Not easy being Green

Joe and I went yesterday to the Venture Capital Forum at WPI, an event where startups like ourselves get to practice their 1-minute pitches to investors in a learning-based competition. This is one of the few events our company has done that was not marijuana-themed. It’s amazing how being a stoner, attending events in the marijuana industry, and having marijuana causes and businesses in my facebook feed creates an echo room in which marijuana cures every medical condition under the sun, the hypocrisy and illogic of marijuana prohibition is pointed out daily, and cannabis use is normal.

The world of investment finance is divided on the subject of cannabis, with the overwhelming majority shying away from it and a small minority looking to exploit it. There are few who take a moderate attitude—probably because they smoked themselves at some point and realize that plenty of people smoke regardless of marijuana’s legal status, and the sky hasn’t fallen yet. They look from the sidelines, unwilling to place bets in the precarious legal space of cannabis-related industry. The exploiters are transparent, believing themselves to be clever. The older guys in suits, the more tycoonish looking ones, didn’t stop at our table.

The event wasn’t without value to us. The two most common questions I got were, “Who is this for?”, and questions about the legality of growing marijuana. The legal question doesn’t worry me because growers who abide by medical marijuana laws are already aware of them, while those who don’t are probably aware of that also. But the question on who is it for has made me think usefully about how to better communicate about our product. I just can't choose whether to focus on B2B or retail because the LST is great for both small and large grows. The novice grower will benefit from the ease of use of our product and ability to maximize yields and utilization of a limited space. In large grows, the Low Stress Trainer could make low stress training feasible on a large scale for the first time, while maintaining a grow room in which every plant can be accessed and moved.

The benefits of using the LST need to be front and center on our website and in promotional materials. It sounds obvious, but it’s easy to become blind to one’s own website and an event with a more critical audience can be useful. Cannabis startups are so supportive of each other that critical feedback can be hard to come by. I think all startups should attend an event like this at least once.

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