New York (May 14)
Back like we never left. The Cannabis Society returned to New York City on May 14th, 2019 for another successful edition of the Investor Conference series.
The Cannabis Society is dedicated to fostering the cannabis community through events, such as our investor conference. The purpose of this conference was to create a unique deal making session and to hear investors and other leading cannabis experts speak on what is to come in this emerging industry.
The first of two panels for the evening discussed the topic of investing in the cannabis industry. The panel was moderated by Josh Lawler (Partner, Zuber Lawler). He was joined by some of the top investors in the space: Bobbi Koz Paley (CEO of Art Assets LLC), Morgan Paxhia (Co-Founder & Managing Partner of Poseidon), Peter Rosenberg (Partner at Merida Capital Partners) and Matthew Nordgren (CEO & Founder of Arcadian Fund).
Following brief introductions of each speaker, the panel dove deeper into the question of cannabis investment by discussing topics such as the unique challenges investors face when evaluating the scalability and potential pitfalls of a business, the compelling and not so compelling areas of the industry to consider from an investment perspective, and the most successful strategies realized within the industry for companies to be able to experience continuous growth.
Lawler's practice focuses on mergers & acquisitions, securities law and technology transactions. His M&A clients include private equity groups, public and private companies, fundless sponsors, family offices and sellers of large assets. Many of Lawler's clients are domiciled outside of the United States and require expertise in execution of international transactions.
Paley is a ChangeMaker with a proven track record of identifying cultural shifts, investing early, and creating connections across multiple industries and sectors. She has been on the cusp of myriad cultural trends in her lifetime, establishing herself as an early player in real estate, art, and cannabis before they were asset classes. A pioneer in Design Thinking, she has consistently embraced innovation and opportunity to create value.
With over ten years experience in investing and finance, Morgan has developed a deep understanding of individual company analysis, portfolio construction, and risk mitigation. Since 2012, he has dedicated his investment focus primarily to the cannabis industry. Given the limited amount of information in this emerging vertical, the lack of institutional research, and relative industry immaturity, Morgan embraces an active approach of working closely with companies. He utilizes a “boots on the ground” methodology to better understand individual companies and the industry. Through his extensive travel across the US and Canada, reviewing hundreds of business plans and overseeing several existing cannabis investments, Morgan has developed Poseidon’s investment methodology tailored specific to the business of cannabis.
Rosenberg brings to Merida extensive business development, transaction execution, and portfolio monitoring expertise in the cannabis space. His specific areas of expertise include capital raising, mergers and acquisitions, and vertical knowledge in the consumer products and services, distribution and specialty retail sectors. Before joining Merida, he invested privately in Cannabis Reports, Flourish (the parent of HarborSide), and several other early-stage cannabis companies. Rosenberg has 30 years of experience in the financial services industry and has held senior-level positions in leveraged finance, investment banking, private equity and asset management.
The second and final panel was labelled “Cannabis 2.0” and discussed the second wave of investor wealth creation within the industry. Jeffrey Finkle (Co-Founder of Viridian Members fund) served as the moderator amongst panel speakers Vikas Desai (Founder and Partner at WelCan Capital), Emily Paxhia (Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Poseidon), Jon Trauben (Partner at Altitude Investment Management) and Joyce Cenali (Founding Partner and COO at Big Rock Partners).
The highly informative panel explored what exactly is the second wave, what categories are contenders for this wave (user bifurcation and personalization) and what type of investors are now seen placing capital in the industry and whether this changes how players are investing.
Named one of the “25 Angel Investors in New York You Need to Know” by AlleyWatch in 2014, Finkle has been a venture investor for ten years, an angel investor for eight years. Jeff is presently Co-founder of the Viridian Members Fund, the first member-managed fund in cannabis. He also serves as Chairman of the Evaluation Committee and Treasurer of the ARC Angel Fund. Finkle has been actively advising startups at Reitler Advisory Group and publishes insights to his blog www.finkabout.it. He is a frequent panelist, speaker, and judge on venture investing and pitch competitions in NY.
Emily has reviewed thousands of companies in the cannabis industry and has worked with countless founders in many capacities. She had helped to shape founders' pitch preparations, their go-to-market strategies/ product launches, and advised on day-to-day business operations. Emily has held board seats for three portfolio companies and participates as an adviser to multiple teams. Extremely active in the investment decision making and ongoing investment oversight processes, she works closely with her partners to create meaningful deal structures, ensuring that proper governance is carried out at the company level.
Trauben is a founding partner at Altitude Investment Management. Altitude is a leading investment firm focused exclusively in the cannabis industry having invested in 18 companies spanning the industry. Trauben brings a wealth of experience and management expertise as an investor with a 25-year record as a seasoned commercial real estate investor, capital markets and finance executive. He has held senior positions on Wall Street while at Barclays, Credit Suisse, Cantor Fitzgerald and Hunt Companies where he was a business leader, lender, trader and investor. Trauben has been involved in over $50 billion of transactions. He is currently a board member on several of Altitude’s portfolio companies as well as a cannabis-focused REIT.
Cenali leads operations at Big Rock Partners, a strategic advisory firm serving investors and companies at the intersection of food, hospitality and cannabis. Their portfolio includes PharmaCann, Cannacraft, Phylos, Kikoko, Sonoma Hills Farm, Garden Society, Sava, and others. She previously founded a boutique artist management firm, and lead business development, licensing and partner integrations for e-commerce start-ups. A long time craft cannabis cultivator, she co-founded an Emerald Cup winning operation, and served as Co-Chair for Women Grow, Sonoma. She attended Smith College, and lives with her wife and puppy children in San Francisco.
WelCan Capital is a venture capital firm focused in the cannabis industry. WelCan invests in high-impact, foundational companies across early-stage plant touching and ancillary businesses. With an emphasis on seed investing, WelCan looks to align with experienced entrepreneurs solving key problems that exist in the industry. Prior to WelCan, Desai was a private equity investor at Oaktree Capital Management and began his career at Morgan Stanley in investment banking, focusing on real estate M&A and capital markets.
Before closing out the night, attendees were provided with the opportunity to enjoy an intimate dinner while participating in around-the-table introductions, which served as a great segue into the deal making session amongst industry professionals and investors.
If you’re interested in being a speaker, sponsor, or attendee at The Cannabis Society’s upcoming conferences, please reach out to General Manager, Jessica Domingo at firstname.lastname@example.org.