To kick off the Lift & Co. Cannabis Expo in Toronto, the three-day affair started with a preliminary cannabis business conference, held on Thursday (May 24).
The conference featured a wide array of panels and speakers from different corners of the cannabis industry, such as governance and distribution to branding and finance. One panel, focused around cannabis’ development into the retail space, touched on how freshly licensed distributors will bring prior “black market” consumers into the legal space.
Panelist Mark Goliger, CEO of National Access Cannabis, told Investing News Network (INN) about his company’s plans to integrate products from licensed producers in Canada. Goliger spoke about how there are many working relationships currently in progress, between both medicinal and recreational cannabis, and that Tilray is one producer currently locked down with the company.
The next panel touched on the importance of branding and how some cannabis companies are forced to work their way around restrictive policies when advertising a product through social media.
Felicia Snyder, Hiku Brands’ SVP of growth, spoke to INN about the crucial steps cannabis brands need to take in order to evolve on the branding stage.
“We really need to be understanding of what the consumer needs are as they evolve,” she said. “Understanding what those consumers need once they’re introduced to the category and what the category involves, more product formats et cetera, I think is going to be critical to how a brand is able to go along with the consumer on that journey.”
One of the afternoon’s final panels honed in on the financial portion of cannabis and how the investment industry can effectively get in on one of Canada’s hottest up-and-coming commodities.
Michael Landry, GMP Services managing director of equity services, discussed one of the key traits he looks for in a cannabis company when determining its valuation on the market.
“The first thing is the high level of profitability that these companies will achieve,” he said during the panel. “We think that they’re going to be able to generate margins between 25 to 40 percent, these are really high profitability levels. We think they’re going to be able to run at these levels for a couple of years before the division heats up.”
On Friday (May 25), the Lift & Co. cannabis expo hit the ground running, with vendors as far as the eye could see and panel discussions with much insight to be shared and learned.
In a conversation revolving around corporate cannabis, touching on topics such as industry growth and profitability, panelists discussed the importance of maintaining a consistent brand and ideology throughout its staff.
AC Braddock, CEO of Eden Labs and panelist in the discussion, highlighted the importance of consistency amongst her staff in terms of mentality surrounding both the brand and product.
“This is about a vision-driven industry, it’s about social justice and health and wellbeing. So, it isn’t difficult to incorporate all those ideals into your brand, but the most important thing is incorporating those ideals into your team,” she said.
“Your team is the people that are customer facing, so if they don’t believe it, they’re not ingrained in it, it doesn’t [get] from you out to the world.”
One of Friday’s final panels revolved around collaborations, partnerships and M&A’s in the business portion of the cannabis industry. Panelist heavyweights included Michael Black, a director at PwC Canada, and Rene Cormier, the vice president of corporate finance at KPMG.
Cormier responded to a question about how the market priced its valuations on certain companies, and what factored into a stock being potentially overvalued or underpriced.
“There’s no silver bullet to this one, there’s no clear-cut answer – you ask different people, you’ll get different answers,” he said. “What I will say is that maybe there’s an important thing [in taking] a step back and maybe frame how we think about valuations, so is it fair price or high price or under price? Relative to what?”
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Securities Disclosure: I, Olivia Da Silva, hold no direct investment interest in any company mentioned in this article.
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