When did you first become involved in the cannabis industry and why?
I got involved in the cannabis industry in 2018 when I learned about CBD and all its wonderful health benefits. I randomly accompanied some friends to Barcelona to attend an IT conference, in our group were a couple of people involved in the cannabis industry. They were working on some startup opportunities. They told me I should get involved in the industry. It seemed to be an industry with lots of potential. As a life-long entrepreneur I enjoy building companies from the ground up so I spent a lot of time meeting people and learning more about cannabis and CBD.
What has been the biggest challenge you have faced when working with cannabis companies/brands?
I think the fact that we are working in a legal industry but still get treated as if we were running illegal businesses really hurts our opportunities to market. The fact we can’t get loans or do banking with major banks, we have to put window coverings on storefronts and are so restricted with the types of advertising we can do really makes it difficult for us to build a brand. I also don’t like the fact that we can’t make some medical claims, as that hurts us. Cannabis has been used as medicine, we should be allowed to talk about some of the medical benefits. All these things contribute to the stigma that still exists in the general public about cannabis. Even though it’s been legal for 5 years, there are still people that are afraid to go into a cannabis store. I find that extremely frustrating.
If you could change one of the current Canadian or American marketing restrictions on cannabis, which would it be?
Remove the window coverings and allow the general public to see inside the stores. That will help remove the stigma and it will make people feel more comfortable to walk into stores. It will also help potentially grow the consumer market to the general public.
In your observation, what marketing techniques or channels have been most effective for cannabis companies looking to connect with consumers?
There were many companies that tried to help us connect with consumers. Most of them over promised and under delivered. They failed primarily because they didn’t have a grassroots understanding of the cannabis industry in Canada. I have started a couple of new technology solutions that we are confident will revolutionize the way cannabis companies connect with consumers. We are launching a mobile app that makes it easy for stores to connect with customers. It also makes it easy for customers to place orders, browse menus, manage loyalty points and stay connected to their favorite store. we have launched this app for my stores (Sativa Bliss) and will soon be offering the app to other stores across Canada.
Are there any other Trailblazers in the cannabis industry that you follow?
David Brown and George Smitherman.
What is one tip or piece of advice you would give to marketers looking to enter the cannabis industry?
Understand the regulations but more importantly, understand the cannabis industry intimately. Know the problems faced by retailers and LPs. Only after you know the problems can you offer good solutions. Too many people know the product they are selling but really don’t understand the cannabis industry intimately.