291 Sheri Orlowitz: A Canna-Biz Investing High
Sheri Orlowitz is a leveraged buyout specialist and investor who has raised over $100mm to build, buy, and sell companies across manufacturing, real estate, and now the fast-growing cannabis industry where she is starting a venture capital fund. Founder of the private investment firm Artemis Holdings Group, Sheri is also a former Justice Department prosecutor perfectly placed to help her portfolio companies in the cannabis industry navigate the legal and regulatory minefield. We talk investing, what it takes for women in business to raise money, plus the mindset of a successful entrepreneur and why abundance thinkers and problem solvers get ahead.
Melinda Wittstock: Sheri – welcome to Wings.
Sheri Orlowitz: Hi there, it’s good to hear you, I’m glad to be here.
Melinda Wittstock: I am so excited to talk to you because you’re really trailblazing in a fast-growing industry, that’s really exciting to a lot of people, maybe scary to others, it skirts legality, of course. This is the cannabis business. What got you into it?
Sheri Orlowitz: My background as a federal prosecutor was the surefire way to make sure I wouldn’t get into it. And when someone came up to me five years ago who said, “I’m raising a private equity fund to get a license in Maryland,” I said, “Not from me,” and that was the end of it. And I couldn’t even imagine getting into the cannabis business.
And then I was sitting at a Starbucks and a woman came up to me and we started to talk, and the upshot of it is she asked me what I did, and I said I like to help women grow their business. And generally that takes raising capital. And she said, “Serendipity, I have a daughter who has a very successful landscape business, and she wants to raise six to eight million dollars to expand it.” And I thought, “This is my sweet spot, this sounds terrific, here’s my card and tell her to call me.” And the expansion was the cannabis business. And in particular, Maryland had a license period where people could apply for a license to cultivate, process, and dispense and that’s what she wanted to do. And she needed someone to write a business plan and raise her eight and a half million dollars in three weeks. Not a challenge I took lightly, and I had my whole team on it, and sure enough we wrote a great business plan, was able to get commitment for eight and a half million dollars. And in a highly competitive process, she was one of … from 400 applications submitted, 150 applications were accepted, and 15 people were awarded grow licenses along with dispensaries. And we were one of them.
And after that, I slowly got a name and a reputation, and people would ask me to do some interesting things, and I did.
Melinda Wittstock: So what an interesting way to get started in something that you didn’t really anticipate! One of the things that you did, Sheri, that’s so important for so many women and men who listen to this podcast, is you spotted the opportunity. And seized on it, it wasn’t like you were thinking, “Oh, yeah, one day I’m going to be in the cannabis business,” but you were presented with an opportunity, your mind worked quickly, and you seized it. Do you think a lot of people miss opportunities because they’re just not kind of open to that kind of inspiration?
Sheri Orlowitz: I think it’s possible for entrepreneurs to miss opportunities or recognize that there are so many opportunities out there. And I remember someone telling me opportunities are like buses. You need to figure out which one you want to get on. And so I would encourage people to understand that there’s always an opportunity, it’s just the way you look at things, every day in every way.
So I don’t necessarily think people miss them, and you want to look for something that really gets your blood circulating.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, and there’s a lot of other people though that are sort of ‘opportunity junkies’ though, on the other hand, right, so a lot of people in the very crowded cannabis business now who are in it just because … it’s kind of a bit of Me Too, right?
What do you think is it that makes someone uniquely qualified to jump into this particular industry, cannabis, with all its challenges?
Sheri Orlowitz: I think that the cannabis business, like any business, has so many different opportunities. But the thing about cannabis that is a little different is we’re really witnessing the birth of an industry. So I don’t know that the cannabis space is crowded yet. It will be, but right now we have an industry that has grown from zero to 10 billion dollars in the last … I don’t know, five to seven years, and is anticipated to grow to 25 billion in the next two to three years.
And there’s no capital in the business, so to speak, because institutional money doesn’t come into the business in the United States. And I’m speaking about the United States right now. So with that kind of growth, Melinda, there is so much opportunity. And whether you’re in staffing, or you’re making packaging, or you want to make, manufacture vapes, or you want a dispensary, or you want to do fertilizer … Scott’s Miracle Grow has a subsidiary called Hawthorne, which has invested a billion dollars into this industry. That is an anathema, because no one of that kind and caliber is really invested in the industry.
So the pockets of money in the industry are far and few between, so to answer your question a little more head on, you need a lot of ingenuity. You need to be able to put up with very novel kinds of challenges like you can’t bank. I know people who have had bank accounts; 20 times they’ve been thrown out of their bank. There are tax problems. There are legal problems. Getting right help, whether it be lawyers or accountants, it’s all a big challenge. And the traditional stuff that makes the business go is not traditional in this industry. For example, banking.
Melinda Wittstock: Mm-hmm (affirmative). You know, on one hand, so there’s cannabis but then there are so many other sub industries, like it’s interesting you mentioned Scott’s Miracle Grow, but then think about CBD, and cannabis in beauty products, in other sort of health applications. There’s so many different ways. And so this is kind of the first generation, where do you see the industry growing? Where do you think the biggest growth is going to be?
Sheri Orlowitz: Well it’s funny you mention CBD. CBD was just made legal by the farm bill at the end of last year. The president signed it on December 20th, I believe. So the FDA is now squarely in the middle of having to figure out how to regulate it, which is a really complicated situation. So to your point, the FDA, Food, Drug Administration and cosmetics, the challenges for all of those industries to work in a totally unregulated about to be highly regulated industry is going to be very interesting. And everywhere you go you see CBD. But the one thing … CBD in as you say cosmetics, CBD in drinks, CBD in beer, CBD in cocktails, right now that is where a lot of the money is going. CBD is an anti-inflammatory, it has a number of anecdotal stories of health benefits. And so I see a health play in this industry that’s huge.
And right now, because of the farm bill last year, there was $800 million in the industry, in the hemp industry, from … which is what I’m speaking about. And they’re anticipating in the next three years for it to go from $800 million to $22 billion. And that kind of growth is not something I am used to in the world in which I live, which was manufacturing. We didn’t have all this growth, so growing your business was an interesting process. Right now you could just open up a store and sell CBD and potentially do well. But it will get very crowded very shortly.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, it’ll get very crowded very quickly, and then you’re perfectly placed for that as well because you’re a turn around person, you’re the help get companies sort of sold, get entrepreneurs to exit, all of that as well. So presumably when the shake out comes, you’re well placed at that end as well.
Sheri Orlowitz: You’re right; there will be shake out. I think there will be a number of businesses that people have invested in, and by and large you have family offices and ultra high net worth, and high net worth people who are funding the industry. But now that it has been made legal it’ll be interesting because you’re going to have institutional investors starting to come in as the FDA spreads its wings and provides some regulation. So you’ll have more money in this industry, and a lot of businesses probably shouldn’t be, that will be. But we’ll see.
Melinda Wittstock: Right, so Sheri, you’re again such an interesting intersection of things. I mean here you are, you like in Washington DC like me, right? The federal government seems to have a totally different attitude, at least the current Justice Department on federal law than say state law. States, it’s already kind of out of the box, I mean states are making so much kind of tax revenue from cannabis, CBD, this kind of thing. The genie’s not going to go back in the bottle. How do you see all that playing out politically? What has to happen?
Sheri Orlowitz: Well, right now 33 … it’s legal in 33 states, and 10 states plus the District of Columbia have ended prohibition altogether, also known as allowing adult use. I see … I sit on the board of the Marijuana Policy Project, and little known fact, this industry really owes its existence to MPP. It was a social justice movement, which was a result of the fact of the disparate impact the drug laws had on the poor and minorities, and it was funded by some well-known billionaires. And MPP was funded by Peter Louis, who owned … was one of the founders if not the founder of Progressive Insurance Company.
And the whole idea again was behind … doing something about how peoples’ families were ruined by these drug laws. And so the most important thing that I can see about the industry today is we have to get some good regulations out there that work.
Melinda Wittstock: You know, Jeff Sessions when he was Attorney General kind of shocked everybody by … still going back to that kind of, “Make it a crime everywhere,” all this kind of thing, right? And ultimately, the way to solve this is for Congress to actually do something on the federal level. I mean how likely is that? Will the Republicans do it or do we need sort of a Democratic president, a Democratic Congress for that to happen?
Sheri Orlowitz: Well, our strategy is to get 25 states to end prohibition, and then why I say ours it’s the Marijuana Policy Project. And we actually propagate the referendums and work with the legislatures throughout the state. And 11 states, 10 states plus the District have ended prohibition altogether. If we get another 14 states, and our goal is 14 states by 2020, then we will have 25 states, which we think will tip the balance by the end of 2020, those senators should vote for ending prohibition.
Now, there’s an interesting dynamic that could occur which is the president, when he decides to run again in 2020, might want to act in what looks like a bipartisan fashion and work with the Democrats to sign off on some of the bills that are currently pending on Congress, and/or perhaps do something by executive order. And so it’s a … it’s a question will it be Congress, will it be the president, will it be both of them, but I think we’ll see the end of prohibition by 2020.
Melinda Wittstock: Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah, no, that’s quite likely. I mean, there’s just so much money in it, and so much … like as you say, when you got health and wealth, balancing it out in so many different ways for people to make money, so many different ways for states and the federal government to increase tax revenue it’s kind of a no brainer.
So I want to go way back in time with you, Sheri. Did you always know that you were going to be an entrepreneur when you started out, when you were a little girl? What were you like?
Sheri Orlowitz: Oh, no. I had no idea. I was an actress, and then I went to law school. And I just knew that I loved working for the Justice Department, I loved the law, but I did not want to practice law in a big firm, which is where I was. And so I got the opportunity to leave and I jumped. And I started to work with an entrepreneur, and I’ve been an entrepreneur ever since. And when I think about it on both sides of my family, everybody was an entrepreneur back several generations. So I think it was destined, but I didn’t think I know it … I don’t think I knew it.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, it’s interesting when we look back and we think of say, our lives, if our lives were a tree, right, like what were the roots, right, with the teachers we had as little kids, kind of like ancestors, or parents, the influences we had, what we loved to do as little kids, and like to what extend that predicts the kind of branches we’re going to grow, where we’re going to go in our life. Does it all sort of make sense? Because you’ve done so many things in your life, and we’re going to go through all of them, but from being a performer, being … you were an actress, right?
Sheri Orlowitz: Yes, I was for eight years in New York. And I loved it, and I hated it. I loved it when I worked; I hated it when I was in the coffee shop serving.
Melinda Wittstock: That’s definitely the downside, right, of that-
Sheri Orlowitz: Yes-
Melinda Wittstock: But then you’ve gone on to … all these different industries that you’ve worked in, and all the people that you have helped by helping them raise money, right, all the mergers and acquisitions activity and everything. Is there kind of a line that is consistent that takes you through all of that that you see? Does it all sort of make sense, how all these different pieces fit together at this point?
Sheri Orlowitz: Yeah, you know, every time I look at what I’ve done it seems like I’ve been a pioneer. When I went to law school, I started a law review, when I did real estate development I was the first person to build in an area that was pretty run down, I built 20 condos between two … projects, which was government housing and people thought I was crazy, and it was wildly successful. I was probably one of the first women to start doing leveraged buyouts for their own account. And I see myself as a pioneer in the cannabis industry.
So my … general thought, which is what you can conceive you can achieve is sort of the way I run my life. I think about things, and I try to think about things that other people are not really thinking about. So my little corner of the sky is not as crowded. And right now the cannabis industry has far more growth than it has people participating. So while it will get crowded, right now it is certainly not terribly crowded and it’s not for the faint of heart.
Melinda Wittstock: I love that you said that you were a pioneer because really entrepreneurship is about that. I almost think that we’re alchemists, you know? We see a problem; we turn coal into diamonds, right? Do you see it that way, are we good at spotting the problems; we just have this urge that we just want to kind of solve problems for people? What do you think is the driver, what do you think is the thing that makes a pioneer successful?
Sheri Orlowitz: I think you’re right. I think you’re right, Melinda. It’s a question of being a problem solver. One of the things I’ve been thinking about is the immigration crisis, and I know this sounds like … what, what does that have to do with entrepreneurship, but I was thinking we have all these people who want to come to our country, why don’t we sign a contract with them for three years and say, “Okay,” we do a background check on them, and for three years you have to help us rebuild our infrastructure, and we’ll put you up, we’ll give you room and board and $100.00 a month. And that’s what they do to some to our country. And we get our railroad tracks rebuilt, and we get our roads rebuilt, and we get our bridges rebuilt, and all these people come and work. I mean, we get the best of the best from around the world.
So I was just thinking about that the other day as I sit there and I see two sides that are absolutely at each other, and instead of getting all upset about … “Oh god, I can’t believe they’re doing this,” it’s how do you fix it? So I think that’s the spirit of an entrepreneur.
Melinda Wittstock: You know, I absolutely love what you said about immigration, I think that’s a really amazing solution. And wouldn’t it be amazing, and what would happen if you did put really great entrepreneurs in charge of policy for a little bit? I mean, real problem solver entrepreneurs, the ones that actually … you know, want to do great things in the world. How would that change government? Do we need a little bit more of that?
Sheri Orlowitz: Oh, yes. Right now we have such a logjam and we have … I think a lot of our current Speaker of the House, but oh my goodness, classy lady, but … we’re in a logjam. We can’t get along, and how does … everyone says how do you have a win/win? So that was my challenge, and I think that’s the way the mind of an entrepreneur works, so I … don’t say can’t, say can. This is how we can fix it. That’s what an entrepreneur does, and that’s what makes them successful … that is a thing that makes them successful.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah. I think that’s right. I mean, did you always kind of know this in your bones, or what are some of the challenges that you’ve had on your journey, Sheri? I mean the things that have been really tricky, where you’ve had to get out of your own comfort zone to be able to go and pioneer the next thing?
Sheri Orlowitz: You know, I’m one of those people that just does it. So the first time I was involved in a leveraged buyout was 1993. And the only thing I knew is I did not want to practice law at a beautiful, big firm. I didn’t like it. So I had an opportunity, in order to realize that opportunity I had to go out and raise money, I had never done it before. I raised the money that was necessary, we bought a big company and I was a chief financial officer. And Melinda, I had one semester of accounting and I was running, in 1993, a $70 million, which is worth $250 million today. And I had foreign divisions, and I had a Chinese division, and I figured it out.
But let me tell you, that was a pretty hairy two years.
Melinda Wittstock: So here’s the thing … you know when Kara Goldin came on this podcast very early on, she’s built Hint Water almost now to a near $2bn dollar company. And she said, “Look, you’ve got to fly the plane as you’re building it.” You can’t wait to be a … to make it perfect. And so many women that I see in business really suffer from a couple of things. And let me just say there should be an AA for perfectionists.
Sheri Orlowitz: That’s a good one, I agree.
Melinda Wittstock: Right? Because … and you work with a lot of women, I mean, do you find this when you’re working with women that say you’re thinking of investing in their business, or you’re raising for them or whatever it is, perfectionism continue to be the enemy of the good at all stages of a business for women?
Sheri Orlowitz: I know that it’s a fault, I have a fault myself which is … wait a minute, it’s not ready to go out there, it’s not perfect enough.
Melinda Wittstock: Well we confuse … yeah, we confuse perfectionism with mastery, I think. I think they are actually two different things. I think it’s amazing to master something, like to really make it great, but I think also … I like what Reid Hoffman, the founder of LinkedIn says, that if you’re not embarrassed when you launch a product, you’ve launched too late.
Sheri Orlowitz: Oh, that’s great; I love it. You know what, part of … let me add to that what I think people are afraid of is failure.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah.
Sheri Orlowitz: And I think that goes hand in hand with it being perfect. And you know what, failure is how you make success, and-
Melinda Wittstock: Failure’s … yeah, failure’s part of the game, like it’s in a way … it’s like the mentor I had way, way back when I was struggling with enterprise technology sales, long sales cycles, and lots of different people … you know, really quite a tricky road and I had no real experience in doing that. And he just said to me, “Look, I want you to go out and get as many no’s as possible.” Like that’s your objective for this week, get as many no’s as possible. And it was like a really interesting, counterintuitive way to think about it because it meant that I was asking for the sale, and also not being afraid of the failure, not being afraid of the no. The no was actually a good thing, but I was actually getting better at asking for the sale as a result of not being afraid of the no.
Sheri Orlowitz: I think that is great advice; I’m going to remember that. And the reality of success, again, I think about comics, again, I was an actress and friends of mine were comedians. And they would get up and they would be so awful, and then they would do it again, and again, and again, and then they started to get good. And I think entrepreneurship is no different. You just keep doing it until you get it right. Or at least that it feels good.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, and like just even testing at the very early stages, testing out that kind of product market fit. I mean, I mentor so many female entrepreneurs, and I’m amazed actually, and it’s not just females, it’s all entrepreneurs, I’m amazed how few of them know who their customers are, or are even intrigued about learning more about their customers at a very early stage. It’s kind of like, “Oh, if we build it … ” we have this hypothesis where if we built it, everyone’s going to love it. It’s like, well, no. Who are you serving and why? What problem are you solving, and just involving your prospective customers or who you think they are on the journey super, super early is a great way to go about it, because it just accelerates you faster. But you’ve got to be willing to be wrong.
I joke with my partner that you can be either right, or rich. There’s really no … like, really. Like think about it, right? I mean, because you can be right but you can down being right and maybe that makes you feel better, or you can be really wealthy, and you’re going to be more wealthy the more likely you put other people’s needs ahead of your own in that sense. Do you agree with that?
Sheri Orlowitz: You know something; I’ve never heard that, so I’d like to be right AND rich. How’s that?
Melinda Wittstock: Well yeah, that’s nice, that feels good. That feels good. But I mean, all I’m saying is that you have a hypothesis about a market, say, that you’re going to go serve, or whatever. And it’s a hypothesis until it’s not, right? So you can be right in your hypothesis or maybe you’re wrong in your hypothesis, but I’d rather know early on that I’m wrong, right, so that I can go and figure out how to be right so that I can be rich, maybe that’s the way to look at it.
Sheri Orlowitz: Well, and I think that’s a great point you make, which is think about what it is you’re selling, and then who’s going to buy it? What are you selling to whom and why are they going to buy it, think about your customer, it’s a great piece of advice.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah.
Sheri Orlowitz: [inaudible 00:36:38] Go ahead.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, no, I just wanted to pivot into, because I can’t not ask you this, I mean, what are some the mistakes you see women in particular making while trying to raise money? Either angel money or venture capital at various stages, because we’re still only getting two to 3% of the available venture capital in this country. What’s the disconnect there, what’s going wrong?
Sheri Orlowitz: Well first of all, I think women are too frugal. And that translates when you go out to raise money. And it could be that you only want to take yourself when you’re flying across the country to make a presentation. Or … you don’t put … it’s going to cost $10,000.00 to send your deck to an advertising agency or a marketing agency to gloss it up and make it look good. And so you won’t do it, and you do it in house, and sometimes you can write a good business plan and a good deck in house. I mean, that’s the way I used to do it, but now the decks I see, they knock my socks off.
And by and large, I think women skimp. And you need to invest in yourself. And so that would one thing. Another, again, I think whenever you walk into a room you need two people. Because what I hear and what you hear are always different, it’s amazing to me. And I’m sure you’ve had the same experience, Melinda, when you go into a room and you’re with someone, and they hear something completely different than what you hear. So again, that can translate into frugality, “I just want go to this pitch myself.” And when you’re pitching and raising money, you want to understand … again, just like you said, who is your customer, why are they going to buy what you have to sell, it’s the same thing when you pitch to a VC fund or you’re pitching to a private equity fund, you need to understand who they are, what they’re about, who the people are that’s sitting across from the table. Do you match with their expectations, what their mandate is, what they are looking for to fund?
So those are a few things.
Melinda Wittstock: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Yeah, I think sometimes what we … I like what you said about being too frugal, I think sometimes that translates to even in our numbers, like where guys are going to go put the hockey stick in there with their numbers, and the VCs know that they’re doing that, so they’re going to discount it. But then women and go and put the actual numbers that are actually credible, and they also get discounted and then suddenly it doesn’t look like a big opportunity anymore.
Sheri Orlowitz: There is definitely that. Women underestimate themselves. They underestimate the money they need, and they underestimate the job that they can do, and what they can achieve, and what they want to reach for.
Melinda Wittstock: I suppose if you’re looking at it from an investor perspective, and who you want to invest in, or the type of people that you’re attracting to invest and say the women that you’re helping get money. What do you want to see in that founder, you want to see that they are going to use your money really smartly, like they’re going to leverage it, they’re going … they need a lot to go see the market, so you want them to have a good plan for how that money is going to be utilized and how it’s going to be leveraged. And I think sometimes that’s missing from a lot of pitches that I see.
Sheri Orlowitz: The … what you’re saying is the basics. So if you’re going in and you’re going to take money from someone, and you need to understand what multiple they’re looking for. If they’re looking for a 10x multiple and you’re talking about a 3x multiple, that doesn’t match.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, it just doesn’t match, so you’ve got to … yeah, you’ve got to know what the investors are actually looking for. I see a lot of startup founders not asking the investor what they’re looking for.
Sheri Orlowitz: You know, ask questions, you’re absolutely right. What do you want? What’s a home run to you? What’s going to … what are you going to invest in? And why aren’t you going to invest in me if that happens.
Melinda Wittstock: Mm-hmm (affirmative), yeah. Yeah, it’s an interesting thing-
Sheri Orlowitz: Be ballsy. Be a little bit ballsy when you’re there, you know? What does it take to get you to invest in me?
Melinda Wittstock: So what makes you sit up and take notice? Like what’s the perfect pitch to you?
Sheri Orlowitz: I haven’t seen it to be perfectly honest.
Melinda Wittstock: Okay, well it’s pretty hard to do, but what … break it down a little bit. I mean, what would be the things that you would tell women like … at various stages that is absolutely necessary to succeed?
Sheri Orlowitz: A good business plan. An understanding of the target market. Why what you have is differentiated from other people. Why there is a strong growth trajectory, how you intend to use the money, and how many more rounds you anticipate, if this is VC … securities A, B, C, D, where are you going to go? And of course how you’re going to exit. Everyone wants to know about the exit.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, this is so interesting. I’ve met so many founders that say, “I’m so insulted that they’re asking me about the exit,” and it’s like, dude, if you’re raising money you’re already exiting. You’re already selling a chunk of your company, and there seems to be a disconnect there. And of course it depends on what stage we’re talking about, but I’ve seen founders with a hundred million dollar companies that still don’t entirely get that. And it’s extraordinary to me, but …
Sheri Orlowitz: Exit is important. If people are not … this is not your mother. They’re not investing into you for the rest of your life, they’re investing in you for a period of time to make a multiple on the money they’ve put into you, and they want to know A, how they’re going to get their money back, and B, how much money they’re going to make from putting money into you. So …
Melinda Wittstock: So I have a question for you about women, wealthy women, either entrepreneurs or not, but women of considerable wealth that have no problem writing a check for a million dollars to a charity, or a considerable sum of money, but we struggle to invest say 10 grand in a female founder. What’s that about, and how can we encourage more women to invest in women?
Sheri Orlowitz: I have been struggling with that question for … a decade. I don’t know what it is that we are not each other’s best friends; that we are not a girl’s girl, or a woman’s woman. But there are women’s women. And those women out there are willing to invest. But I have to say, in my experience … I want to be generous.
Melinda Wittstock: No, I mean, I really … I hear you.
Sheri Orlowitz: One in three, one in five, I don’t know. I don’t know what it is. I think it … I sometimes think it’s my generation, because we didn’t have the opportunities that the younger generation has. And when I say younger I’m talking about 30 or 40, because I’m 64. And the reality of whether the 30 year olds and the 40 year olds are going to be generous is something that remains to be seen. I don’t know. I think they will be. I think in my generation, people had a much harder time and they’re stingier. Now I think I’m an exception to that, and I’ve been doing angel investing for 20, 25 years now. And … if I like something … and I work with women, as I’ve shared with you, which by the way is tough. Women are tough. They really are, they’re a challenge. We’re different. We really are different, and-
Melinda Wittstock: What’s the biggest challenge about working with another woman? What do you think is the hardest part of that?
Sheri Orlowitz: In my particular situation, Melinda, people … women are sometimes intimidated by me. And that is the … you know, it could be the old federal prosecutor in me. That tourist comes out and asks a lot of questions, and … you know. Well, why are you doing that? Well, do you think that makes sense? Well, I think you should do this. Well, you know, people are supposed to tell me, “No, I don’t want to do this and let me tell you why I don’t want to do this.” That’s what I want back.
Melinda Wittstock: Right, well there’s a certain directness, and I share that with you and perhaps it’s my old investigative journalism background, because I’ll be like a really tough questioner, and quite forthright in that context. And I don’t know, I wonder whether it just goes back to really this paradigm between scarcity and abundance, right, because there were so few, for women, you’re a pioneer, Sheri, you’ve done all these things, I can’t imagine how many times you’ve been the only woman in the room, right?
Sheri Orlowitz: Oh, for sure.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah, right-
Sheri Orlowitz: Especially in the manufacturing industry, which is where I inhabited space for about 20 some odd years.
Melinda Wittstock: Oh, gosh, yeah, like in my case in finance, and in technology and all these things, right?
Sheri Orlowitz: Right.
Melinda Wittstock: Even in media, right? Because I’m old enough to have been one of the only women in the rooms, right, like in countless rooms. And so I think that gave us a sense of scarcity, that there were only … we were like perhaps competing only with other women, or there were only so many women’s positions to go around, or something like that. But really the challenges I think moving us from that kind of scarcity thinking, I’ll call it, into much more of an abundance mindset, where in actual fact there’s so much more opportunity when we really do step up and help each other.
Sheri Orlowitz: Oh, I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s not just … if it goes to me, then there’s no room … you know, in order for me to get it, you can’t get it, that’s not the world. And if you … as you say, if you come yourself from abundance, and that’s the energy you put out, then I think it’s there for you. I think that you’ll get it back. And I think you’ll get it back in spades.
Melinda Wittstock: I agree. It’s a multiplier. So what’s next for you? So cannabis is the big thing that you’re excited about, and like where do you see yourself in five yeas, 10 years? What is the big burning mission that is going to drive you for the next decade?
Sheri Orlowitz: Well, I am trying to stand up a venture capital fund, which will invest in cannabis. And part of it will be, at this point, federally legal and my intention is to work on CBD and specifically animal health. That’s a real interest of mine. And the other part of it will be state legal companies only. And with that kind of a formula, I am hopeful that some institutional investors might dip their toe into the water. So I am in the process of crafting the fund, figuring out what companies and what industries … within the industry, what segments I want to invest in, who I will co-invest will, who will my strategic advisors be, what is the thesis for my investments. The cannabis industry, there are companies out there that are doing 100 million dollars but they’re still venture capital companies, as you know, because it’s a mason industry.
So even getting this fund together is going to take a good year. And I’ve been interviewing people that might be interested in being a general partner with me, and just getting the fund stood up, and then raising is probably a year or a year and a half, and then it’s investing, and then it’s nurturing, and growing these companies.
Melinda Wittstock: Yeah.
Sheri Orlowitz: That is going to keep me pretty busy.
Melinda Wittstock: That’s going to keep you pretty busy, because you’ve got a nice 10 year trajectory on that for a lot of them to get them to exit, and all of that. I think it’s amazing what you’re doing. I’ve just got to shout out, how can people find you and work with you in any capacity, whether they want to invest in your funds, get investment from your fund, help you in some way, learn from you, how’s the best way for them to get in touch?
Sheri Orlowitz: People can find me at ArtemisHoldings.com, Artemis was the goddess of the hunt, so that’s A-R-T-E-M-I-S Holdings with an S dot com. And/or Sheri Orlowitz, put it in Google, put it in LinkedIn and my information comes up.
Melinda Wittstock: Fantastic, and we’ll have all of that in the show notes as well, if you want to get in touch with Sheri. Sheri, thank you so much for such an illuminating interview, and all you’re doing, being an entre-pioneer, and thank you for putting on your wings and flying with us.
Sheri Orlowitz: Thank you, Melinda, it is a joy to talk with you.