10 Highlights from the Virtual Cannabis Entrepreneur Summit
Over 10,200 people tuned in live from 63 countries to watch 30+ top cannabis entrepreneurs share their experience, wisdom, and best advice over the span of two days – the biggest cannabis industry event to date in this space!
The sheer diversity of professional expertise in this industry coming together for the whole world to watch was simply surreal.
As a viewer who watched the entire Summit start to finish virtually this weekend (while basking in the comfort of my sweats), I could literally feel the momentum of this industry moving beyond the stage and into the hearts and minds of viewers.
It was a groundbreaking weekend for cannabis no doubt. In fact, here are just 10 of the many incredible takeaways.
1.) The Cannabis Industry Needs Your Expertise
Patrick Rea, founder of cannabis startup accelerator Canopy Boulder opened the Summit with a bang, sharing how entrepreneurs can find their niche.
His advice: get active and be present; learn everything you can about the industry and assess yourself honestly to determine where your talents can best be applied.
Meg Sanders of MiNDFUL added her own compelling insights on this topic during day two of the Summit: “The water is great; I invite you to jump in,” she said, advising newcomers that the stage is set to find phenomenal partners, investors, and other opportunities in this industry.
With stable business models, analytics, regulatory planning, and so much more, it is becoming easier for experts from other fields to get involved in the cannabis space.
As Patrick shared in his final thoughts, “The best jobs, businesses, and opportunities in the cannabis industry haven’t even been thought of yet.”
2.) Cannabis is a Fertile Environment for Investors
We also received some great insights on the investment side of cannabis.
In her talk on crucial investment lessons, investment expert Emily Paxhia of Poseidon Asset Management shared some words of wisdom for investors: “Invest only if you can improve upon the circumstance.”
Having helped to build Poseidon on strong values of making a positive impact and helping others in need, Emily urged those looking to invest in cannabis to consider their choices wisely by focusing on intentions, people, and details.
Alan Brochstein of 420 Investor during a panel discussion on raising funds for cannabis businesses added that the biggest mistake investors make is taking shortcuts.
Like Emily, Alan recommends that investors take it slow. “Don’t look for a quick buck, find something you really believe in.”
3.) Cannabis is a Complex Industry
There are unbelievable opportunities in the cannabis industry. And there are also considerable challenges to be aware of as well.
Many speakers from the Summit agreed, cannabis is by far the most challenging industry they’ve ever worked in. The legal landscape alone can be quite overwhelming.
Luckily, Luke Stanton from Frontera Law Group shared how cannabis companies can avoid the landmines and costly legal mistakes.
Mistake number one? Don’t assume this is an easy business to break into.
“If you think that you’re just going to be able to waltz your way into the cannabis industry and make millions of dollars without working for it, you’re better off buying a lottery ticket,” Stanton said, adding that cannabis entrepreneurs need to be on top of their due diligence from day one.
4.) Education is the Key to Success in the Cannabis Space
Building a sustainable and successful cannabis business can be challenging. There are no doubt major hurdles in this industry that are simply not present in other industries, which is one of the reasons why education is so essential.
During her talk on how to build a cannabis products company the right way, founder and CEO of Auntie Dolores and Treatibles, Julianna Carella advised entrepreneurs on how to educate themselves to run a better business –to invest plenty of time in researching products, markets, and the industry as a whole.
You must know your market. The playing field is becoming much more competitive, and entrepreneurs who want to add the most value will be keenly aware of the ins and outs of this industry.
Equally important, as Max Montrose the founder of Trichome Institute reminded us, education in the cannabis space doesn’t stop at the individual level.
Businesses must also make education an integral aspect of what they do. Max pointed out that while billions of dollars are going through the hands of budtenders, there is no standard for training or certification.
Max shared that many physicians, for example, still have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to practical cannabis knowledge. This is just one reason why it is critical budtenders and entrepreneurs are highly trained, he said.
5.) Every Great Cannabis Entrepreneur Needs a Great Team
Your team can make or break you in this industry. The best entrepreneurs in the world are only as strong as their weakest link.
During his talk on business lessons learned from cultivation, Chuck Rifici, founder of Nesta Holding Co., urged entrepreneurs to never settle when it comes to building their team.
“Cannabis attracts talent within and outside the industry. Great talent attracts capital,” he said. “Raising money is hard, but if you lay the right foundation, you can make success.”
Francis Priznar who is a lead mentor at the ArcView Group also referenced the importance of a strong team during his talk on how to pitch investors. Priznar revealed that a company’s team is one of the key factors investors take into consideration when evaluating a business.
The bottom line? It’s not enough to have an amazing product or idea; you’ll also need an equally amazing team to support that product or idea.
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6.) Big Data is Creating Solutions in the Cannabis Space
While many dispensaries are still relying on instinct or trial and error to determine product churn volumes, Roy Bingham of BDS Analytics advised us on an easier and more efficient way.
During his talk on leveraging data for dispensaries, Roy shared that patient and consumer preferences could be tracked through analytics. Rather than taking a shot in the dark, companies can use data to identify product problems, preferences, and solutions. Without this important data it would be like trying to fly a plane without an instrument panel to guide you.
So, how much should a cannabis business expect to invest in technology?
David Drake of Cannabis Reports tackled this subject during his presentation on the technology and software needed to run a cannabis company.
His recommendation? Start small and focus on what will provide the most value first.
It can be easy to rack up a pool of debt investing in the latest and greatest tech. David advised entrepreneurs to consider all of the ways they will be able to use the technology before investing if they want to maximize dollars spent.
He noted that entrepreneurs should expect to spend about one-third of their budget on technology.
7.) Innovation For Cannabis Companies Hinges on Execution
Planning is crucial for any business, and it’s only one part of the process.
As Patrick Rea shared during his talk on finding your niche, entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry must also focus committing themselves to action! Entrepreneurs entering this space must be both willing and prepared to get active.
And proper execution doesn’t mean opening a storefront right away – as Patrick shared. It could mean perfecting your pitch, locating partners, or finding the right employees for your team. Stay engaged and keep moving forward.
When in doubt, Patrick advises entrepreneurs to ask themselves: “What do I need to do to be investment ready?”
Shango Los of Ganjapreneur also shared words of wisdom on execution during his talk focused on online marketing strategies.
“Get into a relationship with your audience, in your own way. There is no future for a sterile brand. A nice clean brand with everything perfect is bullsh@t! Be willing to take chances and make mistakes,” he said.
In other words, don’t be afraid to do. An idea without action is nothing more than a hallucination.
8.) Passion and Perseverance are a Cannabis Entrepreneur’s Fuel
This past weekend the world was able to watch many of the cannabis industry’s most remarkable leaders in one place. And while the spectrum of expertise was impressive, the thread that connected everybody on stage was even greater: true passion.
As Chuck Rifici stated during his talk: “Passion to an entrepreneur is like cash to a business, it’s what makes the dream worthwhile.”
Entering this industry is challenging and unlike anything you’ve probably done before – it’s the Wild West of the 21st century. Don’t ever hesitate to give yourself a gut check and make sure you’re in this industry for the right reasons.
9.) Wealth is Not the Most Valuable Asset Here
The man who has inspired and empowered so many, Steve DeAngelo, shared probably the most heartfelt message this weekend as he took the stage to share the future of cannabis.
As one of the industry’s greatest trailblazers, Steve believes that the darkness of prohibition is passing and the light is piercing. In fact, it’s getting brighter every day and with that comes responsibility.
The gradual dismantling of prohibition is happening right before our eyes. The recent legal victory against the feds for Steve and the patients at Harborside Health Center is a strong indication that we are headed in the right direction.
The benefits of cannabis are evident. The science is here and people are starting to wake up. The success and the prosperity is spreading, but as Steve reminds us, the real opportunities here are far more than financial.
“The creations of nature don’t belong to anyone; they belong to every single human being on this planet. Cannabis did not come into our hands so that we can be wealthy; it came so that we can help change the world.”
As Kris Krane added during the final talk of the Summit, we have the unique opportunity to bring those values, morals, and ethics the plant has taught us to an emerging industry.
“We have the opportunity to develop an industry unlike one that’s ever been developed before, and one that keeps the ethics of the issue at heart, but also advances the issue as a whole.”
10.) How to protect cannabis from big pharma and big tobacco
Reggie Gaudino from Steep Hill Laboratories gave a riveting and even alarming talk on the challenge of protecting this plant from greedy, corporate interests.
Reggie shared that Monsanto alone is spending $2.6 million per day on research and development and we should anticipate that Monsanto and others like them have definite plans to enter the cannabis space.
The more patents they secure on cannabis, the easier it will be for them to have their way, Reggie said.
If the cannabis industry is going to protect this beloved plant, we have to beat them to the punch on cannabis-related patents.
Reggie gave some insightful tips on how to accomplish this during an uncomfortable but important talk for all of us to hear.
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