Akhil Alugupalli, Penn State junior, doesn’t have the ‘typical’ college job. Rather he’s the founder and CEO of SRIN Therapeutics Inc., a cannabis production company.
Alugupalli started the company the summer transitioning between high school and college. What sparked his interest in starting the company was his own experiences with CBD. Alugupalli played basketball in high school until he got injured his sophomore year, suffering from chronic knee inflammation.
“I had to get surgery and they gave me everything from muscle relaxers to oxycontin right after the surgery, all these super-powerful drugs. One thing that kind of bothered me, especially because at the time I was in the middle of high school,… was that they’re going to give an oxycontin prescription to a kid who’s 17, but there’s no option for CBD,” he says.
When he told his parents about his interest in starting a medical cannabis production company, they gave him $25,000 to initially invest in the company.
“My first investors were my parents, and I’m lucky because not many people’s parents are able to give them their first check, but I was lucky in the sense they gave me most of their life savings,” Alugupalli says.
The first part of starting up the company was getting a production license, which Alugupalli was able to do and got a lease in a small building and starting to grow the plant. For a while Alugupalli says he was practically a one-man show, working alone and learning as he went.
While at Penn State, Alugupalli became friends with a few of the players on the basketball team who were able to connect him with their agent, who’s a venture capitalist and invests in a lot of companies privately, and ended up investing in SRIN Therapeutics.
Alugupalli was also able to enter a new area by becoming a freelance agent with this person’s firm and has had the opportunity to meet a lot of players and has seen how the two sectors of business go together.
“They taught me so much in a sense like how much of a crazy world is out there, like privately, within all the money markets of high network individuals, professional athletes and what not. Through being some of these guys’ agents, I’ve learned so much that helps me with my own medical cannabis company because a lot of these guys use it and there’s a lot of reform that could be done [in sports].”
In the past year and a half, Alugupalli has seen his business grow rapidly. Just this year alone he’s hired 30 employees to work in the production facilities, and all of them are ex-convicts that have criminal records with cannabis.
“A lot of these guys would never get a shot at a second chance, even though they’re non violent offenders. It was one of those things to me, everyone should be given a second chance.”
When looking at the future, Alugupalli’s company is starting to look into opening its own dispensaries, which would carry their own product, in New Jersey in light of the recent legalization of recreational cannabis in the state.
“It’s such an exciting time to live in, where we are right now, the present because I think slowly but surely people will listen, hear and to come to common ground on some things and I feel like cannabis is one of those things.”