I’ve thought about networks and how to create value through them a lot over the years.
During my university days I fixated on how artists could create and fund their work through informal networks and collectives.
Through my campaigning days at a drug policy think tank I learnt how you can rapidly create credibility through connecting your cause into other networks that commanded more media and policy attention.
Since founding Hanway Associates, I’ve focused on how to build brand equity through association with other brands. Whether you are launching a brand, investing in companies, or forming partnerships, the people you associate with define the trajectory of your own business.
If you want to be taken seriously, associate with serious people. If you want your sector to become mainstream, work with mainstream businesses. If you want to work in a sector brimming with science, sense, and innovation you need to champion the people and businesses who epitomise those values.
The question is, how do you find, champion and associate with the right founders and startups in a new industry? In all good networks you need people or places that act as conduits or hubs for the transmission of ideas and contacts.
When I meet an amazing founder or discover an interesting cannabis business, I am torn between shouting about them from the rooftop or keeping that knowledge to myself.
Today I’ve made a decision. It's time to start shouting from the rooftops about the people and businesses truly shaping the future of the cannabis sector in Europe.
I’ve had the rare opportunity to see the sector grow from a hypothetical policy objective in 2015 (on this side of the Atlantic) into a serious sector that is beginning to deliver patient, consumer and wider economic and social benefits.
From meeting early Canadian entrepreneurs in London in 2016, and the first British cannabis investors in 2017, through to being part of the campaign to legalise medical cannabis in the UK in 2018, and going on to co-found the Cannabis Europa conference, and build the First Wednesdays network of European cannabis entrepreneurs, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a vast range people interested in cannabis.
Here’s hoping that some of their knowledge has rubbed off on me – and you can have a grain of faith in the quality of the people and companies I write about in this newsletter, Ones To Watch.
In my opinion, the hallmarks of a great cannabis business are (1) a deep understanding of the complex nature of the market, (2) a visionary leader capable of weathering the ups and downs of a sector trying to find its feet, and (3) a bright spark of personality running through the company culture or brand. They’re not the only ones but they’re what I look for first.
Not all the businesses I’ll write about here need to be big in terms of team or revenues, but they need to have big visions and a wealth of character. What this sector needs is big ideas that cut through the noise created by sceptics, scammers and speculators.
Sometimes a single business can change the whole narrative and momentum within a sector. Generally those businesses aren’t captained by ‘interim visionaries’ on a lay over from one quick buck to the next.
If you share the same curiosity about cannabis entrepreneurs with proper visions for the sector, then this newsletter is for you.
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