5 Deeper Questions With Marisa McRainey, CEO Revolution Microelectronics
I’m always interested in authentic personal stories from entrepreneurs. You know what an entrepreneur is? It’s that person who is not content with working for someone else, the risk-taker, the passionate thinker and doer. The person who works for themselves because they have too many ideas for the corporate world.
To work for “the man” can sometimes be a soul-sucking experience. One that I am very familiar with having worked for the man for twenty years in world of corporate finance. My take-away from that experience? Don’t work in the corporate world if you are a free-thinker, you won’t be able to go far up the ladder. They’ll stop you. Why? Do I really have to tell you? I promise that you won’t be happy for long, and time will evaporate from days into years of deep dissatisfaction.
Being an entrepreneur pushes you forward into uncharted territory. Just like what Marisa has accomplished. You will be proud of her success! If you should come across Marisa on a Zoom conference call pertaining to the cannabis lighting industry, or if you want her to pitch your grow, you can tell her that you read her article in Forbes Vices. I’ll bet it will make your and her day.
Doing things as they always have been done is not the way of the entrepreneur. Marisa McRainey is an entrepreneur/CEO in the world of high-technology based, horticultural (cannabis) lighting and I believe you owe her only one thing. Your attention. She’s quietly intellectual and wise by saying less and thinking more.
Now, with the bar being firmly raised to another level, please allow me the pleasure of introducing you to Marisa McRainey, a different kind of CEO. One who charts her course instead of just following others to their own place. Thank you. Cheers! WB
Warren Bobrow=WB: Please tell me about yourself? What brought you to the cannabis/botany world? Healing? What was your inspiration to do what you do? Why lighting?
Marisa McRainey=MM: I’m not your typical CEO. As a result, the way we run Revolution Microelectronics is as far outside of the box as we can possibly push it. The company’s name has a deep and personal meaning for me — we built this business to revolutionize the horticultural lighting and control market. We wanted to directly address some of the energy conservation challenges the cannabis cultivation industry faces through innovative electronics and digital software.
We’re based out of Atlanta, Georgia where I was born and raised. You wouldn’t think Atlanta could be the birthplace of a cannabis-related technology company, but we’ve been going against the norm from the beginning. Cannabis revolutionized my life. At the early age of 15, I realized my autism symptoms were greatly relieved by cannabis. I would be 19 before I gained regular access to what I now call my only medication.
From insomnia to focus and behavioral issues, I found the one medication which worked for me across the board was — absurdly — illegal. With zero side effects and nothing but relief gained, I logically decided to break the law and pursue self-medication with cannabis. This allowed me to become a success story instead of just another sad statistic. But that’s not the case for all people with autism. Many are too afraid of unjust laws, stigma within the family, or reefer madness propaganda to be comfortable treating their autism naturally.
The reason I chose to go into cannabis stems from my personal experience with autism and the desire to help those unaware of its benefits in managing symptoms. The relief that came from replacing my numerous prescription medications, all bearing warning of dangerous side effects, with a single plant was remarkable. I wanted to share this successful treatment option with others who were struggling with the same issues but haven’t found help. I want them to know that they (or their loved one) have hope for a happy, healthy and functional life.
Our move into lighting was born from a separate, yet equally obsessive passion for sustainability. After originally designing automation for cultivators, our company’s focus shifted heavily to lighting after witnessing the devastating human and environmental impact these value lighting systems had.
The ideology behind past designs was simply that the cheapest fixture wins. There was little to no effort put into the thoughtful use of energy or how to increase longevity in their design process. In our opinion, it should be an issue if a fixture lasts only a few years, generates excessive heat or doesn’t perform efficiently. So that’s why and when we began our journey to completely challenge and disrupt the entire long-standing model.
WB: Please tell me about your company? What do you do that’s different, therefore better than your competition? What stigmas do you face? When did you discover Cannabis? How old?
MM: Revolution Microelectronics was founded to innovate responsibly, not make the most money possible. I think our commitment to ethics, transparency and innovation are the biggest difference between us and the rest. Our designer and aerospace engineer, Greg Richter, has a great saying on the matter. “We want to have a good life, making a good living, doing interesting things.”
The lighting corporations we compete with are more focused on profit maximization than performance and eco-friendly manufacturing.
Their strengths lie in a strong market presence driven by an impressive professional marketing team. In contrast our power comes from hardcore engineering, R&D with a fixation on performance, and customer experience.
We don’t engage PhD’s post design to make our lights seem more advanced. We have the industry’s only market disruptive designer creating our tech from the ground up for optimal efficiency and performance. Literally every aspect of RevMicro technologies — from the driver to our software — is 100% our hard work and IP.
We’re bringing a new level of transparency to the industry by pushing third-party laboratory testing and supply chain authenticity.
The stigmas we face are common to anyone building companies in our line of business. Attempting to transition from a startup or medium-sized company into a large-scale corporation typically requires outside investment. When you’re in Cannabiz, this unfortunately means continuously being denied by banks due to tier one or two cannabis status. Until we have protection at a federal level for our industry, there’s always going to be a considerable amount of risk involved. Even private investors pass on investing in companies like ours because of the intense stigmas associated with it, citing the principle of “moral objections.” We may have been passed over by banks and investors, but in the end it, made us work harder, become stronger and forced us to grow more organically.
WB: What is your six- and twelve-month plan? What obstacles exist in your professional world? How do you anticipate removing them?
MM: Our six-month plan involves bringing on some new, heavy hitting C-level board members from the cannabis and medical industry. With these new board members, we’ll be able to keep our focus on designing technology and pushing the outer limits of efficiency while they’ll concentrate on expanding our market presence.
Our 12-month plan will have to be a topic for future discussions as many of the exciting partnerships are under heavy NDAs. I look forward to saying more about them in the near future.
Our major obstacle is getting the investors of large-scale projects to go with a smaller company offering better tech, eco-friendly manufacturing and customer support over a well-established corporate giant.
Everyone’s heard of Phillips so when you go up against that kind of market pull you have to get potential clients focused on comparing hard numbers. Certified lab testing, data on performance and efficiency is where we excel. It’s very similar to the set of challenges that early stage Tesla would have faced.
Some of the obstacles I’ve faced personally involved the challenges of being a C-level female trying to gain acceptance and respect in a mostly male-dominated industry.
WB: What is your favorite food memory from childhood? What does your favorite (birthday) meal look like now? Favorite food?
MM: My favorite food memory from childhood would have to be my first proper trick-or-treat after learning how to walk. I remember toddling through the door at the end of Halloween night, both hands packed solid with loose candies I was rapidly cramming into my mouth. After taking only three steps inside, I crashed immediately to the floor with exhaustion, theatrically spilling the remaining candy across the floor.
My favorite way to celebrate a birthday is still very much the same now as it was back then. A smorgasbord of candy and sweets with family and friends on Halloween night, always resulting in a deep sugar coma.
I don’t necessarily have a favorite food though. The subject of food has always been somewhat of a complex issue for me because of the Asperger’s. I tend to eat the same small list of things repeatedly to avoid certain textures and flavors.
WB: What is your passion?
MM: My strongest passion at the moment is becoming deeply involved with the development of modern cannabinoid and herbal-based medicines along with lowering the environmental impact and energy consumption of their production.
I am in strong favor of the full legalization of all plants, not just decriminalization, including natural hallucinogens and cannabis. It’s an incredibly important mission to me. Any non-violent drug offenders serving time in the United States prison system should be released, allowing them to return to their families and communities. Federal protection along with expanded research programs could lead to an all new era of safe and effective medicines. Cannabis is not only my passion but also my savior.