Nicholas Paschal is an entrepreneur and technologist with year-after-year success achieving revenue, profit, and business growth objectives within startup, turnaround, and rapid change conditions. He is the CEO of Alpine IQ; a customer data, marketing, and analytics cloud designed specifically for the cannabis industry. Their goal since day one has been to bring world-class technology to an industry ripe for disruption.
With Alpine IQ, they wanted to build technology that would genuinely fuel modern cannabis retail infrastructures. Since publicly launching Alpine IQ in February, Nick has partnered with over 500 dispensaries throughout Canada and the United States to power their business and keep them on the right side of the law.
He is known for his knowledge of highly engineered systems, which require a deep understanding of critical business drivers in multiple markets or industries. As a leader, he has led and motivated global teams comprised of more than 60 employees, while overseeing cooperations with partner divisions exceeding $100 million in revenue. Nicholas began his career in 2003 in the video game industry. He raised sponsorship funds for tournaments.
When Nicholas was selected as a technical director – in charge of molding the next installment of Microsoft’s game, HALO – he helped set the stage for Halo to succeed in what would become a billion industry: e-sports. In 2012, particle simulation heavily resembled programmatic bidding systems emerging in AdTech. Nicholas bootstrapped a self-engineered high-frequency-ad-buying platform to a quarter of a million in revenue, raising over 4 million in 3 rounds, paid back all investors, and sold the company eight years in with over 6,000 B2B users.
Where did the idea for Alpine IQ come from?
I have been building a customer data platform framework since 2016 with my Co-Founder, Shaz Abid. Around July of 2019: my brother West Paschal was working at Tilray. His involvement in Canadian M&A initiatives blossomed the critical need for data and marketing tools in the cannabis industry.
When we realized legal Cannabis companies lack the technology to power their most important work, we made it our mission to understand their challenges and empower them. If I don’t see a solution for a problem, I’m going to create one. It’s how my brain works.
I booked a trip to Seattle to meet with my brother and we pitched three dispensaries in British Columbia. We signed all 3 dispensaries and I raised a small seed round from strategics a month or two later.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
I’m obsessed with rapid innovation and product development. The more time I can spend with engineering, the more I feel we leap well beyond the competitors in this market.
We hired the right talent to ensure Alpine IQ’s internal workforce is aligned. With their support, we solve customer problems, find new ways to make our own team happy, and discuss how future technology can serve our customers and push the right people in the world to legalize Cannabis on a federal level.
How do you bring ideas to life?
My ideas come to life when they are grouped together with the ideas of the people I care about. Whether that’s a colleague or a client, I make a plan, take action, and maintain patience while seeking to understand how ideas can make a difference in the world.
I typically visualize the problem, spec out how that could play out with our stack of technologies and build out the production UI for it in React. I then pass off a spec to Shaz and his team to make it ultimately work from a backend perspective.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The shift in regulation as the government catches up with the cannabis movement. We are now seeing new markets, less restrictions in old markets, and massive opportunities especially as it relates to facilitating the sale of cannabis online. We are taking brick and mortar retailers and powering their consumer experiences digitally across all channels of interaction.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Being a father. My two sons, Fenix and Everest make me a better entrepreneur because they keep me patient and focused on what matters most.
What advice would you give your younger self?
I spent a lot of time trying to build multiple B2B SaaS companies.
The #1 advice I would give the younger version of myself is to pick up the phone. Don’t waste time on email or with FB ads or a shiny new website or with partners that promise the world.
As a technical founder, early in my career I bought into the fluff that is “organic viral growth” and experiences blasted by the media through Steve Jobs and Zucks movies.
If you pick up the phone and call your target customers for months on end, you will eventually have a product that they desperately need and want to buy from you.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Psychedelics will be a significant market.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Follow your gut as much as possible when establishing investor, partner, and client relationships. If there’s even one bad actor in your collective, they’re mindset will reverberate uncontrollably. Make decisions based on integrity and less on “perceived financial opportunity.”
It’s easy to find those who care more about money than the movement.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Our most scalable sales solution is to lookup cannabis dispensary licenses by state or province given that they are publicly listed and then lead source until we have someone to LinkedIN message or call.
No buying leads, no ads… just word of mouth and speaking to those that matter about the problems we can solve for them.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
In 2016 I sold my company to a very reputable tech org.
A week after they missed their final payment, the FBI raided their office and arrested both of their Co-Founders. I had one week to turn the company around given that our financials had been completely destroyed by the acquiring org. It was challenging to decide whether to continue on or walk away from the company. I literally drove down the street to a potential client’s office and pitched them on a co-selling opportunity that I knew would drive their revenue through the roof.
Within 5 months we turned the company around and I later sold the business in December of 2019. Who said there aren’t opportunities in chaos? Because Sun Tzu would fight them.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I’m going to be real honest here. You can have a business idea but there’s a reason why most businesses fail. Every business needs advocates. Create a business that serves underserved industries. Everyone at Alpine IQ strives to empower our clients. But it’s more than that.
Our clients are changing an entire industry. If you feel passionate about a cause or a movement, put your money where your mouth is and unite people who feel the same way as you do. Having business ideas is smart, but building a community of like-minded people is smarter.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
Purchasing the right tools for one of my teams to scale their ability to provide better service to our clients.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Alpine IQ to automate our B2B client outreach, Trello for agile development, Slack to keep the party going.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
What is your favorite quote?
“No. I think we’re just getting started.”
– Master Chief from HALO
- Listen to your team and empower them to make a plan, take action, and maintain patience while seeking to understand how their ideas can make a difference in the world.
- Intuition is key when establishing rapport with investors, partners, and clients. To make better business decisions, be more ethical and transparent in your decision making.
- Honor your family. Spend time with them. You can have a successful career and also be a great parent. Remind yourself why you’re working to begin with.
- Facebook advertising is useful but picking up the phone and calling prospective customers gets you an answer faster. Don’t be afraid to go after a partnership if you truly believe you can offer value.
Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.