More than 1.5 billion people live with chronic pain, and many of these people struggle to find effective treatments. Among them is Wilmington resident David Tuttleman, who Delaware Business Times refers to as a “serial entrepreneur.” His most recent business endeavor involves an industry growing in popularity in many parts of the country: medical cannabis.
Tuttleman’s new marijuana business, Matrix NV, has a primary goal to make a difference, though it’s had much financial success as well.
Tuttleman says that making a difference was a big part of his family’s “core family values,” in addition to entrepreneurship. His first business idea came to him when he was just nine years old — Snoco snow cones.
But while the average age of retirement is 63, Tuttleman, 56, is currently pursuing not his first, but his fifth career. He’s best known as owner of Wilmington Riverfront entertainment complex, Kahunaville, which closed in 2006.
When Tuttleman had the chance to appear on a TEDx talk entitled, “Coincidence, Charisma and Cannabis,” he notes several factors as the impetus for his marijuana business. First, his sister, Jan, used marijuana brownies as a form of pain relief when she was suffering from brain cancer prior to her death in 2012.
Tuttleman’s niece, Elizabeth, has also benefited from the plant’s medicinal properties. She found that the non-psychoactive component of cannabis, called cannabidiol, stops her epileptic seizures entirely.
“She got life back into her. She found dignity. She found love,” said Tuttleman.
The final push came from Evan Marder, Tuttleman’s first assistant at Kahunaville’s Wilmington location. After working at the Las Vegas location, he reported to Tuttleman that Nevada’s legalization of the plant was a “great opportunity.” After hearing this, he studied the plant in detail and talked to a number of sources, including doctors, patients, and governors.
“I’ve talked to a lot of people,” he said. “I understand it deeply.”
Tuttleman is even a patient himself, having received his patient ID with the state this year. He says he suffers from inflammation and pain related to “obesity and gravity” and considers himself a patient before an industry employee.
“First and foremost, I’m a patient, then I’m in the business,” he said.
Tuttleman is the CEO of Matrix NV, and along with COO Marder, founded the company and have outfitted a 31,000 square-foot facility in Northern Las Vegas to grow and harvest cannabis as well as make oils, extracts, and concentrates to sell to dispensaries. After putting in the first plants back in April 2016, they became profitable in June 2017 with 5.2 harvests each year.
Looking back on his success, Tuttleman says the company “did a lot of things right,” from assessing business size to employing creative marketing tactics. On average, consumers are exposed to 3,000 ads and promotional messages every day, but Matrix NV hopes to stand out by offering premium and ultra-premium brands of 28 strains, one dubbed “Jane Snow” as an homage to two “Game of Thrones” characters.
Ultimately, Tuttleman’s personal and business relationship with cannabis has made him a strong advocate for both medical and recreational marijuana.
“I’m very proud to be in the marijuana profession,” Tuttleman said. “I support recreational marijuana and adult use across the country. People who want it should not be stigmatized.”