4 Things You May Have Missed at Hall of Flowers 2019

I had a great time last week at the renowned Hall of Flowers in Santa Rosa, California. Here's a first-hand account of my time at the show and an inside look at some exciting trends in product innovation, branding, and marketing.

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Taking place at the Santa Rosa Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, CA on April 30th – May 1st, Hall of Flowers 2019 has set the gold (or green) standard for cannabis tradeshow events.The mission of Hall of Flowers is to bring together the most innovative brands, retailers, and industry insiders and incubate the future of cannabis brands--and they certainly delivered. Whether you made it to the show or missed out this year, here are 4 things you may have missed.

In with the New: Maturation of Cannabis Tech

The California recreational market has only been operational for roughly 16 months, but it was impressive to see how quickly our industry in The Golden State has grown and matured. Along with this growth has come new softwares and systems that have adapted to a specifically challenging market like California. Distru, for example, recognized that California distributors were in need of specific technologies that were not yet solved in other markets, and their powerful seed-to-sale platform is designed to streamline communication and purchasing for California operators.

New software solutions, tools, and technologies are coming to market each day. And after speaking with numerous retail operators in the sample pick up line (in which I spent a good portion of the event--totally worth it), it was clear that decision-makers were increasingly overwhelmed by the number of tools, products, and platforms tugging on their pocketbooks.

It’s clear that the process of identifying business challenges, vetting solutions, and rolling out a new tool was daunting for most operators -- particularly those with a large workforce and thus little room or patience for trial and error. When I got back from Hall of Flowers I called up our friends at CUE Cannabis, an online marketplace that streamlines the software vetting and implementation process, to see how we could work together to support operators being bombarded by software and service providers offering the latest and greatest. On June 3rd, Best in Grow and CUE will be holding a webinar on Dealing With Change: How to Vet, Select, and Implement the Best Cannabis Software Solutions. You can RSVP to the webinar here or using the form below.

Eat and be merry…juana. Announcing Pantry, a High-End Line of Chef-Crafted Edibles

Canadian cannabis innovator Paul Rosen teamed up with heavy-hitters Green Street and Gary Vaynerchuk, cannabusiness Indus Holdings, and food connoisseurs New York-area chefs Frank Castronovo and Frank Falcinell (a.k.a. “The Franks”) to make high-end cannabis edibles. Pantry is uniquely focused on quality ingredients and luxury cuisine, with the expectation that consumers will soon demand and seek out more sophisticated infused products.

Pantry intends to launch with nine different cannabis-infused sweets, including four types of all natural fruit-based gummies, two different types of ganache, and (my favorite) a keto-friendly chocolate. I had a chance to sample all of them, alongside “The Frank’s” Pantry restaurant pop-up at Hall of Flowers… everything was spectacular.

What you may have missed: The unique play for Pantry is that their edibles are microdosed, so that more of it can be enjoyed without fear of entering a canna-coma. “It’s not going to be vapes, flower, none of that,” Paul Rosen told Cheddar in an exclusive interview. “I just want to dominate, if you will, the foodie market in cannabis, which I think is going to emerge more powerfully and persuasively than we are currently seeing right now.” I concur.

Curaleaf Makes BIG Moves - Acquires Select & Cura Partners

Curaleaf, one of the top vertically integrated cannabis companies in the US, made an industry-shaking announcement after it bought Curaleaf and Cura Partners for a record $1 billion, the biggest finalized acquisition to date in the cannabis industry. According to CBS: the merged company will have annual revenue of more than $200 million, making it the highest grossing cannabis company in the U.S. The deal also expands Curaleaf's reach from the East Coast to the West, penetrating key cannabis markets like California and Oregon.

It seems unlikely that this juggernaut will slow down anytime soon, as they continue to use strategic acquisitions to drive growth and expansion. Curaleaf is also finalizing a recent deal for cannabis dispensary Acres in Nevada. Russell Stanley, an analyst at Beacon Securities, told CBS News that Michigan and Illinois may also be prime states for Curaleaf development. Stanley notes that both states have well-established medical communities and a large potential customer base. Michigan legalized marijuana for adult recreational use in 2018, while Illinois may be looking to legalize later this year.

What you may have missed: Immediately upon the closing of the deal, Select CEO Cameron Forni will join Curaleaf as President of Select and will join the Curaleaf Board of Directors.

@GaryVee: The LinkedIn of Cannabis is … LinkedIn

As someone who has leveraged LinkedIn over 9 years, it was no surprise to me that I was able to tap into my network to get the most out of my time at Hall of Flowers. What did surprise me, however, came from Gary Vaynerchuk as he was moderating Pantry’s panel discussion. When an audience member asked him how cannabis marketers should navigate restrictions on paid social media advertising, Gary immediately pointed to LinkedIn as an underutilized and invaluable investment. Gary highlighted how LinkedIn has taken a more laissez-faire approach to paid advertising by businesses in the cannabis and hemp industries and the tremendous value this channel could provide solution providers in the B2B space.

As I detailed above, we're seeing new cannabis softwares and platforms launch everyday--many of them claiming to be the "LinkedIn of Cannabis". But it doesn't seem like that's our most pressing need. I'm encouraged by and thrilled to see LinkedIn's support for cannabis professionals and their ongoing efforts to professionalize and legitimize our industry. On that note, I would love to connect with you on LinkedIn. Feel free to add me.

Check out more on how you can leverage Gary’s LinkedIn strategy here.

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