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How to Start a Successful Cannabis Business in New York – MARY Speaker Summit Panel

mary speaker summit cannabis industry panel

What are some things you should know in order to run a successful cannabis business in New York? MARY Magazine recently brought together a panel of top industry operators and experts to answer that question as only people that have built successful cannabis businesses in NY and other states could. Joining Forte Cannabis Retail Strategist Brytany Melville on the panel were:

  • Nicolas Guarino – CEO and Co-Founder of Naturae, a leading cannabis processor/manufacturer/brand in the state
  • Dave Vautrin – Operating Partner at The Travel Agency, the world-famous New York dispensary
  • Stu Zakim – Founder of Bridge Strategic Communications, a cannabis public relations firm
  • David Holland – Partner at Prince Lobel, a cannabis legal expert


Stu Zakim 

Good morning, everybody. What a beautiful day to be here talking about cannabis. And we have a great panel. I’d like to have each of them give a short introduction before we kick it off, Dave. 

David Holland 

Good morning, everybody. I’m Dave Holland and my partner over at Prince LaBelle and Ty, a law firm that is in New England. And here in New York. And I am a long time cannabis advocate, an attorney in the space, and I’m the executive and legal director of Empire State Normal, which is national organization reform marijuana laws and have been involved in a lot of different advocacy movements and think tanks here in the New York City area. 

Brytany Melville 

Good morning, everybody. Thank you for having us. My name is Brytany Melville from Forté Operations. We’re an agency that supports open and operate dispensaries. We’ve been opening dispensaries in new markets for about six years now and so excited to be here. Thank you so much for hosting this panel and excited to get the chat going. 

Nicolas Guarino 

Hey everyone, I’m Nick with now Trey. We’re a licensed processor in New York, which, you know, depending on what market you’re in, that means a lot of things. But really, we’re a manufacturer and distributor of of our own extract based products. And we’re sold in 60 plus stores in the state right now. And and in general, our experience has all been in production and plant touching operation. 

So I’m very thankful to be here and excited to learn from these guys that have a lot more experience. 

Dave Vautrin 

And still can do. My name is Dave Vautrin. I am from the Travel agency. I got involved in cannabis in 2006. I’m a New Yorker. Before I talk about California, I am a born and raised New York. I grew up here. I walked here to this event today, so but spent, spent several years in California, came back home to New York to build the business here. 

So excited to be here. Great panel. And, you know, interesting interested to have a great conversation today. I know sometimes we focus on a lot of the negative and challenges, but maybe we can kind of rebalance that a little bit in today’s conversation. 

Stu Zakim 

Thanks. And I’m Stu Zakim. I’m on my old PR firm, Bridge Strategic Communications. I represent some pretty big brands here in New York, including the travel agency and Happy Monkey. I’ve been in the cannabis space for about 12 years. I’ve seen it grow into what we’re watching right now. And first of all, I just want to thank the first panel. 

I think they really laid the table for us to follow up on a lot of topics. They hit on, which we were planning on anyway. And before we do that, just like to going to read the room, who’s a card applicant in here, or a card licensee, rather. Okay, anybody? General Applicants. So we definitely have the perfect audience to introduce to the wonderful world of cannabis. 

And one of the biggest myths that and as it applies to regulations, especially with this panel, so you’ve got different perspectives which you’re going to be able to give you to some of these and ultimately your questions later. So let’s start off by saying your cannabis business must be fully you’re so lucky when you’re retiring. Now we know reality. 

And as I’ve spoken about before and Dave, this’ll be the only downer that anything else will be of the cannabis is the most challenging industry to actually create a business model that makes money. And to Mary’s point, especially plant touching. So let’s jump off with that and I’ll start with you. 

David Holland 

Did you know it’s an exciting field? Retirement, I think is a long way off for a lot of folks in this space because one of the things that I constantly run into and as an attorney and I’ve really been where most people start out, you start out with this from the criminal or defense side or prosecution side and watching its evolution over the last several decades into what’s now a legalized space, it defies all regular business models that most people are coming into. 

So you’ll hear a lot of people saying their venture capital and things of that nature and how they were a success somewhere else means it’s going to translate to immediate success in the cannabis space. And that’s not true. There’s a culture, there’s a vibrancy, and there’s a whole code of conduct that goes with it and that needs to still be incorporated into some of the rules process. 

So I think what we’re watching is a slow rollout and some of the counter movements within it, trying to adjust to the new regulated space and trying to bring the regulated space to a better understanding of itself and how to get there. And that’s one of the challenges that’s out there. So I think that we’re going to hear a lot of frustrations, a lot of hiccups along the way. 

Brytany Melville 

Agreed. And to build off that. I’ve been in traditional retail for about 17 years, and the last six years of my professional career has been the most challenging in all retail cannabis. Retail is is completely different. So I think being ready to be in this for the long haul is extremely important. Yes, if you’re a first to market, you might be lucky to cash in right away with your store getting busy. 

But remember to set yourself up for the long haul because the market will saturate. It is a challenging industry, but it is fun. What’s amazing about the US compared to Canada is a lot of licenses here were obviously allocated for social equity where as in Canada we didn’t have that. So a lot of the stores that first came to market with people with deep pockets that could lock up real estate. 

So for me personally, it’s just so much more rewarding working with people here that have paved the path for us to be up on stage today and to see you guys come first to market and really absolutely kill it. But to to summarize, definitely get ready, be in this for the long haul and set your businesses up for success to ultimately eventually saturate. 

So start planning and having conversations with people that have been in this industry has been through the hiccups have have been through the failures. Pick their brains, ask the questions, ask them questions, ask what mistakes they’ve made, learn from us and and set yourself up for success. 

Nicolas Guarino 

Yeah, I think to to the to the point that you’re bringing up about it being fun like it is, it is very fun. And that’s that’s maybe even one of the challenging parts with it. And I’m sorry, Dave, that I will get a bit negative, but I’m so on the same page with with Mary from the last panel who is and that’s been my answer in a couple of podcasts has been just like, just don’t do it. 

And then to Joanne’s answer in the last panel, if you have a passion for building businesses like Dave clearly does, and then you find that fun, right? And the challenge of a ton of curveballs every single day, because business is already challenging. It’s by itself Without the curveballs and cannabis that great, Then you’ve basically selected expert mode in the video game 

You know, like go, go ahead and you’re going to be hitting yourself against that. But what what can’t be is, is sort of what we experienced in all of 2023 and like let’s say the past revelry, events and etc., where everything’s just high fiving and there’s no recognition of what with all of the planning that’s going to be required of how tough it’s going to be. 

 Nicolas Guarino:    

Because as long as there’s recognition that, then, sure, you know, go go out of your I’ve warned you. These are these are these are the things that are going to come, you know, just just the 280 is tax implications, which I’m not going to get into because it’s going to bore everybody. But just that can can throw a wrench into your business where, again, to Maria’s point, you have to be good at fundraising and convincing people that, hey, the mistake I made here is is forgivable enough that I can sue you, give me more money so that so that I can scale it further.   

It’s it’s you’re not going to retire and it’s going to take ten, 15, 20 years of learning a ton of lessons along the way. And your business, I mean, when we started, we thought we were going to be a vertically integrated Non-Psychoactive wellness CBD company, right? Seven years ago today. It’s a completely different business model. We’re distributors now.   

So from from when you start to when you’re under maybe I’m saying some, some obvious stuff about the entrepreneurial journey, but it’s it’s highlighted that much more when you try to do work in plant touching and cannabis solving lots of. 

Dave Vautrin:    

You know well said and I want to rebuild my credibility and bring some negative stuff into the panel here. So I was just reading recently on has been saying that the Michigan market flower prices fell over three years, 78% or so. So there some negative for you but but in that this those that survive are the ones that continue to automate and kind of refine their processes, etc..   

Why why would anyone want to retire at this moment, I think is the question is the markets just beginning? This is going to be something really special and it’s painful. And we even at the travel agency like, you know, you see you see our marketing and all those activities, it is not what our challenges and we are not perfect.   

We have lots of challenges that we’re continuing to try to optimize. Every time we make a mistake, we put some scaffolding around it and try to, you know, we focus on three things people, processes and systems. But it’s a it’s a very challenging business and it’s so interesting because cannabis is so different than even alcohol, like even the same the same strain from the same cultivation facility can perform differently for a consumer in the same setting or different settings, etc..   

So it’s super complex, but it’s just a beginning. It’s very exciting. You’re going to you’ll look every one of you will hopefully be alive and look back ten years from now and just say, Wow, that was an incredible, incredible moment in time. So I’m pretty stoked to be here.   

David Holland:    

You know, just want to say, because you all raise a really good point, but one of the things New York really did wait, I think, longer than needed to. But it did learn a lot from the lessons of Illinois, Massachusetts and so forth that the whole idea of restorative justice is not just within the preamble. We’re actually seeing it roll out into the licensing process, the funding process and the opportunities that are coming along.   

The reason why some people are not going to be able to retire is because the goal is not to let the invisible hand of capitalism become a chokehold on those people that are coming from the legacy market and those people that have been the disadvantaged, the over persecuted, the over prosecuted, and those that were the lost opportunity. Folks who are now really the forefront of what they want to drive in the in the licensing market.   

So the opportunities will come for everybody. But I do think restorative justice is what makes New York so unique and so critical, and it’s going to take that much longer. But it’s that much better because it does acknowledge what had happened in the past with the war on people rather than the war on drugs.   

 Stu Zakim:    

Can I just say what we were talking earlier? We’ve already given a substantial amount of money to the DOE fund, which is our partner. So we’re certainly feel like we’re not just virtue signaling, we’re actually doing doing good for the community and supporting community. And so we’re happy to participate in the program. And, you know, Dave and I were talking about this earlier about what we’re doing.   

So I just want to follow up on that.   

David Holland:    

You know, listen, I think every point you made is very important for people to be aware of, But since we have a lawyer post advise XR manufacturer, distributor and the retailer, where do I start and how do I start and who do I start with? What the lawyer.   

Well, it’s a sad day if you start with a lawyer, but a good lawyer will help guide you to people like this who really are the experts that you need to be in touch with. But there are some critical things that people often and you and I were talking about this, you know, what are some of the original questions or the frequent questions that come up?   

 Brytany Melville:    

I agree with that. Definitely a lawyer shut out. HOFFMAN If you’re still here somewhere.   

Definitely Lord is support with your corporate structure Personally as a retail strategist, where we like to come in is when you’re in the final stages of negotiating your lease. We have come into a couple of projects recently where somebody is looking at signing a 6500 square foot lease in a smaller city with dispensaries around the corner and a flourishing illicit market still, which which wouldn’t be my first suggestion for a a store unless unless you’re like Dave around the corner here.   

Dave Vautrin:    

I didn’t purchase anything, but he showed me all this flour and I said, Well, how do you how do you get such great pricing? He said, Volume. So and then I went to look at his gummies, and the gummies were, you know, they were expensive. And I said, Well, that’s pretty expensive. He said, I can give you a good deal, right?   

So this is a challenge for us. So from a location standpoint, 100% agree you got to find a great location. I think the illicit markets will eventually go away and and, and but it’s going to take some time. We couldn’t beat it in L.A. They just they’re still there and they’re still prevalent. But I think New York got a better plan around that from a retail store.   

I actually do want it to adjust from from a brand standpoint. If you’re a brand and you want to get into this marketplace. The question I would start with is what is your long term, long term sustainable advantage? If you’re just another meta product, you’re not going to survive. You know, we can and we can talk for hours On the difference between labels, which are mostly most of the brands in New York are just labels and and brands.   

So these guys do a fantastic job. In fact, they’re the only this group under the jaunty brand, but only group in New York that’s ever done a price increase successfully. So I applaud them. Yeah. So they just basically said they came in the marketplace, they grabbed a meaningful market share, but then they realized this is not sustainable all to my point. 

Brytany Melville:    

Last thing I’ll add is I, I totally understand at the beginning, while you are waiting for your license to get approved, your store to get zoned for retail, whatever it is, it is a chicken and egg situation, especially if you don’t have funding coming in yet and every day or don’t your stores aren’t open, you are. You are losing money into your pocket.   

So I do understand the beginning of not knowing who to engage, when to sign an invoice and when to kick things off. If you have no target open date. So that that is a challenge. As of people I speak to on the daily. And my suggestion is if if you are in that position to ask questions to the people and resources around you and involve anybody on your team with a different skill set, then you have to to ultimately strengthen your overall business approach.   

Because there are some amazing thought leaders in this room that are willing and able to share information and experiences with you without having to, you know, spend a lot of money and sign invoices without a a target open date. 

Nicolas Guarino:    

Yeah, to that point. So that’s one thing that I kind of miss and say, and that’s how we started seven years ago. And again, we didn’t have anybody with sister, didn’t have a farm, etc. It’s just calling thought leaders and most of them are going to are going to want to give you the time of day and then you just we made but we were competing between me and my other co-founder, like who could call the most people and get the most information out within weeks.   

But but it was it was Oregon, California, Colorado. There is a farm in Oregon. The boring have go out there that we talk. We just built a relationship with them through their website and then they allowed us to come work at their farm for a month. We volunteered. We were like, We’ll go to work for free. And I like work for free, sure, But but that that’s totally like you got to reach out because people are in especially in this industry, they’re so happy to share the information because they just learned it and they’re like, Oh wow, this does work this way, right?   

Or, you know, you guys have your $300 cutoffs. This works perfectly at this number. I want to share it. Right. You had your retail one on one. So people are people are sharing and just take advantage of. 

David Holland:    

You know, I agree. The thought leadership is critical and there’s just so much to be learned and you cannot learn it all on your own. And so you would be incredibly misguided if somebody told you not to take advantage of all the opportunities they just brought to you. But one thing to bring it back to the question that you asked is, you know, where do you begin?   

One area that you absolutely need attorneys for and there really are some several very high quality attorneys that are here. You need to win all of this. As you hear, the common theme is about funding. Where do I get funded? One of the things that you hear is friends, family, you know, going to your known sources in your your your known resources and outlets.   

That’s all well and good. But if you have a company, let’s say it’s a limited liability company or a corporation and you’re going to sell a little piece of that, you are actually selling what is an unregistered security. Right. And that actually falls under an exception to the Securities and Exchange Commission laws. And you need to start putting together what are called like private placement memos.   

You’re going to want to revise where your operating agreement that says how your company’s going to work and who has ownership and howthat’s going to get run. That is critical. If you don’t do that, you are going to get hammered later, not only by legal entities that B and maybe OCM will call you out and say, let’s just see that and you can fix it early, but your partners should you have a disagreement later or somebody wants to retire out more early than you thought, lawyerly than you thought you are going to find yourself in an incredible jam of how to undo that mess. 
You must speak with the attorneys about that. There are a lot of great thought leaders, but let them guide you to the people they feel comfortable with talking about that. But please, first thing you do before you take money and make sure you know how you’re going to record that and what people’s understandings are of the terms under which they’re lending it to you or investing it in you. 

Stu Zakim: 
Thanks. That was great. Nonetheless, panel, they touched on California brands coming into New York and the benefit of supporting New York farmers. Nick, you’re in New York. Brant, What are the challenges for you in getting your brand out there and competing against better known brands that exist from other states? 
The challenges for us are really logistical and input based. Right now. It’s really the actual distribution and getting the stuff to them, to the different locations with our small distribution right now and then having the high quality inputs that we need so that our our product, we’re we’re only extract based so that our product portfolio can, can really shine without having flour. 

We need very high quality stuff. So those are the challenges have been getting the inputs in terms of marketing and and branding in the stores. Maybe this isn’t a popular opinion, but in general what I’ve felt is that the New York retail licenses are very pro New York brands. That’s what they want to see in there. And in fact, if you can give them the tools to avoid bringing in out of state brand, they will they will. 

I mean, so we haven’t had the money to be able to to make incredible flashy displays or have, you know, banners and every corner. And they have economies of scale because there are many, many states they figured out their their business model so that their marketing can be viable. Their marketing assets, let’s say, can be viable across all of that. 
So they get economies of scale, so they have more of it. But our our our fight against that is basically to provide better service and authenticity and quality with the store. That’s that’s the only way that we can fight it. I just haven’t felt so far because those guys have the challenge of getting inputs out of at a good price. 

Nicolas Guarino: 

And it’s impossible for them right now. So their pricing in the market is absurd. I mean, they’re selling $100, $100, one gram distilling vapes when like New York brands sell them for like 60 to 65. So they’re in a tough position in terms of pricing. They can bring all the flashy stuff that they want, but like ultimately the consumer is going to determine and you can see it on headset, on the data that that New York farms are selling way more than than out-of-state players are. 

Final thing to add there, which is, I think, a nuance that maybe a lot of people don’t understand. Most of these out-of-state brands are working through a New York cultivator or processor. Right. So if you’re a New York processor, you can decide my business is going to be a white label business. I don’t I don’t have the team to build the brand. I’m a manufacturer and I need people to commercialize my manufacturing capability. Those are those are going to be brands like HP is one that’s got, you know, backwoods. They’ve got a bunch of out-of-state people. But HPI is selling those guys, distill it so HP is making money off of it. So I don’t think that it’s not a concern that out-of-state brands come in and use the California very out of compliance playbook. And all of the serious New York operators are trying to fight that I mean ourselves heirloom. We’re we’re we’re reporting the stuff and working against that they do come in super out of compliance. But I wouldn’t say that their market share and I don’t know if you disagree Dave, but that they’ve taken market share in the stores without benefiting New York producers. 

Dave Vautrin: 

Like, so we brought in we brought in cookies and we’ve essentially discontinued half the SKUs already. I mean, just because you have a flashy name and obviously we did a press release with them too. But I know is that me again. No feedback and. I appreciate the feedback. So but you need to again, the brand is like, where’s your sustainable competitive advantage? It has to be a high quality product that consumers come back for. When we do our category reviews and we’re looking for, you know, which items you mentioned $300 to stay on our menu. You basically have to achieve $300 a day in revenue on a per SKU basis. So like that’s a criteria based based on our particular menu. So if they don’t meet the criteria needs that they are, they’re not connecting with the consumer. So for us, before we discontinue item, we look at how many unique customers have purchased the product. So if 90 plus percent of the customers, 90% of the purchases have been unique, that means hardly no one’s ever bought the product twice. That’s an easy one for us, the disc to discontinue because it just means that no consumer has voted twice with their dollars. They had an experience it wasn’t worth coming back for. Now we can get into categorically why that change is like flower consumers tend to be more exploratory years for as opposed to edible consumers tend to be more brand loyal, etc. But I wouldn’t worry about them. And I know you mentioned the MSOs. Let’s get it out in the room here like so. Everyone’s worried about MSO goodies and stuff. We’re not afraid of MSOs. What we’re trying to do is provide the very best product to our consumers. And in fact we’ve already made our first commitment to an MSO bringing in the Eton brand. So we think that, you know, there’s potentially going to be a shortage of smokable flower here in the short term. And so we need to continue to remain open minded about MSOs and again, even the state brands, if they they tend to come with a playbook. They said, look, here’s what we’re going to do, here’s we’re going to activate. But they too, are limited by the regulations. So I think it’s a fairer market in New York. But we we give no preference to them. And you know, to your point, they have to buy from New York forms and there’s New York employee. So it’s there. I wouldn’t rule them out but we give preference to to New York New York brand New York New York cultivation combo. 

Nicolas Guarino: 

But it isn’t. And then and then finally, how do you convert the marketing? There is again, I’ll just try to make it very simple. The answer is service. So like we train all of our distro guys essentially to be to be brand ambassadors sales reps. Like when we interview you for a driver, we’re more worried about the customer service dimension than the guy telling us, Oh, I worked for you guys for 15 years and I can deliver fast. But that’s, that’s not necessarily the concern. So that’s how we would battle that is service. Now. 

Brytany Melville: 

The last thing I’ll add is for for bartenders, education and product. So if you are a New York brand and you want to really resonate with with bartenders who will be selling your product, go in and give the speech that you just did a couple of high level points. We are New York based. We’re obviously startup. No, we don’t have the bandwidth or deep pockets that a California brand might have. However, this is why with your support down the road, hopefully price will will change eventually. That’s that’s what happens in new markets. But if you are providing them with those key points in in your marketing assets as you’re stopping by the stores and also getting your product into the hands of bartenders is is critical. They like to smoke weed. They’ll sell your weed if they get it. They know how it smells. So those are the two main tips. I say go through the bartenders, talk to them, give them a couple points of education specific to why you want this New York brand to be successful. Training has been huge. Huge, huge. I mean, we got super lucky with this one sales rep that we brought on in January who’s passionate about training. And that has I mean, we see the numbers within weeks after a training that she does on and on what happens and we’re not bombing people with samples either. When I bring like a single sample during the training for each bartender. But, but they just they want to they want to sound smart whenever they’re pitching. 

Nicolas Guarino: 

Training has been huge. Huge, huge. I mean, we got super lucky with this one sales rep that we brought on in January who’s passionate about training. And that has I mean, we see the numbers within weeks after a training that she does on and on what happens and we’re not bombing people with samples either. When I bring like a single sample during the training for each bartender. But, but they just they want to they want to sound smart whenever they’re pitching product. Right. So, so training is huge. 

Dave Vautrin: 

Yeah, I’d just add to that. It’s sales 1 to 1. Like if you’re confident about something, you will sell it. If you feel like you’re full of shit, you’re just not going to sell it. And so you, the bartenders need to be educated but be sensitive to. Each dispensary has kind of a different approach. And I speak with all almost all the top retailers on a weekly basis. Like our experience is a little different. More than 50% of our consumers never speak to a bartender and so that’s where it’s essential that the brands have incredible descriptions and they talk about their products and they can articulate what’s special about it and that the photos resonate and you know, that they really connect. So we found our consumers come in, they’ll hit the if you’ve been in our store, it’s basically all iPads. They’ll they walk in, we say, can we offer you some help? They said, No, I got this. Then they realize there’s 300 items there. And then they say, I do have a couple of questions. But most of the purchases are done without a bartender. But but when we need the bartender, the bartender needs to be really educated to identify if this is a kind of curious consumer. This is the type of products that they might be looking for, say, a gummy, etc.. But if it’s like a consumer, well, then they’re looking for, you know, premium concentrates, etc.. So our bartenders are really well-trained in order to match the right product with the experience that they’re seeking. But but again, for us, it’s it’s also equally important for the photos and the descriptions. 

David Holland: 

So, you know, one of the things I’m hearing here is about market penetration with brands. And it’s so amazing to hear you all speak about it from your perspective, because from the legal perspective, I get calls all the time and you all may have heard about this tier three processor license in order to bring a brand to market. In particular, if you’re out of state or in other circumstances, bring it from the underground. The classic question I get asked is, what’s with this bullshit? There’s actually a lot of smart reasoning for it, and let me just give you a real quick idea. The idea is under Tier three that you want to come to New York, you’re going to process it, or you’re going to bring that brand to a New York license processor who’s then going to wait. Label it for you, as you all were talking about earlier, and put that brand into stores for you so you get that market penetration. More importantly, though on an intellectual property basis, look back at the idea of this. Cannabis is still, at least to the present time, a Schedule one drug which means is completely prohibited and therefore you can’t get copyright or trademark protection on the plant itself or various aspects of that plant in your marketing of it. But as I sort of go around and talk to people, you can get different types of what’s called common law or state registration for your trademarks, things like brand name, where you put on, you know, hats, t-shirts, lighters, ashtrays. Those are also protectable under federal law. It’s just not the plant itself or the strain itself or that branded product that you’ve put out by creating the Tier three process your license. New York is actually giving you an opportunity to get, quote unquote, first to market if you haven’t in any other way, so that when national legalization comes and it is coming again, we get back to that rescheduling these scheduling arguments out there. Once that happens that on some level it is nationally legal, then the question is going to be who’s owns the trademark? Just assume for a second the cookies has somebody that’s, you know, competing against them or HP, as we mentioned, has somebody competing against them. And nobody has actually tried to register that mark in any way. You’re going to have a very interesting battle that’s going to take a lot of money and a lot of time to figure out who really is the creator and the owner of that Mark. The Tier three allows you to circumvent that dispute to some degree because first to market is going to be the measuring stick when that becomes on the federal level. So start doing things, thinking about strategic branding, market penetration with your products one thing, but you want to get that that logo, that Nike swoosh, you want those things that are readily identifiable in the public domain out there as quickly as possible. So talk to attorneys or talk to your various thought leaders about how to get, you know, different logo ideas, font ideas, things like that. We all know that there are special rules within New York about what can and can’t be done in your advertising. But nonetheless, there will be brand identity that you can start to develop today and you should be registering that today. And it’s not expensive to do, but it is going to be critical to your long term longevity later. 

Stu Zakim: 

Well, that was really well answered. Two things. Publicists are also good influencers. If you’re a grower, you want to get word of mouth out and we all love to smoke with that. Just it’s shameless self-promotion. But also our conversation must have done something because it’s warmer in here. So we’ve heated the place up with the conversation. So thank you for that. We got to wrap up. Do we have time for a quick follow up? Okay. So you guys just want to give a quick summary to our conversation, marching orders to the gang and one other plug in the next break. If you didn’t bring any product with you, there happens to be a kiosk in the first floor where you can order in. A travel agency will deliver here in time for the next panel or before lunch. Convenience. 

Dave Vautrin: 

So okay. So quick wrap up. I think that if you’re a brand, look in the mirror and figure out if you’re a brand or a label and if you want to be a brand, do the work if you want it. If you don’t want to do the work, then sell your biomass to somebody else that’s willing to do the work. There are lots of unfortunately, this I guess I’d speak to loyalty, right? So for me, just understand this. And it’s true that loyalty, basically the consumer goes to their local dispensary. They are loyal to their dispensary, number one. Number two, the consumer is actually loyal to the category. So someone that wants flowers going to walk in and walk out with flower. Third, they’re loyal to the brand. So and just kind of reinforce that unless you forget your wallet, no one ever leaves the travel agency without. Right. That if even if they came in for Camino, we would we can easily flip them to four to jaunty, we can put them to flowers, farm, etc. So there is no real brand loyalty. Yet even at the at the Camino heavy hitters level. So to the loyalty is dispensary first but it’s we’re not number one it’s convenience so it’s convenience dispensary category and then the brand. And then the other part of that I’d say is there’s there’s a lot to talk about and unpack on consumers, but consumers are most loyal to, say, edibles and least loyal to flower because the consumer because the flower consumers are pretty exploratory. They want to check out things. That’s my perspective. From a brand standpoint, from a retailer standpoint, you get you must deliver outstanding experience and we aspire to do that every single day. I used to work for Walt Disney World and that was like, that was our big thing right? Just to, you know, create these magical experiences. We try to do it every day and where we are not, of course, without complaints or challenges ourselves. So give an awesome experience, be a good have a great portfolio, be really disciplined. I know that I was getting teased earlier about having my laptop open with some spreadsheets, but I run data all day long. I can tell you right now that I’m a I’m a cancer, so cancer’s over injured. Overindex on Pre-Rolls so I can tell you by horoscope which categories, but that is useless data. So this data and this data that informs our insights and our decision making, we have an enormous amount of data. So kind of understand your consumer, make sure you have the right portfolio mix. And I have been pretty accessible to most people in this room here, so I’m always open and interested in sharing. I’ve been in the business a while. It is it’s a hard business and most will fail. So, you know, reach out to the community and ask for help. So. 

Nicolas Guarino: 

Um, yeah, I mean, I guess on, on that note, basically it’s, it’s, it’s an incredibly challenging business regardless of a boss or plant touching is regardless of where you come from on it. Um, and, but if you, if you have a passion as, as I do for, for cannabis which, which makes it super helpful, I mean if I was dealing with oregano or whatever, I went to the plant every day and it smelled like oregano, it wouldn’t really keep me going. But back in the in the CBD days, I would go to the plant every day and it smelled like weed. And I was like, Oh, man, one day it’s going to be weed in here. So. So it’s it’s, it’s certainly helps to have a bit of passion for, for cannabis and then and then and then just know that it’s it’s not going to be what you thought it was going to be at the beginning. It’s going to change and evolve throughout the thing. And if if if it’s as David saying, you stay super disciplined, you set some guardrails and you’re checking them all the time, you’ll you’ll you’ll be in control of that evolution, essentially And the biggest conclusion is reach out to people that have gone through it because they’ll give you the the the experience and the stuff that they’ve gone through. So, yeah, thanks. 

Brytany Melville: 

But not necessarily from a regulatory standpoint, but people, processes and partnership. So number one, people are going to be the main driver of your business. Surround yourself with people that have complementary skill sets to you strategically. Hire your retail teams with different skill sets in various areas of the business and then processes ensure that you are set up for success before your doors open. I always say retail is detail. I’ve been to a couple store openings where the TV menus weren’t 

 working and the Wi-Fi was out and that’s just not acceptable in this day and age, especially when we’re so tech savvy. And then partnerships. Lean on your partnerships. There are so many companies out there that are willing to help get you set up, whether it’s from an operational standpoint or just advice or guidance from an executive standpoint, lean on your partnerships and use them as much as you possibly can. That’s what they’re there for. 

Stu Zakim: 

David, are you getting ready to jump in on that? 

David Holland: 

No, I mean, it was a perfect wrap up. I was going to say this, lean on your community, you know, look at each other. There are all these labels and you’re working on. Remember, that’s your peer set. So talk to each other and then bring in experts as necessary. I’m constantly reaching out to other people and I get calls all the time, but it’s, you know, the work that you guys are doing is amazing. And just, you know, congratulations to everybody in the room. You know, this is this is it’s a small community that is going to explode and it’s going to be because of all the work you’re doing. 

Stu Zakim: 

Well, thank you, everybody. This is just been an awesome time. I could talk to you guys all day. We’ve got another panel coming up with some more great insights. So, you know, feel free to just relax and we’ll talk soon. Thanks again. 

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