San Francisco (June 26)

Fresh off of a successful Europe run, The Cannabis Society headed back to California where we were excited to present our 1X1 Executive Conference in San Francisco. 

With the goal of forming strategic partnerships and investment deals, the 1X1 Executives Conference is a unique way to interact with and hear pitches from vetted cannabis brands, infusion products, credible technology companies, retailers, cultivators, licensed producers and large enterprises. The 1X1 Executive Conference is structured to include investment deck presentations from companies, followed by scheduled one-on-one meetings to be held between cannabis companies, investors and service providers.

Bill Hennessey, CEO of The Cannabis Society.

Bill Hennessey, CEO of The Cannabis Society.

The conference included the likes of some of the most renowned licensed producers, cannabis brands, and investment firms such as: CANNDESCENT, HelloMD, Hexo Corp, TerrAscend, Old Pal, Tilray, Canopy Rivers, Big Rock Partners, Granite Hall, and Poseidon. 

Following presentations and the 1X1 meetings, the conference concluded with three panel discussions headed by representatives from the participating industry experts. 

The first panel discussed investing in cannabis, and was moderated by Brett Fink, (SVP, Old Pal). Fink was joined by Mary Dimou (Director, Investment Team, Canopy Rivers), Patrick Barry (Chief Investment Officer, Granite Hall) and Steven J. Schuman (Managing Director of Halley Venture Partners, L.P.).

Following brief introductions by each speaker, the panel explored the topic of cannabis investment by addressing topics including expectations as to the length of prohibition on interstate commerce, geographic territories representing the best risk/reward equation for investors, and direct investments versus fund approach. 

Fink is Senior Vice President and founding team member of Old Pal. As employee #1, he helped launch the brand in California and spin up new markets in Nevada and Oregon. Prior to Old Pal, Fink led part of the accelerator at 500 Startups in Silicon Valley where he worked with hundreds of companies from 0 to 50M in value, and was an employee of consumer brands such as Snapchat and Casper through growth rounds.

Dimou is Director on the investment team at Canopy Rivers, the largest cannabis and hemp-focused venture capital vehicle in the world. In collaboration with Canopy Growth, Canopy Rivers identifies cannabis and hemp companies looking for financial and operating support. Her expertise covers the life sciences and agri-technology fields. She is a former ag-tech entrepreneur and held senior-level positions in portfolio management, venture capital, and foreign direct investment for the Canadian government, private capital, and private operating companies. Dimou is trained as a nutritional scientist focused on nutritional genomics and biochemistry.

Barry is Director and Chief Investment Officer of Granite Hall Partners. As Chief Investment Officer, Barry oversees fund construction, the firm’s investment processes and underlying manager due diligence. He is a member of the Investment Committee. Prior to joining GHP, Barry led the efforts of Frontier Partners as it expanded into private equity by assisting domestic and European private equity firms in raising institutional assets domestically and abroad. Prior to Frontier Partners, Barry spent eight years with JP Morgan Asset Management and its heritage organizations focused upon alternative asset programs, including construction of customized products for Institutional and Sovereign Wealth Fund clients in the Middle East and Europe.

Halley Venture Partners, L.P. is venture investment firm Schuman founded in 2017 that focuses on building the best cannabis-related technology companies. Schuman has 15 years of public and private equity investment experience, and spent an additional 5 years in agriculture-related manufacturing. From 2010-2016, Schuman was a Senior Analyst and Portfolio Manager for Passport Capital, LLC, a multi-billion dollar investment management firm headquartered in San Francisco. Prior to Passport, Schuman was a Senior Sell-Side Equity Analyst at Prudential Equity Group covering the agriculture and chemical industries. Schuman started his career in manufacturing at Cargill and Dow AgroSciences. He has worked for Fortune 100 corporations as well as multiple start-up companies.

The second panel of the conference focused on mergers and acquisition trends. Speakers included James McMillan (VP Business Development of Hexo Corp), Morgan Paxhia (Co-Founder & Managing Partner of Poseidon), Steven Yoo (VP, Corporate Development, Tilray), and Codie Sanchez (Managing Partner, Cresco Capital).

From left to right: Tom Zuber, Morgan Paxhia, Michael Litchfield, Steven Yoo, Codie Sanchez

From left to right: Tom Zuber, Morgan Paxhia, Michael Litchfield, Steven Yoo, Codie Sanchez

The panel highlighted topics like what areas of the industry are seeing the early days of M&A, what makes a company attractive for acquisitions, and what types of companies are the acquirers, public or private.

McMillan brings more than 20 years of executive experience in strategic sales, marketing and business development with an entrepreneurial spirit, strong negotiating skills, and expertise in developing growth markets to his role as our Vice-President for Business Development. As Vice-President for Business Development, McMillan plays a leading role in identifying strategic opportunities in the expanding cannabis market. From the development of new and innovative product lines for the medical and recreational markets, to building strong relationships with commercial partners, McMillan is responsible for establishing and expanding our market position in Canada and beyond.

Paxhia is a Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Poseidon, one of the longest running funds in the cannabis industry. With over ten years experience in investing and finance, he has developed a deep understanding of individual company analysis, portfolio construction, and risk mitigation. Through his extensive travel across the US and Canada, reviewing hundreds of business plans and overseeing several existing cannabis investments, Paxhia has developed Poseidon’s investment methodology tailored specific to the business of cannabis. 

Yoo, CFA joined Tilray in June 2019 to manage the corporate development efforts, which includes M&A and strategic partnerships. From 2015 to 2019, Yoo was a Director at Privateer Holdings, which is the parent company of Tilray and one of the first institutionally-backed private equity firms in the cannabis space. Prior to joining the cannabis industry, he worked for more than 10 years in the private equity and financial consulting space.

Sanchez is a Managing Partner at Cresco Capital Partners, a private equity fund in the legalized cannabis space. She previously lead First Trust's Latin America Investment business and held positions at Goldman Sachs, State Street, and Vanguard. She started her career as a journalist where she won the JFK award and the Howard Buffett Foundation grant for covering human trafficking. Sanchez is a pundit and columnist on investing, cannabis and startups, highlighted on The Today Show, Forbes, Fast Company, Entrepreneur, People en Español, Business Wire, etc.

The third and final panel for the evening focused on California markets. Moderated by Michael Litchfield (Chief Marketing Officer, HelloMD), the panel was made up of speakers including Heather Molloy (EVP Business Development, TerrAscend), Joyce Cenali (Founding Partner and Chief Operating Officer, Big Rock Partners), Adrian Z. Sedlin (CEO, CANNDESCENT), and  Jason Osni (Co-Founder, Old Pal).

Molloy has 20+ years of experience in strategic management consulting, finance, structured credit solutions, capital markets sales, and debt and equity investing for the legal cannabis market. Prior to joining TerrAscend, Molloy provided project management, new business development, and operational and management support to clients, including insurance companies and alternative asset management firms.

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.

A lifelong entrepreneur, Sedlin builds brands and cash flow businesses. Over his 25-year career, Mr. Sedlin has raised over $175MM in early stage capital, created 5 successful exits, and thrived in diverse industries including B2B ecommerce, B2G SaaS, direct response, and consumer packaged goods. In 2015, Mr. Sedlin left early retirement to launch CANNDESCENT, a California leading luxury cannabis brand.In 2017, CANNDESCENT became the #1-selling brand of cannabis flower in California and the company was the first cultivator in the world to abandon strain names and move to a consumer-friendly, effects-based architecture—Calm, Cruise, Create, 

As a founder of Old Pal, Osni crafted the vision for one of the most notable brands in cannabis. He is also co-founder of Haoma, a D2C cosmetics comany that will be globally distributed in 2020. Previously he was CEO of Nativ, a premier cannabis brand, which has since been acquired. He is a member of Columbia Law School's Journal of Corporate & Financial Law and a Doctorate of Juris-Prudence at Fordham Law. 

If you’re interested in being a speaker, sponsor, or attendee at The Cannabis Society’s upcoming conferences, please reach out to community@thecannabissociety.org. 

The Cannabis Society