I am pleased to share with our subscribers an NJ Cannabis Insider Q&A featuring Nishant Reddy, co-founder of the California-based boutique investment firm Satya Capital. CSG supported Satya as they partnered with MedMen on a joint application to operate a medicinal marijuana dispensary in Newark, NJ as part of the New Jersey Department of Health’s July 2018 Request for Applications.
In the Q&A, Nishant touches on his deep roots in New Jersey, Satya Capital’s origins, the partnership with MedMen, the joint venture’s plans for community reinvestment and more.
The full Q&A follows.
Nishant Reddy, Satya Capital
New Jersey Cannabis Insider: How does Satya Capital fit into the mix?
Nishant Reddy: I founded Satya Capital as a way to diversify my business and to 100 percent be able to participate in the cannabis industry. I left my career in private equity and investment banking to pursue the cannabis industry early, in like 2013-2014. I started as an interim COO advising a large dispensary group here in California. From that time, I got involved with development of a cultivation in Oregon and realized to really scale the opportunity — to execute on the vision I had and to be able to bring outside capital into the industry in a way that protected my investors but also allowed me to create a business vehicle that would be successful — I had to spin off and have a vehicle 100 percent dedicated to the pursuit of opportunities within the cannabis industry.
So that led me to form Satya Capital. Satya is actually a Sanskrit word that translates to truth and honesty. From what I had learned in the years prior, that was something I felt was really missing within the cannabis industry, both from a sense of the operators in the industry as well as what was being communicated to people who wanted to participate in the industry or invest in the industry. I wanted Satya to really bridge that gap and create an environment that allowed investors to enter the market and get the level of professionalism they were used to getting in their other investment vehicles, whether private equity or hedge funds … whatever it may be. That leads us to where we are today.
NJCI: How did this partnership with MedMen come about?
NR: Satya Capital has been doing work with MedMen for quite some time in California, so when we were coming into New Jersey, we felt very comfortable from our prior working experience with MedMen. We knew they were a market leader in terms of the retail space. We knew they shared a lot of the same fundamentals we did in terms of social justice, passion for the industry and what we wanted to create. It was kind of a no-brainer that our two companies combined brought a tremendous amount of expertise all the way from cultivation, manufacturing, distribution (and) all the way down to building and operating a retail storefront. We just believed it was an absolute no-brainer, and that we would be able to create something really special.
NJCI: Why Newark?
NR: For me, I am a born and raised New Jerseyan. I really only left the East Coast when I decided to pursue the cannabis industry 100 percent, which was a little over five years ago. I was born in Bridgewater, I grew up in Warren. My mom was a dean and pediatrician at UMDNJ her entire career. She only recently retired this past August; she had a 40 year career there. For me, Newark has been a huge part of my personal upbringing and my family for a very long time. And so for me it was very personal.
For Satya Capital, we place a tremendous importance on social justice. For our California businesses, we really believe in local hiring, investment in alternative industry, things like that. So when we were coming to New Jersey, we wanted to be somewhere where we could have the biggest impact, and we thought Newark was place, combined with my personal connection I had to the city.
NJCI: Have you been able to get the support of the community? Newark’s been on the fence with the proposed legislation due to the tax rate issues.
NR: I think from the leaders we’ve spoken to, we have been able to get community support. I think the differentiating factor is Satya Capital is a minority-owned, minority-led business. It’s a little bit of a rarity in the cannabis industry. We take a lot of pride in helping the communities we work with, and we take a lot of pride in giving opportunities to inner cities, minorities, people less fortunate. So from the conversations we’ve been able to have in Newark, I think that community leaders — along with the citizens we meet — realize quickly we are 100 percent sincere. We have a deep connection to their city. We understand their problems. We understand their concerns, and we really, really care.
NJCI: If you’re successful with your application, how are you looking to reinvest in the community?
NR: We have an entire social justice program outlined, including a social justice committee where we would have three local leaders as part of that committee, with an elected board member of Satya Capital, as well as an elected board member of MedMen. We would look to do it as a team and look to the leadership of the community leaders of Newark to give us guidance of where we can re-invest in the community — whether that be public-private funding for entrepreneurship, incubator programs, local hiring programs, supporting schools and vocational programs that can create jobs for Newark residents to support the cannabis industry or work directly within the cannabis industry, creating greenspace. We really believe the social justice committee will act as a conduit to give us the guidance as to where to invest.