After graduating from the United States Military Academy in 2004 and completing his service as an Apache helicopter pilot in 2011, Socrates set his sights on pursuing a graduate degree at MIT’s Sloan School of Management as a Tillman Scholar. There he was able to open his mind to the entrepreneurial spirit and discover new ways to serve his country, community, and fellow veterans.
During his time in Boston reconnecting with loved ones, taking full advantage of the creative and diverse MIT community, and focusing on his own personal growth and health, Socrates discovered the medicinal benefits of cannabis. After completing his MBA program in 2014 and joining McKinsey & Company in Silicon Valley, it was not long before he co-founded www.iheartjane.com, the cannabis industry’s first end-to-end online marketplace, with his brother and fellow MIT grad Abraham.
Socrates has a new mission to bring legitimacy and access to medicinal cannabis and serve as an advocate for veterans’ right to choose a holistic approach to physical and emotional healing.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
It came from a personal need. As a military veteran, cannabis helped me transition from the service to civilian life. I was frustrated by the fact that there wasn’t an online marketplace where I could shop for my medicine with same level of simplicity and sophistication as I could for everything else. The team and I want to make shopping for cannabis as easy as shopping for your dinner on Grubhub or for your gifts on Amazon.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
There isn’t a typical day for me – that’s part of the fun. No matter what the day brings, I find that I’m most productive when I’m most present. If I’m on a conference call, that’s all I’m thinking about. If I’m in a design review, there are no other distractions. The days might not be consistent, but I try to make sure my presence always is.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Iterate. Iterate. Iterate. The process is as important as the end result, perhaps even more so. Trust the process.
What’s one trend that excites you?
The future of e-commerce. Consumers are realizing that they can be provided the same level of convenience and curation as they would experience on Amazon, except that all the products they’re shopping for aren’t in a robotic warehouse thousands of miles away – but actually sitting on a store shelf at a small local business retailer. We’re making this a reality for cannabis consumers, and there are companies like Farfetch that are providing a similar model to consumers of luxury fashion. The future is bright.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Speak less, listen more.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Trust the process.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
It’s okay to have Bob Marley’s Exodus playing on repeat in my car for the past 5 years.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Get your sleep.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
We grow our business by growing our people. We invest in our people as much as we invest in our product. One day, our competitors may be able to replicate our product – but they will never be able to replicate our people.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
There are no failures, only lessons. If you love something enough, you will get up and try again. And again. And again.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
Cannabis infused bubblegum. I know I’d buy it!
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
The best $100 I recently spent was on a couple tanks of gas that took me from Santa Cruz to a remote camping spot along the central coast of California.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
Slack allows my remote team to stay connected in a variety of different ways. It helps us work efficiently as a team.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
Endurance by Alfred Lansing. His account of Ernest Shackleton’s incredible voyage is one of the best representations of leadership that I’ve ever come across.
What is your favorite quote?
“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldnt’s, the impossibles, the wont’s. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.” ― Shel Silverstein
● Love what you do. You cannot master that which you do not love.
● Trust the process. There are no shortcuts to creating something special.
● Take care of your people. They are the soul of any company.
Mario Schulzke is the Founder of ideamensch, which he started a decade ago to learn from entrepreneurs and give them a platform for their ideas.