Position: Co-founder and CEO
For the past 12 months, the editorial staff at Marijuana Venture has compiled a list of candidates for our third annual 40 Under 40 feature. This year, we narrowed our list down from hundreds of worthy candidates to come up with a cross-section of personalities across the U.S. and Canada, from salt-of-the-earth farmers to tech savants. All of them have unique stories, successes and ambitions and all represent the excitement and promise of the cannabis business. We feel honored to share their stories and look forward to watching them push forward in our ever-evolving industry.
Aviv Hadar had a great deal of success as a tech entrepreneur in his 20s. He had little reason to jolt awake in the middle of the night and decide to change career paths.
“I called my mom and said, ‘I need you to support me here — I’m going to be a professional drug dealer,’” Hadar says.
Hadar dropped out of college to get a jump start on his tech career. He founded Think Brilliant, a company best known for its viral “I’m With Coco” marketing campaign. Then he was involved in the first Kickstarter campaign to raise more than a million dollars, with the launch of SoulPancake, a content creation company.
But watching the news of Colorado’s impending cannabis legalization in 2012 shifted his attention. Cannabis had been a hobby of his for years, but now it was a legitimate business, and Hadar’s success in the tech industry provided the comfort to weather the risk of entering the unknown cannabis market.
After Measure 91 passed in Oregon, Hadar was the first person to speak in front of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission about the legislation.
“For me that is a historic thing that I am always going to be proud of,” Hadar says. “But my biggest success is being rewarded by this industry that I feel that I really helped build.”
Hadar says he’s in love with the industry. He even loves the rulemaking process. As one of the four founders of the Oregon Cannabis Association, he’s testified to governing officials and friends alike on the merits of cannabis regulations. That passion has helped fuel Oregrown’s success.
“I’m very happy that we’ve been able to transition from a hobby business that three friends who have known each other for 20 years started into a legit corporation,” Hadar says. “Without being too bullish, I fully anticipate us being the number one brand in Oregon within 12 months. And we will be in California in the next six months or so.”
Oregrown has an 84-acre production campus with 40,000 square feet of flowering cannabis in production at all times and wholesales product to hundreds of stores. The company currently has four stores in Oregon. Locations in Portland, Eugene and Cannon Beach — “the Malibu of the Oregon Coast” — will open in 2018 and roughly double Oregrown’s employee count from 62 to more than 120.
“We’ve dialed-in the retail beast,” Hadar says. “People seem to have a lot of issues with retail, but it’s really where you can be the most lucrative.”