Tech is transforming the aboveground marijuana industry, and here is how Canadian tech weedtrepreneurs are cashing in on cannabis.
Alex Blumenstein, 28, never thought he would one day end up supporting his business in the marijuana industry.
Like most people, before they start in the marijuana market, Blumenstein had previously worked in the familiar world of customer care. Blumenstein worked as a consultant dealing with corporate clients like airline companies and land developers.
“I was good at it, but it was very unrewarding work. Even when you did win [for your client] it was only incremental gains,” he explains.
All of that changed in 2017 when Blumenstein launched his new business inspired consulting company for a local marijuana industry.
While there are ample opportunities for big firms, support for small-scale entrepreneurs was non-existent, he found. So, he decided to take a chance and build something that did. Today, Alex Blumenstein, 28, is a co-founder of Leaf Forward the first cannabis business accelerator in Canada. It helps founders turn their weed-related ideas into reality.
Since launching in January, Leaf Forward has mentored a handful of startups. It’s also hosted meetups with some of the industry’s’ biggest players and partnered with leading cannabis organisations across the province.
“There’s a lot of opportunities for startups in the marijuana industry outside of just cultivation. Currently, the industry is driven by licensed producers [government sanctioned weed cultivators], but it’s the technology, ancillaries and value-added products that will drive real rewards.” – Alex Blumenstein
The Rise of the (Weed)Entrepreneurs
Entrepreneurs aren’t waiting around to find new ways to invest in what is expected to be one of North America’s fastest-growing industries. Many are already cashing in right now.
Big deals south of the border include Casa Verde Capital (known for its partnership with Snoop Dogg). Casa Verde Capital raised a whopping $10 million since its launch date. High-profile investments include tracking platform Leaflink and point-of-sale company Greenbits. Another well-known Silicon Valley VC firm called Benchmark recently invested $8.1 million in Hound Labs, a startup that produces breathalysers that trace THC (the component that generates a euphoric high) in users.
Meanwhile, in Canada, we’re starting to see that same momentum finally. Earlier this week, Constellation brands (the maker of Corona beer and other alcoholic drinks) purchased a 10 percent stake in weed company Canopy Growth for $245 million. In the last year, individual investors have dumped approximately $700 million into Canadian cannabis companies, according to wealth management firm Canaccord Genuity.
One of Canada’s most recognisable homegrown success stories is Ample Organics. The Toronto-based startup produces seed-to-sale software that manages plant cultivation, shipping, and purchases. Today’s weed entrepreneurs, John Prentice, Ample Organics company’s founder, earned his tech stripes outside of the weed business.
As Canada’s novice marijuana industry matures, new opportunities will be born out of tech innovation created by forward-thinking entrepreneurs. Enter: John Prentice who launched a successful business based on this original thinking.
“The cannabis industry will be gigantic… because of the strict regulations and the unique ways in which the cannabis industry operates, adaptation and modification need to happen. When that’s impossible, new products need to be created. It’s a brave new world out there, and we’re all looking for innovative technologies to help maximise the opportunity.” – John Prentice