In honor of Veterans Day, Entrepreneur is highlighting the work of former military entrepreneurs who are building their own businesses, chasing their dreams, and kicking a whole lot of ass in the process. (Answers have been edited and condensed for clarity.)
Who are you and what is your business
My name is Socrates Rosenfeld, and I’m the Co-founder and CEO of iheartjane.com, the cannabis industry’s first online marketplace. We help customers search over 10,000+ products and shop their local dispensary menus in real-time.
What branch did you serve and what was your rank? When and where did you serve?
I served as a captain in the U.S. Army from 2004 to 2011, flying Apache helicopters as a platoon leader in The Republic of Korea, and then as a company commander in Iraq.
What does the word “entrepreneur” mean to you?
To me, being an entrepreneur means having the ability to find a way. Whatever the resources. Whatever the competition. Whatever the circumstance. An entrepreneur will always find a way to move forward in the relentless pursuit to realize a vision.
What was your proudest moment while serving?
The proudest moments of my military career have been those where I witnessed my soldiers successes — both as individuals and collectively as a team. On a personal level, graduating from Ranger School was a proud moment for me. That school taught me to face my physical, mental, and spiritual limits — and then to push past those limits even when I was not sure of myself. It proved to me that when everything is taken away — food, sleep, shelter, comfort, confidence — if you focus on putting one foot in front of the other, eventually you will get to where you need to go. On graduation day, I walked away with the feeling that nothing seemed quite so “impossible” anymore.
What did being in the military teach you about risk?
Being an Army aviator, you learn to appreciate risk. You learn that there are some risks worth taking, and some that are not. You learn to mitigate the risks you can control, and have contingencies for those that you cannot. You learn to face short-term risk to achieve long-term reward, and avoid short-term rewards that introduce long-term risk. And ultimately, that if you love something enough, you will risk everything for it.
What was your biggest business challenge?
The biggest challenge actually served as the genesis of iheartjane.com, and that was could we make shopping online for cannabis as simple and convenient as shopping online for everything else? Unlike other traditional online marketplaces, we could not keep products in a large warehouse and then mail them off once the order was placed. But like most really challenging and difficult problems, if you keep at it — the solution will reveal itself. In the end, we were able to develop a way to transform brick and mortars into “click and mortars,” where customers can shop online for cannabis products at local dispensaries in real-time.
What should people understand about what they’ll get when they hire or go into to business with a veteran entrepreneur?
Military veterans are built to be entrepreneurs. We know how to work with minimal resources and find a way to reach the objective. We know how to lead, and more importantly, how to follow. We understand how to work on teams — to work collectively towards a common goal. The values of loyalty, courage, and honor have been instilled in us. We are disciplined. We understand how to become masters of our craft. And because of this, we will always accomplish the mission.
Describe your leadership style.
I’m always growing as a leader, but I’ve found a few principles that have worked for me. You must lead from the front. You must have the courage to keep moving forward when others want to turn around and run away. You must have faith. You must believe in your vision — and even more so, believe in the team that has dedicated themselves to realizing that vision with you. And at the end of the day, you must have love. You must love the journey as much as the destination because that’s where the learning is. A leader is always learning and growing and inspiring others to do the same.
Is there a quote and saying that inspires you?
“If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.
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