The Lucky Leaf NJ cannabis conference in Edison at the convention center last week offered an intimate perspective of cannabis industry operators elsewhere in the country visiting.
Lucky Leaf Expo NJ Cannabis Conference
Unfortunately, by their own admission, Lucky Leaf did not publicize them very much. So it was not well attended. Cannabis insider held their high-end award ceremony on the same day.
They are a conference company from out of state with negligible local ties.
However, an intimate convention can still be good for business, with more time for rapport building with fewer people around.
It was a typical New Jersey cannabis conference that was largely a corporate Business 2 Business (B2B) affair with a mix of fascinating Delta hemp vendors that have become controversial.
The event consisted of a national cannabis industry update of professionals from other states. There were many larger companies from elsewhere with booths. They were from more developed markets usually and had more insight into being a national cannabis industry player going conference to conference state by state.
There were also many ancillary businesses selling services to cannabis companies. For example, there were software companies for compliance and scaling.
A professional from the South chaffed at strict regulations New Jersey has imposed on licensed cannabis companies. In the South, it is unregulated as well. But there are fewer complaints. Delta hemp that gets you high is everywhere in other states too.
Hemp vendors can get around the regulations imposed and be sold in mainstream convenience stores and gas stations.
Raising Capital for Cannabis Panel
Cannabis accountant Malvina Kay and her partner Raymond Guns in a franchised accounting firm gave a talk about raising capital. It is a big issue for many New Jersey cannabis companies.
The situation is made worse by federal prohibition.
“The equity markets for cap dried up,” Guns explained. “Everybody they lent to didn’t hit their numbers. Now you need a license and real estate.”
While getting a conditional cannabis license in New Jersey is fairly easy, getting real estate and local approval is seeing many fail.*
“We want to see you’re post revenue depending,” Guns added.
He noted that most companies spend a great deal of time securing their initial investment in the “friends and family round’.
“They’re going to be a lot more stringent on their due diligence,” Guns said about Venture Capital firms.
They are usually reached out to in the following round when millions of dollars are needed.
Kay noted the need for many documents related to securing investments. She advised people to find a lawyer specializing in cannabis. Kay also noted the need for a business plan, a pitch deck, and a team, including an accountant.
“It’s a full-time job almost,” Guns noted.
He noted the need for a good story, a competitive analysis, and a pro forma.
Competing in a Limited Market
“You and every cannabis business with a license want an investor,” Guns noted. “It’s an investor’s market. I get to choose. You’re very much competing. They want to exactly how they’re paid back.”
“The investors are not the emotional business owners, the dreamers. The investors don’t give a shit about that. They want to see the numbers,” he added.
“Get to know what financial statements are,” Kay said. “You gotta get versed in what you’re about to undertake.”
“It can kind of be a pitch going in the investor roadshow,” she added.
Guns said even elson musk and PayPal had great problems finding money.
“Don’t get discouraged when you take to one investor. It’s going to take dozens,” he said.
“Practice,” Kay said. “They just want to know how it will be spent so they get their money back.”