Ray Rasouli walks this earth with a unique gift embedded in his soul: he loves to build, from scratch, brand new industries. He loves to blaze new trails. He enjoys creating an entirely new line of business where nothing existed before his magic touch.
We at the Millionaire Mindset magazine sat with Rasouli for an exclusive interview, and his life story, his entrepreneurial success story, his dreams, and visions enthrall us – the sheer brilliance of his mind.
Rasouli was born and raised in Iran before migrating to Canada, and today he says he loves Canada as his home. He’s the kind of immigrant who makes Canada the shining example that it is on the world stage. Though his story and journeys make for astonishing reading, and he easily would be the subject of a fascinating book, riveting movie and great documentary, Rasouli is humble, modest, even shy. He shies away from focusing the spotlight on himself, wanting instead to talk about what’s possible for the future of Canada as a nation.
At 55 years of age, he looks like a honed athlete and sits behind his desk in his Markham, Ontario office with an engaging, friendly attitude, talking easily about his dreams, visions and business ideas. Rasouli, in fact, is an economic futurist.
He comes from an orthopedic custom-shoemaking background, a trade he learned as a boy in Iran. So naturally – as his life journey led him to Canada in 1988, he settled into the shoemaking trade, working in the Red Deer, Alberta regional hospital as a custom orthopedics shoe technician making handmade orthopedic shoes for patients with special needs.
After four years of working in Alberta, he decided to move to Toronto for better job opportunities, and secured a job as an orthopedic technician in a private company and Sunnybrook Hospital in 1999.
In the year 2000, he decided to open his first foot clinic in Toronto, which he sold in 2003.
Here’s the thing with Rasouli. When he came to Canada in 1988, there was only a handful of custom shoemaking companies in Canada. Rasouli was then versed in the orthopedic trade, and his fame quickly spread far and wide, and before long, clients from Hollywood and other parts of the US started requesting him to make custom shoes for them. He is filled with stories of famous people coming to Toronto for him to measure their feet and make their custom shoes.
Naturally, demand for his services started growing, and 2003 his company had become the largest custom orthopedic shoe factory in Canada, producing 300 pairs of custom orthopedic shoes per month. “I started to be more innovative, creating great looking, fashionable orthopedic shoes, and the business grew daily,” Rasouli said.
Then, in 2004, he sold that company and trotted off to Dubai, where he invested in three successful businesses in the oil-rich nation. By 2007, his three companies were booming in Dubai, until the 2008 financial crash happened. “And I lost everything, knocked out flat, back to zero,” he said. Broke, penniless, he came back to Canada, borrowing money from friends to survive.
But Rasouli had proven he’s a man of immense heart, courage, and presence of mind. So, he went back to what he knows best – the orthopedic clinic. “I borrowed money and started another orthopedic clinic, this time in Vaughn. I named it Walk ‘N Comfort and launched it in 2010. By 2013 the clinic expanded to three locations, and I was doing well again,” he said.
Rasouli’s quick bounce back from losing everything in the 2008 financial crisis, happened because he had pioneered the orthopedic shoemaking business in Canada. He had made it into a brand-new industry.
And the experience lassoed his soul into a love for challenging himself, for pioneering new things – and, before long, a new industry appeared on the Canadian horizon for him to make into a Canadian economic engine. This spirit for pioneering a new industry may have become his signature character trait.
The new industry Rasouli was eyeing? The medical cannabis breakthrough in Canada.
He had his interest in medical cannabis as a brand new economic engine for society, and a new industry, piqued back when he was in Dubai. His family and friends who lived in California, where medical cannabis was now legal, were urging him to invest in the new industry there. He traveled to California and realized how the industry was taking off there. California, with a population just a little bit bigger than Canada’s population, was seeing a brand new economic engine, worth billions. But Rasouli turned down the idea of investing because he couldn’t move to California, so he went back to Dubai, forgetting about the whole thing. And now here was Canada following California’s path.
“I submitted my application to Health Canada immediately,” Rasouli said, in September 2013, and started a new company, called Abba Medix Group. He took the company public in March 2015.
He had launched out to pioneer another new Canadian economic engine, and already was reaping tremendous success. For a man who had migrated to Canada as a lowly custom shoemaker with $113 in his pocket in 1988, he had become the immigrant who not only made good but had generated two brand new economic engines, two successful businesses and industries in Canada.
With a belief that Canada’s policy to legalize medical and recreational cannabis use is a good thing for the economy, Rasouli helps to open the door for a significant economic boost for the country. Cannabis revenue in Canada is already reaching the $6 billion mark. Also, with Canada legalizing medical and recreational cannabis, not only the illegal marijuana black-market would fade, but also the industry would generate significant jobs, opportunities and tax revenue, he said.
Today, Rasouli is gearing up for the cannabis industry as it is becoming a major economic earner for Canada. He is launching several companies to pave the way for professional business operations in several sectors of the emerging cannabis industry.
He is behind some of the key players in the cannabis industry, such as Greenzone Therapy, a clinic for medical cannabis registration; Varipay, an electronic payment processing system; CannaPiece Group, his parent company, with branches to build professional, licensed and regulated growing facilities, doing refining, processing, packaging and sales of cannabis; and Canadian Craft Growers (CCG Corp), along with BudTree, an online marketplace for licensed recreational and medical cannabis dispensaries and legal producers of cannabis in Canada and abroad.
He also operates a clinic, Active Rehab Centre, which is a multi-rehab clinic that offers physiotherapy, chiropractic, acupuncture, registered massage therapy, among other therapeutic treatment, and a management company. His entrepreneur ventures employ close to 30 people.
“My goal in life is to leave a message and a legacy, that no matter where you come from or what is your background, you can achieve your life dreams and want to create a platform for others to achieve theirs. I encourage everyone, including my own staff, to go after their dreams. I came from nothing. I know how hard it is to move up in life and to succeed. I know people think that they need many tools to go after their dreams, tools like money, education, parents or family support and the list goes on. I believe you already have the tools you need and that is determination, hard work and strong belief that you are nothing less than people who have made it in their life. The only person who is stopping you is you,” Rasouli said.
Like what he achieved with custom orthopedic shoes, Rasouli is setting out to become one of the biggest company in the new, emerging medical and recreational cannabis industry, in Canada and globally.
Rasouli’s focus these days is a new project in Bowmanville, where he is building a 500,000+ square foot state-of-the-art co-up grow operation, with 140 licensed Micro Grow units, on a 12-acre property. He also has submitted a new application for licensing for a brand new 50,000 square foot cultivation and processing facility in Pickering, Ontario.
Rasouli said he’s confident he can raise the funds necessary for his new venture, which includes the 50,000-square foot facility in Pickering and Bowmanville, which are now both under construction.
It’s fascinating listening to him talking about business, life and launching his new business, opening new economic engines for Canada. Rasouli’s is the quintessential pioneering soul.