Green Check Verified: Hi Urban Empire team! Please tell us a bit about your business.
Urban Empire: Our primary focus is growing top shelf cannabis that we can sell at fair price. Our passion is cultivation, which is why we do not currently own or run alternative cannabis businesses. We enjoy the challenge of creating a sustainable product that is of high quality. We continue to work at being a well-known and respected cannabis producer, and we want our clients to see us as a company that cares about providing them with consistent quality.
GCV: We certainly admire your focus and commitment to quality! What’s the size of your operation today?
Urban Empire: We began our operation in July/August of 2019 and harvested our first crop in December 2019. We have a 10,000 square foot indoor facility and employ 6 full time employees. During harvest time we employ an additional 8 to 12 temporary trimmers.
” We needed to find a state that was friendly to small entrepreneurs with less red tape.
GCV: We’re very curious, what led the Urban Empire team to the cannabis industry? And why Oklahoma?
Urban Empire: We began growing and dispensing in California under the old COOP license. Once they legalized recreational use the old COOP license was sunset, but it was during this time that we perfected our craft. We made mistakes along the way, but after some time we developed a system that worked for us. This was validated by our patients who kept telling us how much they appreciated the quality of our product.
When California opened up their recreation license under the new rules, however, they made it virtually impossible for small growers to compete for the limited licenses – which were also cost prohibitive – and many counties would not allowed it, even though it was legal in the state. So, we decided we had to look elsewhere. We needed to find a state that was friendly to small entrepreneurs with less red tape. Then we heard that Oklahoma was opening up and decided that we needed to give them a serious look and here we are! Just about everyone we deal with is friendly, welcoming and helpful – all you have to do is ask and someone has a recommendation. We really love being here.
GCV: It sounds like moving your operations to Oklahoma has proved to be a great decision. What about banking? Have you struggled with finding a sustainable banking partner in the past?
Urban Empire: Actually, we have been very fortunate. One of our partners works in the financial services industry offering cannabis banking and knew how to navigate the process. Our CPA firm GreenGrowth CPAs – who’s been a great partner for us – helped connect us with our current bank, in addition to a myriad of other cannabis friendly vendors. And there aren’t that many. So, I can’t say enough about them.
As for our current bank, they are phenomenal to work with. Their approval process was straight forward, and their staff are about as friendly and helpful as you could want. We were fortunate to get banking fairly quickly once we completed our facility, so we can’t really speak to being cash only. We have seen and heard the challenges our clients have with cash only, so we are grateful to have banking.
” I can’t begin to tell you how critical a bank account is in this industry.
But let’s not forget, there are plenty of rules to follow in order maintain these accounts, and if you don’t, you’ll be back to using cash really fast. I can’t begin to tell you how critical a bank account is in this industry. Being able to provide employees with a paycheck each week alone is worth it. But consider buying supplies, automatic debits for your utility bills and on and on. It helps you create the traceability you need, not only for the feds and the bank, but also for any loans you may need in the future if and when this book of business opens up.
Once we were approved for our new bank account, we immediately created internal procedures outlining what the bank needed and when, then we developed standard reports so we could just push a few buttons on the first of the month and we were done. Our internal goal is to have all reporting completed by the fifth working day of each month.
As for Green Check, who helps us with our monitoring for our current bank, I have to say you guys are great to work with. You have been very receptive to our challenges and ideas for solutions which helps us ensure we get you the data you and the bank require in a timely and well-presented manner. We are in business to grow and sell cannabis, so being able to minimize the impact of reporting each month is critical for us. The more time it takes to deal with compliance means less time managing our grow.
” These are pioneers in an emerging market where anyone with a vision and the requisite skills in cultivation or business can jump in and take a chance.
GCV: Well, we are proud to work with such a great company. The feeling are mutual! Anything else you want to tell us about what it’s like being a cannabis entrepreneur?
Urban Empire: This industry is very exciting. We are living the America dream right in the middle of a modern-day industrial revolution. These are pioneers in an emerging market where anyone with a vision and the requisite skills in cultivation or business can jump in and take a chance.
As with any emerging market, there are plenty of hurdles and challenges, such as banking, regulatory compliance, and the stigma that comes with the cannabis market. This is why we like the medical-only piece; people from all walks of life, demographics and age groups are using cannabis for relief from so many different types of medical conditions. It appears to be a great alternative to opioids which is a major problem worldwide. Where else can you go to work every day and watch the flowers grow?