Budding business

Saint John digital publishing start-up looks to capitalize on growing marijuana sector

Budding business

Pot is hot in North America, and Saint John’s Derek Riedle is looking to capitalize on the trend.

In September of 2015, Riedle and his partner Terri Riedle launched Civilized.life, a website featuring stories about pot users and pot issues. The Riedles, co-owners of Saint John-based Revolution Strategy, a creative and marketing company, know a business opportunity when they see one. “This is a market that is increasingly coming out of the shadows and it’s leading to some impressive entrepreneurial opportunities,” Riedle says.

Indeed. In Canada, the total market for medical marijuana is perhaps $80 to $100 million. But if the federal government makes recreational use legal, the market could be worth $5 billion. And that’s just in Canada. One research report says legal sales of marijuana in the U.S. could reach US$21.8 billion by 2020.

The Riedles recognize it’s more than just society’s fringe who enjoy pot — it’s teachers, lawyers, engineers, and executives, too. These high achievers (and high earners) are hungry for information about recreational marijuana use. The Riedles hope they come to Civilized to get it. As of March, the site had 1.5 million unique visitors, and it is being run out of Civilized’s Saint John headquarters with 15 employees. The company also has a small Los Angeles office.

While Riedle talks about Civilized being a vehicle for social change, it also has to make money to survive. The website is already hawking Civilized-branded t-shirts, mugs and totes, and more content and revenue opportunities will be rolled out over the next 12 months. It is also working with New York-based venture capital firm Viridian Capital Advisors to get more investment dollars into Civilized. “We’re thrilled about where we are and you’re going to see a lot of exciting news from Civilized here in the near future,” Riedle says.

Darren Campbell
About Darren Campbell

Born and raised in Cape Breton Island, Darren Campbell has a long career in journalism and in the magazine business. In the past nine years, the graduate of Acadia University and Ryerson University has served as editor of several resource and business magazines including Far North Oil & Gas (2004-2007), Up Here Business (2008-2009), and most recently, Alberta Oil (2011-2013). In 2007, Far North Oil & Gas was chosen by the Canadian Society of Magazine Editors as Trade Magazine of the Year. In 2012, Alberta Oil was chosen as Magazine of the Year by the Canadian Business Press and chosen as Trade magazine of the Year in 2011 and 2012 by the Western Magazine Awards. In 2012, Darren's feature article that appeared in Alberta Oil, "Black Art" won the silver medal at the Canadian Business Press's Kenneth R. Wilson Awards for Best Resource Infrastructure Article.

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