Nothing is more important than your team. If you were to poll early-stage Silicon Valley investors and successful entrepreneurs, and then you did a weighted average on the importance of "team," you'd likely find that 90% of the value (and likelihood of investment) lies in the team. The team includes your co-founder(s), your first hires, and your advisors or investors.
Although my Facebook feed is a rather dramatic and unreliable source for information about your administration, in the past few weeks it has been clear about at least this much: you’ve had a very busy first month. So, I’ll cut to right to the chase: I think you should consider cannabis. More accurately, I think you should consider the legal cannabis industry as a potential catalyst for the “unbridled economic growth” you’re hoping to deliver to those working-class Americans who supported you, and even those who didn’t.
There’s nothing wrong with service providers, per se. In fact, good service providers that understand startups and respect the struggle can be valuable allies. But many service providers don’t understand startups at all. They come from a world of bloated corporate bureaucracy, where deadlocked committees with unpoliced budgets and vague success metrics are easily impressed by someone who actually gets things done and sends them a glossy report to prove it.
As a founder, finding an angel investor to write that first check is almost always a huge challenge. I've been in and around startups as an early employee, founder, advisor and angel for well over a decade now, and raising capital is never easy, and it is always critical.
If you're the founder of a cannabis startup--whether you're looking for mainstream capital or funds from within the legacy industry--that problem is compounded.
I had the honor of taking the stage at this year’s Tech Open Air in Berlin to inform the audience about the potential for our future with a legal and de-stigmatized cannabis industry. You can view the video of the talk here on YouTube, but I thought I would take the time to provide my thoughts in written form. I truly believe that we are entering a brave new cannabis world.
I keep running into companies--both startups and mature businesses--that exhibit a disappointing level of confusion about who they really are (or who they're trying to be). Whether it's engineers contemplating what product features to focus on next, or the marketing team arguing over what to say on social media and how precisely to say it, an ambiguous emotional fog often permeates the space where a clear structure ought to stand. This is bad. Very bad.
A few weeks ago I read an article in SF Weekly titled, "The Greed Rush: Venture Capital Enters Cannabis." In it, the author laments the arrival of people like me and institutions like Gateway. He recounts the heartbreaking story of a woman who is losing her collective and implies that somehow the evil venture capitalists are responsible.