Arun Kurichety, COO, General Counsel and Co-Founder, Petalfast
Arun Kurichety is COO, General Counsel and Co-Founder of Petalfast
For those who don't know anything about you or your work, can you provide a bit of background?
I am currently the COO and General Counsel of Petalfast, a cannabis sales and marketing agency that provides services to brands and operators across multiple states. Our team consists of 51 highly skilled professionals, and we are proud to work with some of the most innovative and successful companies in the industry.
My passion for the cannabis plant and the relief it can bring to consumers and patients motivated me to pursue a career in this industry. My background is in corporate law, and prior to my career in cannabis, I worked as a corporate restructuring attorney with some of the largest firms in the country. In that role, I gained valuable experience in high-stakes Chapter 11 and out-of-court workouts, which gave me a deep understanding of how companies are structured and how they can navigate difficult financial situations. As a corporate restructuring attorney, I had the opportunity to work with clients in a variety of industries, but it wasn't until I saw the positive impact that cannabis could have on people's lives that I truly felt inspired to make a difference.
Since joining the cannabis industry, I have been able to apply my legal expertise and business acumen to help companies and operators succeed. As COO and General Counsel of Petalfast, I wear many hats and oversee all aspects of our operations, including finance, HR, legal, compliance, business expansion, and investor relations. I'm also deeply involved in building and maintaining relationships with our clients and partners, and I'm always looking for new ways to innovate and improve our services.
Overall, I'm proud to be part of an industry that is making a positive impact on people's lives, and I'm passionate about helping Petalfast and our clients achieve their goals and contribute to the growth and success of the cannabis industry.
Was any one person who was instrumental in helping you get from where you started out, to where you are now?
My parents have been instrumental in helping me get to where I am today, and I credit much of my success to the values and lessons they instilled in me. As immigrants to the US, they worked tirelessly to provide for our family and taught me the importance of perseverance and determination. My father modeled a strong commitment to serving others, both through his work as a doctor treating cancer patients and through his generosity in supporting our community and family members. His example has inspired me to approach my own work with the same level of dedication and compassion. My mother exemplifies a strong sense of empathy and compassion for others, which has been invaluable in my work in the cannabis industry. Their commitment to making a positive impact on the world has inspired me to approach my own work with the same level of dedication and purpose.
I'm grateful for the impact my parents have had on my life and career and for the lessons they've taught me about the importance of hard work, compassion, and service to others. Their guidance and support have been invaluable in helping me to achieve my goals and to make a positive impact on the world.
Is there a particular piece of advice you were given in the early days of your business journey that you still benefit from today?
One piece of advice that has been instrumental to my approach to business is to "fail faster." This advice encourages taking calculated risks and embracing the possibility of making mistakes as a natural part of the learning process. By adopting this mindset, I've been able to approach new challenges and opportunities with more confidence and make decisions more quickly. This approach has also helped me to develop a growth-oriented mindset, where each experience is an opportunity to learn and improve. By seeing setbacks as learning opportunities rather than failures, I'm able to maintain a positive attitude and keep moving forward. I'm grateful for this advice and the positive impact it's had on my approach to business.
What is the most important lesson you've learned about leadership in your business journey so far?
The most important lesson I've learned about leadership in my business journey is the importance of building a strong team culture and having a clear mission and vision. At Petalfast, we've worked hard to create a sense of camaraderie among our team members, despite being dispersed across different territories. We've found that fostering a culture that values diversity and inclusivity has been key to our success. Our team is made up of 56% women, and we hold events throughout the year to maintain unity and closeness among our team members. This sense of connection helps us better serve our brands and customers.
Another important aspect of leadership is the ability to synthesize different perspectives into a cohesive guiding philosophy. We recognize that each stakeholder, whether it's customers, employees, management, or investors, has a unique perspective on our business. Effective leadership means understanding and incorporating these perspectives into our mission and vision for the company. By doing so, we're able to create a shared sense of purpose and direction that guides our decision-making and helps us achieve our goals.
What are the top three things you wish you'd known when you were just starting out?
Reflecting on my business journey, there are three things I wish I had known when I was just starting out.
The first is that everything is cyclical. In business, as in life, there are ups and downs, and it's important to be prepared for both. When times are good, it's important to stay focused and not get complacent. And when times are tough, it's important to remain resilient and keep moving forward.
The second thing I wish I had known is that you never know everything, and each day is an opportunity to learn and grow. In the early days of my career, I often felt like I needed to have all the answers and be the expert in every situation. But I've since learned that it's okay not to know everything and that there's always more to learn. Embracing this mindset has helped me to stay humble, listen to others, and continuously seek out new knowledge and experiences.
The third thing I wish I had known is to appreciate the journey. It's easy to get caught up in the day-to-day stresses and challenges of running a business, but it's important to take a step back and appreciate the progress you've made and the experiences you've had. Whether it's celebrating small wins or taking time to reflect on lessons learned, finding moments of gratitude and appreciation can help to sustain you through the inevitable ups and downs of the business journey.
In your experience, what is the most effective way to build a strong network of mentors and advisors to guide you in your business endeavors?
In my experience, building a strong network of mentors and advisors requires a combination of collaboration with industry leaders and traditional networking strategies. While it's important to seek out advice and guidance from those who have already achieved success in your industry, it's equally important to collaborate with peers and even competitors who share your goals and vision.
Throughout my career, I've found that participating in industry events and conferences has been a great way to connect with others and stay up-to-date on the latest trends and developments. Reading books and articles written by subject matter experts has also been invaluable, as it allows me to learn from the experiences of others and to gain new perspectives on the challenges I'm facing. There are a lot of great authors out there, but one that really resonates with me is Simon Sinek and his philosophy around leadership outlined in his books, Leaders Eat Last and The Infinite Game.
In short, building a strong network of mentors and advisors requires a combination of traditional networking strategies and new digital tools and platforms. By seeking out advice and guidance from a diverse range of sources and being open to collaboration and partnership, you can build a strong support system that will help you navigate the challenges of entrepreneurship and achieve your goals.
How do you determine when it's time to pivot, and what factors should you consider in making that decision?
Determining when it's time to pivot is a complex decision that requires careful consideration of multiple factors. In the cannabis industry, tracking market trends and regulatory changes is essential to making informed business decisions. Conditions can change rapidly, and states are still in the early stages of developing new regulatory frameworks, so it's important to stay up-to-date on the latest developments.
At Petalfast, we take a multi-faceted approach to decision-making. We look at the big picture of the market, including consumer trends and sales data, and we also consider our mission and vision as a company. We believe it's essential to stay focused on our overarching goals and avoid getting distracted by new opportunities that don't align with our core values and objectives. We took a great deal of time to formulate our mission and values, and we have worked hard to create a company culture that reflects these core principles. These core values help us stay on track in a fast-moving industry with a lot of “bright shiny objects” that could otherwise distract us from our goals.
Ultimately, the decision to pivot requires careful consideration of all these factors. If we find that what we're doing no longer aligns with our mission and vision, then we know that it's time to reassess and potentially make a change. By staying focused on our core values and objectives and remaining flexible in our approach, we can adapt to changing market conditions and continue to grow and succeed over the long term.
How do you stay motivated and inspired during the business cycle of ups and downs?
Staying motivated and inspired during the business cycle of ups and downs requires staying focused on long-term goals and taking time to enjoy life's simple pleasures. In the cannabis industry, success often comes from taking a long-term perspective and building toward big-picture goals. By staying true to these goals, even in the face of setbacks and challenges, I can stay motivated and inspired.
In addition to staying focused on long-term goals, I've found that building in time for self-care and spending time with loved ones is essential to maintaining a positive outlook. I make sure to prioritize activities like exercise, meditation, spending time with my family and friends, and pursuing my interests that bring me joy. For me, snorkeling and scuba diving have been particularly transformative. Learning to ride the waves and adapt to the changing conditions of the ocean has taught me valuable lessons about resilience and flexibility in both life and business.
Ultimately, I believe that the key to staying motivated and inspired during the ups and downs of the business cycle is to embrace the journey and find joy in the process. Life is full of challenges and opportunities, and by staying present and grateful for each experience, we can cultivate a sense of resilience and optimism that carries us through tough times. Whether it's celebrating small wins or pursuing new passions outside of work, finding ways to stay inspired and engaged is essential to success in the long term.
Looking back, what one thing would you do differently if you could start your journey over again?
Looking back on my business journey, there are many things that I'm proud of and grateful for. However, if I could start over again, there is one thing that I would do differently: I would prioritize building a strong support network of mentors and advisors earlier on.
When I first started out in the cannabis industry, I was focused on learning as much as I could on my own and trying to make my own way. While this approach helped me gain valuable experience and knowledge, I realize now that I could have benefited much more from seeking guidance and mentorship from those who had already achieved success as an entrepreneur.
Over time, I've learned the importance of having a strong support network that can provide guidance, support, and feedback as I navigate the challenges of entrepreneurship. I've also come to appreciate the value of collaboration and partnership in achieving long-term success.
If I could start my journey over again, I would prioritize building these relationships earlier on and seeking out the guidance and support of those who have already achieved success in the industry. I believe that this would have helped me to avoid some of the mistakes and missteps that I made along the way and to achieve even greater success in the long term.