CannaNetworking aims to help Massachusetts become the new Colorado.
Advisory Council Member:
Green Goddess Supply
Eric Robichaud, CEO
ince cannabis was legalized in Massachusetts, industry growth has been picking up steam and is starting to reach critical mass. I don’t just mean pot sales. Yes, more and more dispensaries are opening each month, and recreational sales are hitting new records. But I’m talking about the industry itself.
New dispensaries create sales jobs and the need for infrastructure. As it scales up to hundreds or even thousands of dispensary employees in the state, more sales and customer service training experts, security consultants, breeders and botanical consultants, equipment manufacturers, distributors, and ancillary products and services will be needed. We will need banks and insurance agencies, testing labs, magazines, and trade shows—as well as architects and contractors to build out facilities and farmers to grow the product.
I come from a tech industry background, and I see more innovation in this industry than I’ve seen since the very early days of the internet—so much so, in fact, that I’ve started what I believe to be the state’s first professional cannabis industry-centric business networking group, Metro-west CannaNetworking.
When people hear “networking,” it immediately (and incorrectly) conjures up images of chamber of commerce after-hours meetups, people standing around with drinks, chatting, and getting to know one another. That is absolutely not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about a solid group of about 30 people who get together every week to exchange actionable leads and pass referrals. Group members get to know others in the group very well and, by extension, become part of a 30-person virtual sales force for one another.
When I say “networking,” I’m talking about a solid group of about 30 people who get together every week to exchange actionable leads and pass referrals. Group members get to know others in the group very well and, by extension, become part of a 30-person virtual sales force for one another.
Every Tuesday at lunchtime near my office in Hopedale, Massachusetts, we bring together a group of professionals who help one another power their respective businesses forward. Each member is non-competitive and has a nexus to the cannabis industry. We have someone who can provide merchant processing (credit card processing for CBD sales is a huge industry-wide issue), an insurance agency that works with cannabis businesses, a payroll company that processes payroll for cannabis businesses (ADP, Paychex, and most others won’t), a CPA who understands cannabis tax issues, a financial planner, an attorney, a solar provider (to lower electricity costs), various industry consultants, and CBD producers. We’ve had guest visits from lab technicians, testing labs, hydro stores, and growers/farmers.
All are trusted professionals vetted by the group.
Referrals started flying the first week. As people introduced themselves, they also talked about challenges they’re facing or problems they’re trying to solve. On the spot, we started hearing, “Oh, you provide XYZ? I have a client looking for that.” And so it went. Because everyone in the group works within or offers services to the industry, everyone’s contact is potentially everyone else’s contact. There is huge synergy in the group.
Each week, members introduce themselves and their services. Many of us offer an array of products and services, so this format allows members to eventually cover everything. One week, I’ll talk about our accessories (pipes, grinders, kief sifter boxes, bamboo rolling trays, etc.) and solicit connections with smoke shops and dispensaries. Another week, I’ll talk about our new discreet home-grow system and solicit connections to hydro stores. And yet another week, I might focus on a specific product in our line and show off samples, and so forth. Over time, we all get to know one another, personally and professionally, so the referrals become much less like work and more like second nature. It’s amazingly powerful, and I encourage people to start similar groups in their own corners of the state.
I’m probably biased, but I believe Massachusetts is poised to become the new Colorado. Boston will be the new Denver.
I believe Massachusetts is poised to become the new Colorado. Boston will be the new Denver. People toss me an odd look when I say that, but I’ll explain. When you think about cannabis, what cities or states come to mind? Of course, everyone thinks California–birthplace of the industry and the infamous Emerald Triangle–and rightfully so. Then they think Colorado, because it was the first state to go full rec. The funny thing is that there are now 10 adult-use legal states and 36 with at least some level of medicinal sales, but we don’t immediately think of Washington and Oregon. We think of California and Colorado.
I’m probably biased, but I don’t think Massachusetts will be just another legal state. With high population density, Boston is the nexus to the high-tech industry. It generally has higher levels of education and wealth, and a slew of well-respected colleges and centers of innovation (MIT, Harvard, BU, Northeastern, etc.). Massachusetts has all the ingredients to feed this budding innovation.
I see an explosion in the industry ahead of us, and I’m looking forward to the ride.