming up with incredible discoveries.

David Miller:

Yeah.

David Miller:

Yeah.

David Miller:

I'm sorry, Natasha.

David Miller:

So we do indoor cultivation, so a very controlled environment.

David Miller:

We're not growing huge fields.

David Miller:

Growing super premium, high quality cannabis and hydroponic living soil.

David Miller:

A lot of, lot of different methods.

David Miller:

So we are able to focus on these alternative cannabinoids in the

David Miller:

marketplace right now, you'll have people that you may have

David Miller:

heard of, like Jungle Boys.

David Miller:

They will sell THC flower where they're one of the biggest cultivators in

David Miller:

California, you know, and their dose killer, for example, has 29 30% THC.

David Miller:

And it has probably less than 1% CBD.

David Miller:

So everybody is racing to the highest THC percentage that THC

David Miller:

cannabinoid and the other very important cannabinoid CBC, CBG, CBD.

David Miller:

Those are all kind of falling by the wayside.

David Miller:

And they do have health and medicinal benefits that haven't

David Miller:

been fully understood yet.

David Miller:

So that's what I mean is that we're able to focus on those

David Miller:

alternative cannabinoids.

Natasha Miller:

And what do you think would happen when and if Tennessee

Natasha Miller:

opens up the law to allow for THC?

David Miller:

Well, I think the market right now is so new, you know?

David Miller:

And this wonderful plant has been suppressed for hundreds of years.

David Miller:

So I feel like I would be naive if I didn't say there's gonna be a race to the

David Miller:

highest THC percentage when it legalizes.

David Miller:

I think there will be a strong element to that.

David Miller:

But what I do know is that we're one of the most respected cannabis

David Miller:

cultivators, if not the most respected cannabis cultivator in Tennessee.

David Miller:

So we're involved with the legislation, we're involved with the communities.

David Miller:

The bipartisan politic action committees, all that fun stuff.

David Miller:

So we are going to set the stage whenever it legalizes that, "Hey, it's

David Miller:

just not about how you can get blasted.

David Miller:

This is being approved medically."

David Miller:

Yes, recreational, it's, there's a place for that as well.

David Miller:

But from medicinally, if you really wanna look at what this plant does medicinally,

David Miller:

you can't just go for the THC because you're neglecting a lot of the benefits.

David Miller:

So, long story short, we wanna make sure people know what are called one-to-one.

David Miller:

So one part THC, one part CBD, one part CBG, one part, all

David Miller:

the different cannabinoids.

Natasha Miller:

It sounds like you're respected and supported

Natasha Miller:

by a lot of people in Tennessee.

Natasha Miller:

Do you feel a huge pushback?

Natasha Miller:

Is it still so taboo that you can't-

David Miller:

My kids go to, this hasn't happened yet cause I just moved here and.

David Miller:

You know, the business has only been around for two years, but

David Miller:

it is just a matter of time.

David Miller:

Whenever I walk into school and just being in the facility, I'm going to smell of

David Miller:

marijuana, or sorry, a smell of cannabis.

David Miller:

So whenever I tell people what I do.

David Miller:

It's they're either super intrigued and when I talk about it, or they're

David Miller:

just scared to address or have the conversation, which is understandable.

Natasha Miller:

So yeah, you have a long way to educate people,

Natasha Miller:

especially where you live.

Natasha Miller:

Have you ever thought that you should write a book, that you should write

Natasha Miller:

the story of your life to help other people learn from your experience?

Natasha Miller:

Please go to MemoirSherpa.com and learn how I can help you write, figure out your

Natasha Miller:

publishing path and market your story, your memoir, to a best seller status.

Natasha Miller:

So what is your team made up at Flow Gardens?

Natasha Miller:

How big is the team and who's doing what and what do you do?

David Miller:

We have about 25 people, maybe a little more than that now, but

David Miller:

it's mainly made up of cultivators.

David Miller:

Our Chief Girl Officer, Eric Melzer, who is the founder of Flow Gardens, we

David Miller:

partnered up whenever I was introduced to him and, bought into the company.

David Miller:

So he's the Chief grow officer.

David Miller:

He's been growing for 25 plus years, and there are associate

David Miller:

cultivators that work with him.

David Miller:

There are tremors people that just sit there and trim the delicate buds all day.

David Miller:

We have an online retail store, so our ladies in the packaging room whenever

David Miller:

we drop our flower and it sells out, they're packaging up and sending it out.

David Miller:

So yeah, it's pretty much the team.

David Miller:

Then we have, you know, a sales and, you know, yeah.

Natasha Miller:

What is your management team made?

David Miller:

A very small, tight-knit group.

David Miller:

So Eric, myself, we have two other board members.

David Miller:

They were also seed investors in the company.

David Miller:

We have a lot of synergies with this company.

David Miller:

Thankful to them.

David Miller:

They're one of the most successful LED lighting companies, so they

David Miller:

sell LED lights for all of these grow houses across the entire

David Miller:

country and also outta the country.

David Miller:

So they partnered with us and were using their lights, horticulture,

David Miller:

lighting group, their scorpion, Diablos.

David Miller:

They're amazing.

David Miller:

And so that's the board structure for us right now.

Natasha Miller:

And any venture capital or how are you, are you raising funds?

Natasha Miller:

Are you?

David Miller:

No, I mean, I've-

Natasha Miller:

Bootstrapping it?

David Miller:

As you and I know, I mean we've had seven figures plus invested in

David Miller:

this through the owners, so we do not have any EVC or PE any, anything like that.

David Miller:

We're following just as you're aware of the scaling up method

David Miller:

and you know cash is king.

David Miller:

So we're keeping a hefty amount in cash.

David Miller:

We're planning for whenever this does legalize.

David Miller:

How do we create strategic growth opportunities to make

David Miller:

an impact across Tennessee.

David Miller:

And then further than that, if it makes sense.

Natasha Miller:

Do you think it will be legalized soon in Tennessee?

David Miller:

No, I would like to say 2023 year, but then it takes, you know,

David Miller:

year to promulgate the rules and all that.

David Miller:

So we're 2024 at the earliest.

David Miller:

And.

David Miller:

, I'd probably say there's a 65% to 70% chance of it passing next year.

Natasha Miller:

I have the question.

Natasha Miller:

When you were talking about your team and you were talking about

Natasha Miller:

cultivators, is that a skilled job or is that something that can be

Natasha Miller:

somebody could easily be trained in?

David Miller:

There's elements of both, but you have to have a innate

David Miller:

understanding of the plant, how it looks, the bud structure, how the lighting

David Miller:

affects it, what are the different pH levels, the parts per million, what

David Miller:

type of nutrients the plant needs throughout the different flowering cycle.

David Miller:

And actually one of the most important parts, the most important

David Miller:

part of the entire process.

David Miller:

You can do everything right and then at the very end when you're curing it or

David Miller:

drying it, if you don't do it correctly.

David Miller:

A million things can go wrong.

Natasha Miller:

Have you ever not done it correctly?

David Miller:

I don't personally dry it and thank goodness we have

David Miller:

a team that's super talented and-

Natasha Miller:

I mean Flow Gardens, have you ever gotten to the end

Natasha Miller:

of the process and went, "Oh no."

David Miller:

There's been some things that have gone wrong here

David Miller:

and there with some harvests.

David Miller:

You know, if there is mold on the plant, that has happened before, but

David Miller:

you know, we have to throw it away obviously cuz we have super high

David Miller:

quality standards, but we follow a private strict and regimented process

David Miller:

so that that usually doesn't happen.

Natasha Miller:

That's good, good, good.

Natasha Miller:

So what do you see the opportunity in the cannabis business

Natasha Miller:

space in the next 50 years?

Natasha Miller:

What do you think that's gonna look like?

David Miller:

I think that right now in cannabis and it's alcohol and cannabis

David Miller:

is not, is a very general comparison.

David Miller:

It's not apples to apples, but a lot of people compare

David Miller:

it, so I'll subside to that.

David Miller:

So it's, right now everybody in cannabis is, is drinking ever clear.

David Miller:

Because that's what they have access to, but there are so many other different.

David Miller:

Ways to experience the plant.

David Miller:

So we're gonna see the truly and the rum and the vodka and all the

David Miller:

different iterations of alcohol, a.k.a a cannabis in this example, evolve.

David Miller:

And not just from a recreational standpoint, but also medicinal standpoint.

David Miller:

So I think in the next 50 years, the science and understanding the plant

David Miller:

is gonna be the big thing that evolves the marketplace and how that evolves.

David Miller:

I have no idea.

David Miller:

And do you think big pharma is gonna scoop it all up and

David Miller:

really realize the potential?

Natasha Miller:

I mean, pharma is all about profit and the

Natasha Miller:

medical world, doctors MDs.

David Miller:

Again, I think I'd be naive if I said that big money's

David Miller:

not gonna come in, especially when it's federally descheduled.

David Miller:

But we are in a very niche farm to table type economy now and the

David Miller:

cannabis is a tight knit community.

David Miller:

So yeah, I definitely think big money will come in.

David Miller:

Big pharma will definitely get their hands in the lobbying in.

Natasha Miller:

In 50 years it has to be passing the federal,

Natasha Miller:

like that's a long time from now.

Natasha Miller:

I can't imagine that it will somebody's gonna wake up and go, we are losing out

Natasha Miller:

on trillions of dollars of opportunity.

David Miller:

Yeah, I agree with you.

David Miller:

There's gonna be big companies that come in for sure, but hopefully these

David Miller:

smaller companies that have been around can band together and grow

David Miller:

into the bigger companies that have a stronger purpose other than profit.

Natasha Miller:

Yeah, please, please make that happen.

Natasha Miller:

So for this business, what are you focusing on right

Natasha Miller:

now to scale and grow it?

David Miller:

Refining our systems remaining financially stable.

David Miller:

And just maintaining communication and trust within our team.

Natasha Miller:

So there wasn't a big initiative that you planned to

Natasha Miller:

hit on the head on in January for like marketing or R&D or publicity?

David Miller:

I mean, we're doing podcasts.

David Miller:

We've had a lot of partners come to us to take videos of our cultivation center

David Miller:

and market them, and so we're doing little things here and there, but right

David Miller:

now the hemp market is only so small since there's not a ton of money to be

David Miller:

made in it right now, that's changing.

David Miller:

So we're not trying to conquer the world right now.

David Miller:

We're trying to just-

Natasha Miller:

Yeah, you're playing the long game, right?

David Miller:

Exactly.

David Miller:

That's right.

Natasha Miller:

And beside it not being federally allowed, and in Tennessee

Natasha Miller:

not being, you know, the THC part not being legal, what is the number

Natasha Miller:

one biggest challenge that you're focusing on or facing, trying to

Natasha Miller:

solve for in your business right now?

David Miller:

You said it, you hit the nail on the head.

David Miller:

Is education, is educating the public and also educating more so the

David Miller:

older generations about the plant, removing some of those negative

David Miller:

connotations and that stigmatism surrounded with the war on drugs and.

David Miller:

Reefer madness and a lot of that, it's just honestly poisoned older generation's

David Miller:

minds cause that is already coming around.

David Miller:

But the education is our biggest roadblock right now.

Natasha Miller:

I can see that.

Natasha Miller:

I mean, I can see where I'm at.

Natasha Miller:

A lot of different generations of people are coming around to it.

Natasha Miller:

But in other places, you know, I live in a bubble, right?

Natasha Miller:

In other places they might not be there.

Natasha Miller:

And I really see, especially with the medicinal side, elderly people

Natasha Miller:

being able to take advantage of this for a better life.

Natasha Miller:

Do you agree with that.

David Miller:

That's one of the things that makes me really nervous is, you know,

David Miller:

it's not federally legal here, so there's this, for lack of better word, synthetic

David Miller:

cannabinoid called Delta eight that's out there and anyone can go, and I don't

David Miller:

know whether it's good, whether it's not long term has been around long enough.

David Miller:

But there are all these different CBD and vape shops out there that sell Delta

David Miller:

eight and the product is not regulated.

David Miller:

I think you have to be 18 or or 21 years old to buy it.

David Miller:

But these companies aren't regulated.

David Miller:

The re, the reason I say that is these older generations that have very serious

David Miller:

back problems, very serious pain problems.

David Miller:

They go in and they buy this Delta eight and they're hoping

David Miller:

that the dosage is right.

David Miller:

That it, you know, all these things because it's helping relieve their pain

David Miller:

because they don't wanna use opioids.

Natasha Miller:

Well, that's, they should not be using opioids probably.

Natasha Miller:

I mean, I'm not a doctor, but I see that as being a very

Natasha Miller:

intense situation challenge.

Natasha Miller:

Is there anything that you would love to.

Natasha Miller:

Anyone listening to this podcast that we haven't covered.

David Miller:

This plant, it truly changes people's lives and you know, allowing

David Miller:

the people to decide and have their own choices so this plant can, which is

David Miller:

found in nature, obviously can do its job the way people want it to, is it's

David Miller:

the main thing I want people to know.

David Miller:

For more information, go to the show notes where you're listening to this podcast.

David Miller:

Wanna know more about me, go to my website OfficialNatashaMiller.com.

David Miller:

Thank you so much for listening.

David Miller:

I hope you loved the show.

David Miller:

If you did, please subscribe.

David Miller:

Also, if you haven't done so yet, please leave a review where you're

David Miller:

listening to this podcast now.

David Miller:

I'm Natasha Miller and you've been listening to FASCINATING ENTREPRENEURS.

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