Matt O'Connor paved his own path to making a name for himself within the cannabis industry at an early age. His passion for entrepreneurship and quality customer service sprouted a company that consumed the majority of his time during his second year at Cal Poly.
It all started with his cannabis collective Green Giant Trading Inc. that began to engulf his life in San Luis Obispo. O'Connor experienced quick success and consistent business.
"Business was booming. I had my own license. I couldn't go to classes. It was more profitable to just be in the business rather than get a degree and get a job" said O'Connor.
"I dropped Cal Poly, and I told my parents: I have to do this. I'm supporting myself," O'Connor explained. "I didn't need their money anymore."
Naturally, he looked to share his accomplishments with his parents--but negative stigmas would not play in his favor.
"They hated it all," O'Connor explained. 'You're not doing this. We'll support you with your entrepreneurship, but we want you to pick a different industry.'"
"Ultimately, that's what I did," said O'Connor. He dropped everything. He dropped Cal Poly, and he moved to Thousand oaks again to start working a minimum wage job.
O'Connor was astounded his parents would rather him pursue a job at Jersey Mike's making sandwiches over working a very highly skilled CEO position at his own company.
Due to his positive relationship with his parents, he moved to Van Nuys as he worked in the solar industry. After a month of making sandwiches, he started up his business again, but due to a lack of support from friends and family, things did not go to plan.
"I lost several thousands of dollars. My roommates stole money from me. They stole product from me. I was almost at rock bottom. It felt so terrible. I found myself absolutely broke," O'Connor explained.
"I had to go back to Cal Poly, and I had nothing," says O'Connor. "But all of the work I had done two years ago paid off. They needed my leadership to run this business."
"I got the collective running again in December 2016. From there, my partners have been taking care of it, following [my] instructions."
O'Connor said his main role nowadays is a lot of behind-the-scenes. "Networking and giving people words of advice, that's really my biggest part. I meet with a lot of people, but that's a normal day for me," he said.
O'Connor developed a vast network within the cannabis industry. "I've seen every side of the industry, and I'm trying to bring it to the next level by co-hosting the first recreational smoking event," he says.
A number of different cannabis businesses jumped at the opportunity (San Luis Obispo NORML, Slo Dro Co, etc.) to host the first event with onsite consumption in the San Luis Obispo area on June 24th.
When asked about tips for others going into the cannabis industry, O'Connor noted there are many mistakes that people can make, but one of the biggest is commitment. And that becomes personal for him.
"You have to be fully committed and have this be your main priority," O'Connor said.
O'Connor anticipates the future of the cannabis industry will look different in San Luis Obispo. "Instead of being a main connection point. We're going to become the suppliers. We have really good support from the county and the sheriff's department," O'Connor explained.
"San Luis Obispo will be a supply chain. It takes a lot of man work. We're definitely talking thousands of jobs, but more than 10,000 would be unrealistic."