As soon as you walked into the Spaces event location downtown Toronto, you could feel a wonderfully positive vibe in the air that was fueled by a ton of excited FEMALE energy. Can you say ROAR Toronto!!
Women from all kinds of backgrounds came together the evening of March 19th, 2019 to listen to an all female panel of Cannabis leaders talk about investing in Cannabis and the business of Cannabis in Canada. The evening included pitches by two startups and loads of networking.
- Lisa Campbell – CEO, Lifford Cannabis Solutions
- Alison Gordon – CEO, 48 North
- Nadia Vattovaz – CEO, Fire and Flower
- Melissa Rolston – CoFounder, Team MD
- Meris Kott – CEO & Director, Redfund Capital
Read on to learn more about the messaging shared by the panel about Cannabiz, Investing in Cannabis and more.
The panel was asked about the cannabis landscape post legalization and the general consensus was that the government has a long road in front of them. They felt that the excitement of legalization soon became a let down for the consumer. There were no big brands, selections or shops and many consumers simply found it fell flat. The panel shared that the producers are excited however and hopefully what the consumer is looking for will come in October and beyond. It will take a few years for the market to be built out and the panelists hoped that Canada would not lose its early market advantage in this time. The panel talked about the challenges of the Cannabis space and how companies will need resilience to be able to withstand. They all agreed that the industry is not for the faint of heart and that the true winners will pivot easily and quickly.
The panel also provided a lot of dialogue around investing in cannabis. Many felt that real world experience for leadership teams was missing or at a minimum a very important factor to correlate to potential success. They shared that cannabis leadership teams in general need less investment bankers and lawyers and more leaders with CPG, Sales, Marketing, Operations backgrounds.
We loved that the panel provided some solid advice around investing in Cannabis which included doing your due diligence. They suggested that would be investors, really dig in, make sure they understand who is running the company. Do those people have real world experience? Where is the company going to be playing in the cannabis space? What are they doing that is unique? What does the business plan look like? Can they summarize in a few pages the business model or is it a rambling 70 pages long?
Women in Weed
The panel felt that there was not enough representation of women in the industry and that the weed glass ceiling was no better than any other industry and in fact perhaps worse! The advice offered to the women in the room by the panel at the end of the session was to TAKE RISKS, find your place and do not be afraid to make some mistakes. If something doesn’t work – then PIVOT and move onto something else. Do not be afraid to be creative and most importantly DON’T BE AFRAID. They shared that many people worry about the company they join potentially not surviving – leaving them without employment – but the panel countered with the view that even a few months of cannabis experience can becomes your spring board to your next cannabis gig.
What did we think?
The women on the panel were approachable, smart and very open. When it was time for the Q&A session there was no shortage of questions and you felt that the audience would have interacted for hours if allowed. The lineups to speak with panelists after the formal panel ended were long and the chatter happening around the room most definitely led to new relationships and opportunities. We witnessed a very genuine compliment being given to Alison Gordon by a young participant who declared that Alison is seen as a role model for many young women in Canada and that she was a big fan of her work and professional success. #femaleleadership
Cannabis Canada Buzz hopes that more events like this happen to educate, support and encourage women in the cannabis space. This could easily be turned into a full day conference.
We ran into Jacqui Childs who had this to say about the event. ‘It was an inspiring evening, focused on cannabis women and finance. Three of my favourite things! As an investor, I am thirsty for more. As a cannabis advocate, I am so excited to see where this conversation and conversations like this can take us. When a room full of women gather and share thoughts and ideas, the seed of change are planted. ‘
The all FEMALE panel was moderated by Miriam El Ofir, an associate at Cassels Brock Lawyers.