Highly ObjectiveDec 10, 2021
Sunderstorm, CEO, Cameron Clarke
Sunderstorm is currently in CA, NV, CO, and MA. The company plans to launch in IL soon. The company also announced in December 2022 plans to enter Thailand through an agreement with THCG Group Ltd. (THCG), a Thailand-based, vertically integrated medical cannabis license holder with existing cultivation, distribution and retail operations, including wellness centers. The company expects this market entry to bring meaningful revenue, and similar to being in Las Vegas, an important one to build the brand.
Cameron Clarke and Keith, lifelong friends and business partners, started Sunderstorm in December 2014. Cameron talks through how this has helped them navigate the challenges of the cannabis industry with their diverse backgrounds
Sunderstorm aims to enter billion-dollar plus markets and initially targeted Nevada and Colorado for their potential progress
The importance of having the right partners in the cannabis industry–trust, consistent quality, and effective communication. The Company has found success by aligning their interests with their partners, managing challenges together, and leveraging local relationships for market understanding and expansion
Various collaborations and partnerships with different brands, including a successful collaboration with RNBW
Collaborating with dispensaries to provide products that consumers want by leveraging their R&D capabilities
The importance of owning distribution and relationships with retailers
Control their brand and be their own distributor, investing heavily in technology and building one of the best distribution platforms in California. Sunderstorm has expanded distribution to bring on third party brands, which would bring down their distribution costs and benefit the brands with their larger footprint in the state, while reducing their own costs
Decision to expand to Thailand given the favorable regulatory environment and the potential for a large market with both domestic and international opportunities
Sunderstorm has raised $10 million and is debt-free
Unique aspects of Sunderstorm–investments in technology, systems, automation, quality, and R&D
Curio Wellness, Wendy, Rebecca, and David
Curio Wellness is the leading wholesaler in most recent adult-use market in Maryland. They're also one of the only cannabis operators with FDA approved safety certifications for manufacturing. Focused on product innovation to introduce first to market cutting edge brands like terpene chews. The company also has a franchising program and fund aimed at helping minority entrepreneurs with its Far & Dotter retail banner.
Hemper / HARA Supply CEO Bryan Gerber
Hemper launched in 2015 as a curator of monthly, limited-run cannabis accessory boxes and now has ~33,000 monthly subscribers (different packaing and products) with more than 500,000 boxes shipped to date. The company's limited-run boxes include celebrity-designed and curated editions with original artwork that have become collectors' items. The company also designs and manufactures its own smoking accessories, selling them through its online store and in more than 1,000 retail stores nationwide. The company self distributes to over 2,000 stores but wholesale to 200+ distributor and probably 3,000 additional retailers (smoke shops). Self distributing to over 7,000 stores (Cormark, EB Brown opens them up to 5,000+ retailers).
HARA Supply started in 2018, given a pre-roll cone shortage, one of their pre-roll partners offered a chance for them to enter a new product category. The Company directly operates 14 manufacturing sites, spanning over 250,000 square feet of the highest-quality pre-rolled cone production using the world’s finest European rolling paper. Hara Supply currently has over 4,000 personnel based in India, along with HQ office and warehouse located in Las Vegas, Nevada. HARA Supply currently produces over a billion pre-rolled cones per year for the cannabis industry’s largest entities.
Cresco Labs, Chief Information Officer, Zach Marburger
Zach Marburger is Cresco Labs' Chief Information Officer. He oversees the technology and data infrastructure throughout the organization and is responsible for designing, scaling and implementing technological systems and data platforms to optimize the customer experience. Throughout his tenure with the company, Mr. Marburger has worked in various executive roles supporting Retail, Operations and Technology functions. Among his many accomplishments, he and his team have engineered a proprietary internal ERP platform, responsible for driving operational adherence and over $2 billion in commercial sales across retail and wholesale operations.
Before joining Cresco Labs, Mr. Marburger served as the co-founder and CEO of Topple Track, a startup providing a scalable, self-serve, content monitoring platform for musicians and record labels. In 2015, it was acquired by Symphonic Distribution, a music distributor and media services company.
Willow Industries, CEO, Jill Ellsworth
Willow Industries is the industry leader in cannabis kill step and post-harvest microbial decontamination technology. Founded in 2015 by CEO Jill Ellsworth, the company is built on one simple principle: cultivators should be equipped with resources to provide patients and consumers with consistently safe cannabis. Based in Denver, CO, Willow's services are currently available to all licensed cultivators in the United States and across the globe, where they implement an innovative and accessible leasing model that employs a holistic, turnkey approach for their partners. Their patented WillowPure systems use organic, ozone-based technology that is scientifically proven to reduce or eliminate contaminants such as yeast, mold and bacteria from cannabis, while protecting the medicinal properties of the plant. Willow's modern technology and in-house team of microbiology experts ensure cultivators employ best practices and quality control from start to finish.
Naturae, CEO, Nicolas Guarino
As of June 30th, 2023, Naturae has 3 brands and ~30 SKUs selling at 15 of the 16 opened adult-use dispensaries in New York. We discuss Challenges and evolution of the company from CBD to Cannabis; Development of in-house brands while also running a vertically integrated company (excluding retail); Strategy to defend their brands in the market as more brands and MSOs enter. Naturae is focused on providing excellent service, offering quality products at competitive prices, and forming partnerships with dispensaries; How they met their largest investor Brian Hinchcliffe (Kirkland Lake Gold), who has been a significant figure in the company's growth and success; Self-distribution as a necessity for now but were open to exploring third-party distribution options if they could maintain control and meet their delivery requirements; Maintaining a 5% market share in the near term; Why the Company will have a brand in every category but flower.
Jane Technologies launches POS ft. CEO Socrates Rosenfeld
Jane Technologies Launches Revolutionary New Point-Of-Sale Platform to Transform Dispensary Operations
Leverages leading, proprietary e-commerce technology to enhance in-store shopping experience and empower retailers
SANTA CRUZ, Calif., June 21, 2023 – Jane Technologies, Inc. (“Jane”), the cannabis industry’s leading e-commerce provider and creator of the largest online cannabis marketplace, today announced the forthcoming launch of its new point-of-sale (POS) system to connect the online and in-store cannabis experience.
The Jane POS utilizes industry-first features exclusive to the Jane platform, such as its extensive product catalog, integration capabilities, e-commerce IP and ads engine to provide unparalleled personalized in-store customer experiences. The company envisions the future of retail to be digital, which will unlock a level of in-store curation and connectivity that up until now could only be experienced online. The team at Jane believes that merging online and in-store customer experiences will become the standard for other industries too.
In a constantly changing marketplace, cannabis retailers require a POS they can trust to address the demands of an expanding consumer base. In response, the Jane POS blends the best offline and online retail experience functions. Just as consumers use Jane online for personalized recommendations, the Jane POS provides a first-of-its-kind, personalized in-store shopping experience, leading directly to increased retention and higher average order values. Improved tooling specific for retail staff means enhanced in-store performance and a better customer shopping experience. With Jane, retail staff can source verified reviews for each product from the online platform and make smart recommendations that are curated for each individual shopper that walks through their doors.
By offering enhanced POS capabilities like catalog management and seamless inventory ingestion, Jane allows retailers to enter the future with improved operational efficiencies. Whenever brands launch new products, the Jane POS will automatically update the Jane Universal Product Catalog (UPC), removing the need for retailers to chase brands down for assets. The time it takes to switch or update POS software is trimmed from weeks to hours due to Jane’s comprehensive product and inventory data which can be automatically ingested into the new Jane POS. Jane offers improved analytics by compiling online and in-store data under a consistent dataset, which helps retailers transform disparate data into a holistic view of omnichannel insights. In the spirit of serving as the hub of all dispensary operations, the open infrastructure of the Jane POS enables retailers to integrate any third-party software and build a digital suite that fits their store’s exact needs. In-store kiosk capabilities offer customers an easy way to skip the line, and product recommendations built into the system serve as a virtual budtender. Switching or upgrading POS systems is easy with the Jane UPC database of preloaded product photos, descriptions and more. Finally, the integration of the Jane UPC and inventory management allows retailers to ingest wholesale orders at scale and on time. Dispensaries that leverage the Jane POS can take advantage of seamless integration into the Jane UPC, which hosts over 1.5 million products from thousands of brands.
Safe Harbor Financial, CEO, Sundie Seefried
Sundie Seefried has spent ~40 years in the credit union industry. In 2014, she saw that Cannabis-Related Businesses (CRBs) needed financial services and that Colorado communities would be safer if the new industry had access to banking solutions. Seefried was the former CEO of Partner Colorado Credit Union (PCCU). Established in 2015 by PCCU, Safe Harbor was formed to provide an unmet need–compliant banking and financial services to the rapidly growing U.S. cannabis industry. Seefried designed a full scope Cannabis Banking Program for PCCU known as the Safe Harbor program, which has withstood the scrutiny of 16 federal and state exams to date. In 2021, she became the full time CEO/President of Safe Harbor Financial. In February 2022, she helped to facilitate a $185M merger with Northern Lights Acquisition Corp SPAC.
Safe Harbor currently manages ~1,000 cannabis-related relationships, Safe Harbor Financial, through its financial institution clients, implements high standards of accountability, transparency, monitoring, reporting and risk mitigation measures while meeting Bank Secrecy Act obligations in line with FinCEN guidance on cannabis-related businesses. Over the past eight years, Safe Harbor Financial has facilitated more than $18 billion in deposit transactions for businesses with operations spanning over 40 states and US territories with regulated cannabis markets.
Ayr Wellness, CEO, David Goubert
David Goubert is President and CEO of Ayr Wellness and is responsible for overseeing the Company’s operational and commercial functions, including production, supply chain, retail, wholesale and marketing. Mr. Goubert joined Ayr from Neiman Marcus Group, one of the largest multi-brand retailers in the United States, where he helped lead the company through a transformation into one of the strongest retailers in the country. Most recently, he served as NMG’s President and Chief Customer Officer, where he was responsible for the full P&L of the Neiman Marcus brand as well as all customer touchpoints. Prior to joining Neiman Marcus, Mr. Goubert spent 20 years at LVMH, the world’s leading luxury consumer-products company. At LVMH, David served in a variety of capacities, including Senior Vice President of LVMH’s Starboard Cruise Services subsidiary and 15 years leading manufacturing, supply chain, retail and general management at the company’s flagship Louis Vuitton brand.
FlowerHire, Jason Desentz & Mike Siebold
Jason Desentz is a HR leader with over 20+ years of progressive human resources experience working for start-up cannabis companies & Fortune 100 companies. He has developed an innovative framework to help companies build resilient and sustainable organizations.
Mike Siebold is a strategic advisor and investor to several cannabis teams domestically. His exposure to the hiring demand and movement of people within the cannabis industry gives him a unique perspective on the prospects and viability of players across the entire ecosystem.
Founded in 2017, FlowerHire is a team of experienced talent and recruiting professionals dedicated to helping companies build, scale, and retain world-class teams. The Company partners with cannabis companies to provide high-touch services including retained and embedded search, strategic talent management, and comprehensive HR advisory. The Company's Senior Advisors practice guides cannabis companies to strategically improve their human capital processes for compliance, performance management, retention, compensation design, and other specific needs of each company.
Advanced Vapor Devices (AVD), CEO, Alex Kwon
Summary. Advanced Vapor Devices (AVD) has quietly built the second-largest vape company by market share, just behind CCELL. In my conversations with CEO, Alex Kwon, it's clear that the company prefers to be heads down on execution, while letting the product, technology, and customers (such as Trulieve, Jeeter, Gold Drop, Blue River, Jetty, to name a few) speak for itself. Despite maintaining a low profile, AVD was thrust into the spotlight following a significant intellectual property (IP) lawsuit filed by Smoore/CCELL in 2021 in the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC). As the legal proceedings unfolded, it became apparent that AVD was the primary target of CCELL. However, just last month, the ITC delivered a definitive ruling in favor of AVD, finding no violation of their products. The ITC decision inadvertently fortified AVD's global IP strategy, charting a new path in the battle for IP dominance in the still nascent cannabis vape industry. In the months ahead, expect increased visibility from AVD as they launch new products in collaboration with some recognizable companies in the Cannabis industry.
Alex Kwon, CEO and Co-Founder. Alex leverages two decades of experience leading cannabis companies to strategically guide AVD’s growth and success. His extensive cannabis industry knowledge encompasses plant biology, cannabinoid science and leading-edge extraction and vape technologies. AVD operates on fundamental values that guide its daily operations propelling it to make impactful change as a force for good. Alex excels at building teams and architecting how businesses work, as he strives to inspire and influence how other entrepreneurs can think differently and challenge the status quo.
His industry background includes founding the Humboldt Consulting Group, where he directed land acquisition and development in Northern California, and founding Sungrown in Washington State. As Sungrown’s CEO, he oversaw a targeted resin farming approach, that when coupled with best-in-class extraction and formulation, produced the premier cannabis oils found in top product brands in the state. Alex enjoys spending as much time as possible with his wife and three children.
Company Background and Overview. After extensive experience in cultivation and extracts, Alex realized that he should focus on value-added products like vapes and concentrates as they would continue to gain market share against flowers. Having experienced many reliability and consistency issues in vape hardware firsthand, Alex co-founded AVD in 2018 and delved into studying the entire supply chain to find ways to produce vape hardware at a fair cost while ensuring improved reliability, consistency and flavor. AVD embarked on a mission to assist companies and extractors in tackling the additional complexities of vape hardware, which added to the already challenging process of extraction and formulation. Furthermore, given the dissatisfaction caused by subpar customer service and products from incumbents like CCELL, there was a clear and urgent demand for a solution that could genuinely fulfill customer requirements and earn their loyalty. AVD had found a big product and customer service issue to solve in a multi-billion-dollar segment of the Cannabis industry.
Benjamin Ballinger, Diamond Miners Consulting
Benjamin Ballinger is a cofounder of Shryne Group, California’s largest vertically-integrated operator—with retail, manufacturing, cultivation and distribution operations across the state, and the parent company of STIIIZY—the biggest vape brand in the US. As one of Shryne’s top executive, Benjamin oversaw the massive scaling of the company through California’s initial legalization period from 2017 to 2020—with a 10x increase in company revenues between the years of 2018 and 2020 alone. More recently, Benjamin was COO of Left Coast Holdings—a Michigan-based vertically-integrated cannabis company with a successful portfolio of brands—before founding Diamond Miners Consulting—a cannabis consulting firm specializing in helping operators in the areas of business development, product development and operational excellence.
Link to notes and transcript: https://www.highlyobjective.com/p/benjamin-ballinger-fouder-diamond?sd=pf
Timeless Vapes, Co-Founder, Rocky Huang
The profitable #1 ranked vape brand in Arizona has taken no outside funding to expand to its current footprint in five markets (AZ, CA, OH, OK, MO).
Background. Prior to founding Timeless, Rocky was CEO & Co-Founder of Molly Water, a premium alkaline mineral water designed to assist in regulating the body’s pH balance. Rocky and COO Shawn Williams sold the brand into 200+ convenience stores in Arizona and California between 2008-2011. While Molly Water was not a successful venture for the pair as Alkaline water, and beverage in general, is a tough category—a lot of the learnings on consumer education, community, branding and marketing helped lay the groundwork for Timeless. Rocky and Shawn started the lifestyle brand Always Timeless in 2010 when they opened a screen print shop and resale store on Mill Avenue in Tempe, AZ.
Overview. Timeless is headquartered in Scottsdale, AZ and currently operates in Arizona, California, Oklahoma, Ohio, and Missouri. It holds the #1 ranking for market share in AZ for vapes (BDSA estimates Timeless generates ~$6.8M/month1 in AZ sales, ahead of Select, Stiiizy, Abstrakt, Jukebox, Dime Industries, Item 9 Labs, Drop, Grow Sciences), and is one of the top 5 vape companies nationally (and only one of two that is independent, Stiiizy being the other). For BDSA trackable markets that Timeless is in (AZ, CA, MO), the brand ranks #4 behind Stiiizy (not in MO), Select and Raw Garden (only in CA).
BDSA estimates that Timeless did ~$75M in retail sales in 2021. Building on the success of Timeless, the Company has launched a “house of brands,” which includes prerolled brands JOILO and Tumble.
MariMed, CEO, Jon Levine
Recorded on March 22, 2023.
– Revenue Mix – Net Debt, Chicago Atlantic Financing – Branded Portfolio vs. Licensing – What are the ways in which MariMed is trying to drum up investor attention MariMed Inc., a multi-state cannabis operator, is dedicated to improving lives every day through its high-quality products, its actions, and its values. The Company develops, owns, and manages seed to sale state-licensed cannabis facilities, which are models of excellence in horticultural principles, cannabis cultivation, cannabis-infused products, and dispensary operations. MariMed has an experienced management team that has produced consistent growth and success for the Company and its managed business units. Proprietary formulations created by the Company’s technicians are embedded in its top-selling and award-winning products and brands, including Betty's Eddies, Nature’s Heritage, InHouse, Bubby’s Baked, K Fusion, Kalm Fusion, and Vibations: High + Energy.
Petalfast, CEO, Jason Vegotsky
Petalfast is the first-of-its-kind route-through-market platform for the cannabis industry. Petalfast helps cannabis brands thrive via its go-to-market accelerator program and through its full spectrum of agency services available to brands nationally. Notable cannabis brands already engaged in the Petalfast platform include Space Coyote, Emerald Sky, Bloom Brands, and Yada Yada. The Company, through its incubator program Pilot by Petalfast, also provides new and recently launched brands with direct access to leading retailers and opportunities to gain first-hand market analysis while also offering select retailers the opportunity to see future brands before they formally hit the market. Petalfast is taking its business model and expanding into newer, competitive markets.
Bloomwell Group, CEO, Niklas Kouparanis
The Bloomwell Group is a Frankfurt,Germany-based holding company for medical cannabis companies and potentially for companies in a recreational market. Founded in June 2020, the Company operates three different business: Algae Care, a telemedicine platform with over 100,000+ treatments and 13,000 returning treatments; Ilios Sante, a vape pen brand with a medical focus based on strong sourcing and R&D and Breezy; a lifestyle brand for cannabis. Bloomwell Group is a top 3 operator in Germany when it comes to revenue, size, or volume. Think of Bloomwell Group as more of a tech company rather than a vertically-integrated company as the Company focuses on product development and sourcing.
Niklas Kouparanis brought Cannabis to Germany in 2017; this is his third Cannabis Company. One of the biggest companies in Germany, wholesale platform, telemedicine platform. He previously built two wholesalers in Germany (Cannamedical® Pharma GmbH and Farmako GmbH.
The company raised a $10M Seed led by Measure 8 Venture Partners on October 18, 2021. Voxel Ventures, LA Finance and M4 Capital also participated in the round. Based on inbound interest and excitement around Germany, Bloomwell decided to take money from a new investor, Artemis Growth Investments, by extending their Convertible Note. The Company is currently preparing to go out for their Series A.
Kyle Shenfeld, President, Rainbow Realty Group
Rainbow Realty Group and its affiliates are real estate companies focused on retail, industrial and greenhouse properties with cannabis companies in the United States. Rainbow offers sale-leaseback and mortgage financing with a portfolio consisting of 50+ properties across 9 states in the U.S. Rainbow’s parent, Gould Investors L.P., has been in the real estate industry for over 60 years. Gould is a significant shareholder of NYSE:BRT and NYSE:OLP.
Kyle Shenfeld serves as President of Rainbow Realty Group, having served as Associate General Counsel of Gould Investors L.P. since 2016. Prior to that, he was an Associate in the Real Estate Department of Herrick Feinstein LLP from 2012 to 2016.
FLUENT (Cansortium), CEO, Robert Beasley
Cansortium Inc. is a vertically-integrated cannabis company with licenses and operations in Florida, Pennsylvania and Texas. The Company operates under the Fluent™ brand and is dedicated to being one of the highest quality cannabis companies for the communities it serves. This is driven by Cansortium's unrelenting commitment to operational excellence in cultivation, production, distribution and retail. The Company is headquartered in Miami, Florida.
Cansortium Inc.'s common shares trade on the CSE under the symbol "TIUM.U" and on the OTCQX Best Market under the symbol "CNTMF".
Hirsh Jain, Founder, Ananda Strategy
Hirsh Jain is the Founder of Ananda Strategy, a consultancy that advises leading cannabis brands, retailers, ancillary technology businesses and venture capital funds across North America and Western Europe. Ananda represents many of California’s leading retailers, and has helped them open many of the top-performing dispensaries in the state.
Hirsh serves as Vice Chair of the California Cannabis Chamber of Commerce, which aims to promote the common interests of cannabis businesses in California by advocating for sound public policy and facilitating collaborations between cannabis operators.
Hirsh is also on the Board of Directors of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) in California, which for fifty years has been working to reform California's cannabis laws, led the opposition to the War on Drugs in California, and co-sponsored the nation's first medical cannabis law, Prop 215, in 1996.
In addition, Hirsh serves on the Board of Directors of SC Labs, one of the largest cannabis testing labs in the United States. SC Labs provides potency, pesticide, terpene, and microbiological testing services to many of the leading cannabis operators in the country.
Hirsh was previously the Director of Government Affairs at Caliva, a vertically-integrated California cannabis operator. Prior to Caliva, Hirsh was the West Coast Director of Government Affairs at MedMen, a leading cannabis retailer.
Before working in cannabis, Hirsh was the Global Policy Lead at Airbnb in San Francisco, working closely with government officials to develop legal and regulatory frameworks that enabled Airbnb to operate legally and successfully throughout the world. Before that, he was an Engagement Manager at McKinsey & Company in New York, working in the company's Public Sector Practice.
Hirsh has a B.A. in Philosophy from UC Berkeley, where he worked as the Cannabis Lead in the Campus Public Defender’s Office, defending students that were accused of cannabis violations by the University. He also has a J.D. from Harvard Law School, where he worked for the Human Rights Clinic and published research on the racially disparate impacts of The War on Drugs.
LeafLink, President and CEO, Artie Minson and Executive Chairman, Ryan Smith
LeafLink, the cannabis industry's leading B2B technology platform, is standardizing how thousands of brands, distributors, and retailers manage their operations. The Company's industry-defining tools streamline the way legal cannabis businesses create, manage, pay for, and ship their orders. LeafLink's marketplace currently processes approximately $5 billion in annual transactions, representing an estimated 50% of legal U.S. wholesale cannabis commerce.
LeafLink is backed by leading venture capital firms and strategic investors, including Casa Verde Capital, CPMG, Founders Fund, Interplay, L2 Ventures, Lerer Hippeau, Nosara Capital and Thrive Capital. LeafLink has raised more than $230 million of equity to date as well as a $250 million credit facility to provide liquidity to the cannabis supply chain.
POSaBIT, CEO, Ryan Hamlin
POSaBIT is a FinTech company providing Point-of-Sale solution and cashless payment for cannabis retailers.
Kai Kirk, Chief Product Officer, BLAZE
Kai Kirk is a serial cannabis industry entrepreneur and executive leader with a wealth of experience operating in different roles across several industries. His time working in project management, engineering, information technology, private equity and venture capital give him the elevated base of knowledge necessary to understand and anticipate the needs of BLAZE customers. And his many years in the cannabis sector—as a founder and advisor for cultivation, distribution and manufacturing companies—also guide his work as he analyzes customer feedback, workflows and particular compliance parameters in an on-site capacity.
Kai’s skill in synthesizing different user perspectives is essential to BLAZE’s success and status as the industry’s leading supply-chain management and dispensary & delivery POS cannabis software. His expert oversight of the design, compliance and product management teams ensures that the company works as one to constantly advance its technology and user experience.
Aaron Miles, Chief Investment Officer, Verano
Aaron Miles serves as Chief Investment Officer of Verano Holdings (CSE: VRNO) (OTCQX: VRNOF), a leading cannabis company with active operations in the U.S. Over the course of his more than 19 years of financial and capital markets experience, Miles has served in leadership roles across a variety of Fortune 500 companies and industries. His background and expertise spans investor relations, corporate development, treasury and communication roles in large and diversified corporations that include Abbott Laboratories, CME Group, Navigant, Tribune Publishing Company, the New York Stock Exchange, and most recently, Cresco Labs.
Link to 12/21/22 Investor Presentation: https://s27.q4cdn.com/702412356/files/doc_presentation/2022/12/Verano-2022-Investor-Deck_12.21.22.pdf
Leaf Trade, President & Chief Revenue Officer, Michael Piermont
Leaf Trade is a wholesale cannabis buying and selling platform that streamlines and simplifies the industry’s supply chain and business operations. The Company supports cultivators throughout the entire wholesale selling process through their cannabis marketplace—connecting cultivators and dispensaries via flexible integrations, amplifying brands through bespoke advertising opportunities, supporting inventory management, and robust advanced analytics.
Michael Piermont is the President and Chief Revenue Officer of Leaf Trade. In his role, Michael oversees company strategy, sales, customer success, and marketing. Prior to joining Leaf Trade, Michael held leadership roles at CareerBuilder, Fooda, ECOFIT, Fanchest, and amSTATZ, the latter two of which he co-founded and helped exit.
Grön, CEO, Christine Smith
Grön (pronounced Grewn) is one of North America’s largest producers of adult-use cannabis-infused edibles. The Company uses ingredients are organic, single-origin, Fair Trade Certified, and locally sourced whenever possible. Product offerings include cannabis-infused chocolate, sugar-coated Pearls, Mega Pearls, and Candy-Coated Pips. Grön cannabis edibles are available in Arizona, Missouri, Nevada, Oklahoma, Oregon, and across Canada, with multiple new markets that will be added in 2023.
Jane, CEO, Socrates Rosenfeld (2nd appearance)
Soc is back for a second time to provide updates on Jane, including the recently launched iOS app and how the company thinks about building adjacent products to create a win-win-win for retailers, brands, and consumers.
If you're interested in Soc's first appearance, check it out here: https://www.highlyobjective.com/p/-podcast-jane-technologies-ceo-socrates
Treez, CEO, John Yang
Treez is the leading enterprise cloud commerce platform that streamlines retail and supply chain operations within the cannabis market. Through Treez's innovative technology and open API platform for retailers and brands, the company provides a robust breadth and depth of software and digital payments solutions, along with dedicated 24/7 customer support, required to operate a successful modern dispensary.
Solutions include point-of-sale, dispensary inventory management, omnichannel sales capabilities and multiple cashless payment options all on a mission-critical platform that ensures regulatory compliance across every supply chain transaction. The innovative technology also connects essential brands with their retailers through a centralized brand catalog with real-time market insights. The extensible open API platform provides smooth integration into a variety of best-of-breed solutions, including CRM, marketplace, cashless payments and data analytics across the partner ecosystem. Layered on top is a dedicated client success team and 24/7 customer support, giving retailers everything they need to grow their business.
John Yang co-founded Treez in 2016. Prior to Treez, John was a consultant at Slalom Consulting - ranked #3 in the world for business technology consulting and specializing in program management, business process improvement, software development, CRM solutions, and business intelligence. John was also a consultant with Accenture as an experienced information technology management professional.
Vicente Sederberg, Brandon Kurtzman, Partner // Jason Adelstone, Associate
Dai speaks with Jason on the NY and MA and Brandon on What's happening in Germany and Europe more broadly as it relates to regulation, licensing, and M&A.
Jason Adelstone is an associate attorney in Vicente Sederberg’s Denver office, where he focuses his practice on federal and international policy, impact litigation, corporate and business law, and cannabis regulatory compliance. From advising clients on international policy reforms—especially as it relates to obligations under the three international drug treaties—to drafting contracts and performing market analyses, Jason is a valuable resource for his clients.
Brandon Kurtzman is a partner at Vicente Sederberg LLP, focusing his practice on regulatory and licensing matters in Massachusetts and New York. Clients turn to Brandon for representation and assistance with navigating medical and adult-use application processes, preparation and submission of national merit-based license applications, ongoing compliance and regulatory matters with the Cannabis Control Commission, and regulatory due diligence in connection with M&A deals. Brandon is also a member of VS's national merit licensing team, where he served as the lead attorney for competitive marijuana licensing projects in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut, Illinois, and Virginia.
Safe Harbor Financial, CIO, Paul Penney
Paul leads the lending strategy, investor relations, and investment opportunities as well as assist with M&A strategy for Safe Harbor. Penney was previously CIO of KreditForce Capital, a merchant bank focused on emerging growth industries including cannabis, where he managed a portfolio of both public and private equity positions as well as senior secured debt investments. He also served as a strategic advisor and board member to some of the nation's notable cannabis brands and vertically integrated public and private companies including Sunday Goods, Humboldt Farms, Stiiizy, Kikoko, TapRoot, and Kush Co. Prior to KreditForce, Paul became the first U.S.-based analyst to provide official research coverage on the legalized cannabis sector as a Senior Research Analyst and Managing Director at Northland Capital Markets.
Kiva Co-Founder, Kristi Palmer
In 2010, Scott Palmer and Kristi Palmer were inspired by a visit to a local chocolatier and soon started crafting the first Kiva Bars in their home kitchen. They didn’t realize it at the time, but they weren’t just creating a premium edible product, and soon after, a top 3 CA Distributor in Kiva Sales & Services. Dai chats to Kristi about starting Kiva, Why Distribution in addition to Brands, AR, Geographic Footprint, Innovation, Competition, New York, and the current Capital Markets.
Dutchie, Chief Product Officer, Zach Lipson
Zach Lipson is Co-Founder and CPO at dutchie, the leading e-commerce and point of sale provider for the cannabis space. As a Product Designer and Product Manager by trade, Zach is driven by beautiful design and solving complex problems in innovative and elegant ways, using technology and design.
We talk through buy vs. build with regards to Dutchie POS and Dutchie Pay, Data, How dutchie thinks about aligning itself with cannabis retailers, and more.
Presidential, CEO, Everett Smith
Dubbed 'The World's Strongest Pre-Rolls', Presidential is renowned and loved as the producer of the #1 ranked Infused Moonrock Blunt and is one of the top-selling brands in California. We speak to Everett on his background, Presidential's suite of products, collaborations, growth, and funding.
MXXN, CEO, Darnell Smith
The recently launched product aims to take the cannabis-infused, non-alcoholic spirit market "to the moon" with three SKUs (Jalisco Agave, London Dry, Kentucky Oak).
Darnell Smith is a CPG and alcohol industry veteran and cannabis entrepreneur, innovator and advocate. Smith is the founder and CEO of MXXN, a non-alcoholic, cannabis-infused spirits brand that is evolving today’s cocktail culture and disrupting the alcohol and cannabis industry. MXXN is the first product launch of MOJO Ventures, which is part of the digital + creative consultancy MOJO he founded that has done extensive work for Procter & Gamble Ventures, Barcardi’s Incubation group, PepsiCo and more. Prior to founding MXXN and MOJO, Smith was a Senior Digital Transformation Lead at Infosys Consulting working with the likes of Adidas, Ralph Lauren, AB InBev, Novartis, GSK, Pfizer, AMEX and more. Prior to that, Smith worked for over a decade in various agency and client side roles focused on innovation and commercialization for the likes of Diageo and Pernod Ricard.
Jetty Extracts, CEO, Ron Gershoni
Founded in 2013, Jetty is one of the true originals in the California cannabis market. Jetty began its operations in San Diego with a focus on craft and innovation while applying a strict adherence to compliance, fiscal responsibility, environmental concerns, and community commitment. Today, Jetty’s 65-plus employees work at the company’s 14,000 sq. ft. Oakland headquarters and various other locations throughout California. The company continues to focus on its state-of-the-art production facility, utilizing the latest technology to create industry-leading extracts including award-winning Solventless Vape, Live Resin Vape, and other products.
Bespoke Financial (George Mancheril, Judson Hill) x Blaze (Chris Violas)
Bespoke Financial has announced an integrated partnership with BLAZE. The partnership establishes an embedded lending product providing cannabis retailers access to Bespoke’s financing at the click of a button within BLAZE’s Dispensary POS software. We speak on how the partnership came about, benefits to retailers, and how it works.
TILT, CEO, Gary Santo
Gary Santo brings more than 25 years of experience in Consumer Credit, Financial Services, Gaming and Technology, Higher Education and Pharma. He has held a variety of senior-level positions at The First Marblehead Corporation, Fitch Ratings, International Game Technology (IGT), Lantheus Medical Imaging and, most recently, Columbia Care.
Ascend Wellness Holdings (AWH), CEO, Abner Kurtin
Abner Kurtin is the Founder and CEO of Ascend Wellness Holdings (AWH) and the Portfolio Manager for JM10 Partners Fund. Established in 2018, JM10 Partners operates two private equity funds that invest growth capital into the cannabis industry. Kurtin has been managing opportunity capital for over 20 years. Prior to AWH, he was the founder of K Capital Partners, a multibillion dollar hedge fund and Ca2 Group a high end real estate development firm in Massachusetts. He started his career at The Baupost Group and served as a member of the Presidents Council of Massachusetts General Hospital and Chairman of the Hill House.
WM Technology, CEO, Chris Beals
Chris Beals oversees all aspects of WM Technology’s business and is also a member of the company’s board of directors. Prior to becoming CEO, Chris was WM Technology’s President and General Counsel. Previously, Chris was with Colbeck Capital, Deutsche Telekom, Covington & Burling and Davis Polk.
Alpine IQ, Nick Paschal (CEO) & West Paschal (Chief Revenue Officer)
Alpine IQ empowers the legal cannabis industry by providing customer-focused technology to help retailers and cannabis brands of all sizes resolve growth challenges and generate revenue. The company provides customers with the industry’s most extensive suite of tools to protect, segment, and promote all in-store and online operations.
I spoke with Nick and West on 4/20 during the Benzinga Capital Cannabis Conference in Miami, FL.
Bespoke Financial, CEO, George Mancheril
AeroPay CEO, Daniel Muller
AeroPay provides alternative payment processing solutions to state legal cannabis businesses, offering a convenient and contactless digital payment option.
Pilgrim Soul CEO Shawn Gold
Prior to launching Pilgrim Soul, Founder and CEO Shawn Gold started his career as CMO, Head of Marketing & Content for MySpace, where he spearheaded the development and implementation of marketing initiatives and campaigns for MySpace during its growth from 25 to 110 million users worldwide. Following MySpace, Shawn then became the CMO of Lowell Herb Co. Shawn was additionally the CMO at TechStyle Fashion Group which launched the subscription fashion category with Fabletics, JustFab, ShoeDazzle, FabKids, and Rihanna’s SavageXFenty.
Seed & Smith CEO Brooks Lustig
Brooks Lustig is the CEO at Seed & Smith, a Colorado-based cannabis cultivator and dispensary operator (Denver and Louisville). A native of Boulder, Colorado, Lustig witnessed the rise of craft beer and herbal tea (Celestial Seasonings), and set his hopes on normalizing adult-use cannabis as a similar societal staple. Seed & Smith started in early 2014, focused on two things—creating exceptional cannabis products and demonstrating passion and process for doing so. They rehabbed an old forklift manufacturing facility, turning a dated industrial space into a state of the art production campus that’s open to the public.
Pelorus, President, Rob Sechrist
Since 2016, Pelorus has originated 59 commercial real estate loan transactions and deployed $244M to cannabis-use real estate owners, comprising nearly 2 million sq. ft. in eight states across the U.S.
Green Flower, CEO, Max Simon
Max and I chatted through his background, the company’s early days, raising his $20M Series A, his LinkedIn presence, growth plans for Green Flower, and much more.
Flower by Edie Parker – Founder & Creative Director, Brett Heyman
The accessories sold by the Company seems to be on everyone's gift list. I caught up with Brett to talk through the company's history, current markets (IL, MA), why it seems to be so popular with celebrities, luxury smoke shops, and more.
MariMed CEO, Robert Fireman and CFO, Jon Levine
The Company started out writing application & consulting before stepping in to acquire these assets, which is ongoing. Though MariMed is a Tier III MSO, it has margins and a cash position that stands out vs. peers. The podcast covers listing on the CSE, recent performance, markets of interest, product roadmap, and more.
Poseidon Asset Management, Managing Partner, Morgan Paxhia
Flowhub CEO, Kyle Sherman
Flowhub announced a $19 Million Series B (what I’m categorizing it as) round last month led by Headline (Series A Lead), with participation from Poseidon, Massive and Jay-Z. I caught up with CEO, Kyle Sherman, to revisit the early days, funding, and the company’s growth plans, among other things.
- Seed (May 2015 through April 2017) — multiple rounds to raise ~$8M from Arcadian, Altitude Investment Management, Phyto Partners, Poseidon
- $23M Series A (June 2019) — Headline, Poseidon, Evolv Ventures
Wanted to broaden the reach as they had raised from ~80% of the Cannabis VC funds at that time
Spoke to over 300 firms and individuals; came close with a fund but one of the LPs wouldn’t approve the deal given the vice clause
Met his Series A investor, Jett Fein (Headline), at the Fortune Brainstorm Conference
- $19M Series B (October 2021) — Headline, Poseidon, Massive VC, Jay-Z
Introduced to Jay-Z through one of their Angel investors
The Company’s newest investor did sell his company, TIDAL, to Square back in March 2021—so I’m going to assume Jay-Z will have some helpful insights on digital payments
- Remote Work — heavily researched the 1918 pandemic virus, became a fully remote company back in May
- US Cannabis Council — one of the founding members of the Cannabis Trade Federation which became the US Cannabis Council. Kyle has been active in pushing to build an equitable, diverse, and fair industry
- Associate Producer on Weed the People
- Fox Business News Interview
springbig CEO, Jeffrey Harris
- Started in 2014 serving
- Pivoted in 2016 after seeing two Cannabis retailers on the platform spend 5-10x more than other retailers on the platform
- Raised $5M Series A (December 2018) led by Altitude Investment Management, where they targeted only two Cannabis VC firms and got term sheets from both
- Raised $11.5M Series B (August 2020) led by TVC Capital, which seems to have a thesis around Cannabis software (also invested in GrowFlow around the same time)