What’s your vision for MediCrops?
As mentioned, my vision for MediCrops is to produce medicinal cannabis from seed to sale, but we also want to diversify our activity. Ultimately, we would like to create a platform that connects doctors with patients as well as developing training for doctors so they’re more aware about the products and their benefits.
But we aren’t planning to do everything by ourselves. After growing our share of the medicinal cannabis market from 5% to 10% over the next three to four years, we plan to acquire smaller companies, such as one that specialises in production.
You’ve recently closed your third round of financing at MediCrops. How difficult has it been to find investors in this field?
When MediCrops first started in 2018, we used money I had raised from selling my previous businesses. But the project grew so quickly that, by the end of 2020, I was looking for investors. It was really difficult at first as many people felt it was too risky: cannabis is still considered alternative medicine and it’s not yet widely prescribed by doctors, even though in Switzerland they no longer need special authorisation to do so. But in recent years, we’ve started to see a shift, and big pharma companies have begun showing an interest in medicinal cannabis, buying smaller companies and investing in R&D. For MediCrops, it wasn’t until 2021, when we were featured by some of the big Swiss media companies, that things really took off. In the end, we raised almost CHF 20 million from private investors.
What are the most important lessons you’ve learnt in your career?
I’ve been starting and building companies for over 12 years, and I’ve made a lot of mistakes in that time. I still make mistakes now, of course, but the important thing is to learn from them. One of the main lessons I’ve learnt is finding the right people. Over the years, I’ve employed over 130 people. It hasn’t always worked out, but when you’ve hired so many people, you start to get a bit of an instinct. In my previous companies, I recruited people really quickly. Now, I’ve learnt to take my time. It’s time-consuming, but it’s well worth it.
With MediCrops, I’ve also learnt that patience is key. The medicinal cannabis and pharmaceutical worlds are highly regulated, so everything takes time. This was difficult for me to accept at first because supplements, for example, aren’t regulated so you can develop a product and bring it to market pretty quickly. For pharmaceutical businesses, you have to plan about three years in advance just to get to production.
What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs?
- Don’t spend too much time thinking about the future. Start, make mistakes, then adapt. Don’t waste a lot of time making plans, just give your best every day.
- Find people who have the same goals as you do. Building an environment made up of talented people is key to company culture. Sometimes, this means hiring people who you wouldn’t be friends with outside of work and letting go of people you’re close to.
- Don’t make the same mistake twice. When you’ve learnt what you can from a mistake, adapt your workflow to avoid repeating it.
- Find a balance. This is the most important one, and it’s not something I’ve always managed to do. Don’t put everything into your work. Find a hobby, and book time for yourself into your business calendar. Now, I make sure I have time in my daily schedule to train for an IRONMAN I want to complete next year. This really helps me maintain my work–life balance.