Doesn’t always stay in Vegas, at least not this time.
Our week spent in Sin City was truly overwhelmingly amazing, and we couldn’t help but share it with you. For those that haven’t heard before, MJBizCon 2017 was held at the Las Vegas Convention Center, and we were crazy enough to book a booth for the convention about 6 months ago.
To say the week leading up to our trip was stressful would be the understatement of the year. I’m not sure I could quantify it, but there was lots of running around, last minute planning for the trip, and the care of our home while we were gone. Much like any other vacation, but with a 3-day convention and the launch of our business added in on top. Then of course, our trimmer rental business Green Harvest Solutions was still going strong and I was running from one end of the state to the other delivering and picking up machines. Couple the activity with the stress of what the upcoming week meant for our company, and future, and it’s amazing we didn’t kill each other in the process.
With so much going on, we had to divide and conquer in order to get everything in line for the convention and our time away from home. Danielle took care of everything APT related, and home/family related as well while I took care of the grow rooms and delivering machines. Looking back, I forget that we actually had our first rentals outside the State of Maine just the week before. I spent an overnight with my in-laws in southern Massachusetts, delivered 2 machines and visited grow stores to expand the foot print of Atlas Plant Trainer. While I was busy, it was easy to forget how much work went into planning the entire trip for a group of 8. I know Danielle did a lot, and a lot of it I’m probably completely oblivious to. We wouldn’t have been able to get to Vegas without her hard work!
It was easy to forget how much work actually goes into planning a vacation, or a big convention trip, let along both….until 9pm on Sunday, approximately 16 hours before our flight leaves bound for Vegas when Danielle’s phone blew up! And by blew up, I don’t mean literally blew up. I mean it received every notification possible within a 30 second window, sounds I’d never even heard come from it before. What could be so important at such a time? Oh, nothing, besides our Airbnb rental home getting cancelled!!! We had a sweet 5 bedroom home, with a hot tub, pool, 2 living rooms and 3 bathrooms! All the amenities needed to make the best of a week where my mom, daughter, wife, and 4 friends that have never travelled with each other would be living under one roof. Now what?
So, not only did we lose out on a sweet pad for the week, but the only options sent to us to replace the house were much smaller, with less bedrooms and no pool/hot tub to relax our aching bones in. Now, panic was setting in. Fortunately, Airbnb did not send us the best options on their site to fit our large party and we were able to find and book the last 4 bedroom place, with no extra space – but at least most people were able to have their own rooms. Two of our team members had to share a room, but at least they had their own beds!!!
This alone might not have been a huge deal, since it was resolved in just a few hours of work and one conversation with Airbnb. However, we had a week’s worth of food for 8 people being delivered via Amazon Prime, as well as our marketing material and a handful of other things that we didn’t feel like flying with all being delivered to this previous address. And if you’ve ever had to change delivery addresses, you know that most shippers do not make it easy to do so. Usually you have to wait until there is a delivery attempt, then you can either pick it up or have it delivered to a new address. Either way, we would delay delivery at least a day, maybe two, and with such a short window before the convention every day was critical. So we decided ot have all the packages delivered to that address, and we would just have to drive by and pick them up on a daily basis.
Crisis averted…as best we could.
Alright, so we get to Vegas all in tact – but travelling with 8, and one of them being a 2 ½ year old we were all ready to get to our new home for the week. We start to settle in and put clothes away, only to realize that we had lost a piece of luggage somewhere between getting on the bus at the airport and getting into the rental care. If it weren’t for the bag of personal items and makeup for Danielle, this wouldn’t have been an issue and very easy to replace if necessary.
If that wasn’t enough, on the way to the Airbnb my mom had placed Danielle’s license on the slider to cover the cup holder in the rental van and her license slid into the center console unable to be reached by human hands. This was a much bigger deal, because there was no way we were going to be able to spend a week in Las Vegas, the party capital of the world, without her getting ID’d once. We had plans to go to many industry after parties, some at private clubs, where we knew she wouldn’t get in without an ID, and some of these parties were with potential investors so it was critical for us both to be there.
After getting our child to bed, and tasking our team with trying to disassemble the center console with a bevy of butter knives from the kitchen drawer, Danielle and I hit the road to go retrieve our lost bag, we hoped.
Fortunately, the bag was easily recovered at the front desk of the car rental location. Turns out we left it right on the sidewalk after getting off the shuttle. I’ve heard that may, or may not have been, my fault for trying to rush people to the front desk. While we were out, we made a stop at our first legal cannabis dispensary and made a small purchase from a team of energetic young people. They allowed me to enter under my medical card, which saved the state tax of 10%, and since Danielle didn’t have a license they were kind of enough to let her in with me as long as she didn’t try to buy anything. We got some really nice medicine – Forum Cut Cookies that smelled and tasted delicious as well as a Tangie cross that was equally delicious just in a much different, fruitier way. These two 1/8s lasted us the next couple of days due to working a lot and an effort to conserve due to the HIGH cost of legal cannabis!!!
We get home to learn that the butter knife license extraction was unsuccessful, and it was determined that a full dismantling of the center console would be required. The girls decided to take it to a dealership, and hope that their fabricated story about being in Vegas on a bachelorette party would get some relief on what was expected to be a big bill for a pain in the ass job at a dealership. Dealerships in Maine charge around $100 an hour, I couldn’t imagine what they changed in Vegas. We discussed the option of taking it to a non-dealer mechanic and decided that since it was a rental car it would be worth paying the extra to ensure it was put back together properly.
Ok, so travel day is down and convention set up day is here. Lots of running around for packages (Airbnb and a Fedex buried deep inside a mall), license retrieval, tradeshow set up, grocery shopping, and a grow store visit that we were hoping to be huge for us. Danny Danko, from High Times notoriety, was at a grow shop sponsored by Suite Leaf nutrient company for a few hours in the middle of the afternoon. Danny writes lots of articles for
High Times, has a huge social following, and we were hoping that he would like Atlas Plant Trainer. So, we go into the store, introduce ourselves and get right into the pitch. 30 seconds in Danny is smiling and says that he gets it, and he loves it. Stenny, from Suite Leaf agrees and expresses interest in a partnership between our two companies. I finish the pitch, and go for the ask.
“Danny, we were hoping that you’d be wiling to put us into one of your articles about gadgets for growers in High Times?”
“I think that would be a great fit.” Danny says.
“Also, we were wondering if you’d like to be an affiliate for us and get a little kick back for supporting and sponsoring our product.” I follow up.
“That sounds great, I think this is going to do big things.” Danny finishes.
The conversation goes on a bit, and we work our way around the store to show the APT to other Suite Leaf people and the store manager. She loves it, and is going to introduce us to the store buyer at the convention. That last part didn’t happen, yet, but we’ve followed up with an email. Even without an order, the interest and enthusiasm for our product in that short store visit was enough to make the entire week worth it. And we hadn’t even gotten to the show yet!
MJBizCon was a humongous event – the largest in cannabis history. Over 670 vendors filled a space that was easily 10 football fields big, and invited over 18,100 paid attendees. I was absolutely astonished at the overall size and magnitude of the event, and it will only get bigger in following years. The reception and response that we received for Atlas Plant Trainer was phenomenal, and we have been trying to process it ever since. We obviously had set our sights on certain sales goals, and other benchmarks we wanted to reach to make the trip a success, as this was kind of a make it or break it week for us due to the large expense and runway we had left. I am so ecstatic to say that we crushed it, and will not only be continuing this journey of bringing a product to market, but have all the more faith and reason to move even faster and get this everywhere as quickly as possible.
The amount of people that simply loved the idea, the design, and the company that we’ve started to build around it was amazing. We have a huge amount of soft leads, lots of distribution interest, affiliate partners too numerous to count, investment opportunities and even a few companies that want to white label our product. Along with a handful of people that said they had either tried to do or were currently working on a design like ours, but were going to stop because they loved ours so much more. When your competition says that they love your product, then I think you are on the right track with something.
The days of the convention (Wed-Fri) were honestly a blur of excitement, enthusiasm, introductions, handshakes, and talking – lots of talking. By pack up time Friday at 4pm, our team was so tired that they
were sprawled across the booth like it was a lounge. My right-hand man, Chris, and I made a run to the car with a few large boxes a bit before official closing time and on our way back were reflecting on the successes of the week. A woman that was standing at the crosswalk with us joined in the conversation to share about how awesom
e the week went for her. We introduced ourselves, and it turns out that she works with Ed Rosenthal, the king of cannabis growing – a man whom I’ve read lots of his writings to gain just a bit of his knowledge about how the plant grows and thrives. Turns out Ed is very passionate about training plants and would probably love something like Atlas, so she encouraged me to send along a sample and she’d get it into Ed’s hands for us. Not only was this the cherry on the top of an already incredible week, but an introduction to Ed Rosenthal alone probably would have been enough to put a smile on my face. It was almost too much to handle.
That night, our team rallied, dug deep…and was in bed by 11pm. Yup, Friday night in Las Vegas and all of us were sleeping by 11pm. It had been a long week, and the whole house would awake shortly after our daughter was up and at it. Did I mention that our new home was extremely echo’y? Barely anything on the walls and hardwood floors throughout. No one was sleeping for long after she was awake.
Saturday we took a group trip to Red Rock Canyon, all 8 of us, in 2 separate rental vans. Unfortunately, we were passed by a rescue crew while waiting in line to get into the park and then watched a rescue helicopter circle above and settle behind a hill not far from us. Later we learned that a hiker had fallen just before we got there and didn’t survive the fall. Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of that hiker.
The canyon was beautiful, but a grumpy and tired 2 year old didn’t really feel like riding in a car so we made an early exit to get home for nap time. Saturday evening was really our only time to go out without a work agenda, and we hit the city as a team of 6, leaving mom and the kiddo home. We couldn’t have made this trip possible without my mom, and I appreciate her for what she did for us. I know it wasn’t easy, and I hope she reads this someday, but it’s ok if she doesn’t.
Our only night in the city was pretty chill, even for us. We still had to consider our early wake up call, and two of our teammates were going desert racing in the morning, so they were looking to take it easy too. Some drinking, some dancing and just a bit of gambling wrapped up our evening, and our week in Vegas. I think we were home by 1am.
Sunday morning we took a trip into the city with our daughter to visit the dolphins at Siegfried and Roy’s place, as well as visit the big cats they have there. The dolphins were cool, as they always are, and I loved the big cats, as I always do, but we only spent an hour there before we had seen all there was to see. For $22 an adult, we didn’t stay long enough to make the admission worth it. We walked around the city a bit, and I placed my first legal sports bet on the Patriots game that was later that day.
The rest of Sunday was spent cleaning up the house, packing up our stuff, watching football, and doing laundry. Yup, laundry. I think we all went home with a clean suitcase of clothes which made getting settled in a bit easier back at home. I didn’t win my bet, which was a parlay on the over of 55, and spread of 7. Of course the Patriots covered the spread, but when the Raiders can only muster 8 points, it’s pretty hard to get to a 55 total.
We also made one last trip to the dispensary for a few pre-rolls to help us go to sleep. One of our favorites was King Louis VIII, great flavor and overall effect. One that I will be looking for in the future, for sure. We had to be up at 3am for a 5:55am flight out of Vegas, so we needed all the extra encouragement to sleep that we could get – King Louis with the assist.
Getting a house of 8 (including a 2-year-old) up and out of the house by 320am was no easy task, but we all “manned” up and get on the road at exactly the right time. No lost bags, no lost licenses on the way to the airport, and no problems getting through security. But if you thought we could travel without any problems, you were wrong. Nothing in life worth having is easy to get, and it seems we lived by that statement during this trip.
We’re on the plane out of Vegas, pull away from the terminal, taxi for a minute or so, then stop. A few minutes goes by, and the Captain announces that we are waiting for some performance logs and it should just be a few minutes. No problem, right?
Two things to keep in mind before answering that question: we only have 50 minutes between touch down and boarding ending on our connection from DC to Maine, and the last time we flew to West Palm Beach we missed the connection in Newark so we already had a bad feeling about this. As the minutes continued to tick by, and other United Airlines planes roll by us on the tarmac (again), it was growing more and more clear we were not going to make our connection. When we finally get in the air, almost an hour later, we ask if there is anything that can be done to help us make the connection. United must have a policy for this response, because it was almost verbatim what we were told the first time. “If there is a system wide issue, then all flights will be delayed, and you shouldn’t have a problem making your connection.” and then “Unfortunately we can’t do anything other than ask people who don’t have a connecting flight to stay seated until you get off the plane. We can’t make them sit, we can only ask them.” None of this was helpful.
Danielle was using the United app while in flight, which showed our flight landing a minute after boarding ended on our connection home. When we landed, we were a bit early, so there was a glimmer of hope, and the cabin crew asked people to stay seated. Do you think they did? Absolutely NOT – only the people in the five rows ahead of us waited, and everyone else stood up and clogged the aisles. Minutes ticked by as we didn’t move from our current position until after boarding had ended on our next flight, per the update in the app. That didn’t stop 3 of us from trying – running from C terminal to the bus to A terminal, then running again to our actual gate – only to be told that there was no chance they were getting on that flight.
My family did not even try to make the gate – well, we tried and gave up pretty quickly as we passed a United customer service desk. Which is a funny name, due to the lack of service they actually provided. The best they could do is get us into Boston, and then we could take a train or bus from there. That plane left in 30 minutes (almost an hour after our original flight) and delivered us 2 hours further from home, but it was the best of a few bad options. So, onto the plane we all go into Boston where we learn from the flight attendants that our flight was delayed because the captain couldn’t take certain instructions verbally, he insisted on waiting for computer directions to come in, which took an hour and caused the delay. That is why we saw other United planes leave while we were sitting on the tarmac, those pilots were apparently capable of taking the instructions verbally, so they got their passengers to their destinations on time. Can you tell I’m still a bit annoyed over the lack of concern that United apparently has for their customers.
So, a 2 year old who doesn’t like to nap and 12 hours of travel later we are in Boston but can’t get bus tickets because the next trip is so close to leaving. We have no way of knowing if there is going to be enough seats on the bus for all of us, so we have to hope and pray that there is. Fortunately, there turned out to be 1 empty seat after all the stops were made and we were on our way. 2.5 hours later, and we’re in Portland, but still 15 minutes away from where we parked the car at the airport. A taxi there, a cold run through the parking garage and a trip back to the bus station to pick up my family to take them home. The day of travelling was almost done.
In just one day, we took care of all major forms of motorized transportation except for a boat. It took us 4 hours longer than expected, but we made it home in one piece with no residual effects to speak of. We’re still waiting on a return email from United Airlines, but I’m not expecting much considering their history with poor service. At the very least, It would be nice if they paid for our bus trip home though. I think the worst part about our experience with them is that our bags made it from DC, to Boston, and to our home, before we were up the next morning, hand delivered by Eric from United Airlines. The same went for our team that travelled with us, but their bags were brought by someone with a different name. That means that United Airlines sent two separate cars from Logan International north on Interstate 95 to central Maine to deliver our bags to us. While that is most appreciated, it’s pretty ridiculous that they can take better care of our bags than they can of us. I’m pretty sure this will be the last time we travel United Airlines.
Despite our travel and accommodation woes that were impossible to shake this trip, it was truly a remarkable experience and one that I will never forget. It is so incredibly exhilarating to have people really enjoy something that you’ve worked so hard at for so long. I can’t imagine what an artist, or performer feels like when they produce things that people love on the regular. We have a long road ahead of us, and we are more than looking forward to the challenge. One more month, or so, and we will be delivering product into gardens and hydro shops, and we won’t ever look back!