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Editors’ Note: This is the transcript version of the podcast. Please note that due to time and audio constraints, transcription may not be perfect. We encourage you to listen to the podcast, embedded below if you need any clarification. We hope you enjoy!
Bryan Fields @bryanfields24 and Kellan Finney @Kellan_Finney sit down with Peter Vogel, the CEO of Leafwire. Leafwire was founded to provide a welcoming and safe community for Cannabis business professionals. This community allows entrepreneurs, investors and individuals interested in cannabis to connect, share news and collaborate. With Leaf wire, everyone grows together.
Featured in Today’s episode:
You will also hear what Peter thinks the biggest misconception in the Cannabis Industry is as well as advice he has to share.
Peter Vogel is the CEO of Leafwire. After working in Technology startups for 20 years, Peter Vogel decided to step into the Cannabis business industry. You can join Leafwire to learn industry news and to network to
[00:00:00]Bryan Fields: This is the dime, dive into the cannabis and hemp industry through trends, insights, predictions, and tangents.
What’s up guys. Welcome back to another episode of the dime as always. I’ve got my right hand, man, Colin Finney here with me. And this week we’ve got a very special guest here, Volvo CEO and founder of belief, wire pier.
Thanks for taking the time, how you doing today?
[00:00:24]Peter Vogel: Doing great. Awesome to be here. Thanks for having me on
[00:00:26]Bryan Fields: We’re excited to kind of dive in . Kellan, how are you doing?
[00:00:29]Kellan Finney: I’m doing well. I’m doing well. How about yourself, Brian?
[00:00:31]Bryan Fields: Doing well. Thanks. So before we kind of dive in Peter, I’d love to get a little background about you and they got into cannabis.
[00:00:38]Peter Vogel: Yeah, for sure. I was before cannabis. I was in the tech startup space for about 20 years and I’ve helped co-found and work for lots of startups in the kind of online marketing and advertising space. And that was where I was basically since I got out of college. And then back in, I guess now it’s about 2017.
I had lunch with [00:01:00] a buddy who I knew from also being in the tech startup space, a guy who’s now CEO of a company called simplifier. His name is Maryann Rasmussen, very experienced guy in the cannabis space and he, and a bunch of investors that come up with this idea for Leafwire. But they, they were all running their own companies and they had no one to kind of take it and run with it.
So we had lunch. I was. Kind of bored of the same tech startup world that I’d been in for 20 years. And I lived in Denver, so obviously tons of people around me who worked in cannabis and I knew it was a legit real industry. And I basically said to my wife, you know, where do I want to be in five years? So I want to be stuck in the same industry or do I want to be, you know, an experienced cannabis executive with, you know, lots of contacts and knowledge and be an industry.
Little me. So I made that call and decided for my future down the road, that cannabis was the industry that was going to be the place to be. So I jumped in headfirst and haven’t looked back. And
[00:01:57]Bryan Fields: for those who are just unfamiliar with Leafwire, can [00:02:00] you give us the simplistic version of what it is and the value it brings to the space?
[00:02:04]Peter Vogel: Yeah. Yes. We’d love to, of course. So the simplest way we pitch Leafwire to new people. Who’ve never heard of us is that we’re the LinkedIn of the cannabis hemp industry. So we’re the largest business network in cannabis. There there’s not really any other business networks out there. That, you know, have any audience or that are, you know, known by anyone.
So we’re, we’re mostly the only really business network and we’re, you know, by far any of the other people that have sites that are anyone similar, we’re probably 10 X bigger. And we’re up to, we now have about 40,000 members. And those 40,000 members all join, create profiles. So just like a LinkedIn or Facebook, he joined as an
individual, create your profile and you can add your company and your experiences.
And we’ve had about 18,000 company profiles created as well. So that’s 18,000 companies in this space. So it’s pretty wide following and, you know, on a day-to-day basis, we often have, you know, a thousand people on the platform, you know, [00:03:00] posting news, promoting events, connecting, messaging, commenting, et cetera.
So it’s, it’s a pretty engaged, vibrant community,
[00:03:07]Bryan Fields: the very main dashboard. So I guess my question to you would be, do you have to be in
the industry to be operating on.
[00:03:12]Peter Vogel: You do not we don’t have any requirements of who joins. We have a job board with thousands of cannabis and hemp jobs. So if you want to come on and look for a job, you know, great.
If you want to come on and learn about the industry because you want to get into it, you know, great as well, people always ask me when they’re new in the industry, what, what they should do, how they should get start. And I always tell them one to get on the Leafwire, and just start reading the newsfeed every day, see what everyone’s posting, get a feel for the industry, read the news.
And when you see a lot of the articles, you can go subscribe to their newsletters. And then all of a sudden you could be getting 10 newsletters a day and you can get a really good gauge on the industry just by seeing what’s everyone writing about what are people asking about? What’s what’s everyone on Leafwire.
Like what events, what questions, what industries are hot. And then you can also, if you want to get a little more [00:04:00] aggressive, you can start connecting with people versus just, you know, a lot of the users are passive. They just want to watch and listen. You know, a lot of people deal with social media differently.
If you want to get more involved and you actually want to get more connected, or if you want people to actually reach out to you, you need to start connecting with people. You need to start posting. Occasionally you need to start commenting, liking like participants. You know, like any social network or business network, the more you participate, you know, the better your terms will be.
So that that’s, that’s what I tell people when they’re getting into the industry. So yes, we welcome new people. Most people we get are people who already work in the industry, but we’re happy to have anyone who wants to come learn about the cannabis industry or look for it.
[00:04:42]Bryan Fields: Yeah, I think that’s really well said.
And for those who haven’t have Basit and see with the social media, because their aunt Sarah is liking all their posts. They don’t have to worry about aunt Sarah being on Leafwiree. Right. You can, you can operate on there. And I think, you know what you said, Peter is really valuable for our listeners out there who are interested in the space, but are kind of unfamiliar with exactly how it is art, [00:05:00] right?
It’s a daunting task, the industry being so ever evolving. And we’re exactly a star night. I think what you said is perfect, right? Start somewhere and continue to operate forward and utilizing a platform like leaf buyers, really good resource for those out there who are junk, familiar. So telling where do you get your news?
How do you operate with other individuals? Obviously we’re connected with a bunch of different people across the space. Are you utilizing the more platform kind of diving. Yeah, no,
[00:05:25]Kellan Finney: I actually do utilize leaf buyer for exactly what Peter was saying. I just use it to scroll the news and kind of get an idea of what’s trending in the space.
I do it probably once a week. It helps us with keeping our finger on the pulse and see what everyone else is kind of talking about in the space. I use that and then. As well as a 4:00 PM. Okay. So there’s a bunch of really good sources out there, but I like Leafwiree. Cause it’s like almost like my apple news, you know how it like combines all these different sources to look at so that you can go into these various rabbit holes is what, but my favorite thing about
[00:05:56]Peter Vogel: it.
Yeah. We also have, I’m sure you get to, [00:06:00] we have an email now that we’ve recently rebranded as the daily wire that goes out every day. And we curate what we think are like the top six posts of the day. So these are all user generated posts from members that they’re either posting mostly it’s news or events, things like that, that we think would be applicable or interesting to everyone.
So, so we do, we do just that when, when, when we do that daily email, we’re trying to make. An easy way that someone could look and see what we think are like the top six things of the day. And when we put that in the email and send it out every day. So that’s kind of a good point you made of, I think what’s valuable to people is being able to see what’s relevant and that kind of thing.
I want to
[00:06:38]Bryan Fields: take two steps. We’re probably a bunch more steps backwards. The idea before. Right. Like, obviously you’re having that conversation with your friends. What sort of like thought process was it? Was it the idea of a cannabis based community of trying to bring everyone together? Can you kind of take us through that idea?
Because I think, or at least my perspective, I’m always interested in hearing how these early conversations happen with founders, with [00:07:00] understanding. This is the idea. I think I’m ready to kind of dive in with, can you try to share some
[00:07:04]Peter Vogel: information in there? Sure. It did evolve a little bit. When I first came on, the concept was a little more to be the angel list of cannabis, not, I don’t know how familiar you are with angel list, but it’s basically became very popular in Silicon valley for tech startups to go on and then investors to go on and meet them.
So it was kind of like a meeting platform for techie startup. And in the beginning, it was mostly VCs and Silicon valley folks, and then it expanded. So the idea was to create a platform where investors could meet companies were looking to raise funds. So when we first launched, I mean, Leafwire, it kind of looked the same and it operated the same.
We realized pretty fast. It’s really hard to make money from companies who are fundraising, even trying to get them to pay a monthly subscription fee of 50 to a hundred bucks a month. Was like pulling teeth. So it was hard to figure out how to monetize it correctly. It didn’t really function as we thought it would.
And we also found it was really hard [00:08:00] for investors to Wade, through hundreds of companies, a lot of which, you know, in cannabis, there’s a lot of brand new young companies, which really aren’t far enough along for investors to be interested. So we had the dual problem. Not really having a direct monetization strategy.
We thought we did when we started, but it turned out. It didn’t really work. Like we thought. And then we found out it wasn’t even that valuable to investors because there’s so many companies and most investors were hesitant to kind of act on their own. And then at the same time, we were getting thousands of people joining and using leaf are much more like a LinkedIn.
So we realized. Why don’t we pivot a little bit here. We’ll still have investors join. We’ll still have companies post about their fundraising, but let’s focus more on being a networking platform for the entire industry. And so that, that’s where when that shift happened and we realized that we could be that to the entire industry and not just, you know, the folks who were trying to read.
[00:08:56]Bryan Fields: I think that’s, that’s really important because I haven’t seen a startup failing [00:09:00] fast is really the most critical. And what we originally described as a business plan sometimes realize, oh man, we really missed the marker here. And what we saw was actually was going to be our business case is really far to the right.
And the most important way is to continue to evolve and move forward. It’s interesting because I remember the conversations we had a couple of years back and seeing like, we’ve worked, it feels so similar to LinkedIn when I’m on there with the events and the news and the connection, it kind of company in that respect where I could feel like I’ve been on this type of platform.
And it’s not one of those where I’m not sure how to use it. I know exactly when I’m on the dashboards clean. I see the events. I see the news. I see the people. Pretty pretty vocal about what their interests are post to LinkedIn, where I get tons of people saying, Hey, I just want to connect this one.
There’s actually a purpose and a feasibility in their connection, which really helps me when I’m trying to allocate my time towards the social media. I find value in the platform. So I want to take it one step kind of back to the current, your day to day and lead fire. Let me see. There’s a million things going on in cannabis and your time is really valuable to how you want to help grow the platform.
But [00:10:00] what specifically, can you take us through what your role is like on a day to day?
[00:10:04]Peter Vogel: Well, it basically shifts throughout the year, depending you know, as CEO, if we’re fundraising, I’m very heavily invested time-wise in fundraising, helping create materials, helping strategize about what, what we should be doing.
Reaching out to investors, having calls, creating reports and things like that. Other times, my partner heads up kind of the tech side. We have a development team in Sri Lanka. So my partner kind of manages them and heads up product development and just overall strategy, what we’re, what we’re creating in a day-to-day basis.
And I have another partner who is now VP of marketing, who heads up kind of. Sales operations and marketing. And we we’re right now, we’re actually hiring for for a VP of sales as well. So currently as things shift, since we don’t have a VP of sales right now, I’m spending a ton of time doing sales.
A lot of our revenue comes from advertising and our revenue and on the platforms. While we’re hiring [00:11:00] someone one, I spend a lot of time interviewing people and then two, I spend a lot of time filling that gap. So it’s kind of like any startup, you do whatever needs to be filled at that specific time.
So it kind of changes all the time. Yeah. You were many
[00:11:13]Bryan Fields: can tell that burner. So let’s kind of take it a couple steps further. The future roadmap for leap wire. Obviously we know the current direction of where it is now, but where, where do you foresee moving towards as the industry kind of evolves? Is it going to be location?
Are you going to try and get it down to where for us east coasters who are new to this space, you’re going to kind of formulate more of the information on a more personalized note, or are you going to take it more general, broad, where others can kind of find whatever they’re looking for?
[00:11:38]Peter Vogel: Well, I mean, I guess the answer is kind of both one, we’re changing a database from one to another so that we can optimize the newsfeed based on each user.
So right now everybody sees the same name. W whatever you see is the same as what I see. And we know a lot of people would rather see, you know, only specific kinds of news. So they only want to see stuff from people that are connected with. So we’re [00:12:00] optimizing that the database and the way we show that.
So the people will actually be able to curate and see almost exactly what they want to see in the news stream. So we are doing that. We are though, you know, anticipating having more and more of an international footprint. I mean, right now, I think it’s like 92% us 5% Canada and about three or 4% international.
So we do already have members from Brazil, the UK, Germany, Argentina, all, all over the place. And you’ll see people on leaf wire posting pretty regularly. So we do want to continue to participate in some international conferences, some international podcasts, some get our help, continue to get our name out there with some partners.
In regard to kind of, what’s new for Leaf Wire though, and sense of what we’re doing. One we’re, we’re building a mobile app right now, which everything we’ve done in the fire so far has been web based. And you can use your phone. I mean, leaf are works on a phone it’s web optimized for mobile. It’s not great though.
And there are some people who just prefer apps. So we think [00:13:00] we can appeal to some new demographics, potentially some younger demographics also in increased engagement. So that even just our regular users. When they wake up in the morning, you know, a lot of the things first people do is roll over, pick up their phone and start flipping through smash.
When you’re waiting in a doctor’s office. You know, when you’re in line somewhere, a lot of people will we’ll use that time just to check the news. Or I know personally, you know, I go check Leafwire, I’ll check something like, you know, CNN or. I, I use LinkedIn as well, so I’ll check LinkedIn. So to have an app like that, I think will help a lot.
Another cool thing we’re doing is we’re tying in some more, you, you mentioned location, which is interesting. We’re tying some more location-based features so that people can use us at conference. As a tool for networking. So we’re right now, we’re the biggest network for people to use while they’re just sitting around at home.
We want to be the biggest network that people can use just as well when they’re at a conference. So we’re going to do some things in there. One that’s a geographically location-based so you can look up on your app and see of all the people you’re connected to [00:14:00] on leaf. How many of them are within, you know, quarter mile of where you’re standing and see, you would see at an event like who’s there and then it’ll give you a chance to schedule a meeting with that person.
And you can schedule it through the Leafwire and you’ll be able to take notes on that meeting. And then when you leave the events, all of your notes, all your contacts are still in there. Cause I find that things frustrating when you go to vet and you use a lot of events, have a mobile app, you download it.
It’s something you’ve never heard of or Hoover, or you’ve used a once or twice. You use it and you set up meetings and this and that, but when you go home, you never opened that again. So all of the contacts you made, everything are kind of lost and it’s wasted. So the idea. If you can, every time you connect with someone, we also want to make it, there was a company that did this back in the mid to late two thousands that kind of went away, but we want to make it so that if you’re on Leafwire, you can essentially hit a button and get connected with someone else via their mobile phone via, you know, some location technology.
So have it happen at like NFC or something like. So that you get connected [00:15:00] immediately without having to exchange business cards, which in our post pandemic world, not everyone wants to hand business cards back and forth all day long, or even remember to carry them around anymore. So imagine if you could just connect with everyone, just hit a button on your phone, and now they’re connected to you.
And there’s a little tag that says you met them at this conference. So when you get home, you can use your Leafwire network and look up and say, oh, who are those people I met at MJ biz. And they’re all. In your Leafwire network where you’re connecting with people anyway. So the idea is to be the adult bunch of those mobile features that make it networking and conferences easy.
[00:15:33]Bryan Fields: Yeah. I think that’s such an important point because I think, you know, trade shows have been around since beginning of time. And they’ve tried to adapt from networking stands by providing these apps, but when only. That statistic, just going to guess 30% of the users are downloading the app. And I want to connect with you specifically, and I’m sending you messages, but you’ve never downloaded the app.
There’s no connection. So having some sort of universal tool, right, don’t have to go to the conference, download the app, then hope that people are using it. [00:16:00] Just having one tool that I can rely on that have all that information is so valuable because I mean like that part is such a headache. And then the business cards that you push them.
How many times, Carolyn, have you lost a card or someone where you’re like, oh, this guy was great contact. I got to email him to become home. You’ve got 200 cards. You’re exhausted. And you’re like, which one was it? So depending on his app, is that a tool you would consider using? Obviously it’s, it’s connecting on a real pain point that you and I are.
[00:16:29]Kellan Finney: And I was, this is that’s so funny. You mentioned all those features, Peter. Cause I was actually trolling the internet, looking at these new credit cards that they have that have like a RFID chip in them that literally linked to all your personal information. So then the idea is you take the little credit card.
And you like put it up against someone’s phone and it’ll just automatically pull your contact information into their phone. But then now you have all of these contacts just floating around in your phone. So with Leafwire, think it’s brilliant because it creates a database for you as well, like a record.
[00:17:00] Right? So then you can go home, you get back on your Leafwire and you’re like, okay, here’s all the people I contacted. It’s organized, it’s sorted, it’s all clean. So I think that that’s absolutely a brilliant idea from a networking standpoint at conferences. Yeah.
[00:17:14]Peter Vogel: I have the same pain point that that’s kind of part of the reason we came up with a strategy.
You know, you get home from a conference and you have, you know, a stack of 100 cards or something. And the last thing you want to do is sit there and enter them all into your Salesforce. You’re behind on everything. The day you get home. You don’t a lot of times people just don’t people follow up. I find it.
A lot of conferences is ridiculously low. I’m going to conferences walked around. And when we first started Leafwire little go to conferences, I go table to table and out a card, shake their hand, get their card, you know, invite them to join Lee fire. And then when I got home, I would literally email every single one of those people and invite them digitally and work pretty well.
I would in return, literally I’d hand out, you know, a hundred, 200. I would have probably one person [00:18:00] contact me and they were probably someone like selling insurance or something. So the quantity I’m always found that when you go to trade show, it is hundred percent up to you to follow up with who you want to.
Like, I always assume like no one else will follow up. Like you have to be the one to do it. Yeah. Proactively take the step that you want to happen. I think
[00:18:19]Kellan Finney: it’s also pretty wild that it’s taken this long for us to move away from a paper information, right? Like we were literally surrounded by computers 24 7, and we’re still just handing out paper with our information on
[00:18:31]Bryan Fields: it.
Yeah, and I mean, it’s even crazier too, because like, when you, when you digest as a business, you digest the total cost of a trade show event. And then two is, think about the connections, which are the most valuable part of the trade show or being kind of like forgotten part of the investment. You’re wondering like, how are companies evaluating these investments in these trade shows because the follow-ups are completely broken and that’s really where all the business.
He’s really invested in. So if you’re, if you’re able to kind of pitch the business and say, Hey, like [00:19:00] we know what the cost $70,000 for your team to do this patient, regardless of the other wasted time of travel, missed emails, delays all those things. Now you have a real tool to kind of connect and follow up so that those business opportunities aren’t left to like the sales person who like might get to it, or the person who entered the cards in it’s a huge, huge pain point.
And I mean, I think you can really nail down in a niche community. Like cannabis, which is ever evolving and find a tool like that, that can help automate the process to make it.
[00:19:29]Peter Vogel: Yeah, we hope so. That’s our goal. We want to make it all parts of it, easier for people. And to be the, like you said, the universal kind of tool for people to use.
And it just makes it easier. Cause you, you, you made the point, you know, maybe 30% of people download an app. How, what percentage of those people know how to use it? Yeah,
[00:19:45]Bryan Fields: so I don’t even use it. Like I’m sitting at the trade show, yelling at him. Also, did you message this person? He’s like, I didn’t download the app yet.
And it was like, well, great.
[00:19:55]Peter Vogel: There’s, there’s a learning curve. Like you download some brand new thing and you’re like, which, which tab do I [00:20:00] go to? And like, who’s on here. If there’s something that everyone’s already using, it’s so many times easier to just open up your phone and be like, oh, here’s the, and we also want to work.
This is kind of another step further, but we’re working with conference organizers and make it so that we can actually upload say the agenda to a conference. And at Leafwire, we can upload the map of the place and the Leafwire. We can upload whatever information they want so that you can actually use.
You don’t need that paper guide. You don’t need, which a lot of people are trying to get rid of. Anyway, I’m J visit. I think I already got rid of their paper, you know, the little thing to hand out. So if you also on your phone, you already have the belief, our app. If at every event you go to, you can just click agenda.
You can click, you know, map, but you can click meeting schedule meetings, and it just makes it, so it eliminates the need for all these other extra things.
[00:20:49]Bryan Fields: I can’t say how many times I’ve seen people like. Really valuable documents to someone else and then just turn the corner or even worse, right? Like you’re like, oh, this is really [00:21:00] valuable stuff.
I’ll look at it later. And you come home after the three days, you’ve got just tile of shit on your hotel. And you’re like, I don’t even remember how I’m going to ever go through any of these there’s handwritten notes across the 40. It’s just ridiculous to go back on gallons point. You’re right. Like the way we’re operating now with all the technology to think that we’re utilizing these pieces of paper.
Transfer information and it’s just
[00:21:20]Peter Vogel: ludicrous. I agree. A hundred percent,
[00:21:23]Bryan Fields: but let’s go into the recent investment into SeedInvest. Can you share some more details about that? I was really curious to learn, you know, how, how that thought process came about and kind of how that went. Yeah,
[00:21:34]Peter Vogel: for sure. That was essentially born out of necessity from the pandemic.
We are in the middle of raising a convertible note in 2020 I was about halfway through it was done pretty well. And then March hit and, you know, it was kind of like, there was so much fear and uncertainty people didn’t know, you know, if, if we’re going into this huge depression, people didn’t know. You know if the pandemic was going to get 10 [00:22:00] times worse.
I mean, there was no vaccine. People had no idea what would real life start up again ever? So we found one, everyone, all of a sudden was afraid to be spending money, doing anything. And the people who had money. So the VCs who have funds and they have money already ready. They were so worried about other current companies.
So each VC already has say 10 or 20 company they’ve invested in. They know those turn 20 companies might be struggling and they’re going to have to reinvest more money to keep their companies afloat. So all of the existing VCs who had money were doing that. So they were holding back and they were withholding funds for their own companies for reinvesting.
So I essentially counter my head on a wall for about nine months trying to raise money and had very little success and then started talking to some crowdfunding companies. We hit it off with seed invest. They liked the platform, they wanted to do it. And so we started a campaign and it worked. So we finished the note.
We raised a total of about a million dollars and it was, it was great because. You know, I don’t want to say it’s a [00:23:00] last ditch effort, but it was basically an alternative. It was the next thing to do besides just reaching out to investors directly. And at the time it worked I will say that it was definitely stressful.
You have to reach a certain level before you can kind of, so even if you raise, say 600 or 700, you have to get to X before you can actually withdraw. So you can go through the entire process and if you don’t reach some minimum, you don’t get anything and see you invest sets it up like that. Cause they’re trying to ensure you have enough to run.
So they don’t want to put their investors money into something that’s going to run out of money soon. So they, they have those minimums and we didn’t reach the minimums until essentially the last week of a 60 day campaign. So I didn’t know, for 50 days if it was going to work or not. Wow. So it was very a lot of early mornings, a lot of begging and pleading people.
To come on, you know, invest and it, it worked so I’m, I’m thankful for it, but it was definitely a, it wasn’t easy and it was a relatively stressful process, but, you know, at the time that was, you [00:24:00] know, kind of the, the best we could hope for. Yeah. And
[00:24:02]Bryan Fields: then in cannabis, nothing is really easy. Right. You can’t take the traditional route.
And I think like I would like it if you could kind of expand on that where like some of the options that are, that are opened to other industries. I’m just not a 40 here in cannabis and everything is harder. So, I mean, can you kind of take us through some of those traditional routes that weren’t affordable to you or what not available?
[00:24:23]Peter Vogel: so to answer that in a slightly different way first I get a lot of people come to me with brand new companies that want to raise money and they want to know what investors should I reach out to what VCs? And I basically tell most of them, like none of them like. No investors or VCs want to hear about your brand new company that has no traction.
You know, that you just started that mostly. And this is kind of true in tech as well. You have to go kind of the friends and family round to start to get some traction. You have to get people who know you and believe in you to invest. Not that require proof that it’s working or traction or anything like that.
So for most [00:25:00] brand new companies, that’s mostly the only thing available. And this wasn’t true back in, like, I’d say like 2015, 16, 17, 18. A lot of the VCs, everyone was investing in brand new companies because cannabis was so new. Any new company, people had money and they just wanted to jump on, you know, year or two late.
There’s hundreds of hundreds of startups and the VCs are getting flooded with everything under the sun. So now they only want to put their money into things that are kind of series a or later. And they want to see people that are generating at least, you know, 50 to a hundred K a month that have some proven product market fit that have like like an executive team in place that seems, you know, professional and seasoned.
They would rather do that and spend more money than invest. You know, in early stage companies, because they know it’s going to take them a lot more time, a lot more risks. So there a lot of the investing shifted from early seed stage to series a. So another answer your question. I mean the most obvious thing that’s not available to cannabis companies.[00:26:00]
Is larger institutional investors, a lot of private equity. Most of those funds have mandates in their company, directives that they’re not allowed to invest in anything that’s federally illegal. It doesn’t matter if it’s legal in a state or even if it’s an ancillary company, like likely far, like we don’t touch the plant.
We don’t sell anything. We’re just a tech platform. Like no, typically most big technology venture capital companies or private equity or institutional investors won’t touch anything with the word cannabis involved with it. So that’s definitely locked out a lot of loan programs as well. Aren’t available to play touching companies.
If they’re federal. SBA loans, that sort of thing. So you’re really focused on starting off friends and family. And then, you know, once you get some revenues, some traction you can start going to, you know, there’s lots of others, investors in cannabis. And then once you get to like a series a, you can actually hit up the VCs.
You know, there’s tons of funds out there that we all know that, you know, like Meredith [00:27:00] capital or Poseidon or Arkady and then I’ll have, you know, a hundred to 200 million in their funds. And they’re great at that point, but most of them aren’t errands until you.
[00:27:09]Bryan Fields: It’s hard. I it’s, it’s like hearing you say that, just kind of brings back some of the conversations we’ve had with partners where they, they thumbed us, especially during the pandemic and said, Hey guys, can you help us?
Like we’re running out of capital and everywhere we turn, people are closing the doors on that. You know, I had friends outside industry go like, why can’t they go like X? And it’s like, well, X isn’t available to people in the cannabis space because it’s federally legal. And they’re like, well, that’s silly.
And it’s like, I agree. It’s definitely silly, but still it doesn’t help them on how they can not close their doors. So Kellen, I mean, do you think other companies, especially in cannabis will take a similar approach? I
[00:27:44]Kellan Finney: do. I mean, there’s, I think until there’s actual preform from a federal law, But they’re going to have to kind of take every option that they have available to them, especially if they’re pre money, right?
If, if they’re pre money, like it’s really, really limited from an option standpoint. And if [00:28:00] you are pre money, you better have someone who either has an accounting background or is a CFA on your team because a lot of VCs and a lot of angels and high net worth individuals like Peter was saying jumped in just very excited about the industry, especially when California first went legal.
People were throwing money around, just try to get their share of this market. That’s going to be massive, but it turns out that cannabis isn’t tech and it’s still federally illegal. So it hasn’t grown like the tech industry grows. Right. And you don’t see these zero to a hundred million dollar companies that often it takes a long time to build these robust vertically integrated MSO kind of focused companies.
And a lot investors also got burned really, really hard, right. They jumped in super eager. Eyes wide open, like let’s go, cannabis is going to be the next big thing. And a lot of the entrepreneurs in the space just weren’t the right entrepreneur, I guess, for lack of a better. [00:29:00] A way to describe some of those individuals, but they got burned.
And then that really kind of forced a lot of the investors into these kind of groups. Right? So now you see like Poseidon and Ark view where the accredited investors kind of group together to help that potential different opportunities for investment, because. There’s strength in numbers, right? They were like, okay, I got burned by myself.
Now I’m going to go out and team up with all these other individuals. So that at least we have a fighting chance in terms of figuring out the needle in the haystack. Right. And so hopefully the safe banking act passes and a lot of these other means of obtaining capital. Become available to plant touching businesses as well as ancillary businesses.
And I think we’re going to start to see that change, right? I mean, Schumer mentioned that that’s probably going to be one thing that the integrates into that bill he’s putting together as far as making it institutions available to invest in, in the industry without any of the downside that the federal government.
Kind of threatened them with from an investment standpoint, but until that happens, [00:30:00] it’s you got to find every source available. And crowdsourcing, I think is probably one of the smarter ways to go. I know that it’s, there’s a lot more paperwork and you tend to end up, probably have to deal with a lot more investors and just kind of more busy work, but at least you’re still.
So doing it, you know
[00:30:16]Peter Vogel: what I mean? Yep. Yep. That’s that’s true. There’s a little bit more reporting. Once you do a public raise like that, not a ton, but there definitely is more more work,
[00:30:26]Bryan Fields: but you said Callan too, like needs to be said louder. Cause how many times have we been a part of these groups so that we’re going to raise 10 million in our first question?
With operating the fund, like who’s distributing the money. Who’s making these decisions because as an investor, like, that’s going to be your first question, right? Like you got five or six people who were all good at different steels, but you’re going to hand them a check for $10 million and say, good luck guys.
Like, just figure it out. No worries on that. None of you guys have any sort of financial background. So if the money individually and just like, wish me the best of luck. And that’s the crazy part though, is. You don’t need that much money. I mean, obviously in some instance you certainly do because cannabis is expensive, [00:31:00] but I think to go back, well, you can either like you have to start sometimes.
And that means having a minimal viable product and just demonstrating that you can put the piece of the puzzle all together and any sort of experience that you have in your previous background or entrepreneurial spirit can make a big difference, but it’s also different challenges in cannabis. And one of the biggest challenges, I think for sometimes as people have these grand Bosso ideas, but are unable to actually start and put the pieces going forward.
And I think as an investor, You don’t want to invest in someone who’s not able to kind of actionize based on their ideas. You want someone that is going to actually do what they say. You continue to push forward because as a, as an entrepreneur, there’s fires every day in every other area, and you have to be able to prioritize the needs, to continue to wear different hats, to grow
[00:31:41]Peter Vogel: your business.
Yeah, definitely. There are a lot of skills and experience definitely does come through from your past, but there are also lots of brand new challenges and cannabis has all of its own problems. So both of those things, some
[00:31:56]Bryan Fields: of them silly, right? Like we can all agree that they’re silly challenges, but the challenges of [00:32:00] the challenges, regardless of what we think of them very true.
So let’s go slightly different approach. The biggest misconception since you’ve been in the cannabinoid space,
[00:32:08]Peter Vogel: the biggest misconception in general, most people who aren’t aren’t in the industry. Think it’s easy to run a cannabis company. First of all they think people are just making money, hand over foot.
They, they think everyone’s just raking in the dough with, without realizing that you know, how many people are there that, you know, I met three years ago that I thought were super experienced and had such great companies. And half of them are all gone. So there’s so many that come and go that, you know, it’s just like any other, like most startups do fail and in cannabis it might be even harder cause it’s such a untested industry.
And so many things are changing and the laws and regulations make things so hard. So it’s probably even more challenging than any other industry perfectly said
[00:32:50]Bryan Fields: and hits home really, really, really deep. Before we do prediction times, we asked all of our guests to, if you could sum up your experience.
And the cannabinoid [00:33:00] space into one main takeaway or lesson learned pass on to the next generation. What would that be? I would
[00:33:05]Peter Vogel: say to be open to collaboration and be honest with what you don’t know. I think there’s people need to work together in this space. And if you don’t, if you’re not really good at marketing, if you’re not really good at finance or to find the people that are, and actually work with them and have them on your team or partner with them, or do trades of your services and theirs, or just work together, I think one of the most valuable things we’ve done at Lee fliers, we’ve done tons and tons of collaborations with everyone from recruiting companies to media companies, to, you know, conference companies.
And it’s, it’s, it’s helped us in a huge way.
[00:33:44]Bryan Fields: Five years from now, we’ll leave wire be way more valuable to operators in the industry or for companies outside looking to get into the industry. Well, of
[00:33:57]Peter Vogel: course we want to be the most [00:34:00] valuable connection and networking communication tool for the whole nation.
So I have to one say that in five years from now, I would hope that almost every day, no one in the industry has the leaf, our app and their mobile phone, and it’s using it at every single conference you go to for their, you know, for their meetings, their connections, their networking, and that, you know, we’re just the go-to platform for all of networking communication.
So, I mean, that has to be, you know, super important. But of course I dunno if it has to be a one or the other answer, but. Assuming we are that if you want to get into the industry, obviously that we would be the most important tool or access point you could have, because, you know, you could go to LinkedIn, but you’re going to have everything else on LinkedIn.
And if all you want is cannabis and hemp industry, you know, news events, connections, learning, et cetera. You know, we would be the most, you know, probably the important thing for them to do. So I’ll say. He took my [00:35:00] answer.
[00:35:00]Kellan Finney: I was going to say both as well, because I think one other feature that a lot of people.
It doesn’t occur to them. If they’re not in the, in the industry is you can’t advertise. If you’re a cannabis company on LinkedIn, you can’t advertise on Google, right? Like these platforms are not available because of their company directives that say you’re not allowed to advertise for federally illegal companies.
Right. So I don’t think that that’s going to change until federal legalization changes and that could be five years. And so I’m going to say balls because if you’re looking to get in, in the industry, And Leafwire is going to be the gatekeeper, right. In terms of getting your name out there, advertising the service that you’re trying to sell to the industry.
Right. And if you’re in the industry, it’s going to be the best way to kind of see what’s going on from a trending standpoint, what products are kind of popular, who’s doing what and what companies are trying to enter the space. So I’m going to say both as well. I know that’s kind of a cop out answer, but I think it’s the right one.
[00:35:58]Bryan Fields: I agree that they don’t, they both work in [00:36:00] Tyrella right. And obviously the inner working simply far will be really beneficial for operators in the space. But I think from an actual evaluation standpoint, I think the outside companies will get more value from having a platform where hypothetically they could fish in knowing that all the fish in that pond or people in the cannabis.
It’s like you were saying, Peter’s like, you can go to LinkedIn inundated with just like random things across the board. And sometimes time is so important where you don’t want to spend the time on a navigate between if it’s a cannabis company. If not, you want to know right now I want people in this space.
Here’s, here’s where I can go. Are these outside companies that are looking to migrate in. They want to skip this massive kind of first step, second step, third step. They wanted to operate in because it comes in issues of floating and market share. Opportunities is still being fought over across the board and the quicker you can get in and the quicker you can start claiming that market.
The quicker, you can start building that mode to separate yourself in an industry that is literally filling an infancy stage. And I think while it will be [00:37:00] incredibly valuable operators, I think it will be more valuable for people outside looking to kind of understand the pulse and exactly how the industry yeah.
[00:37:07]Peter Vogel: Yeah, I can agree with that as well.
[00:37:09]Kellan Finney: Yeah. I think that’s a really good point, Brian, that it’s already a targeted audience if you’re trying to get a product into the space.
[00:37:16]Peter Vogel: So
[00:37:17]Bryan Fields: yeah, the first, my first thing, when you’re marketing is understanding, where are the fish that you’re looking to up, right? Where are they operating?
And if you’ve got to do seven to 10 different platforms, And to be expensive and not going to be as targeted as you want. And you’re likely gonna miss a bunch of the times, but if you can fish in a location, you know, you’re looking for specific type of salmon. I mean, all day, every day, these patients are going to be throwing the bait in just being like, oh, they’re going to lay in another one.
And for these outside investors, we’re looking to invest in companies specifically in cannabis, right. You can turn to the various platforms, but you want to kind of hear the messaging, the voice, you want to understand more about the leaders, how they positioned themselves, some of the news. You got to have a targeted place to kind of do all of that very well.
Thank you, Peter. Before we wrap up, where can our listeners learn more about [00:38:00] you? Obviously we’ll tag the flyer in the show notes, but if they want to get in touch with you, you know, where can they find you specific?
[00:38:05]Peter Vogel: Well, of course I would say Leafwire to start off. You know, if anyone out there is not a member, please come join the community.
It’s a hundred percent free to join. You can access all the different features. You can connect with people. You can learn about the industry. I learned about events, et cetera. So come join [email protected] You know, the bigger our community, the stronger it is. You can also reach me at Peter Lee, fire.com.
[00:38:25]Bryan Fields: You automatically connected with everyone’s profile like Tom from MySpace. A message
[00:38:29]Peter Vogel: goes out for me to everybody offering to connect with them. But yes, you’re not
[00:38:33]Bryan Fields: automatically connect to the next time for my, honestly, if you’re you’re too young to know who Tom for my space is, I, I don’t know what to tell you.
[00:38:41]Peter Vogel: Yep. Thanks for your time, Peter. Thank you very much.
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