A quick recap and some takeaways from CannabisFest in Montreal – a gathering of the newest class of risk-takers – the cannabis entrepreneur.

CannabisFest is an exclusive one-day gathering of North America’s newest class of risk-takers – the cannabis entrepreneur. This event brought together visionaries and canna-hackers alike, to learn, connect and uncover how cannabis entrepreneurs are shaping legalized marketplaces.

All Aboard the Cannabus!

On Monday, July 9th, Cannabis Communications team members, Brooke and Garrett, packed their bags and boarded the Cannabus (In partnership with HelloMD, Ample Organics, Strainprint and Leaf-Forward). The Cannabus was a coach bus filled with industry leaders, media personnel, and fellow founders all headed to Canada’s leading startup event – Startupfest in Montreal!

The trip spanned over 550+ kilometers and 8 hours in Toronto rush-hour traffic – providing the 30+ riders with plenty of opportunities to connect throughout the ride. There was a wide range of cannabis entrepreneurs on the bus, ranging from newbies in the cannabis industry to CEO’s of cannabis startups. The Cannabus accomplished exactly what it set out to do, which was to create and ecosystem that presented cannabis entrepreneurs opportunities to connect with other cannabis entrepreneurs.

CannabisFest 101

Let’s talk about the takeaways from the first ever CannabisFest. Taking place on the island situated just across the old port in Montreal, you immediately feel that CannabisFest had a vibe that differentiated itself from other festivals, eliminating the feel of the classic ‘trade show’.

Key CannabisFest takeaways – B2C

Cannabis communications sat down for an AMA (Ask Me Anything) speaker series on B2C (Business to Consumer) in the cannabis industry. The panel featured Stephanie Karasick from Strainprint, Erin Gore from Garden Society (@grdnsociety), Derek McCarty from Dosist (@meetdosist) and Jenn Larry from CBD Strategy Group (@jenn_larry) moderating the discussion.

  • Pot Packaging
  • The discussion opened up with a question about what marketers should look for in the next phase of cannabis for the consumer market. Erin brought up the importance of packaging and how to educate the consumer market. Her take was that as a marketer, it is their responsibility to spoon-feed the consumer and help them learn the language of cannabis in a brand new industry. An interesting challenge considering Canada’s Bill C-45, that severely restricts labels.

    1. Where to Advertise
      Building off that, Jenn asked how should marketers plan on reaching this new ‘cannabis consumer’ with their advertising efforts (both recreational consumers & medical consumers). Derek from Dosist shared an interesting opinion, saying that traditional methods such as a TV spot or print is not the best way to allocate your advertising dollars, but a more effective method is advertising at the physical brick and mortar dispensaries themselves. A cannabis customer shopping inside of a dispensary is a captive audience which makes it a no-brainer that you would advertise on location while they mull over purchase decisions.
    1. What’s Next in B2C?
      To close out the AMA, Jenn asked the entire panel their thoughts on innovation and what they are most excited about moving forward in the cannabis industry. Derek used this opportunity as a call to action for all of the new cannabis entrepreneurs in the room. He said that the best thing to do as an entrepreneur is to search for the white space, ask questions and genuinely listen to your customer. The market is not mature – leaving ample room for opportunities for cannabis entrepreneurs.

    Key CannabisFest takeaways – B2B

    After lunch, the second AMA speaker series kicked off on B2B (Business to Business) in the cannabis industry. The panel featured John Prentice from Ample Organics (@ampleorganics), Alison McMahon from Cannabis At Work (@cannabisatwork), Matt Skynner from Braingrid Corporation and Alex Blumenstein from Leaf Forward (@leaf_forward) moderating the conversation.

    1. Role of Tech

    Alex led an interactive session to uncover and discuss how to best technology-enable the cannabis supply chain to ensure product capacity, quality, compliance and cost efficiency in the face of scaling consumer demand, also touching on the challenges of raising capital.

    1. Funding
      Most agreed that securing funding at any stage for a cannabis startup is difficult. John shared Ample Organics’ adversities they faced leading up to securing their first round of seed funding. The biggest challenge Ample faced was the investors’ lack of education on where the market was headed. Now that investors understand where the market is going they see the value of investing in cannabis startups.

    That’s a (Blunt) Wrap!
    CannabisFest proved to be an invaluable experience for cannabis entrepreneurs of all types. It offered ample networking opportunities, a ton of insight and education to the current and future landscape of the cannabis industry and it also helped raise the profile of the cannabis industry in Canada in a laid back setting. Thank you StartupFest and HelloMD for a successful first annual CannabisFest.

    Looking for more great content? Stream the Womxn, Wellness and Cannabis Conference to learn from the experts and celebrate the feminine cannabis experience.