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Interview With Jushi CEO Jim Cacioppo: Founding a Cannabis Industry Disruptor

By Rachel Warren – Oct 30, 2021 at 7:00AM

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Jushi Holdings has only been in business for three years, but its explosive growth story is one to watch.

In the increasingly competitive cannabis market, founding a company that can seize upon industry tailwinds and consistently generate growth is anything but easy. In this Motley Fool Live segment, aired on Oct. 21, Fool.com contributor Rachel Warren asks Jim Cacioppo, the CEO and founder of Jushi Holdings (JUSHF -2.90%), about the story leading up to the company's launch and how it's grown so fast in such a short period of time. 

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Rachel Warren: Hello everyone, and welcome to Motley Fool Live. I'm Rachel Warren, healthcare writer and contributor here at The Motley Fool. Today, I'm delighted to be joined by the founder and CEO of Jushi Holdings, Jim Cacioppo. How are you doing today, Jim?

Jim Cacioppo: Great, Rachel. Fantastic. Thanks for having us.

Warren: Thank you so much. We're delighted to have you here. Jim, I'm just going to give our members a brief introduction of you and the company and then we will dive right in. Jim earned his Bachelor of Arts from Colgate University and his MBA from Harvard. He has an extensive background in the financial services industry, having spent more than two decades working in senior management at different hedge funds.

Then in 2018, Jim founded Jushi Holdings, a Florida-based multi-state operator in both the medical and adult-use cannabis markets. Since Jushi's founding just a few years ago, the company has expanded its national footprint at an incredibly rapid pace. Jushi now has 36 retail locations open across the country in seven states, including Pennsylvania, Illinois, and California.

Its most recent acquisition was in Las Vegas, Nevada, which established its fourth vertically integrated state-level operation. Jushi owns a variety of proprietary cannabis brands, including lines of edibles, vape products, and medicinal THC and CBD products. Beyond retail, the company also has cultivation and manufacturing licenses. Jim, what led you to start Jushi and what differentiates the company from other multi-state operators?

Cacioppo: Great, thank you, Rachel. So, I was a hedge fund manager, had a long career in the hedge fund business for about 25 years. In about 2014, I ran two big ones with multi-billion, partner started one multi-billion, you know, real good success. In 2014, I decided to move to Florida from New York and kind of take it easy, and in that process, I started getting pitched cannabis investments by various people and was really attracted to the sector. I had some experience with the products back in my college days and a little bit post-college as well. I was like, "Wow, this could be really interesting."

So I started investing in the sector and I think I invested through my hedge fund, One East Partners in about 25 different companies over the years and very successful. Then I was looking at the MSO space in the U.S. I had sold a couple of grow companies, was a founding investor in another one, to these public MSOs. I didn't particularly like my choices there in terms of the management teams, and I decided to just say, "Hey, this is an area that I could do better and I need a great investment, why don't we just start a business?"

I had run successfully two big hedge funds that got one of those, five and a half billion, two and a half billion so that put me in a great position to run businesses, being in the best and allocate our capital and start-up industry, where you're buying licenses and businesses as a very good background for them. I also hired and trained a lot of people, which is a great background.

Additionally, we had shifted our business to private equity so I had taken some companies out of bankruptcy and restructurings and put the whole board in place, went on the board many times and had a successful track record in running hands-on private businesses at that level. I thought I had a great experience for it, started the business, and what we did was, in 2017, we incubated it in my hedge fund, I had a couple of deals lined up so we had a very fast start.

In 2018, we hit the ground running, raised money in January, and we went our way, went public in May '19, and here we are. We're over a billion-dollar market cap company and we're in some of the most exciting states. 

Rachel Warren has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Jushi Holdings. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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