Have you ever partnered with someone who initially checks off all the criteria boxes needed to launch and be successful, and then over time (in spite of their corporate successes), realize they have an agenda that is a little “off”? Someone that is driven, smart, articulate, maybe with a world-class background but just not wired like most of us. Or worse, they start to move the goalposts without communicating and start to show signs that they are just “off their f%#$*ing rocker”?

I have. Having gone through this, does this mean you run from a new merger or partnership?

One need only google my background to know what I went through … it’s out there in the public domain. I’ve not publicly talked about it in the 9 years that have passed, in spite of media pressure, book deals, documentary production offers, etc. Your personal and corporate life quickly changes (forever) when your business partner contracts Russian mafia in a murder for hire plot and is subsequently caught and convicted. Yup, you heard it right. I wonder if at any time in his 20- year Washington State sentence, will he think about what a partnership means. It brings a whole new meaning to transparency, communication, team, trust …. and, of course, greed … ah yes, the greed.

Bet you didn’t expect THAT kind of blog opening this week! It’s definitely an extreme and crazy illustration, but we all have a story, and this has been a part of mine … and it is definitely a 2 bottle of wine tale.

As a former college and pro athlete, I’ve always believed that partnership (read: team), can make you much stronger, faster and better. By partnering with those that have a skill set that you don’t, it allows everyone to stay in their lanes and do what they do best. It’s also about deep trust. There is nothing better than a team coming together, each has the others back and good things start to happen quickly. Everyone moving in the same direction and creating momentum … it’s a pretty cool feeling to be a part of it. Some of us have never experienced this … those that have, will smile and nod their head. The athletes out there … you know this feeling.

While busy raising capital, we have been getting our share of interest as an emerging retail cannabis player. Companies and individuals are inquiring about merging or partnering when they have come to realize they are missing a significant piece. I’ve come to learn that many don’t have the regulated retail buildout experience that we have, and conversely, we don’t have some of the piece’s others have. And so, what about merging or partnering? When is it the right time to consider this approach? And, if you have gone through something like I have (there is a reason I always have a good bottle of scotch in my office), are you still able to trust?

The fact of the matter is, no matter what has happened in our personal or corporate lives, we must continue to work on building trust. The moment we no longer believe in trust, or worse, just can’t trust, is the moment we should cash in our entrepreneurial “chips”. Due diligence is always the key, but also, we must rely on our “spidey” senses as well. How do you assess a potential partner or merger relationship? How does one make a sound decision outside of reviewing the business plans, numbers and vision? For me, it has become more about the individual or team I’m potentially going into the trenches with. At some point, I need to know that we are well aligned in personality, character, ethics (both moral and work), and long-term vision … and maybe most importantly, will we have each other’s back when the going gets tough … and it will!

Recently, I had a potential investor interested in injecting $500K into the business but wanted to be significantly involved in a number of ways. This individual brought solid consumer goods experience and a significant contact base, however, … the more we talked, the more I realized we were not well aligned as far as vision and character. As a start-up, it’s so incredibly hard to walk away from seed capital … but walk I did. Have I second guessed? … of course! But at the end of the day having patience and focus is always a winning formula. Selling your soul to the devil for a cash injection, can only spell trouble.


Originally published August 3, 2019 on Brad Klock’s personal LinkedIn.

Brad Klock

Brad Klock

President & COO of Legacy By Ross