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AUTHOR: Heather Allman
PUBLISHER: CANNABIS LAW REPORT
World’s Largest Pre-seed Accelerator Launches Its First-ever Cannabis Ecosystem Program in Conjunction With The Arcview Group to Build Early-Stage Companies & Create New Job Opportunities
On January 27, 2021, Jonathan Greechen, co-founder of Founder Institute, the world’s largest pre-seed accelerator and his team recently announced the launch of the first-ever global cannabis ecosystem program. This initiative is a joint effort with The Arcview Group, a vertically integrated investment firm servicing the cannabis industry, have launched the first-ever global virtual “Cannabis Ecosystem Program” to be driven by Founder Institute’s San Francisco chapter.
The polarizing nature of 2020’s election season largely overshadowed the fact that voters in 5 more U.S. states overwhelmingly supported cannabis legalization, including Arizona, Mississippi, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota” says Jonathan Greechan, Co-Founder of the Founder Institute. “The ‘green wave’ has gone mainstream, and it is here to stay. By deepening our partnership with The Arcview Group and announcing this new Cannabis program, we can help the next generation of entrepreneurs build transformative businesses that fully leverage the myriad benefits of these plants.”
“The cannabis industry is truly a global conversation,” says Kim Kovacs, CEO of The Arcview Group. “The Arcview Group has remained a trusted resource for over a decade in a space that has been difficult for many to navigate. Partnering with Founder Institute, an organization with a stellar reputation and accelerators around the world, was a natural next step for us to create valuable resources for success for entrepreneurs in cannabis and hemp. Both organizations take strong stances on normalizing this plant and are thrilled to continue the forward momentum.”
The San Francisco Bay Area is the global hub for the Founder Institute’s Cannabis Ecosystem initiatives and expertise, and aims to inspire and support early-stage cannabis ecosystem-focused entrepreneurs in the San Francisco Founder Institute by providing:
- Feedback and Mentorship from 20+ mentors in different areas of the cannabis ecosystem
- Special expert mentor matching for specific advice and access to ongoing office hours tools and opportunities with top startup mentors from around the world.
- Connections with the cannabis and greater startup industries on a global and local level
- Introductions to business angels, VCs and Corporate VCs investing in the cannabis ecosystem globally
- Special sub-tracks with Mentor and Partner Support, including:
- Professional Services
- Production and supply chain
- A Local and Global Support Network of Entrepreneurs, Investors, and Advisors
- Several Fellowships Awarded to the Top Applicants, allowing them to participate in the program for free
The goal of the Cannabis Ecosystem Program is to help build more than 30 promising cannabis startups in 2021, and help further establish the San Francisco Bay Area as a center for cannabis innovation. The program will run from March 9th, 2021 – June 15th, 2021.
To celebrate this new program, the San Francisco Founder Institute hosted several free startup events. On Monday, February 8 at 2pm PT / 5pm ET, the Arcview Women’s Inclusion Network hosted a mentorship workshop titled “Female Founder Pitch Bootcamp” led by Rachel Sheppard, Director of Global Marketing at the Founder Institute. The Women’s Inclusion Network hosts bi-weekly interactive workshops that pertain to the business of cannabis and are exclusively for members.
The mission of Arcview’s Women’s Inclusion Network is to provide resources, networking, and educational tools to achieve equality in the cannabis industry in terms of access to capital, product shelf space, salary, C-suite positions, and board positions. If anyone from FI’s network is interested in joining they can use the special FI partner link that provides a 25% discount on annual memberships.
The San Francisco 2021 program counts many of the region’s top Cannabis startup founders among its program mentors, and some of the industry experts that have signed up specifically to help founders in the Cannabis Syndicate include:
- Jake Kuczeruk (US), Managing Director of the FI San Francisco Accelerator
- Kim Kovacs, CEO, The Arcview Group
- Paul Rosen, Co-Founder, Pantry
- Jeanne Sullivan, Founder and CIO, Arcview Ventures
- Ben Larson, CEO, Vertosa
- Nathan Yagoda, VP of Marketing, Plus Products
- Ben York, Director of Deal Flow, Arcview Ventures
- RJ Archambo, Benzinga
- And many other cannabis industry leaders!
On March 5, 2021, Cannabis Law Report talked with Rachel Sheppard, Director of Global Marketing at The Founder Institute:
—and Jeanne M. Sullivan, CIO at Arcview Ventures and Advisor to Arcview Group, about this exciting new program:
Cannabis Law Report: Tell me a bit about the Founder Institute and your relationship with Arcview Group.
Founder Institute/Arcview Group: As the world’s largest pre-seed accelerator, the Founder Institute (https://fi.co/) is helping build the next generation of impactful companies and startup ecosystems. The Arcview Group is a fantastic trusted global leader and nexus for cannabis investors, companies, entrepreneurs, money-managers and community, therefore, it was a natural alignment for us to collaborate. Together, we’ll provide structure, mentorship and support for early-stage cannabis founders and teams. Our joint program will create an opportunity for cannabis founders to leverage the proven structure of the Founder Institute curriculum and Arcview’s industry expertise and network.
Cannabis Law Report: Why do cannabis industry founders need such a program?
Founder Institute/Arcview Group: Startups have the hardest time figuring out their most urgent needs, vision, business strategy, and pathway to investment, and navigating the cannabis industry is particularly complex. Founder Institute provides the proven structure, mentor support, and global network of entrepreneurs needed to start an enduring company.
We’re working with Arcview to help businesses navigate early-stage startup challenges by giving industry expertise and advice straight from cannabis leaders. Founder Institute has already helped 5,000 startups raise funding, build teams, get into seed-accelerators, generate traction, build a product, transition from employee to entrepreneur, and more.
Cannabis Law Report: What does the program look like?
Founder Institute/Arcview Group: Our entrepreneurs will work with us for 14 weeks on the acceleration of their startups. They’ll need to complete weekly sprints, attend virtual sessions, all while receiving personalized mentorship from tech and cannabis industry leaders. Post-program, they’ll benefit from both Founder Institute’s life-time support and the inherent opportunities available through the Arcview network.
Cannabis Law Report: How do you hope to impact the reputation of the cannabis space with this new endeavor?
Founder Institute/Arcview Group: We want people to understand that cannabis is all about innovation and wellbeing. Founder Institute prides itself on identifying and supporting startups in new and emerging markets and technologies. We believe that cannabis has moved past a technological trend to a lasting global industry and we are excited to take part in building the next generation of cannabis companies.
Cannabis Law Report: How have you evolved the program in light of COVID?
Founder Institute/Arcview Group: Since 2009, we’ve helped founders launch enduring technology companies, which to date have raised over $950M and are worth an estimated $30B. Until March 2020 we were running all of our programs in person.
In March 2020, we launched a virtual version of our program, which has allowed us to support founders in more locations than ever before. Specifically, for this upcoming program that is led by our Founder Institute San Francisco team, we are able to leverage support from all over the world for cannabis companies through one program.
Cannabis Law Report: Five new states voted to legalize in 2020. Why is quality cannabis crucial right now?
Founder Institute/Arcview Group: The operators, investors, manufacturers and consumers in the sector are moving from “canna curious” to “canna connoisseurs.” Consumers are much more educated and seek quality, tested products. Consumer and retail establishments seek products that are grown and manufactured with certain rigor – and both buyer and supplier are aware of the use of pesticides and other chemicals in the extraction process as well as the grow.
The movement around ESG is taking “hold” – Environmental, Social and Governance considerations for energy and water use. There is increased focus on cGMP standards – prominent in Europe and gaining adoption in the US.
The industry is “growing up” with innovation techniques – and this serves health and wellness and operating efficiencies.
Cannabis Law Report: In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges to federal cannabis legalization right now?
Founder Institute/Arcview Group: The door has opened for positive change and the chance to FINALLY create movement for federal legalization. Here’s why: Democrats now have control of both the House and Senate. Senator Schumer (D:NY) is the majority leader and he understands that this could help address the racial justice issues that are very present in our country and certainly in the sector.
With 68% of Americans saying YES to legalization, even Republicans from states that do not have “adult use” legislation know that their constituents want cannabis reform. The challenges look like this:
SAFE Banking is a critical component towards opening the door for wider banking access, use of the credit card rails, potentially institutional investing. Will the new Chair of the Banking Committee, Sherrod Brown, act swiftly on SAFE banking legislation? Unfortunately, Brown is not racing to make SAFE banking the law and he has tied his position to sentencing reform. This could have the practical effect of delaying action. SAFE Banking was considered as part of the COVID-relief Act but it has not stayed in the bill.
The MORE Act was passed by the House in December and Kamala Harris was the Senate co-sponsor of the bill. This would remove THC from Schedule I and Senator Schumer has merged his legislative issues addressing Decriminalization into the MORE Act.
Biden has said he will not veto any legalization measure that reaches his deck. Will the Congress act and by when? The crystal ball says before the 2022 midterms. The challenge is that Congress remains focused on other pressing issues facing our country, such as immigration reform, COVID-19 relief bills, vaccination supply chain roll-out, climate change issues, and more. Will Congress take up these issues or continue to press ahead?
Cannabis Law Report: What part of your program will make the greatest impact on the industry?
Founder Institute/Arcview Group: Firstly, due to the virtual setup, we are able to support cannabis founders outside of key markets like San Francisco, Seattle, and Denver. By creating a program designed to provide the best advice from Silicon Valley startup builders and a global cannabis industry innovation firm we will give cannabis founders joining our Virtual San Francisco Founder Institute program the ultimate chance for long-term success.
Cannabis Law Report: How does this program maintain a balance between profits, people, and quality?
Founder Institute/Arcview Group: By having entrepreneurs know their “why” we are able to create businesses that have a strong and lasting mission. We believe that the world’s most enduring businesses keep impact and culture at the forefront of their decision making and in all of our programs lead founders with this philosophy.
Alongside Arcview, and cannabis industry leaders from their network, we will ensure that founders focus on scaling with intention and impact over profits. By introducing founders to Arcview’s investor network who know the intricacies of the industry, we are doing everything we can to set up founders for success.
Cannabis Law Report: How have operators, investors, and consumers changed over the last couple of years?
Founder Institute/Arcview Group: In the cannabis industry, there has been an incredible amount of adoption in recent years, leading to more mainstream and sophisticated investors and consumers. Operators are bringing existing technologies to a new, growing and more widely adopted industry, allowing for accelerated innovation.
Since The Arcview Group has been a community of both investors and business owners for more than ten years, The Arcview Group has experienced and has been part of this evolution from “early adopters” to “mainstream.” On the investing side of the business, the industry has grown from millions in 2014 to billions today.
Sales of flower and derivative products have gone from low millions to ~$16B in 2020, and on their way to $35B by 2024. Everything has changed. Now there is finally a march toward legalization and opening the door to – in time – changing the chaotic 50-state “fiefdom” and state by state restrictions.
The changes over the last several years have created wealth and opportunity for many. Bring on more positive changes!
Cannabis Law Report: How do people go about signing up for your programs and workshops and services?
Founder Institute/Arcview Group: We operate the Founder Institute program in over 90+ countries. To find out where we have open applications please visit: https://fi.co/enrolling.
About The Cannabis Ecosystem Program
About the Founder Institute
The Founder Institute (http://fi.co) is the world’s premier pre-seed accelerator and startup launch program. For aspiring and idea-stage entrepreneurs up to the challenge, its comprehensive, step-by-step program provides the structure, mentor support and global network of entrepreneurs needed to start an enduring company. Leaders of the world’s fastest-growing startups have used the program to transition from employee to entrepreneur, test their startup ideas, build a team, get their first customers, raise funding and more. Based in Silicon Valley and with chapters across 200 cities and 90 countries, the Founder Institute’s mission is to “globalize Silicon Valley,” and empower talented and motivated entrepreneurs to build companies that will create one million new jobs. It was founded in 2009 by Adeo Ressi and Jonathan Greechan. It is operated out of Palo Alto, California.
About The Arcview Group:
The Arcview Group is a vertically integrated investment firm servicing the cannabis industry. As a trusted global leader and nexus for investors, companies, entrepreneurs, money-managers, and community, Arcview provides a broad spectrum of programs and services to the industry. By providing the tools necessary and curating cannabis companies, Investor Members have invested in more than 300 private cannabis startups to-date. The Arcview Group has launched three new entities: Arcview Ventures, Arcview Capital, Arcview Consulting. To learn more, visit https://arcviewgroup.com