The Breakdown EP 43: Creating Currency with Army Vet Charlie Uchill

The Breakdown EP 43: Creating Currency with Army Vet Charlie Uchill


– All right. Welcome to The Breakdown. It is Wednesday, July 11th. Sorry if you just saw our, we just had a little
technical malfunction. We are starting a new livestream now. We have a great show today. We have Charlie Yuchell here. Charlie’s gonna talk to you about, this is a complicated segue, but to how to go from running
a business that did, I’m gonna butcher this, mezzanine debt financing,
something like that, that is now moved into creating
a blockchain technology, a cryptocurrency for the
medical cannabis industry. So that’s a whole interesting topic. And Angel Torres is here
from Mission Continues and the Veterans
Leadership Council as well to talk about some of the opportunities that Mission Continues has for veterans as well as the national expansion for the Veterans Leadership Council, which we’ll talk and clarify on. First, I wanna say that it is Wednesday. So this is the first
ever Wednesday Breakdown. The last 42 episodes have
been all Monday afternoons. So we moved The Breakdown to Wednesday’s because the goal is we want
to make The Breakdown better. We put out a survey and we found that Wednesday was the
better day to do it on. But also now, as we’ve done
this for nearly a year, we’ve found that some of the best content is best captured if we go to the places where veterans are doing
these amazing things around the country, so the plan is moving forward, to go and travel to
some of these locations and go to do some onsite breakdowns that you know, like,
we’ll go to Grunt Style and sit down with Dan
Alarik at his headquarters in San Antonio. So the goal is to take
this thing on the road and to continue to grow and get better and improve our sound. Has been a big, big problem. (laughter) So, anyway, thank you for, that was a long little two
minute intro, but welcome. It’s so good to have everybody back. And hope everybody had
a great July 4th week. – It was was awesome. Great to be here. I’ve been looking forward to finally making the cut to get on the show. – Yeah, we have a lot chat about, yeah. (laughter) So, yeah, I’m really excited
to have you guys here. Angel, what’s your story? Where are you from? – Oh, jeez. I grew up in the southwest
suburbs of Chicago, Orland Park area, which is coincidentally where Pat Fitzgerald went
to high school and stuff. – No way. – Great guy. And joined the Navy
shortly after high school. Did 27 years in the
Navy, did tours all over and part of my exit strategy
was to get an education, and to go to school. I finished up school in Evanston and part of that was a two-year journey, figuring out what do I wanna do? What do I wanna be when I grow up? A 47, 48 year old man gonna figure out what he wants to be when he grows up. What I loved doing was being
passionate about veterans, being passionate about taking care of people and connecting people, and what happened was
I started working with Bunker Labs and Todd Connor
connected me with Alex, and we got invested in the VLC,
Veteran Leadership Council. I started out as an events organizer, then I became director of outreach, and then eventually I
became co-president of the Veteran Leadership Council,
and now it’s just growing and gotten so much momentum
that we’re working in. We did an expansion into
Washington, DC and now we’re looking at partnering with Deloitte and we’re doing a
multi-city launch this year to bring veterans together. The mission of the VLC is
to bring veterans together in a very sincere, very authentic way so that they can have real discussions, not just regular networking, but building real
relationships that help them in their careers in
business and in government. What that work, that
fills my need as far as connecting people in the business sense. Now with the mission
continues what do we do is we are a community
development organization that puts veterans right in
the center of the equation. We put them in leadership roles where they actually learn how to
make their communities better around them, and by doing that it gives them a sense of
purpose, a sense of meaning that they lacked when many of them left. That’s been a big thing that
people miss the military, they miss the guys for
lack of a better term. – Camaraderie, community. – Camaraderie, right. It’s funny you say that, community, because we have this thing
called empowered veteran index. It’s three tiers. It’s community,
development of the veteran, and it’s connectedness. When you connect all
those three, you are able to reintegrate that
veteran into the community, into those areas of civic involvement and community involvement. There’s a lot of people
in the transition space. What we do is we do the
reintegration space. Reintegration is fully integrating and immersing the veteran in their community so that they’re a staple and
a member of that community. They don’t feel like they’re disconnected. They’re fulfilled. – Awesome. A big reason obviously I’ve
known you for a number of years, the VLC started here in Chicago, going to a lot of the events early on. I think that what we’re showing right now is that there are veterans
service organizations in cities around the country that can work and collaborate with one another to really boost this community, and I think for us we, at Bunker Labs, I don’t see it as like
competitive veteran organization. – No. – I see it as like we both do great work, or we both try to do great work and I think at the end of the day
what we’re trying to do is build community for
veterans around a topic or around an interest,
and we can all continue to grow and get stronger together by doing things like this. – I couldn’t agree more. That’s pretty much the purpose of the VLC, was someone comes to
an event, a VLC event, and let’s say they’re an entrepreneur and they wanna start a business but they don’t know to
get through the pipe. Okay great, we connect
them with Bunker Labs. They go through the epic program. They do different things. They’re connected with funders and people that go wow that’s a great idea, or maybe it’s a mentor
relationship where you go maybe you wanna spend it this way. It’s someone that has a, because they’re a veteran, because we’ve all worn the uniform, they have a very sincere vested interest in seeing another veteran succeed, which is pretty great
and it’s something that almost when I talk to people in business and outside the veterans circle, they’re so envious because
they’re like we don’t have that. You have the alumni networks
and you have different things, but there’s nothing like that bond, that sense of community, that hey it’s about the guy next to me and how many times you’ve
felt that and thought that. That’s one thing I’m
noticing with the VSOs and different organization
is we’re not trying to get our slice of the pie, if you will. Everybody does something very, very well. We do community outreach
and service extremely well, better than anybody else,
but we’re working with organizations like
Combined Arms which will be the overarching entity
nationally and brings all the VSOs together. You’ve got Illinois
Joining Forces, you have Travis Manem, Bunker Labs,
you have all these people that are working together and it’s all hey man what can I do for you? It’s not what can you do for me? It’s hey how can I help
you be successful today? In a very real way and by real
I mean answering the email, answering a phone call saying yeah man – Just being there. – I’ll show up. – Exactly. – Showing up. – So let’s show up for Charlie here. Charlie, my quick intro for you is I’ve known you since
the beginning as members of the first Bunker Labs cohort, and I never understood what you did and I still don’t understand what you do. I don’t know what mezzanine
debt financing is, but your company, CoolMellon, let’s just start from the beginning like when we met a few years ago. What were you doing? – Sure. So, uh, CoolMellon was initially started as a, my partners were both ’92
grads from West Point. He came to me trying to fund a real estate project down in Austin. He was a real estate developer, so we initially started
at looking at maybe doing some real estate projects, but then we realized there
was a huge opportunity due to the financial
crisis where the banks had dropped out of providing
capital for these projects that there was an
opportunity for us to step in and bring investors in to
start funding these projects. There was a specific type
of debt that was missing. The banks would fund
up to a certain amount and the developers would
bring in so much equity but there was that gap
right there that needed to be filled and that’s
called mezzanine debt. It’s a subordinated type of debt. It’s not the senior debt
that the banks are at. It’s not equity. It’s right in between, so
it’s fairly decent interest rates that we could turn to our investors with some risk. We started and that was what
CoolMellon was set up to do was provide mezzanine debt lending for these commercial real estate projects. We found some great projects. We had some general
excitement from investors, but what was one of the
strange events that happened once we put our name out was we started getting calls from cannabis operators. – Why? – They couldn’t get funding at all because marijuana is a schedule one drug, part of the controlled substance act, banks are loathe to be
involved in this industry. Again, I understand why
they’re avoiding it and I understand the risk from it. They said hey instead of offering
these nice interest rates for subordinated debt, could you offer us loans where you’ll actually
be in senior position, like we would be the bank, like doing a mortgage on
one of these facilities. At first my partner and I said no. (laughter) Not gonna do that. – Why is that? Like why? People are saying can you
get this thing for me. – I just didn’t know
enough about marijuana. – Sure, sure sure. – Again I’ve said this to you before, you could put oregano and
marijuana in front of me and I’d have a 50 50 shot
at getting what it was. – Sure. – I just wasn’t willing to get into that. I just didn’t understand it enough, but we started going out to
Washington state actually, started touring these facilities, started touring these dispensaries. Saw they were legitimate
businesses doing real revenues and we saw legitimate
opportunity to fund them and we were willing
to, hey, let’s do this. We started putting together some plans or lending packages where we
could lend to this industry. That’s where that led us
into the cannabis industry. – What, just heading out? – [Angel] No I’m grabbing this. – Oh okay. Thanks. We’re live here. – I’m just trying to help you out. – Keep it rolling, we’re good. – One of the other things
that happened though as we started going through
this and understanding how this business would work and how our loan packages would work was that marijuana companies and a lot of these marijuana-related businesses
structured themselves in a certain way for tax purposes, and we started figuring
out would there be any way to create a structured
product around the revenues that they were generating
and let investors now come in and invest and
buy a piece of those revenues. We said hey- – Kind of tracking. (laughs) – Again there’s a pool of leases. – Yeah. – Let’s say it’s annual $600,000 of leases that these companies are
getting but they need money to build the facility. I’d say hey let us own
the leases, I’ll bring the investor dollars in. All the investors that I
bring, I’ve raised $6 million, we’re all gonna participate
in those lease revenues. You don’t have to think
about anything else. You’re just gonna own
a piece of that lease. I said what if we create a
structured product around that. At the time, we started
trying to figure out how to create that type of product. We were introduced to
the idea of creating a, of cryptocurrencies, stuff
like bitcoin and Ethereum. All these coins exist and it’s
very difficult to figure out what is the value of it? I’ve said to you earlier
today, bitcoin could go to 100,000 or go to a penny today and I wouldn’t be surprised. It’s very difficult to put a value on it. – It’s volatile? Is it volatile? – Oh absolutely, but what
happens if we created a coin where you had, you know what
the revenues are coming into it and we can track every
little step of the way where those revenues are? So we said let’s create
a coin that does that. We also decided that we
were gonna raise a fund and do it as a security, and we’ll get into that later why that was. – Do you do that by
monitoring the supply chain and the customer base and looking at the analytics of how many
people are buying and selling and all that kind of stuff? – Absolutely. That’s one of the things
that blockchain can do. At first we were just gonna
create a coin that was gonna be its first kind
of an asset backed coin. When we brought it to our attorneys over at Freeborn and
Peters who are just been a tremendous partner in
this and they are leaders in the whole cryptocurrency
space, specifically Tony Zeoli is big friend of the Bunker. They said hey if we- – Shout out to him. – Create a currency that is a security, we might also be able, you might also be able to
create a medium of exchange that can be used in the
cannabis industry that where right now cash is the
primary means of exchanging how you work in it, it’s a very inefficient form of currency in this particular space because banks don’t want to touch those dollars, so there’s vaults filled with dollars that have spent on cannabis, and they have storage facilities, they have guards around these facilities. – They’re running out
of, I’ve heard stories of they’re running out of
room and place to put it. – Why because it’s- – Hiring security companies just to- – Banks don’t wanna, they
don’t have bank accounts. – Just because it’s not
federally regulated. – Exactly. – The FDIC a bank can’t
hold anything that’s not within federal compliance. – Well yeah they’re concerned about it. Even though there’s different rules and laws and regulations that
have come out saying that hey we’re not gonna prosecute you, it’s just still not worth
the risk right now for banks, so banks say hey we’re out of this. We’re stepping out. That’s where we decided to step in and we think with our series coin, we’ve created again a
blockchain transaction network for the legal cannabis
industry that can help- – Skip the banks. – Yes. – Go around them. – But not, but actually
we’re also serving as a conduit for the banks to get
comfortable working with us. We’re speaking to different credit unions because they’re interested in the space but again they wanna reduce
and hedge out their risk and they see our coin as a way to do that. – Because credit unions are managed and funded by their members. – Members. – Versus, yeah. – And there’s still a social stigma that some will say hey we’re not getting, we’re not touching
cannabis no matter what. Others are like we’d like to get into it but we’ve gotta really hedge out the risk. Our coin is a way of doing that so when you transact with our coin, I’ll be able to know and
we’ll be able to hash out – Hash out, got it. (laughs) – [Charlie] So many puns
that you’ll hear today. – All day. – Create an identity
for you that we can now verify are you allowed to buy marijuana, are you old enough, if
it’s in a medicinal state do you have the required
licenses, are you purchasing it then from a facility
that’s allowed to send it, allowed to buy it, and then we can track all those transactions and we will put it on our private chain and
we’ll allow regulators to take a look at it, we’ll allow banks to take a look at it. They will get the
transparency that they’ll see that there is nothing illicit done. It wasn’t illegal drugs
flowing into the pipeline. We’ll be able to track all that. – Value of watching. – It’s a pretty, yeah. That’s the value proposition
that we can offer. – Part of your due diligence
is you’re taking on the vetting and the
research piece of people that are allowed to do it. – Absolutely. – Wow. Do you feel that’s a pretty
heavy weight to bear? – Yes but it’s just a
matter of going through the process of doing it right. The other part that we’re
doing that’s different from all the other coin
offerings that are going on is that we’re doing what
would probably be called a securitized token offering. We’re actually working- – Write that down somebody. – STO. – Securitized. – As opposed to an ICO,
an initial coin offering, we are working with the
SEC on our offering. – Wow. – We have had numerous calls with them. They have followed what we’re doing and we will now submit
an offering document which will go into very extensive detail on how our coin and our
token actually will work, and then we get more time into how the investors make money on this, but we wanna work with the
government on how to do this and we think we have a
pretty good compromise on how we can again create
this transaction network that gets this dangerous
cash off the floors of dispensaries, off the
floors of of growers, and kind of bring them
into the mainstream- – Give them a channel. – Yeah of how they can
actually run their business. – What’s the risk if, I
mean, with the current political climate and
the viewpoints towards the cannabis industry, what’s the risk if attorney general comes down
and says you know what? Would that affect? – As a former trader, I would say you actually have to
acknowledge that risk. That’s still why we get on, – I’m not trying to be a Debbie downer. – No no no, that’s a great- – I’m just curious. – You’re killing the guy’s dream, come on. (laughs) It was his dream. – It’s what I do, I own it. – No no no it’s a great question. In fact, we keep red pom poms
over here and blue pom poms because when- – Hedging your bet. – We need a little bit of this conflict initially to gain ground. I think the genie is
probably out of the bottle. There are right now 30 states that have approved medicinal cannabis. 46 states have approved
some part, some form of cannabis use in some form or fashion. There’s only four, four
out of 50 that have said no cannabis use at all, so again I think the genie is out of the bottle. – The seeds have been planted. – Until they see this Breakdown. (laughs) Shut it all down, Charlie. – I got mine. – No and President Trump came out fairly recently like
within the last four weeks, where he spoke to the
senator from Colorado who was holding up some
of his judicial nominees about prosecuting- – The fellow judges around, yeah. – About prosecuting cannabis,
he said I’m not gonna approve some of your federal justices until you kind of maybe push back on Attorney General Sessions
revoking some of the laws or amendments that, not amendments, but regulations that the Obama
Administration put in place. Trump said I will, if a
state like Colorado says cannabis is legal, I’m gonna
leave it up to you guys to monitor and police it,
so he’s kind of backtracked away from what Sessions,
and again I think he’s a business man in that regard. – You pick your battles. – Right, so now he’s getting that support from the senator from Colorado. – Amazing, so I just
wanna get into the like too long didn’t read version
of this is I think like you set out doing one thing, which was mezzanine debt financing in Austin, Texas, which led to an influx of a
certain target of customers saying we would like
your help and that has since led to you going
out, doing the hard work and the research, going
out to Washington and going and seeing how
these operations are run, which led to you inevitably
series coin here. So I’m just trying to
show or stress the process of all of this is like you’re not out here trying to be the biggest marijuana kingpin in the world, it’s like good business. – [Charlie] Absolutely. – And an opportunity to
get a door open for you that you saw and you had
the unique set of skills to quote Liam Neeson, to come in and you know apply them basically. I think that that’s like
the real takeaway here is that like a door opened up and you were the right
person in the right time to come in and say there’s
an opportunity here. – Right I think that’s right. The stuff we learned
actually coming to these initial Bunker meetings on Thursdays, the importance of
getting out of the office and talking to your customers, again I think the projects that we had were pretty neat in the
mezzanine debt space and they were good, you
know, you were gonna get a pretty decent
return, but when we speak into a lot of these family offices about some of the, it’s funny, I’d say vanilla mezzanine debt things and then we also said oh we also have a cannabis warehouse
that we’re looking at funding, they didn’t want to hear about a soybean storage facility
on the Mississippi River that had just- – Right, they’re seeing green. – I wanna hear about the, tell me about the cannabis warehouse. – Really? – Oh my god, yeah. Oh my god. With that the interest was again they didn’t wanna hear about my soybean storage facility anymore, they
wanted to know about this- – Because it’s an opportunity
that’s in the mainstream could be cutting edge. It’s hey that’s the untapped thing. I wanna be the person at the front end, not on the I wish I woulda, the early adopter, the maven
who gets in and grabs it and says you know what I was
the guy 10 years from now I was the guy who got in
early at the Microsoft, on Amazon, and all that stuff. They wanna be that guy. – It’s exciting for me too. I kind of like the innovation stuff and being an entrepreneur. The idea of being first here I think our goal is to be the
first or one of the first cryptocurrencies to be
qualified as a SEC security. We’re going through that process. It’s a difficult process. It’s long. I think we sent that picture, you have this straight line
image of here’s the finish line, it’s just a straight
line and it’s really not. It’s down some ditches and up a mountain. – [Charlie] Absolutely. – What I like is when we
study these case studies over and over again, I’ve got
the early mover advantage. You guys the way you’re
shaping this technology, and when you’re getting
in there and you’re saying look this is what it’s gonna look like. Cryptocurrency isn’t this theoretical- – [Charlie] Right. – We’re talking about
here’s a credit card. This is what it looks like. You can go buy what you gotta buy and we’re creating this
lifecycle, business lifecycle, for cryptocurrency. Yeah this is a byproduct
and this is a product and a means to an end, but
this is what it looks like. I think people can get their
heads wrapped around that, saying this is what it’s gonna do for me. It’s not theoretical, it’s
not long, short, pull, puts. It is what it is. – Yep and the other neat
part right now in the … I don’t know close to $15 billion raised on these coin offerings
and it’s been a lot done, you don’t even know what you’re buying. They haven’t really built anything. Everyone’s just gotten so excited by looking at what bitcoin is
and the price it goes up to and they think I’m gonna buy the next coin and close to 15 billion has been raised. We actually have, our prototype ecosystem, this blockchain ecosystem
where we can track what is happening in
every sale that happens, in every industry who
posts a trade with us, we can track that. It isn’t just notional. We actually have built our
protocol, our prototype, our MVP and we’ll be ready
to launch that MVP hopefully by targeting August 1st. – Who else is in the space
with you that could be- – I wanna be two things. One is the because we
delayed, one of our batteries just died a second ago
and I know nobody noticed how smooth and gracefully I got up and changed batteries out. – We’re wound in, we’re syncing man. – Yeah it’s a great
conversation but I just wanted for the interest of time
we’re going on about 30 minutes now, so I
just wanted to just say for more information about series coin- – Absolutely. Please go to, you’ll be able to check us out at seriescoin.io. You can contact me, [email protected] .io is the new thing
for the crypto people. We have a good video out
there and I’ll make sure the Bunker Labs gets a copy of our video to be able to see. We do have a private
offering going on right now that’s opened just to accredited investors that will give them a shot to
get in on an earlier version of these tokens that will eventually out and once it goes public
or once we get qualified by the SEC it’ll be open
to retail investors. – Cool. Angel, mission continues. – Yeah we have I was just at a meeting and we’re doing what’s called block blitz. We’re gonna go over into Cragen at 36 Ward and we’re gonna take over
two entire city blocks. We’re bringing in the Red Cross. We’re bringing in immigration attorneys. We’re bringing in all
these different services for that area, that
underserved area of Chicago, and where people are scared
to come out of their houses and stuff and we’re gonna do landscaping, we’re gonna do streets
and sanitation is coming, we’re doing smoke detector safety, door to door and we’re coming in. It’s gonna be a state of
the art kind of project and it’s gonna be our benchmark. – [Charlie] That’s awesome. – To build it out, because
people are gonna see in their front yard what
a veteran looks like. They have this notion and this idea of what a veteran looks like. Well a veteran is me. A veteran is a woman. It’s a young person. This is what a veteran
looks like and this is what they’re gonna do for you
and I think we’re gonna be able to do some serious
things here in Chicago, in the 36th Ward and expand throughout the city, the region, and the nation. – Amazing. How cool is this that we
can have this platform here to sit and talk about like cryptocurrency and like community development? This is like, I don’t wanna
say it’s common at Bunker, but this is the kind of stuff that happens in the veterans community. – These are kind of
people that you run into. – Yeah. – Like I ran into Alderman
Viegas here, 36th Ward, and we just became friends
and just an amazing guy and he really, really cares. I found out he’s the chairman
of the veterans caucus. I’m like oh yeah we can
definitely do things together to support my other brothers and sisters. – Sure. – Excited about that. – That’s really neat. – Angel, thank you so much. – Thank you. – Appreciate it. Charlie. – Thanks a lot man, that was fun. – Thank you very much. We will be back next
Wednesday at 4:30 central. Looking forward to it. Thank you very much. Have a good afternoon. Take us out Adam.

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