She Was the First Finance Journalist to Cover Cannabis, Now She Owns the Industry's Main Finance News Site
After risking her Wall Street credibility to cover the borgeoning cannabis industry, she decided to go all in and launch her own news platform to avoid editorial restrictions. Meet Debra Borchardt of Green Market Report.
What brought you into the cannabis industry?
I began covering the cannabis industry six years ago while I was working at TheStreet.com. My first story was about Budweiser becoming a sponsor for a cannabis 420 festival. I realized back then that if a huge mainstream company was willing to sponsor a cannabis festival then this was going to be a huge business story in the years to come and I was right.
What obstacles and challenges have you experienced in operating within this industry?
The biggest challenge I have faced is that neither of the major stock exchanges will let me tape a news report from their locations. Since my website is strictly cannabis news, the exchanges are unwilling to allow me to report the news unlike other news outlets for whom cannabis is only one of many topics that they cover throughout the day. So, Cheddar TV or CNBC can do a cannabis story from the floor, but Green Market Report cannot.
How have you overcome these obstacles?
I normally tape my weekly news segment called Marijuana Money from outside the NASDAQ, using their signage behind me. I have on occasion green screened generic trading floor graphics behind me, but successful green screen work is tricky. I expect at some point they will relent, but for now they just say no.
As a woman in cannabis, do you feel that you are at an advantage or a disadvantage (or both) and why?
On the one hand, I feel at an advantage. When conferences or events are looking for diversity and need a woman in cannabis and my name comes up - then it’s an advantage. On the other hand, my company has had a few investor conversations and one person advised that I should bring a man on the team in order to help raise money. I was told that women-led companies have a harder time raising capital, but if you have a man do it, then the chances of success are greater. Granted, this is a fact and it isn’t just the cannabis industry. Women-led companies do tend to have a harder time raising capital.
What is an accomplishment you have achieved in this industry that you are most proud of?
Creating the website Green Market Report is my greatest accomplishment. I have created a website that I’m proud of and one that has garnered a great deal of attention in a very short time. The one year anniversary is a few months away and I can’t wait to celebrate.
What was your greatest lesson learned?
The greatest lesson I have learned is that when you build a good product, you are seen as a threat to other companies and they will come after you. Business can be cutthroat and I was surprised at how some people will go out of their way to work against you. Having said that, I have also learned that there are also people out there willing to lend you a hand and help you to succeed.
What trait do you rely on most when making business decisions and why is this useful for you?
I rely on gut instinct. I’ve always had good intuition that I trust. That doesn’t mean I don’t do my homework and research when evaluating a business decision. I will work very hard to get as much information as possible when making a decision. I may have done my homework and it looks as if I should make a particular choice, but if my gut is telling me not to move forward, then I don’t. Intuition is also very good when assessing other people and deciding who I want to work with.