Seeing Green at MJBizCon
by Bill Rich, Managing Director
We recently attended MJBizCon 2021 held at the Las Vegas Convention Center November 20-22.
First, it was great to attend a live event! Impressive that this show came off given that the National Association of Broadcasters show scheduled the prior month at the same venue was canceled. Attendance was estimated at 35,000 people.
We held a number of meetings with public and private companies over a fast two days and came away with several observations about the state of the cannabis industry:
1) Cannabis is starting to grow up. Across every aspect of the business – from cultivation, to processing, to retail, to regulatory compliance – software and systems are being deployed to make cannabis repeatable and predictable. Like craft brewing as few years back, cannabis is becoming mainstream and it needs ERP, logistics, retail management and similar systems to scale. Just like any other consumer goods sector.
2) Innovation continues at a pace. Related to the above, entrepreneurs are racing into the market with new software. We were positively surprised at the number of new companies and new products being introduced at the show. While many of these products were from first-time entrepreneurs, quite a few newer companies are led by successful veterans that have built and exited software companies in other sectors. We think these trends bode well for the cannabis market.
3) Growth capital remains in short supply. We saw a person walking the floor wearing signs front and back reading “Invest in Me” and describing a cultivation business plan. That was a tone across the show; most of companies we met are seeking capital and are relatively early in their revenue cycles. Until more early- and mid-stage capital moves into cannabis, companies that already have achieved some scale, and entrepreneurs that have made money elsewhere to invest in cannabis ventures, will have an advantage.
4) In plant touching businesses, brand is emerging as a key success criteria. The land rush to increase cultivation, fulfill demand for product and open retail locations continues apace of course. But as markets start to mature, customer loyalty and repeat sales are becoming increasingly important. The acquisition of Wana Brands by Canopy Growth is a solid indicator of where the market is heading.