This Guy Funded His Startup With Profits From Marijuana Stocks

Business Insider

NewsMakeup.com is billing itself as a fact-based satire website where people can come on both to laugh but also to learn information.

While it's still in transformative stages, the site is aiming to toe the line between The Daily Show's fact-based comedy and The Onion's on-target satire. 

The project is ambitious and seeks to partner with nonprofits moving forward to bring issues to the forefront. 

It's the brainchild of Adam Gassman and looks to be much more than a mere Onion-clone.

" We lace real statistics and facts into satirical content that not only engages the viewer, but also prompts them to think critically about the issues," Gassman told Business Insider.

Articles like "CIA Employee Mistakes Drone Operation For “Call Of Duty,” Kills Pakistani Family" are designed to both entertain and also bring an underreported story — the drone war in Pakistan — to the forefront of people's minds.

Gassman left behind a number of different lucrative opportunities to start the business.

He worked for a Democratic congressman in D.C. as a legal fellow, crafting policy and working on bills. He worked on Andrew Cuomo's campaign for Governor. He was approached by lobbyists trying to recruit in D.C. He recently passed the New York Bar exam and can practice law.

Still, he turned away all of those opportunities.  Instead, he wants to start his own business. 

"There's too many lawyers anyway," he said.

He got worried in law school when he, a news hound, saw his friends spouting verbatim arguments from cable news and touting it as an original opinion. That scared him. He wanted to do something good. 

Gassman thought that there was still room in the market for informed, catchy satire. Even more, he found a whole group of ambitious people willing to write for free in exchange for equity because they also believed in the project. 

"It has a lot to do with the recession. I think we need to have a generation of people who create their own jobs, create their own way."

And with the recession, he feels that millennials have the opportunity to make a major dent in the market and to create meaningful, fulfilling work. 

"It's riskier, but the reward is a lot higher. I get to put out content that I think is important."

What's also interesting is how he worked out the startup process. He's a lawyer, so he had the training to carry out the paperwork. Even better, Gassman had the money needed for funding, won from an unlikely source.

"My original startup idea was to grow medical marijuana. I made a decent amount of money buying and selling medical marijuana stocks."

You can buy stock in pot?

"Yeah, you can buy a lot of it. If you go to MarijuanaStocks.com there's a list. Fusion Farms is the most legitimate one, it's the most stable. That's based in Colorado with the legalization."

It turns out that when medical marijuana growers, distributors and dispensaries need to raise capital for their now-legal operations, they can tap into a large, distributed investor base through online trading.

With the needed capital and the paperwork in hand, Gassman got the ball rolling. He paid for the development of the site and got to recruiting content producers.

The site started with around 15 writers, a lot of whom have moved up to editorial work and gained equity in the company as they worked. By November, the team was breaking 30,000 hits a month and rising with only two months in the bank. 

For revenue, the team is working with some affiliate marketing — Snorg Tees and others — but is looking to move directly into sponsored content for advocacy groups. 

In the end, he's focused on building a team and developing a voice and business model. He's one of many millennial-aged entrepreneurs looking at the existing career prospects and turning them down in unconventional ways. 



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