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Jacob Saboo: Having Boots on the Ground is Essential for Cannabis Businesses

How Jacob Saboo co-founded a small medical vape startup that became one of the largest cannabis companies in Michigan.

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Jacob Saboo was working in retail sales in 2017 as a young entrepreneur who owned a cellphone shop in Michigan. But, as a cannabis connoisseur, he was drawn to the new market and joined with a few friends to found Mitten Extracts, which catered to the state's caregiver market. 

Saboo worked tirelessly with boots on the ground, building the brand by going store-to-store trying to get his vape cartridges onto shelves. The company experienced a lot of rejection at first, but Mitten eventually landed its first sale and continued to build momentum.

At the time, the company had its own in-house manufacturing and extraction processing, with employees filling cartridges by hand with syringes. The company invested in new filling machines as they evolved, but the hand-filling is an example of the team's willingness to adapt and evolve. 

In July 2019, the team opened its first retail location for Cloud Cannabis in a step toward vertical integration. The company now has 10 stores and some 350 employees, a team built on offering a good customer experience. 

Cloud's business model is to elevate the health and happiness of customers and employees. Cloud is a family-run operation that embodies the company motto and passes it on to the customer. Saboo, 27, finds pride in not just the business's success but the success of his employees. 

The company recently opened a 70,000-square-foot grow facility in Kalamazoo. Cloud was looking for a cultivation to further vertically integrate. In 2021, the company acquired a 35,000-square-foot grow from KKind that came with a pair of retail locations. Adding cultivation has helped improve product consistency, but it has been a balance between quality and yield. 

The company recently launched Mitten Distro, the company's wholesale division. Formerly known as Brand Labs, the company wanted to tap into the brand equity with the "Mitten" name. The launch coincided with the debut of Ric Flair Drip at the Cloud Cannabis Detroit Dispensary. Flair made it out to the event, and the pro wrestler has committed to visiting Michigan about seven times per year to support the line. 

The company continues to build out its manufacturing campus in Kalamazoo, and Saboo expects another five to seven stores to open by the end of the year. He still has his boots on the ground and even budtends occasionally. It's important for him to understand what the consumer is looking for, and it also helps sharpen employee skillsets as he leads by example. 

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