The Success Stories Of Two Cannabis Industry Entrepreneurs
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The cannabis industry is fertile territory for entrepreneurs. With expanding infrastructure and a diverse job market, it is a very real possibility for cannabis to be a startup business in 2018. Many potential business owners wonder how viable the option really is, so we are presenting the stories of two successful cannabis businesses as they share some of their experiences and give some insight to what it takes to make it in the new landscape.
Karson Humiston is the founder and CEO of Vangst Talent Network, the cannabis industry's leading recruiting resource. She started the company in 2015 after attending a cannabis trade show and realizing that the industry had a massive market for jobs at every level. Vangst grew 567% between 2016 and 2017. The company recently closed a $2.5M round of funding from Lerer Hippeau and Casa Verde, and Humiston herself was included on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list.
Humiston says new businesses primarily need to stay focused. The industry has a lot of different possibilities and it’s easy to get confused. The more focused a business is in what they want to achieve, the better the chances of their success, she says. Additionally, she thinks hiring good people is another key aspect. This means people who are qualified and can deliver quality results as a team.
Jonathan Barlow is Senior Partner at the Cannabis Practice Group, a Detroit-based consulting firm in the cannabis business. In 2017, CPG successfully led the voter referendum, which passed by nearly 60%, that got the city of Detroit to opt into Michigan's Medical Marijuana Facilities and Licensing Act. Barlow is long time community organizer and is driven by growing new forms of wealth in low income neighborhoods.
Barlow’s first rule of success is self-financial discipline. Strict adherence to regulatory, tax, and legal requirements are essential. Those without the discipline to self-audit need not attempt getting into the business. Secondly, assembling a team of capable investors is mandatory. Entrepreneurs must understand that the minimum range of a full-fledged cannabis startup is $750,000 - $12 million. Establishing the capital to meet the compliance and regulatory standards of the state is a must.
Lastly, he says to involve your business with the community. The negative stigma of cannabis is waning but still strong, and it’s important for business to integrate with and support the surrounding community to change that perception. He advises young business venturists to “do what you’re good at. Stay spiritually grounded. Also, don't try to do it on your own, but find mentors to give you the discipline and realistic timelines for your projects.”
Cannabis can be a solid business endeavor in the right area. Supported by a market projected to grow hundreds of times its current size in the coming years and a relatively low amount of competition, investors are more likely than ever to consider putting their money in the cannabis industry.