New York (April 15)
On April 15th 2019, The Cannabis Society (TCS) flew south of the border and brought the Investor Conference back to The Big Apple, New York City. TCS is dedicated to fostering the cannabis community through events, such as our investor conferences. The purpose of this event was to create a unique deal making session through discussions with industry experts, entrepreneurs, investors and service providers on what is to come in this emerging industry.
Following opening remarks by TCS, attendees were given the opportunity to sit through three informative keynotes by well-immersed and knowledgeable industry brands and professionals.
The first keynote was given by Tom Zuber, Managing Partner at Zuber Lawler. Zuber has advised some of the most iconic companies in the world on their patent and trademark portfolios. He is at the cutting edge of cannabis patent and trademark law.
Next up was Chris Lord, Founder & CEO of Canibrands. CaniBrands is a next-generation CBD products company with a growing family of premium lifestyle brands. The company develops a full suite of experiences and product choices to meet the needs of the consumer of today and tomorrow. With the pulse on the market and a focus on innovation, CaniBrands is positioned to be a leader in educating and serving the emerging CBD market in the U.S.
The final keynote speaker for the event was Raza Bokhari, Executive Co-Chairman & Interim CEO of FSD Pharma. FSD is focused on the development of the highest quality indoor grown, pharmaceutical grade cannabis and on the research and development of novel cannabinoid-based treatments for several central nervous system disorders, including chronic pain, fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome. FSD has 25,000 square feet available for production at its Ontario facility with an additional 220,000 square feet currently in development. FSD’s R&D platform is focused on cannabinoids and their potential for widespread clinical applications.
Keynote speaker Zuber returned as the moderator for the Federal Cannabis Regulations fireside chat. He sat alongside Michael Correia, Director of Government Relations at the National Cannabis Industry Association. The two discussed how federal legislation could affect small businesses as opposed to established entities, possible areas of interest for congress regarding regulations and the opportunities or challenges being faced as a lobbyist.
Correia is director of government relations for the National Cannabis Industry Association. His focus is raising awareness and building support for the cannabis industry’s issues on Capitol Hill. In addition, Correia works with other national organizations to increase the cannabis industry profile nationally. A campaign veteran, he has worked and volunteered on numerous political campaigns at the local, state and federal levels over the past two decades.
Proceeding the fire chat was the first of two panels for the conference. Bobbi Koz Paley, CEO of Art Assets LLC, served as the moderator for the Investing in Cannabis panel. The speakers were composed of industry professionals such as Emily Paxhia (Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Poseidon), Jeffrey Finkle (Co-Founder of Viridian Members Fund), Mark Hadfield (CEO and Founder of HelloMD) and Vikas Desai (Founder and Partner at WelCan Capital).
After each individual on the panel introduced themselves and spoke about their funds, the panel took questions from attendees and spoke on relevant topics including differences in investment opportunities by region, key characteristics of a promising investment opportunity, as well as the most successful strategies for finding and helping companies with their overall growth.
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.
Paxhia 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. Paxhia 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. Further, Emily has dedicated time and energy to supporting policy groups and has served on the Board of Directors of the Marijuana Policy Project.
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. Finkle 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. Jeff 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. Jeff has also guest lectured and held office hours for many incubators/accelerators including Start-up Leadership Program, 37 Angels, NYU Polytech Incubator (New York City and Brooklyn), DreamIT Ventures, and FashInvest.
Hadfield is a serial entrepreneur with a track record of several successful technology startups ranging from collaborative software through cloud-storage and backup SAAS solutions.
Desai is the Founder and a Partner at WelCan Capital. 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.
The final panel of the conference was once more moderated by Tom Zuber, and focused on the Global Market of Cannabis. Speaking on the panel alongside Tom was Andrew Roche (VP of Finance at Poseidon), David Goldburg (Partner at Merida Capital Partners), Narbe Alexandrian (President of Canopy Rivers) and Dennis Byrne (Managing Director, Alternative Capital Group at Canaccord Genuity).
The panelists discussed a variety of topics includes the most attractive emerging legalized cannabis markets around the globe, how prohibition has held the U.S. cannabis companies back in terms of competing with foreign competitors and the challenges cannabis companies face in building brands across sovereign borders,.
Roche, CPA, is the VP of Finance at Poseidon Asset Management. In this role, he has worked on the diligencing of over 50 companies, overseeing 20+ investments and reviewed hundreds of businesses across all verticals of the cannabis industry. Andy is skilled in financial modeling and venture capital financings as well as passionate about the underlying science, a skillset he leverages in understanding the cannabis industry from an empirical perspective. Additionally, Andy leads Poseidon's accounting operations, overseeing monthly and quarterly NAV, annual audit, as well as tax return preparation. Andy works closely with many of Poseidon's portfolio companies, providing support as needed.
Goldburg has specialized in credit investing for the past 25 years, managing proprietary investment portfolios at leading Wall Street firms and hedge funds. Before joining Merida, he founded Battlebourne Capital, a cross-capital structure investment firm, in January 2016. Prior to Battlebourne, Mr. Goldburg served as the senior member of the New York office of Silver Rock Financial, Michael Milken’s family office, since its inception in 2010 until his departure in January 2016. In September 2009, Mr. Goldburg formed Garnet Financial, a $200 million special situation credit vehicle funded by the Milken family. He was the portfolio manager of Garnet until it was merged into Silver Rock at the end of 2010.
Alexandrian is the President of Canopy Rivers, the venture capital affiliate of Canopy Growth, and the largest cannabis VC fund in the world. Prior to joining Canopy Rivers, Narbe was a Venture Capitalist at OMERS Ventures, the largest and most prominent technology venture capital fund in Canada. During his tenure, Narbe helped fundraise for two VC funds ($520M of capital), sourced and lead multiple debt/equity financing, and acted as a Board Observer for a number of portfolio companies.
Byrne is the Managing Director of the Alternative Capital Group at Canaccord Genuity and a member of the US Executive Committee. Dennis has been with CG since 2006 in sales and leadership roles with mandates focused on establishing Cross Border and Priority sales teams. In addition, he was an integral part of CG establishing a New York office and network. As the relationship manager for his own clients, he cultivates new partnerships that complement the firm’s growth strategy.
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.