Bridge West Consulting had an opportunity to speak with Matt Muñoz, Finance Director of Texas Original Compassionate Cultivation (TOCC) in Austin, Texas. We are proud to spotlight this cannabis entrepreneur!
How did Texas Original Compassionate Cultivation get started?
Morris Denton, CEO of Texas Original Compassionate Cultivation, and four partners founded the company in 2017. Prior to founding TOCC, Denton knew that Texas had the potential to be a leading medical cannabis market in the U.S. After the passage of the Compassionate Use Act in 2015, the state granted three licenses in 2017 —one of which was awarded to the TOCC team. Since then, the company has been instrumental in growing and expanding Texas’ medical cannabis program.
Following both the 2019 and the 2021 legislative sessions, the Compassionate Use Program expanded, allowing a higher level of THC in medical cannabis products and broadening the list of qualifying conditions to include all cancer patients and those suffering from PTSD. The expansion of the CUP enables TOCC to continue to expand its reach throughout the Texas market and share the power and truth of medical cannabis with qualifying patients throughout the state.
TOCC is a vertically integrated operation, including cultivation, manufacturing, processing, in-house testing, and patient delivery. The company is currently in the process of developing a 95,000 square foot cultivation and operations facility in Bastrop, Texas, set to open in 2022.
What’s unique about TOCC?
According to Muñoz, TOCC’s mission is to create the highest quality medicine that helps change patients’ lives. What really makes them different is their commitment to educating their community about medical cannabis. Since TOCC opened its doors, the team has worked with doctors and patients alike to raise awareness about the medicinal benefits of cannabis. Month over month and year over year, they invited doctors to learn about how helpful cannabis can be to patients with a variety of symptoms. Their goal is to encourage more doctors to offer cannabis to patients throughout Texas.
What challenges has Texas Original Compassionate Cultivation faced?
TOCC’s main focus is to get high-quality medicine into their patients’ hands. That is a significant challenge when you’re operating in a highly restricted medical cannabis market. On top of that, Texas is incredibly large – geographically and by population.
TOCC serves the entire state of Texas and cannot use third-party carrier services or shipping companies. Therefore, the “normal” forms of business delivery are not accessible at this time. As a solution, the company employs its own delivery fleet. By law, medical cannabis products cannot be stored overnight outside of the licensed company’s vertically integrated facility, so TOCC leverages its delivery fleet on a daily basis to deliver as far as El Paso and every market in between. Then, drivers return to Austin to store the remaining inventory at the end of the day. The TOCC delivery team works incredibly hard not only to provide door-to-door service, but to build relationships with doctors around the state and develop plans to best reach patients.
Another critical issue that affects their business is their inability to use traditional forms of point-of-sales systems. Until there are changes to federal banking laws, TOCC is forced to deal with cash and checks. This makes it especially challenging to manage cash flow.
In what ways is TOCC involved in the community?
According to Muñoz, “TOCC always does its part to speak up and advocate for proper cannabis regulation and letting leaders know what the state and Texans want and need. We’re active at the Capitol, and we stay in touch with communities that are advocating at the Capitol and let them know that we’re there to support them.”
TOCC also utilizes a Medical Advisory Board that forms direct relationship with prescribers and patients to understand their experiences and inform product innovation. Muñoz explains, “It’s really important for us to understand what’s working for them, what the right dosages are, and how various treatments are going. Our advisory board has gained incredible insight into not only how the medicine is working, but how prescribers register themselves and their patients, and the challenges patients go through in getting information about cannabis programs.”
He adds, “We also support our patients by removing roadblocks for those who can’t afford their medicine and truly want or need relief. We understand that insurance or credit cards cannot be used to purchase medical cannabis, so we have measures in place to ensure that these issues do not create a barrier for patients.”
What did you do before entering the cannabis industry, and how did you get into the industry?
Muñoz shared that he worked in the oil and gas industry prior to working in cannabis. He said, “I got into the cannabis industry because I was drawn to the idea of ‘bringing cannabis out of the darkness.’ Growing up and seeing the punishments that individuals could face by using this amazing plant, and how those punishments could permanently impact their lives is something that didn’t sit right with me. The legitimization of cannabis, removing the stigma, that’s what got me interested. Then, when I met with the TOCC team and heard about their passion for delivering medicine to patients and the patient stories they would share, I was truly inspired.”
Muñoz also shared that it is rewarding when a patient tells them how incredibly thankful they are that TOCC is available and has medicine that will bring them relief. Muñoz stated, “It’s been incredible to see the wide range of conditions, demographics, and backgrounds, and to give them a solution that really helps.”
If you had one piece of advice for an entrepreneur just starting out in the cannabis industry, what would it be?
Muñoz said, “Understand your legal settings and understand what market you’re working within. Maintain vigilance in remaining compliant and transparent with your authorities. Also, be available to your patients, (if you’re in a medical cannabis setting). The patients are the biggest driver of the business and delivering on a quality product that fits their desire and need is crucial.”
He continued, “If you’re starting out as an entrepreneur, keep your ear to the ground and always drive forward from a financial standpoint. I also strongly recommend keeping your financials organized. It’s important to manage your cash flow properly so you can continue to stay in operation. For me and TOCC, Bridge West has been an incredible help. Being able to lean on their tax, accounting, and business expertise has been a major factor in our company’s success.”
We Can Help.
If you own a cannabis business or are thinking about starting a cannabis business, we’d like to help. As a partnership of highly skilled and seasoned cannabis industry consultants and advisors, Bridge West Consulting is ready to guide you through this exciting and challenging landscape. Feel free to reach out to us anytime to schedule a consultation.