As the crowds die down and the tourists begin to dwindle in Denver, the power players of the marijuana industry have been working hard at the Marijuana Investor Summit, networking, educating and building a better industry. Even though day one was massively successful, day two had no trouble exceeding expectations in both breadth and scope.
The day started out with a networking breakfast, allowing investors and entrepreneurs to tour exhibitors’ booths, search for new opportunities, and to learn more about different areas of the industry. The breakfast concluded with the “State of the Industry” address, delivered by David Friedman of MJINews, Randy Shipley of CannaFundr and Frank Marino of MJIC Inc.
“Everyone take a look around and observe what you see. It’s a pretty normal trade show right?” Marino said. “As mundane as that seems it’s distinctive in the the fact that it’s a testimony to a real cultural revolution.” Despite what many may think, the marijuana industry is diverse and the composition of this summit stands as proof.
After the keynote address, a select group of entrepreneurs and investors were treated to a live panel with the “Pot Barons of Colorado,” where they discussed entrepreneurship and their personal challenges in the industry. One subject that came up quite a bit was the issue of marijuana banking.
Most of the panelists have had their bank accounts, even personal ones, shut down because many banking institutions are still very reluctant to touch “marijuana money.” Despite this challenge, the pot barons remain undeterred from their path.
“I had similar experiences to the other pot barons, dealing with the city of Aurora and all the roadblocks, headaches and challenges, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything,” said Andy Williams, owner of the highly successful dispensary Medicine Man. “Being an entrepreneur and overcoming these obstacles makes me feel alive.”
Later in the day, serial entrepreneur Kevin Harrington delivered the keynote speech at the summit. In his speech, Harrington laid out the fundamental secrets to good branding, innovation, and how to successfully pitch to investors. He told the audience that in order to capture anyone’s attention you have to “Tease, Please, and Seize.”
“Tease is grab the audience or the person you’re pitching to,” Harrington told the enraptured audience. “Grab them, give them a problem, and give them the ‘Please,’ which is showing the benefits of the solution to the problem … . The last part is the ‘Seize’ … what’s the deal? What do you want? How am I going to be paid back?”
After a stirring keynote speech, attendees were treated to the very first CannaPitch, a Shark Tank style marijuana pitch session. The “Sharks” for this session were Kevin Harrington, Doug Leighton of Dutchess Capital, Leslie Bocskor of Electrum Partners, Robert Hunt of Consult Canna, Sam Znaimer of Locarno Capital and Fred Gross of ManhattanCanna LLC.
Dooma Wendusch of ebbu played the role of moderator as the companies Herbfront, Hello MD, Ēdn tech and Ed Rosenthal’s Select (yes, that Ed Rosenthal) pitched their startups. The sharks were brutal, but honest, and very few people walked away without hearing some sort of hard truth.
Ēdn tech, an automated personal marijuana growing device, walked away with the most positive response. Impressed with the presentation, one panelist simply asked, “Where do I sign the check?” It was a truly illuminating experience for everyone involved.
The day concluded with a networking event and after party sponsored by Magical Butter, a company that produces an automated machine that makes cannabis-infused butters. The party gave attendees the opportunity to unwind at the bar, in front of the live band and on the luxury on-site party buses.
In life, expectations are seldom met and rarely exceeded, yet Marijuana Investor Summit has done both. On day one, attendees were strangers in a strange place, but on day two those in attendance found a true sense of community and purpose. As the conference rolled into day three, and as the industry moves forward, one bristles with excitement to see what the future holds.