Listen to Podcast of the Show
Richard and Joe welcomed Eric Gomez, CEO of Canopy San Diego. Canopy San Diego is a mentorship-driven, seed-stage investment program for startups in the legal cannabis-ancillary industry. There is one important caveat to the accelerator. Canopy San Diego is bypassing the risks associated with funding anyone dealing directly with plants, which means it won’t accept startups that actually cultivate or sell cannabis. The goal of Canopy SD is to boost companies with products that could help growers or dispensaries. Many companies will not do business with the pot industry, leaving a niche for banking, water, and data analytics products tailored to marijuana businesses. Canopy takes entrepreneurs just starting a company and teaches them how to build infrastructure, making sure they have all the non-sexy business components in place, like legal and accounting.
“During the gold rush, it’s a good time to be in the pick and shovel business” – Mark Twain
Participants give up an ownership stake of between 6 and 9.5 percent in their venture in exchange for $20,000 in working capital and guidance from the investor group who help them establish a business plan that will attract further investment. The most promising companies can get up to another $50,000 upon completion of the program. Canopy puts the entrepreneurs in a free, shared working space. Within that space, they bring in a number of mentors, have social events several times a month, and bring in investors looking to develop within the cannabis industry. The goal as an accelerator is to produce companies that can compete with other startups and raise money quicker from strategic partners that are going to help them get to the next stage.
Recently, Canopy San Diego completed its first cohort. The eight companies participating in the accelerator program were, Apothecary Direct Cannabis Network, Icarus RT, Lodestone Data Technologies, LooseLeaf Tech, LoudCloud, MycoCann, and Yobi. Canopy is looking for startups with a strong team of founders who have technical knowledge of the industry and a solution to a problem for their upcoming class.
Eric Gomez received his BS in Mechanical Engineering from UCLA in 1997 and an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin in 2007.