This week, Dr. David Cunic, CEO and founder of UCS Advisors, discusses his life as a medical professional and serial entrepreneur. In the industry, he's known as "Dr. David," and he's been a cannabis advocate since 2009 — "before it was cool to be in cannabis."
As a doctor of physical therapy and pain management, he is an advocate for the benefits of medical marijuana. As an entrepreneur, he has started seven cannabis businesses in five different states; overall, he's founded 13 companies in the last 18 years.
He says he decided to enter the cannabis industry due to the misinformation surrounding cannabis as a treatment. He believes that physicians are ethically bound to show patients every possible treatment — and, until recently, most doctors were not only prohibited by states from prescribing cannabis as a medicine, but they were shunned by their medical colleagues. It wasn't until the last two to three years that the medical industry became more receptive to the benefits of medicinal use, particularly when compared to opiates for pain management.
Dr. David also believes that all 50 states should legalize medical marijuana before recreational use is approved. He insists that if our culture is to truly view cannabis as a medicine, we need to focus on the that side first.
At UCS, Dr. David focuses on investment in the cannabis industry. For companies that are just starting out, his company helps secure capital investment and trains new business owners on everything from how to create a pitch deck to how to approach investors. He says many startup founders don't know how to talk to an investor.
An estimated 65% of business owners in cannabis and CBD are first-time business owners, and they have no idea where to start — not only when it comes to raising money, but how to run the business from an operational standpoint. Dr. David teaches strategy and helps map out a business plan.
Although business owners don't know how to start, even fewer have an exit strategy, he says. Many harbor vague ambitions of acquisition, but less than 13% of cannabis companies get acquired — and Dr. David says it will become even less common after federal legalization.
The other side of UCS's businesses helps individuals invest in the cannabis industry. He says the average person is "screwed by the system when it comes to investing." It's not just a cash problem, although most people don't have $150,000 sitting around to invest. Some people, due to on their profession or a criminal record, are restricted from investing in cannabis companies. He helps them get into the industry by providing return-on-investment expectations up front, with a relatively low bar to enter — many clients start with a $5,000 investment with a 30% return in 15 months or less. If anything, investment provides an easy way to learn about the cannabis industry.
Dr. David has been in the healing business his entire career, and his advocacy for medical marijuana has played an important role in educating a misinformed public.