The city of Denver is swarming with thousands of marijuana enthusiasts, entrepreneurs and investors this week. Although 4/20 may be a single day holiday for the rest of the country, in Denver it is a week long celebration, with throngs of people flocking to events like the High Times Cannabis Cup and the 420 Rally.
Away from all of the 4/20 celebrations and madness, the movers and shakers of the marijuana industry, and those that aspire to be, have gathered for a different kind of event: Marijuana Investor Summit.
There were no men on stilts, scantily clad women or glassy-eyed attendants; instead, business suits and dresses carried the day as entrepreneurs and investors packed into sessions to learn more about the industry, investing and how to synthesize the two.
For day one of the event, panels were split into two focused tracks, one for entrepreneurs and one for investors.
For investors, the summit opened up with “MJ: 101 Mapping the Market” led by Matt Karnes of GreenWave Advisors. “The medical and adult use marijuana segments will likely merge into one substantially larger market.” Karnes gave the attentive audience an overview of the marijuana market and outlined some of the challenges that the industry faces.
On the entrepreneurial side of the equation, attendees learned how to structure their business plan and how to plan their build. The panel was comprised of Giadha Aguirre De Carcer of New Frontier Financials, Kurt Wolf of enVision and Blair Koch of The Alternative Board. The panel hammered home the point that it takes more than a good idea to attract investors.
“What got you here, won’t get you there,” Wolf told the audience.
Later in the afternoon, Kristin Fox of Panther Media and Frederick Gross of ManhattanCanna helped round out the investors’ perspective by offering a more sophisticated view of the market. Gross implored investors to seek relationships with those they invest in because, as Gross put it, “companies that just raise money instead of gaining partnerships with their investors, typically fail.”
While investors were learning about the importance of partnerships, entrepreneurs got a lesson in marijuana branding and the best practices for the industry from Molly Poiset of Cheffettes. One of the major points Poiset covered is the importance of not copying existing brands and confusing consumers.
“If someone grabs the wrong package [of coffee],” Poiset told the audience, “and they go off to work without realizing they just ingested 120mg of THC; they’re going to have a bad day.”
“Or a great one,” jested one audience member.
Day one concluded with a session that combined both entrepreneur and investor boot camps. The panel was moderated by Cannafundr’s Randy Shipley and panelists including Daniel Yazbeck of CDx, and Frank Marino of MJIC Inc., and John Clarke of Midtown Partners.
The expert panel broke down the funding process, explored the dynamics of the entrepreneur and investor relationship, and took questions from the audience. “Stocks don’t just sell themselves,” Shipley said. “You don’t post a button the Internet that says ‘Invest In Me’ and have people start clicking for $25,000 a whack.”
As the sun began to set and day one came to a close, speakers, entrepreneurs, and investors rubbed shoulders in a fantastic networking reception. It may have only been day one, but Marijuana Investor Summit is already shaping up to be a huge success.
While consumers blunt their senses at the Cannabis Cup and other events, the movers and shakers of marijuana are coming together to change the face of the industry and usher in a new era of entrepreneurship, investment and legitimacy.