Company: Garden of Eden
Title: Chief Financial Officer
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.
On top of his duties as the chief financial officer for Garden of Eden, a cannabis store in Hayward, California, Shareef El-Sissi also found the time to help launch Treez, a software platform designed to streamline retail operations, and Eden Extracts, a processing company focused on research and development.Despite a few gray hairs from the years of audits, raids, sleepless nights and battles with numerous federal agencies, El-Sissi considers himself blessed to be “working in one of the few honest industries left.”
“Cannabis proliferation is the greatest thing to happen in my generation,” he says. “I am thrilled every morning to wake up and be on the front lines.”
Garden of Eden has focused its expansion plan on its home base of southern Alameda County, having learned a lesson from trying to expand into a nearby county before it had established its regulations.
“That set us back from our goals because we were getting away from our own DNA,” El-Sissi says. “Fools rush in, they say.”
Garden of Eden has expansion plans in the works for a new retail location in Sunol and a vertical operation being built from the ground up in Union City.
A San Francisco native, El-Sissi says cannabis has been “woven into the culture of my generation” and he’s been watching the industry evolve around him for the majority of his life. The opportunity to get into the business came when he met Soufyan AbouAhmed, the Garden of Eden founder, while studying business management and economics at the University of California, Davis.
“We both had a keen eye for quality and that really brought us together,” El-Sissi says. “We have been on the relentless pursuit of perfection ever since.”