"Never take no for an answer.”- Dan Trtanj, veteran who served five years as a military working dog handler. Today, he is the owner and founder of At Eaze Extracts, a Veteran Owned Hemp CBD company focused on providing the highest quality Hemp CBD products while promoting "A Better Option for a Better Mind and Body"
01:50- Dan's entrepreneurial journey
04:20- Cannabis as a potential medicine and alternative
08:15- Dan's desire to be an entrepreneur
11:50- The THC of recreational cannabis and medicinal cannabis
12:41- The 2018 Farm Bill
15:00- Never take No for an answer
20:24- How did Dan push through with his doubts
24:25- Dan's mission in the next three years
27:03- The cannabis as a perfect space for veterans
- Have the right determination and mental attitude, and never take a no for an answer
- In moments of weakness and insecurity is where growth takes place.
- Being an entrepreneur and starting your own business is both a blessing and a curse. There's no dabbling in entrepreneurship.
- I always had this determination and mental attitude to never take a no for an answer, because a lot of times when somebody is telling you it's impossible, it's because of their incapabilities, and so they are unable to see what you may be able to see or what you believe you can manifest.”-Dan Trtanj
- “If I had listened to every person throughout my life that tells me that I can't do it, I would've quit almost everything I've ever done in my life, or I wouldn't have started this successful business in2017. “- Dan Trtanj
- “If you're a high achiever, you're always assessing yourself both as professional and individual, there are so many doubts and setbacks, but I combat that by having transparency on what we do and by setting standards”- Dan Trtanj
- “Being an entrepreneur and starting your own business is both wonderful and hard given the pressure, but never for one second did that ever make me deter. Those moments of weakness and insecurity are where the growth is taking place.”- Dan Trtanj
Transcript of episode 030 with Dan Trtanj Founder of At Eaze Extracts
Scott Tucker: Hey everybody, Scott Tucker here. Welcome back to Veteran Wealth Secrets. This is the show where, Hey, w we want to learn about the other opportunities that you don't typically hear about in post-military life. Have folks come on the show, whether you're an active duty.
You're in transition, you're already a Veteran, whatever it is to talk about your journey, some of the insights you picked up that you really didn't expect. And so I think the story we're going to hear today, and I'm going to have to ask again, I'll try it. From the CEO and founder of Addie's extra damn church, him, no Turton.
Turtle. What's the origin of that? Croatian actually CRO. Okay. Very cool. No, that's I never made it. I lived in Europe for 11 years. I never made it to Coratia, which I'm kicking myself for it, but no. Thank you so much for coming on the show. I'm very excited to talk about your journey.
It seems just from your LinkedIn profile looks very interesting usually. When you hear someone's gotten into the cannabis industry in one way or the other. That it's, there's a story behind it, but I also like to mention to the veteran community that. The cannabis industry is a booming industry with lots of job opportunities.
And it's not all about the plant per se. There's other aspects of the industry or logistics, media, whatever. Maybe we get into that. Maybe we don't today. But I'm just so glad to have you on Dan. Why don't you tell us a little bit about your journey from being a Marine Corps dog handler, which is super cool.
I'm a dog lover, so that must've been. Fun and getting out in the civilian world, trying a couple of the things and then in an upgrading your own thing. What's what's the
Dan Trtanj: Genesis. Yeah, absolutely. First Scott, thank you very much for having me. This is a wonderful opportunity and I'm very thankful to be here today.
My journey, I think like many other veterans is a little unique. I grew up unfortunately I lost two uncles to heroin overdoses and. I was very passionate about being very anti-drug and joined the Marine Corps to become a military police officer. And then eventually my goals and ambitions were to go into DEA and be a special agent kicked down doors and arrest the bad guys.
Life has a weird way of teaching your lessons. So throughout my life I've had a couple shoulder surgeries and shoulder injuries from playing sports as well as my time in the military. And then also during my time in the military, I had three hip surgeries. And when the VA kind of gave me what I refer to as my death sentence of.
300 Percosets a month and up to 600 ibuprofen as a way of treating my pain. Post-surgery and this was going to be for the rest of my life. I started researching and trying to find other alternatives to manage my pain. That sentence, if you will. Motivated me to study exercise science as my undergrad, after I got out of the military as well as nutrition.
It's the reason I still try to keep an active lifestyle today. But it's also an introduced me to plant medicine, specifically cannabis and hemp. In 2010, when I was finishing up my last year in the Marine Corps in California, they were voting to legalize recreational marijuana. Yeah. And so I laughed at it and had no idea recreational or let alone medical even existed.
And so I started researching and doing my homework like everybody else, you, the wonderful world of Google and YouTube. But found a lot of information out there that kept showing me a lot of value. So I experimented a little bit with cannabis. Once I got out of the Marines in 2012, And something really unique happened is at that time I was having sleep issues talking in my sleep, walking in my sleep.
Just a lot of weird, again, normal for some veterans, but just weird habits in my sleep and consuming cannabis at the time helped me help me with some of those issues, but why I was addressing it was with all my hip and shoulder pain and it was also helping me there. The downside of that is I didn't like walking around being high all day.
And certainly I didn't like the way, at the time at Missouri it was still illegal, how I was having to go about being able to try this and treat this. So I continued on through my college career, educated myself ended up working in the corporate sector for a couple of years. And during the those years on my downtime, I would travel with my girlfriend now, wife.
We would travel and talk to dispensaries. Any cultivators, any, or anybody who would give us five minutes at a time and just educate us as much as possible on, on the complete supply chain of cannabis, as well as what we were doing in educating ourselves on our own. And then come around 2016 2017 after 2014, a farm bill had come out and in the 2018 farm bill you started seeing things open up.
And around 2017 is when I started telling my wife, Hey, we need to start looking into this as something that we can invest in for the future. Just how much of it helped me with my issues and injuries. My wife also has an auto immune disease called scleroderma, and it would actually go into remission during the times in which she was consuming cannabis.
Now we've had kids and things like that. So when she had to stop her consumption unfortunately it came out of remission and actually Started to progress more rapidly. So we've just seen so on personal levels, so much value from cannabis as a potential medicine or an alternative, and sharing that with like friends and family and then seeing the positive impacts that's had with them to let us, in 2017, I went to, what's known as the entrepreneurship bootcamp for veterans or EBV program.
It's sponsored by Syracuse university, but the one I attended was it. University of Missouri or Missou and they teach you just the basic fundamentals of. Of entrepreneurship. So like banking, accounting, legal insurance marketing, and they also have this network of individuals and companies that will help you support over that next year.
And that was what launched our company. Eddie's extracts. I originally went there for something completely different, but having the conversations with all the other veterans and finding that at the end of every night, after our classes, they were coming to me asking me a million things about cannabis.
So the first time I really opened up and talked to other individuals about it. Then after that I came back and I said, Hey, we have to figure something out here. I know the legalities and everything, but we have to start educating and we have to start networking and. Building this relationship here in St.
Louis and Missouri, and eventually broad before, before the industry establishes itself. And so we started this in December of 2017. We didn't sell anything or our PR Promote any products other than education and consulting until 2018 after the farm bill was passed. And then that's when we started partnering with a couple manufacturers to produce the products now that we have on
Scott Tucker: market.
Wow. That's a, that's quite a journey, man. Cause I'm guessing the idea of entrepreneurship we just might not have been, or had you thought about entrepreneurship at all before this whole thing? Manifested?
Dan Trtanj: That's a great question. Yes, actually I, since I was a little kid, I always had this this desire to be an entrepreneur to have everything on my shoulders.
And the reason that was is I saw my grandmother and grandfather my grandfather actually just passed away this year, unfortunately. So yeah, I appreciate it. He had a fib and COVID got them at the beginning of all this it's unfortunate. But that being said, they were some of the happiest individuals I'd ever seen and they owned a dance and music studio and their lives.
Their life schedule was they get up in the morning, they have breakfast together. She would do things around the house and he would work on he had this beautiful yard. He was an artist to a degree. I can never explain. And then in the afternoon he would teach guitar.
She was teaching dance. There are four daughters, which my mother and my three aunts, they were teachers there. And so I just saw this culture and community that they had been able to create out of nothing, just because of their love and passion for music. And I said, that's, I don't know what it's going to be when I'm older, but I know that this is something that is going to be what I strive to achieve.
And then. Full circle. It was when I started seeing a positive impacts, again, of cannabis and CBD products for other veterans and friends that it went from being a side project, passion to this is a lot of ways is my mission in life is being able to give back to others and educate others about the positive aspects of these products.
Scott Tucker: A little bit of personal story for me, I gotten out of the army about 12 years ago. I was over in Germany. The things I thought were going to happen over there fell apart. And I floundered around for a few years and eventually found myself in San Diego and just didn't know what I was looking for.
Didn't know what I was trying to do. It felt very limited and uncreative. I was getting depressed. I went to the VA, they gave me meds that I didn't think was helping me, but. I'm in California, it was legal medical cannabis. And I was like, yeah, I did it in high school. Why not? Why not go see what can it hurt?
And smoked a joint. Two weeks later, I had written a book. And I hadn't done anything creative in my whole life. And I was just like, wow. Okay. Now that was the TA see aspect of it. I think surprisingly, a lot of people still don't understand the difference cannabinoids, cannabinoids.
Yeah. There's the see that gets you stoned and high and lazy. I wrote a book. So I don't know how you do that. But the CBD and there's a bunch of other cannabinoids, but the CBD is the big one. Most people talk about, let's just say the non-psychoactive ones, which is the crux of your business, hemp is not marijuana, can you dispel some of these myths?
And rumors please as we need to do over and over again to tell people like this is a plant out of the ground there's ways to get benefits without getting stoned, if you don't want to be. And and it really does help. A lot of people get off of a lot of medications.
Dan Trtanj: Absolutely. To start at the basics is you have cannabis is cannabis family.
And underneath that falls hemp, which is a low to very little to no THC within the plant or you have, what's usually commonly known as marijuana, which the name is going away. But let's call it cannabis for for that sake. And that's usually a moderate to high amount of. Of THC.
So what in recreational cannabis or the medicinal cannabis side is the THC is really what that is alluding to. Contrary you have CBD or cannabidiol, which is another cannabinoid within the plant that is technically addressed and covered under now. What's known as the 2018 farm bill. So this is, this can be derived from industrial hemp, which is a plant that through breeding processes over many years has led to very little to no THC within it.
And that allows you to be able to extract it, whether it's to become CBD, CBG, CBN, other cannabinoids you can get specific terpene profiles. Or you can turn it into many textiles and other consumer goods. For our purpose we work in under the 2018 farm bill. And there's a couple of reasons for that to be very upfront and honest starting your own business with very little to no money.
We wanted to make sure that we could get into an industry without spraying ourselves too thin. Like I said we started this company from our own blood, sweat, and tears and. Money saved over many years to be able to get to where we are. Also with the hemp industry, there's a little bit less regulation in the sense that licensing for it at the state and federal level.
We just had a, so we just got our cultivation license in the state of Missouri back in July. So we're hoping to have plants in the ground this next year. It'd be our first harvest in the state of Missouri, which is one of our biggest goals that we had as a company. That was a nominal fee.
We have to register with the department of agriculture and the state of Missouri. But beyond that, there was no real federal hurdles to go over contrary to the medical and recreational cannabis industry side. That's how we ended up a little bit more in the hemp as well as the fact that we could provide products as a good starting point.
For certain injuries, ailments and concerns people may have. Now again, as THC has a great time in place and it can be a very strong tool. But you also see people being able to start out with CBD and CBG and CBN and other cannabinoids before having to get to the The intoxication side of THC.
Scott Tucker: So clearly this is a very personal story that led to your entrepreneurial journey. Those tend to be the best because it's like, Hey, you're following your passion. Nothing wrong with being self-employed, maybe being a franchise owner or a sales individual. And do it that way, but when you can really identify and you just have that need to go do the research and then start trying stuff.
I'm guessing a lot of people along the way said, then what are you doing? This is illegal. You're crazy. Don't start a business, so on and so forth. And I know that was a secret. You wanted to share today. Tell us more why we should. Never respond to the answer. No,
Dan Trtanj: Yeah.
Great question. So I spent like I shared with you earlier, I had, unfortunately had two uncles pass away from heroin in my life. And what motivated me to go in the military was military police and then eventually DEA, and then I'll here. I am ironically enough and a partner in a hemp company. So just seeing the full gamut of being very anti-drug or anti substance too. There are medicinal and even potentially recreational benefits of these products. That's what kind of led me to starting this company and getting to where we are. To be honest with you, Scott, you're going to hate me.
I lost the train of thought. Oh
Scott Tucker: no. Hey. Sometimes I, I asked. Roundabout questions. Cause I'm trying to, I'm trying to understand the, what's behind this, but you said never take no for an answer. What did you mean?
Dan Trtanj: No. Great question. And I apologize for that train of thought.
So number one was when I got out in 2012 and started experimenting with cannabis products as an alternative to the prescription medications that I was getting from the VA I had to be hush about it. I didn't tell our friends. I didn't tell our family. I didn't want to be known as a stoner kid in the family.
I just didn't want to disappoint friends and family. And so educating continue to educate myself and sharing little things with my friends and family about the benefits and everything I was learning. Eventually around 2015, I started feeling a little bit more comfortable sharing my.
My experiences with it. But still kept it very tight. I dealt with the whole scrutiny with the family too. Oh, they made fun of my wife and I, Oh, there's the stoner kids. Because during this time we went from being, we were fun and party too. We no longer drink. We were w we don't consume alcohol.
We changed a lot of our diet and nutrition and how we approach things. And so there's a lot of changes going on and I, and the people that you love and you're close to don't necessarily see the changes that you do on a daily basis. You just see the manifestation over a long period of time. And so we stayed in the closet, but when we started talking about wanting to do this as a business, that's where everybody thought we were crazy saying, you need to stop, you can't do this.
And sure enough, we w we just stayed the course and we were able to eventually create something that now we're in a farmers market. We're in multiple retail outlets here in St. Louis and. Every, if I had, I listened to every single person throughout my life that told me that I can't do this, or you're not I would've quit almost everything I've ever done in my entire life.
I'm not a very big guy, but I played ice hockey from a very young age and I spent A very long time getting cut from teens because I was a small guy in back then, if you're a small guy and you're playing checking hockey at that time, it didn't matter what your skill set were. It was you're too much of an injury risk.
But I stuck with it and eventually I went on to play, I grew up in and got bigger and I played varsity hockey and was very successful at that. And so I've always had this determination and mental attitude of, never take no for an answer because of what you end up finding out was a lot of times when somebody is telling you either a, they can't do it, or you can't do it, or it's impossible, possible journalists because of their, there.
Their abilities or capabilities or what they have achieved in their own life. And so they're unable to see what you may be able to see or what you believe that you can manifest. So just having that positive mental attitude, and if something is always telling you to keep doing this and you're doing something for good.
I can't justify any reason to ever getting off of that pathway. And had I, like I said, had I had, I stopped what we were doing. We wouldn't have ever started this company in 2017. We wouldn't have been in retail shops in 2019, and we wouldn't have helped the 500 plus customers that we've had this year.
During the whole COVID chaos that we've had here up and down with the lockdown.
Scott Tucker: I'm guessing there's a lot more interest these days, because you've heard about the people locked down, it's causing all sorts of extra problems and people being, just staying at home. It's just crazy levels of depression and other things that, that leads to.
But I'm curious. Even though you had doubt or did you ever have you clearly pushed through follow the passion? Cause like you said, he's I know this to be true. I know it to be helpful. I must go through, but did you have any doubts? Like I did all the time. Cause it was always like, I know this.
But then when I have been told about how life is supposed to work or how transition out of the military is supposed to work, I must be crazy. And only because I knew I could never be an employee, I would just get fired immediately. Did. I was like I'm just going to keep fumbling around this way.
Did you have any doubts? And if so, like how did you push through it?
Dan Trtanj: Having doubts, it's more like still have every step every single day, especially if you're a high achiever You're always assessing your yourself both as a professionalism, individual. Even worse as a father now being a dad, I have never analyzed myself the way I do there.
So for me, yeah, every single day, I couldn't tell you how many times I wake up at three o'clock in the morning, over the last several years. And walk downstairs in my basement and I, we have a nice little walk out and I'll sit back on our little porch and we'll be doubled over crying. And in tears because of the pressures and, the setbacks, especially in the industry that we're working in every single day, something is being set back or moving forward and is changing and evolving.
And one thing that we set out to, to combat that is, is being able to have transparency in what we do, but also. Setting those standards, so we, on all of our products, we do five panel testing and having that level of standard is what I think is going to set a good precedence for regulation in the future.
Because without having a transparency and doing these testing, how can you really ensure what you're doing with the product? But yeah. Yeah. It being an entrepreneur and starting your own business. There's many days that it is absolutely wonderful and you're happy. And then there's other days where the pressure of the world and everything you're doing, there's so many other aspects of people relying on you as well.
That it's, it does tear at you. But never for one second. Did that ever make. To determine if anything, those were those moments of, if you will, weakness or insecurity are when you're growing. Because that's what I've learned in my life is anytime I've been nervous or scared it is because now I know that what's coming in front of me is more responsibility.
I am. I now have a level of, if you will, education is power this power to, to help others and manifest that to, to their liking. And so I always try to remind myself in those times when I'm insecure down about it this is where the growth has really taken place. And like I said there's many times that I've.
It's been wonderful, but there've been many times too where you're just like, ah, somebody take this from me, just do it. I need a break for five minutes. But that the resilience is between being an athlete and that's instilled in the military is is really what's helped me to be able to push through and be able to get over those moments of weakness if you will.
Scott Tucker: No, thank you for being open and sharing that. Entrepreneur entrepreneurship is rough because you are. Taking them in full self responsibility. It's all on you. That's a blessing and a curse. But think about, what, if you're in a job, you hate, you have a boss that just treats you or trouble and in, but you'd have you got to go get the paycheck.
You can't be creative. You can't pivot. Even if regulations are coming down on us and rules are changing and customers are upset. The bottom line is when it's your thing. You get to make the changes and the BA and it's never happens overnight. We all think. And so that's why I want to encourage, I think the moral of the story is there's no dabbling in entrepreneurship.
I want to do this on the side. You can do some, a few hours a week if you still have a regular job, but it's gotta be like, I'm going to go in. I'm going to see where the roadblocks are. Where are the failures are, get feedback, improve, build up, improving it, it takes a long time. So I'm very proud of you for your success.
And here in the first few years Dan, as we close up here what's next for Addie's extracts and then the next three years or so what do you see? What do you looking to build to create and yeah. And yeah. What do you think the next three years will look like?
Dan Trtanj: Great. Now it's a great question. Number one is bringing cultivation here to Missouri. That was one of our big goals of being able to achieve that after getting our cultivation license going into 2021 is is a huge achievement for us beyond that is being able to bring processing to St.
Louis as well. But for me, my, my mission is, has been, and always will be, is how can I give back to other veterans and Veteran community we're very fortunate, very lucky our ability and our skillset to communicate with one another and to communicate in general is not always something that the skill set that some other veterans or individuals do have and not utilizing that skillset.
I think would be a shame, which is why you do what you do today. That being said our goal as this company grows is to primarily hire veterans. And to bring on veterans and even further teach those veterans to be entrepreneurs because the reality is not everybody stays at the company and we may be the greatest company in the world to work at, but you have your own personal ambitions and goals.
And I hope anybody who does work with us or for us in the future learns that skillset of entrepreneurship and has those tools to go out and start their own at ease, if you will. However, that may be. And yeah. However we can give back to the veteran community, whether that's jobs or just a helping hand.
That's what we want to focus on. But eventually, looking at the next three years is owning that complete seed to sale vertical integration in Missouri, and then eventually transitioning into the recreational cannabis side as things develop and evolve here in Missouri.
Scott Tucker: Very cool.
I love that idea. I always advocate for it. Know veterans, when you get your first job, don't think that's your career for life. Use it as a stepping stone, you build skill, sets, knowledge, figure out what it is you like, you don't like. And then maybe, if you like go try your, you go try something else and don't look at it like, Oh, I'm leaving my employer, whatever.
Look at it as, Hey, you're making a space for another veteran to come in and start. I love that, man. Actually, can you want to talk talk a little bit about. Is this a good industry? Obviously you're looking to hire veterans, but is this a good industry for veterans? Cannabis companies aren't showing up to Veteran career fairs.
The assumption is I don't want to go be in a dispensary. I think there's a lot of misconceptions about the opportunities for veterans in this industry. And yet who better to be in a highly regulated environment. That's also chaos at the same time. Yeah, run it.
Yeah. Tell us a little bit about, how veterans should think about working in the cannabis space.
Dan Trtanj: So w when I look at the evolution of the cannabis industry and why I think it's a perfect industry for veterans to transition into is number one, is this is still an industry, not just hemp and CBD, but.
The recreational and medical side of a lot of individuals who are here to make some money and not necessarily help individuals. And I hate to use this term, but there's just generalizations snakes. There are just some snakes out there, still in this industry. And yeah. Having veterans and having people that, have a level of integrity, accountability, and bringing that standard in, into the community, I think would be very key.
Number two is breaking that stigma. Let's not sit here and I don't know the numbers or percentages, but take a look back at Vietnam war. And how many veterans from that Vietnam war are, have been ha were, or still are self-medicating whether with cannabis or other recreational drugs, why are we sitting here playing this game?
Like it's not happening? Why are we not having educated discussions on how this might be something that could potentially help veterans? Now I walked that slippery slope, that gray line of, I can't. Tell you that this is a medicinal or medical product, but I can tell you, Hey, I've had a dog that used to have seizures who now has been taking our product for two months and has only had one seizure the last two months.
Wow. Now I don't know if it's my product or not, but it's. It is it, that is a feedback from our customer. So bringing veterans into the industry I think is something that their integrity and, or their work ethic is what would bring the value last but not least. This is when you start at zero, there's only one way to go, right?
It's up when you are, whether you're at rock bottom or you just starting today. Guess what? Right now, This is still the beginning of the canvas and hemp industry. Why would you not want to start right now? Why would you not want to be a part of what creates the right way of doing things? Not every industry has had this luxury.
We are one of the most educated Generations ever, why not take what we have and our skillset and in our care for one another as a Veteran community in particular and build off of that and make this industry have this industry done. And that's really what I wanted to step into when I did this I said if not me, then who.
And so that whole take no for an answer. It's right there as if I'm seeing the value and I'm not sharing it with anybody, then what am I doing to help people? So I, that's why I think right now is the right time for veterans to get into it and grow whether it's with our company or others.
There's some other brands out there Veteran owned brands. I'm a fan of every single one of them. I will never say anything negative. Anytime you're trying to help. Help somebody, whether it's veterans or not have at it. That's
Scott Tucker: yeah, man you aren't kidding. This is cause what is the thing we hear about most?
I talked to senior enlisted senior officers, whatever they come out and it's no, they won't hire me or they want to take a lower position. They don't respect my thing. It's I didn't have, I don't have enough industry experience. In the cannabis industry, nobody does. So even if you start at a low level, Who cares, because if you can bring value, people are going to say, Oh, I see that move it.
And it's not, there's no credentials, they're just looking for bodies. You want to get things done. And especially as you mentioned, and I've heard the same, it's still a nasty shady world. And, but there is more, I know I started a Facebook group that has over 120 West point grads that are all in the cannabis industry.
And that's where it's yeah, there's some serious, know, you think get out of the military, a bunch of Academy grads that you wouldn't think that cannabis, but no it's getting huge. really liked that you're on the forefront of pushing that issue as well. Please let me know how I can help any time to help spread that word because it is so important for the help.
Okay. You're right. Can't say medicinally. It's a plant that sometimes helps you feel better than you were before. Oh, try it out, see it, see if it makes you feel better. It's legal in all 50 States. Tell us, how do people get ahold of you? Your stuff are you, are, you are people could, hemp CBD can be purchased in all 50 States, correct.
And ship. So there is no, unless you're on active duty military, that's still technically. Yeah,
Dan Trtanj: Okay. The best way to get ahold of us is our website is at ease extracts. It's a T E a Z E rex.com or on Instagram and Facebook at ease extracts.com. It's always a fun one. We didn't think that through when we got to the Instagram Oh, one thing I have no problem being honest.
You're I am not the most skilled individual when it comes to social media, so I'm still trying to learn. And that's why if you know your weakness build the team around you, right?
Scott Tucker: Yeah, absolutely. Let me throw up the the website here real quick. That's right, yes, sir. Yep. Okay.
Awesome, man. No. Yeah. Yeah. So social media thing, I'll tell you it does work. Just pick your battles and pick one platform. I think LinkedIn is a unique opportunity these days to really, share a message and opportunities in the Veteran community, for sure. But now thanks again, Dan.
Really appreciate it. Look forward to seeing how things are going and for everybody else, we'll see you next
Dan Trtanj: time. Thank you guys. Take care.