The Higher Learning LV™ Interview: David Dinenberg

Updated: Mar 28

In January 2022, Higher Learning LV conducted an exclusive interview with David Dinenberg, Founder and CEO of Kind Financial in Los Angeles. Over the past 18 years, Dinenberg has worked in several successful ventures in the finance, real estate, and entertainment industries.

David Dinenberg of Kind Financial in Los Angeles


Dinenberg, an active member of the cannabis community, has served as a featured speaker at several cannabis conferences, including the National Cannabis Industry Association's Cannabis Business Summit & Expo, the Native American Marijuana & Hemp Conference, and the Marijuana Business Conference & Expo.


He and Kind Financial have been featured in several prominent magazines and newspapers, including Inc. Magazine, Forbes, Philadelphia Magazine, The Deal, and LA Business Journal. He has also made numerous appearances on CNBC as a contributor and resource regarding developments within the cannabis industry.


Dinenberg is a seasoned entrepreneur with an enviable track record of successful start-up ventures in the restaurant and entertainment industry, including a production company working with a Grammy Award-winning singer. He is a graduate of The Pennsylvania State University and currently resides with his family in the Los Angeles area.


The Interview


Higher Learning LV: "Thank you for sharing your time and expertise, David. You're rare with respect to the fact that you have nearly a decade of experience of providing financial services to the cannabis and hemp industries. What motivated you to jump into a high-risk, controversial, and often outright opposed industry like cannabis?"


"When we launched Kind Financial in 2014, we believed, and of course still believe, the cannabis industry should operate like any other industry."

David Dinenberg: "When we launched Kind Financial in 2014, we believed, and of course still believe, the cannabis industry should operate like any other industry. Prior to 2014, I lived on the East Coast and medical cannabis wasn't even discussed. In fact—to your point—it was frowned upon.

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"My family and I moved to the West Coast to start Kind Financial. I saw it as an opportunity, a business opportunity. Then I learned that we could not only make money, but also do good at the same time. To me, it's a once in a lifetime opportunity."


HLLV: "You founded Kind Financial nearly eight years ago, giving you a significant lead in your market segment. Tell us more about Kind Financial and how it stands out in what is rapidly becoming a competitive segment."


DD: "I wouldn't call it a lead. I would say the first year or so was, metaphorically speaking, graduate school for us. I am not a banker or a compliance officer; I was a real estate guy. I needed to learn. And what I learned was: Don't bring band aids to the market. Build services and products that businesses need now and will need after federal legalization."

 

HLLV: "Speaking of federal legalization: The United States stands on the precipice of federal level adult-use cannabis legalization—a first since August 1937 when hemp and cannabis prohibition took effect. From your perspective, what changes might federal legalization bring for Kind Financial and its clients?"


"I think most CEOs, especially on the ancillary side, would say competition from traditional financial services firms. You can see it in Canada already and I've spoken to some large, well-known companies that are just sitting and waiting for federal change."

DD: "I think most CEOs, especially on the ancillary side, would say competition from traditional financial services firms. You can see it in Canada already and I've spoken to some large, well-known companies that are just sitting and waiting for federal change."


HLLV: "You're a big sports fan. Major sporting organizations are beginning to loosen the rules affecting cannabis consumption and testing for professional athletes. How do you think the situation will evolve over the next five to 10 years?"

DD: "Love this! Love the acceptance! To me, it's about allowing athletes and, quite frankly, anyone to make their own choices about what they put in their body. Many athletes I've spoken to can't stand all the opioids they are given to relieve pain.


"These athletes have been taking cannabis for years and years already, but the world is just catching up. The most important non-industry thing to me is getting rid of the stigma. I believe athletes can help a lot in this regard."


HLLV: "Kind Financial is equally steeped in cannabis and technology. How do you see leading edge tech, especially mobile tech, affecting the cannabis industry and perhaps separating the winners from the losers in the burgeoning industry?"


"Same as any other space: Adapt or die. Not saying tech wins, just saying we started out as a small friendly greenwave space and now are growing up and becoming more sophisticated...more corporate. Find your niche, adapt, and thrive."

DD: "Same as any other space: Adapt or die. Not saying tech wins, just saying we started out as a small friendly greenwave space and now are growing up and becoming more sophisticated, more corporate. Find your niche, adapt, and thrive."


HLLV: "KindPay addresses many pain points resulting from the current lack of robust merchant banking services in the cannabis industry that result from the Schedule I status of marijuana at the federal level. Please tell our readers more about this innovative service."

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DD: "When I originally decided to enter the cannabis industry, my goal was to normalize banking for the space. To me, I don’t believe the industry will reach its full potential until banking and financial services are 'normalized,' with or without federal legalization.


"We will be relaunching KindPay toward the end of first quarter 2022. I believe it will become the backbone of cannabis banking and payments. We are partnered with a real bank that is based in the U.S. and has more than five years experience working with our industry. It also has more than 500 MRB clients today."


HLLV: "The Kind Financial Advisory Board is one of the most impressive in the industry. How does having such an experienced group help drive Kind Financial deliver more effective client solutions than its competition?"

DD: "Thanks for saying that! We worked hard to attract the correct people. We wanted business experience, advocacy, and diversity. Opening doors and helping us think through where we should be heading and how we get there are the most important aspects to me."


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