On Dec. 4, 2015, Giadha Aguirre DeCarcer, Founder and CEO of New Frontier, spoke to a packed house at Women Grow DC meeting. The message in a nutshell was that now is the time and cannabis is the place for entrepreneurship. She described her own story as an example of the unique opportunities afforded to women and men in a new industry:
“I came here as an immigrant at the age of 17. I didn’t speak any English and I found opportunities here through the entrepreneurial journey that I wouldn’t have had in any other place. If I can do it, you all can do it.”
By her own account, DeCarcer struggled in ways familiar to all immigrants. It took seven years of work, beginning in community college, to get her bachelor’s degree. After a brief and reportedly miserable stint in investment banking, and newly convinced that the glass ceiling was real, she took the leap into entrepreneurship. That move ultimately led to the founding of New Frontier, which specializes in cannabis data analysis and industry reporting.
DeCarcer noted that women are earning more graduate degrees than ever before, but traditional industries are still dominated by men. This is largely so, she believes, because they have had longer to build networks. She sees the cannabis industry as a clean slate where people with drive and education have a chance to succeed on their own merit. By her analysis, 25 percent of cannabusiness founders are women, and women occupy more than 36 percent of executive-level positions, three times more than in industry in general.
She also suggested that the cannabis industry is also inherently more open-minded than some, and women may have a special affinity for the nurturing and healing aspect of cannabis. Altogether the forces seem to meet in perfect harmony.
When DeCarcer began to investigate the cannabis industry a year and a half ago, she discovered that no industry reporting existed, even though cannabis was a multi-billion million industry. “Today,” she noted, “cannabis is a $5 billion industry, growing at the rate of 27 percent per year, the fastest growing industry in the country.”
New Frontier is committed to bringing transparency and visibility to the sector by using rigorous data collection methods to produce market research that investors and others can use to make intelligent business decisions.
DeCarcer describes New Frontier as made of “statisticians, econometricians and data geeks.” It markets reports via partners and its website; sells memberships to a data visualization tool called Equio; and more recently has taken on specific research questions for clients including investors, legislators and operators.
Part of her success she attributes to timing and luck, part to her team and part to partnerships within the industry.
“When an industry is growing at the rate of 27 percent per year, it means you’re racing. You’re working so fast that you barely have time to realize where you’re going. Partnerships and alliances are how you strengthen your position and expedite movement forward.”
Success is hard to get, she noted, “but the hardest part is to stay there.” Nonetheless, New Frontier seems to be riding the rocket, and DeCarcer sees abundant opportunities for willing to make the giant leap into cannabis entrepreneurship.