Celia Daly, Community Relations & Marketing, CanopyBoulder
Celia, is an experienced marketer in new industry and start-up settings. Combining efforts to develop the legal cannabis industry with a passion for social, environmental and financial sustainability initiatives.
[00:00:01] You're listening to Thinking Outside the Bud where we speak with entrepreneurs investors thought leaders researchers advocates and policymakers who are finding new and exciting ways for cannabis to positively impact business society and culture. And now here is your host Business Coach Bruce Eckfeldt.
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[00:01:06] Welcome, everyone. This is Thinking Outside the Bud, I’m Bruce Eckfeldt. I'm your host and our guest today is Celia Daly and she is head of Community Investor Relations at CanopyBoulder. We're gonna find a little bit more about her, about kind of be bolder and about the program they're starting here in New York called Jumpstart NYC. We're gonna find out more about that with that. Celia, welcome to the program. Hi. Thanks so much for having me. So why don't we start with learning a little bit more about you. So tell us your background. How did you personally what have you been doing? How did you get into cannabis? How did you get involved with kind of be bold or give us a little bit of the background?
[00:01:38] Absolutely. So I've always been really interested in sort of innovation. And I did. I've done marketing for a long time. And then I went and did my MBA as I was doing my MBA. I was focused on kind of innovation, entrepreneurship primarily around sort of sustainable business and impact business. But sort of the underpinning there is using entrepreneurship and thinking outside the box to kind of create new, new stuff that changed the world. Right. And so after grad school, I just sort of happened to get a job in cannabis.
[00:02:12] It wasn't really something that I set out to do, which much to my parents my age. Like, what do you mean you'll never work again?
[00:02:24] But I went to work for a startup that did some sort of ag tech, indoor cultivation, precise climates, I guess, for cannabis cultivation. And what I sort of figured out while I was there was that cannabis is innovation, right. So I was really interested in entrepreneurship and kind of new ideas and new ways of doing things. And cannabis really allows for so much of that. There's so much innovation coming out of the industry because of regulations and restrictions and, you know, people who are a little bit more risk tolerant perhaps and other industries. And so there's a lot of really cool stuff that's coming out of there. So I did that for a little while, getting learned a lot about the space and a lot of part of my role there was doing a lot of research on regulations and the changing regulations and legalization in the new markets. And that was, you know, in 2016 when a bunch of states went right. I mean, that was the big election. California went and Arkansas legalized medical, which was crazy. So it was sort I feel like that was like the tipping point a little bit. And so that was great. And then I met Patrick Gray, who's the CEO of Canopy Boulder. And it was sort of like my dream situation, rearing entrepreneurship and working with entrepreneurs, not being an entrepreneur myself. And and cannabis. And so that's what I've been doing for for a little while now, for almost two years. And it's been great.
[00:03:50] Good. So I'm curious, coming from your dump from Georgia, you said originally. Yeah. And I always find this interesting how when when people that I speak to that when they get involved in cannabis, how it's kind of impacted their kind of family and social. And, you know, which friends become your best friends? Which friends don't want to talk to you anymore? Did you go through a big kind of did you notice any impact in terms of things?
[00:04:13] You know, I met my family where I grew up in downtown Atlanta, and most of my community are pretty progressive. You know, you know, there wasn't a huge backlash. I think the bigger concern for my family and friends was about how it would impact my future opportunities. Right. Really, if you have cannabis on your resumé, are you ever going to work again? I think that was really the big concern. But what's been more interesting to me has been that because of my involvement in the industry, I feel like there's people in my life now who are more interested in the space than they would have been a few years ago. I mean, my dad sent me an email recently with the subject line tarps, and I was like, what is happening?
[00:04:54] This is Friday. That's great. But it's so it's really interesting to see.
[00:05:00] I mean, even my grandmother my. Yeah, my 92 year old grandmother even brought it up. You know, she lives in an old folks home or retirement community. And she even brought it up to me, which was kind of cool. So, yeah, it's interesting.
[00:05:14] It's such a transformation that I think, you know, five years ago. Yeah, it was it was a little bit of a there is a lot of stigma now. Now everyone wants to give me money. Where can I invest?
[00:05:24] Exactly. It's really interesting to see. And indices are like the the education that's happening across the board.
[00:05:32] I mean, I think, you know, a couple years ago people had no idea what was what and what was going on. We're still having to argue about whether or not legalization is going to turn people into zombies. Right. And I think we're sort of past that conversation and a lot of areas even in Georgia. I mean, I was in rural Georgia not that long ago and they were selling CBD at this low end.
[00:05:54] Yeah, it was you know, they like these little vials. I was at Long Island, that East End, the Long Island and the Hamptons and the next to the register at this cute little bakery where these little CBD vial pocket things that were like 20 dollars apiece or something like single shot CBD. But yeah, it's fascinating. Change over time. So let's talk a little bit about cannabis. So explain to folks what kind of boulder is what what do you guys focus on? How are you guys set up? What are the current projects initiatives that you have underway?
[00:06:23] Sure. Yeah. So we're a venture capital fund and a business accelerator. So when our CEO kind of started started looking into cannabis deals, he essentially really it only set out to just do the seed. Right. He was just going to make investments. And what he found was like the deals weren't great. People really know what they were doing. They were still so much unknown. That was 2013. There are still so, so many question marks about the industry. And so the accelerator kind of grew out of that. So we we invest in companies. So companies that come into our accelerator program get one hundred and twenty thousand dollar investment from us. And then it's a 13 week program and it's it's very mentorship focused. So if anyone out there sort of familiar with accelerator models, we follow the same model as TechStars.
[00:07:12] So we do. It's very mentorship focused. Our goal is really to help the teams get everything they need in order to be investable at the end of that 13 weeks. So if that's partners, if that's customers, if that's investors, we make a lot of those introductions or if it's just education around like what what's going on in show where, you know, where should you sort of carve out your niche? What does marketing look like? You know what our operations look like? All that kind of stuff. So, yes, we've been doing that since 20. 13 is really when the idea started. Our first deployment of capital was in 2015. And we've done, I think eleven accelerator classes. Yeah. Eleven at this point to even back then about one hundred and five companies. Some are doing better than others.
[00:08:03] That's the one. That's how it goes. What have you.
[00:08:07] I'm curious what you've seen in terms of the companies that have come through your program and your cohorts. What are the big challenges that they typically face? And I'm curious how much of them are just sort of general business challenges and how much of them or more kind of cannabis industry specific? I mean, as you look across your cohorts, what do you see?
[00:08:23] Yeah. So, I mean, I think the important thing to note is we only invest in ancillary businesses and have in CBB. So our companies don't run into a lot of the issues that are hugely problematic in the space. Right. So they're not running into two issues. They're not really running into banking issues, although they do struggle with payment processing. And I think like everybody in the space does, you know, the big issues, I'd say are probably around advertising. Those are also opportunities, right?
[00:08:49] Oh, I see it. And I see you've got Adam Schleck from Safer. Is in the jumpstart, which we'll talk about a bit. But he was a he was a guest on the program recently. So. Oh, awesome. Yeah. So, yeah, in the advertising space, it's fascinating because you can't meet all the all the core platforms or all the general platforms. Most of them, anyway, won't let you advertise cannabis based products. So.
[00:09:08] Exactly. And as a marketer, from coming from sort of traditional space, those tools that you would use, you know, Google AdWords, Facebook ads like any of that kind of stuff is not available. And so it gets you gotta get real creative, which is, you know, I think it's kind of interesting and it's just like a startup mentality in general. Yeah. So, I mean, I think other challenges, general business challenges and then really like getting investment, you know, that one's tricky, although it's changing. You know, even in the last year or so, we've seen so much movement of traditional capital into the space.
[00:09:40] I mean, I have been talking to investor after investor at this rate who are taking part of their portfolios now and making it available for cannabis investments, which is really exciting to see. So hopefully that won't be as much of a challenge in the next few years.
[00:09:55] Yeah, interesting too. So all of this has been based in Boulder today. Talk to us about Jumpstart NYC. What would the New York market, why the move? How this came? What you're doing and how we can talk about the program in detail?
[00:10:08] Absolutely. So to clarify, we have actually run a couple programs in California. So we have got a program in Berkeley and a couple programs in San Diego. Those were the full program. What we're doing in New York, September twenty seventh to twenty ninth is we are essentially doing a three day startup weekend. So it's. They are programmed, like on steroids. And we haven't done this before, it's art. This is their first time doing this, although we have done similar kind of educational events in the Denver area in the past that have always been really successful. But we're doing it for a couple reasons. I mean, first, the landscape is changing dramatically and we don't really want to miss out. A, we don't want to miss out on meeting entrepreneurs that are doing cool stuff just because they can't come to Boulder for 13 weeks. But we also want to bring our education and what we know to these new markets. I mean, New York is probably the number one tech ecosystem potentially in the world. Definitely one of the top ecosystems for entrepreneurship in the world. And now you add on top of that cannabis and there's just so much opportunity here. And we've learned so much. And so we really feel like, you know, our mission at the end of the day is to help build this industries or sustainably, rapidly and profitably.
[00:11:25] And we have a lot of experience doing this. And so we really want to take what we have and kind of marry that with what's going on in New York. And we've brought in a bunch of partners in New York, including, you know, Real Help and Columbia Care and a few other Cannabis Cultural Association is working with us. The Minority Cannabis Business Association is working with us. So we're really trying to marry those partnerships with other organizations that are working in New York with our kind of expertise and knowledge in the space and bring this weekend to entrepreneurs. So it's three days it's focused on networking. So meeting the right people that you need to grow your business education. So make sure you have all of the understanding of what's going on, not only from an industry perspective, but also just startup perspective. You know, like how do you write a pro forma? Like how do you value your company? Those kind of things. And then the last piece is presentation, so on. On the third day of our event, the Sun, our teams that are selected to be our participants will pitch to real judges. And we have an awesome prize that's worth about seven thousand dollars and services.
[00:12:32] And our hope really is to kind of jump start. And that's why it's called Jumpstart. We're hoping to jumpstart these businesses through education and sort of access to the right resources.
[00:12:42] How many and how many companies are you bringing in and how are you selecting the folks to participate in the program?
[00:12:47] So we're going to choose eight entrepreneur teams. However, the sessions themselves are open to the public and our ticket so people can come and buy tickets if they're not, if they don't feel like they're ready to necessarily give up their pitch or participate. We are choosing eight teams. We are across all verticals so we can be bolder, really only invest in ancillary and hemp and CBD. But we are opening this up to everybody.
[00:13:12] So like a plant touching, plant touching companies included everybody.
[00:13:17] Yep. And to be honest with you, I think we're going to wait and see kind of what we get. So I'm I'm very curious to see what's going on in New York. We get we get a wide variety of kind of levels of, you know, stages of growth when we get applications for our program. And I'm not really sure what we're gonna get for New York. And so are we've left purposefully left our agenda a little bit open, a little bit room for movement in order to be responsive to what the needs are of the companies. But, you know, we're looking for companies with good ideas, good teams. You know, team is really the thing we think that indicates the best potential for a startup.
[00:13:55] So good teams, good ideas, innovative ideas.
[00:13:59] But we're not gonna be super picky since this is more about education, then sort of return on investment.
[00:14:05] I'm curious when you when you look at teams either for this program or in general conferences, are you finding, I guess, how much are you looking for or do you see kind of can of a specific kind of knowledge or experience inside versus kind of other industry domain specific industry insight and pivoting or applying it to kind of as we where do you see your most interesting opportunities or how do you kind of grade, evaluate, filter some of the companies coming into you?
[00:14:32] Yeah, I mean, we like teams that have experience and that means experience in any part of what they're doing. So because we invest in ancillary businesses, that often ends up being less about the cannabis knowledge and more about whatever it is that they're doing. So they're building up a software platform. Have they built a software platform before? That's kind of the question. Obviously, an understanding of the industry is like an extra, extra, extra plus. So we have one team from our last cohort, a company called Sticky Leaf. And he essentially he's a software developer, is and was with Yammer once upon a time. And he sort of started a dispensary. I was doing his own cannabis business and realized he didn't have what he needed and what Cingulate grew out of. So we do see a lot of times are companies kind of they've maybe had a sort of traditional background and they've dabbled in cannabis and they've kind of married those things together and have created something specifically for cannabis.
[00:15:27] Yeah, it's fascinating just all these kind of pivots into the cannabis space, in part because I mean, the space needs you know, you need accountants and lawyers, you need software engineers. I mean, you need all these demands. But people pivoting out of non cannabis industries are not cannabis applications into the space. Is there anything that you've seen around people that are more or less successful in making that switch or the issues that come up? And maybe I'll see it a little bit like I already know a lot with companies that end up pulling people out of pharmaceutical like I have found that is not always successful.
[00:15:59] But I'm curious if you see some of these things of what you notice around people that pivot into this space and what makes it work, what makes it what makes it a problem?
[00:16:07] It's very interesting because there are a lot of cannabis people that don't succeed necessarily just because of their experience in cannabis.
[00:16:18] Right. Because if you're building a piece of technology, it doesn't really matter if you've been a cultivator for forever or because you're not cultivating. And so that's that's an important piece. However, I will say cannabis is interesting, right? I mean, valuations are lower than in in a comparable business. That's not touching cannabis. So that's a big piece of it. So we see people all the time. The value of their company is way higher than they should and then they don't get investment.
[00:16:46] You know, the other piece is all of these weird little tiny regulations that, if you don't know about, can totally throw a wrench in what you're doing. And so that's all that is a huge part of why people come to us. So people come to us either because they know a lot about cannabis and they want to learn more about business or they know a lot about business, but they don't know anything about cannabis. Yeah. Perfect. So you know what I mean? Tons of like lawyers and consultants and accountants that want to move into space. And that's awesome. We definitely need those people. I think my suggestion would be really delve into the industry, you know, really try to understand what it is that's going on. There's tons of good resources out. There's great podcasts like this one where you can really sort of become an expert. And luckily, this industry has only been around for a few years. Realistically, there's not that much to learn. Right. I'll just have to spend a little bit of time, you know, understanding what advertising restrictions look like and what 280 means. All of that stuff in order to be able to sort of speak intelligently. I think you.
[00:17:50] Yeah, the other one I noticed is, you know, just culturally, I mean, some of it's the sort of the cannabis culture historically. And then just where the industry is as a very early industry, you know, people people coming out of well-developed, highly structured industries and coming into Canada and expecting certain things to happen in certain ways and then kind of getting shocked when it doesn't. I think that's the other thing that I find. It's like you kind of have to go through this cultural transition to function well in the current cannabis world. And it's changing. I mean, you know, the the the conferences now, I mean, you know, energy bills last year was, you know, twenty eight thousand people or something like that. And it was people in suits and, you know, people in Birkenstocks and people, you know, it was a whole mix of folk. So I think navigating that is has been part of the interesting thing when I work with companies that are going into transitions.
[00:18:45] I hope, you know, the company I worked for before, which was, you know, working with cultivators, we would go to these big trade shows and we you know, a lot of the sales people that they had hired were maybe from traditional industry. And, you know, we always had to make a point. You know, you cannot judge who a person is, how big their cultivation facility is based on what they look like. You just can't, you know, because they might be in a suit and have nothing going on. And then I have dreadlocks down to their ankles and, you know, 15 million dollar facility. Right. It really is kind of hard. And that's what I love about this space. I love about cannabis. I feel like it is an opportunity to build something new and be sort of get rid of a lot of these like old ways of thinking. And, you know, New York is one of the states that's already sort of started to talk about social equity and making sure that as we build this industry, it is not only inclusive, which is great, but it's also sort of participating in restorative justice and participating and writing a lot of the wrongs that have happened to specific communities. And that's a that's a really important conversation and that's a conversation you don't really get to have an industry that has been established for decades and decades and decades.
[00:19:57] So, yeah, that's what makes it that. The interest 2000, you know, that's been very much will happen to me probably about two or three years ago where I as a coach, I sort of picking up some kind of US companies and I just got fascinated, you know, not only about what the businesses they were building, but this whole industry and how the dynamics work. And I mean, from a strategy point of view, it's both daunting and incredibly exciting to look at, you know, all the potential outcomes of regulation of industry development of the market. So that's why I started the podcast originally, was just to get to dive deep into the various facets, to talk to the experts and build. Knowledge base, so I think that I think your advice there. Of just learning, absorbing as much as you can and developing your network. And yeah, check all of your assumptions at the door. Coming into this space and then building a good, good understanding. A good network is key.
[00:20:43] Yeah. I think, you know, the other thing is some people feel like you really got to kind of earned you earned your stripes. I think sometimes I think that's changing, definitely.
[00:20:52] But there's definitely still places where I think you go and never been in the industry. People kind of people aren't as accepting. No, no, no, no.
[00:21:02] It's part of the dynamic and part of what you need to navigate. Yeah.
[00:21:05] If people wanna find out more about the Jumpstart NYC, give us some details. And I guess who should think about this? How did they find out more? Where do they go?
[00:21:16] Yes. So if you go to CanopyBoulder.com backslash jump start dash NYC, you will find all the information on the agenda, all the info about who our speakers are, all that great stuff. We are still accepting applications from entrepreneurs through the end of the first week of September. So September. If you know you don't make that deadline, you're not ready to. The tickets are available and will be available until they sell out or until the day of the event.
[00:21:43] So that's through September 28. And so that all that information is on that page and people can check that out. You know, this event is really for anybody who wants to learn about the space and wants to learn about business in the space. So we are going to be touching a little bit on what's going on in New York and a lot of that advocacy stuff. But really the point of this is about education, around how do you build a successful business in a space. So anybody interested in that area? Just these two we're just talking about the people we're trying to get in from traditional industry. This is a great way to meet the right people and sort of get your feet wet. Those are the people I would encourage to check it out. We are also our applications for our next cohort, which starts in January. Open as well. So you get all that information on our Web site. If you're looking for a little influx hundred twenty thousand dollars to get your business off the ground. We got it.
[00:22:32] So awesome. I'll make sure that those links are in the show notes on the website so people can click through and get those. It's been a pleasure. Thank you so much for taking the time. I'm looking forward to being part of the event and here in New York.
[00:22:43] So excited to see you there. And all the other speakers are mentors. And I really appreciate you taking some time to be on the podcast.
[00:22:50] Awesome. Thank you so much, Bruce. Appreciate it.
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