A Golden State CEO Nishant Reddy On Growing Premium Cannabis Flower
Feature by Kate Ryan
Nov 26, 2019 · 10 min read

A look inside the hydroelectric-powered, snowmelt-watered operation behind A Golden State's flower.

Going from high-stakes trading on Wall Street to growing cannabis may not sound like the most logical career trajectory, but for Nishant Reddy, the transition was all-natural. By bringing together his passion for health and wellness and the skills he picked up in finance, Reddy was able to channel his productive energy into a cannabis brand he could be proud of. That brand is A Golden State. Based in Redding, California, A Golden State produces proprietary strains of premium cannabis flower—much to the delight of the Proper Cannabis Committee. But getting to that point required a journey as singular as the cannabis itself.  

This is Reddy's story as told to Proper. 

On growing up in Jersey

I had a pretty normal, definitely fortunate upbringing. My parents were super supportive. They're coincidentally both physicians. My mom was chief of pediatrics for a very large hospital in New Jersey. She’s very close to pediatric epilepsy and the use of THC and CBD to treat various illnesses. It's been a really, really enjoyable and unique experience working with my parents over the last couple of years.

I grew up in Northern New Jersey, went to undergrad and business school in Washington, DC. Very early on, I knew that I didn't really want to follow in my parents' footsteps and go to medical school, but I really wanted to pursue an entrepreneurial path. I think it's very much in tune with my personality, my strengths, and my passion to be able to manifest my own destiny in terms of a lifestyle, if you will. I'm an obsessive skier. Being outdoors is really important to me. The idea of being confined to a big company or corporation just never really sat well with me.

On working in finance

I decided to pursue a career in real estate development and traditional finance, focused on investment banking and private equity. At the time, I really thought I would be launching and one day focusing on my own real estate company full-time. So I ended up working on Wall Street, everywhere from JP Morgan to Morgan Stanley, and focused on real estate investment banking. I had the benefit of getting really high-profile deals under my belt in my early twenties thanks to Stuyvesant Town, which was the largest multifamily deal ever done in the U.S. When we bought it pre-recession, it was a $5 billion deal. It ended up becoming one of the classic case studies of the recession. These were really, really bulge bracket kind of investment banking deals.

I had a very demanding life, so I started to use cannabis medicinally to balance that intensity.

As I got into my upper twenties, that lifestyle of investment banking and private equity in New York became grueling—you know, hundred-hour workweeks every single workweek. I mean, I was getting home at three, four, five in the morning. I was back on the trading floor by seven or eight in the morning every single day and working weekends. It’s intense and it's an environment where there's really no room for error. You're dealing with a lot of money, really high-profile, unforgiving bosses, and clients that are trying to get very large deals done. It teaches you a lot about yourself, your mental toughness, your perseverance, and attention to detail. Then transferable skills like really, really analytical, numerical, financial skills. All of these things combined have really helped me and enabled me to then build the portfolio of cannabis companies that we have today.

On getting into cannabis

I had been using cannabis for quite a while, but like most, I was really using it recreationally. I didn't have a mature understanding of cannabis. It was just about fun. When I got to my professional life in my twenties, I really started experimenting for myself and understanding that, on a Friday night after a really intense work week, I could smoke a joint, eat a really nice meal, catch up on sleep, not be hungover on Saturday, get a great workout in, and go back to work. When everybody else was hungover and being unhealthy, I started experimenting on my own of how I could use cannabis to then replace alcohol, because I really wasn't keen on drinking. I didn't like it. It didn't fit in well with my health and wellness-focused lifestyle.

I had a very demanding life, so I started to use cannabis medicinally to balance that intensity. It helped me with insomnia, helped me deal with some stress, as well as have fun without the negatives commonly associated with drinking. It allowed me to exemplify and really develop an increasingly healthy lifestyle.

On self-funding a canna-business

In my late twenties I started NMR Capital, which was a real estate development company. We started building single-family homes post-recession, as well as buying and turning around apartment buildings, and developed quite a nice portfolio in the secondary markets.

I used pretty much all of the money I was making from my real estate development company to fund my ventures.

It was actually through that that somebody connected me with a very large dispensary group here in California and an opportunity to help them secure private placement financing. These guys had a medical license and had been in the medical market for quite a while at that point. They organically built a nice kind of mom-and-pop business that was doing well. Like many early cannabis entrepreneurs, they hit a roadblock in terms of not having access to capital. Obviously, there's no federal lending within the space.

I started helping on that as an interim COO investment banker. I helped get them a million-dollar private placement deal. Through that process, I was already extremely passionate and knowledgeable about cannabis, but I hadn't fully understood it or explored it as a profession. As soon as I started advising these guys, it really kind of clicked in terms of, wow, these guys are doing real numbers. This is a real business.

We ended up going in different directions but staying in very close relation over all these years. We still work very close today, and I ended up pursuing real estate development focused on cultivation in Oregon. At that time, Colorado had gone recreationally legal and I understood that this was only going to go forward. I kind of bet it all and decided that this was my focus, and I used pretty much all of the money I was making from my real estate development company to fund my ventures within the cannabis space. Cultivation development and legal work, looking for new deals—all of that stuff I funded on my own entirely.

Eventually, I self-funded and created Satya Capital, and that kind of fast-forwards us to where we are today. Now I have my cofounders alongside with me, Simmon and Robert, and the three of us have built quite a large portfolio of companies from cultivation, dispensaries, a distribution company, and a portfolio of brands including A Golden State.

On finding work-life balance

I still work seven days a week. We own five different companies, we're in the middle of a $75 million fundraise, and we're in the middle of a multistate expansion. I don't really get a break. My lifestyle has changed in the sense that I really have no room to be disconnected or unplugged or in an unclear mindset. I have my employees, I have compliance, I have my investors, I have decisions to make as a CEO.

I can get up at five or six in the morning and have an amazingly productive day.

I've become more and more health-conscious, more and more knowledgeable about diet and stuff like that. As a result, I've stopped drinking completely for the most part, and cannabis has happily replaced that in my lifestyle. I don't smoke every day, but at the end of a workweek on a Saturday or Friday, I’m enjoying a nice joint. I tend to be a flower user. I love enjoying some flower, relaxing, letting the stress release, and knowing that when I wake up the next day, I'm not going to be foggy-brained. I can get up at five or six in the morning and have an amazingly productive day.

On working cannabis into everyday life

I tend to smoke a lot of Sunbeam. I think it's just this beautiful, mild, euphoric sativa. It's just so perfect all the time. I really like our Woods as well. It's more high-energy. It's an intense sativa. In terms of a THC percentage, it's testing in the high 20s. It's not necessarily the right sativa for everyone because it can be a little speedy and things, but I tend to like that, especially if I'm using it to clean the house, answer calls, do work, or multitask.

You get that body euphoria, but you feel peppy and you're social.

I also use Silver Cloud, which is a really, really great middle-of-the-road hybrid. You feel good. It takes the edge off. You get that body euphoria, but you feel peppy and you're social. It's a very balanced high. Then the few times that I do need to just sedate myself or veg into the couch or whatever that might be, Night Sky would do that for me. Again, it's something I don't use very commonly, but that's just my personal preference.

I currently also love Kiva chocolate, all of those 5mg THC Kiva confections. I think they're easy to dose, easy to travel with, and they taste good. Recently, I've been messing around with Plus gummies and I’ve really enjoyed those as well. I don't use edibles often, but sometimes I do want to give myself a break from smoking or throw something in a bag if I'm jumping on a plane.

On growing flower indoor vs. outdoor

I think it's completely unfair to tell someone that their opinion or their preference is incorrect or invalid. I am sensitive and respectful to everyone's preferences. Again, we focus on indoor cultivation. We do that because we're able to really create an environment to bring out the best of our proprietary exotic genetics. We really focus on that ultra-premium category and for us to be able to do that, the indoor environment really is most conducive to that. As you know, there are some amazing sun-grown growers out there that are doing great stuff.

Personally, I tend to use almost exclusively indoor flower. I think for other consumers out there, it's definitely worth trying everything and making decisions for yourself. But at A Golden State, we are able to use sustainable, hydroelectric-based energy and snow-melt water to grow our proprietary genetics. I would argue that there's no facility nicer and more professionally and meticulously run in the state of California. In my opinion, that is 100% in direct correlation to the level of product we put out and consistency in which we do it. I think for those consumers that are looking for that type of ultra-premium experience—from terpene profile, taste, look, feel, strain, selection—that’s why they’re going to love A Golden State.

Photos by Scotty Liberatore

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