Lit Up Founders: A show about the entrepreneurial pioneers of the Modern Cannabis Industry and the Organizations they are building. Each episode features the founder themself, sharing their journey in creating the most impactful ideas in Modern Cannabis.
Kyla Sirni, Co-Founder & CEO, Dispense
Today's guest started building a strong work ethic at the age of 12, and never stopped. Understanding she learned through work, it was fundamental that her choice in University had an emphasis on learning through action. She followed her interest in event production to a premier events company in Boston, producing high-end events like a Super Bowl Ring Ceremony at the team owner's house. It was in her time managing Boston's most select night clubs that she noticed a gap; The Ultra Premium club life was Ultra antiquated in how they managed guest bookings. To solve that, she co-founded TabelList to modernize Night Club and event reservations. They soon expanded Nationally, and beyond the club too, landing the most Ultra Premium event of 2017... Fyre Fest! Wow! You may have seen the documentaries, but facing $3.5M in chargebacks! Just Wow! Following that, she took over as CEO, and with 4 others stayed to rebuild the decimated company. Just as things were growing again, she lost her Mom to Cancer. This was all just before COVID hit, shutting down every nightclub and event in the World.
A call came in from an old contact from Boston, who needed help managing the growing queues at their dispensaries during Covid. Could their software help? Bring hospitality to Cannabis, please enjoy the Founder's Journey of Kyla Sirni, Co-Founder and CEO of Dispense.
Kyla (Moore) Sirni is the Co-Founder and CEO of Dispense, an e-commerce and order management software for cannabis dispensaries. Before Dispense, Kyla worked for nearly two decades in the hospitality industry, planning prestigious events for high-profile clients and managing several nightlife venues. In 2013, experiencing firsthand the lack of technology and tools available for venue operators, Kyla Co-Founded Tablelist, a ticketing, reservations, and guest management software that is now being used in 50+ cities worldwide. When hospitality shut down because of COVID 19, Kyla saw an opportunity to utilize her experience and the Tablelist infrastructure to bring a hospitality-driven, customer-centric software to help retailers in the cannabis industry.
Dispense is B2B e-commerce software focused on providing cannabis dispensaries with the technology and tools they need to sell products online, manage operations, build direct customer relationships, and scale their businesses.
https://playlandpark.org/ (Playland Park)
https://www.rafanellievents.com/ (Rafanelli Events)
https://www.linkedin.com/in/abner-kurtin-78b8b66b/ (Abner Kurtin), https://awholdings.com/ (Ascend Wellness)
https://nextviewventures.com/ (NextView Ventures)
https://www.linkedin.com/in/emilypaxhia (Emily Paxhia), https://www.linkedin.com/in/reapatrick/ (Patrick Rea), https://www.poseidonassetmanagement.com/ (Poseidon Asset Management)
Top 5 Articles/Interview with our Guest:
https://www.rollingstone.com/music/music-news/ticket-vendor-tablelist-sues-fyre-festival-organizers-for-3-5-million-121409/ (Ticket Vendor Tablelist Sues Fyre Festival Organizers for $3.5 Million)
https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20200128005200/en/Miami-Party-Organizers-Select-Tablelist-as-Event-Operations-Partner-to-Streamline-Guest-Experience-for-the-Big-Game (Miami Party Organizers Select Tablelist as Event Operations Partner to Streamline Guest Experience for the Big Game)
Kyla Sirni, Co-Founder and CEO of Dispense
Patrick Rea, Co-Founder, CanopyBoulder
One of the hardest things for driven people to do, is to learn when to adapt and persevere and when to move on. Today’s guest shares a few stories about how he learned those lessons.
As a young kid, he found an early passion for Soccer. It wasn’t tallent alone though, he put in the work; hours on the field in practice. Through the sport, he learned a lot about himself; he liked to see and understand the big picture. The perfect spot to get that view was Goalie!
That dedication and commitment eventually turned into Olympic prep, which further led to an invite to the Ivy League to play at Brown! On Senior day, his parents drove 14 hours to see their son play; only to see him on the bench, in favor of a younger, taller, Freshman Goalie. He was gutted. Contemplating leaving the team, he reached out to an athlete friend for guidance; the advice was simple, talk to the coach, see what he could do, needed to do, to be on and in the team. Received well, he followed that guidance, did his part, and was eventually rewarded with opportunity when the team needed him.
A number of years into professional life, working in the natural products industry, he was given a huge promotion from managing 1 line of business to 15. The workload was crushing. Days stretched into weeks, and into months. He came home every night drained. It was literally killing him. With a Mortgage, Wife, and two daughters, a driven person doesn’t just quit, but, as he noted, "If you can't take care of yourself, you can't take care of anyone else". For him and his family, he needed to find the right vein for him.
With a background in startups, investing and mentoring, a slight pivot from Natural Supplements to the nascent Cannabis Industry was his next eon. With the synergies and success that followed, it proved to be the correct choice with the huge impact his company has had on the Cannabis Industry.
Please enjoy the Founders Journey of Patrick Rea, Co-Founder of CanopyBoulder.
In 2013, Patrick founded CanopyBoulder, a seed-stage, mentorship-driven business accelerator and investment fund focused on data, fintech, software, and IoT in the cannabis industry as well as hemp/CBD businesses. At CanopyBoulder, Patrick raised five accelerator funds and invested in 115 companies in the cannabis industry.
Prior to CanopyBoulder, Patrick spent 15 years in the natural products industry in roles including MandA, strategic management consulting, venture finance, B2B media, e-commerce, CEO coaching, and entrepreneur mentorship.
For five years, Patrick was a consistent presence on The Arcview Group’s selection committee and in 2014 acted as Executive Editor for ArcView’s State of the Legal Marijuana Market report. He frequently runs panels at industry events, and has served as a judge for multiple Marijuana Business Conference and Expo Pitch Slams.
Patrick graduated with two degrees from Brown University where he played Division I soccer, and resides in Boulder, Colorado with his wife and two daughters. Patrick embraces all that Colorado has to offer to build relationships with his investors and portfolio CEOs, often inviting them to join him trail running, hiking, mountain biking, and snowboarding in the foothills outside of Boulder.
CanopyBoulder is the leading business accelerator in the cannabis industry. Founded in 2013, CanopyBoulder supports seed-stage cannabis startups through investment and a structured business accelerator program. Since its founding, CanopyBoulder has invested in 115 startups, launching companies like BDSA, Wurk, Front Range Biosciences, HappyCabbage and PotGuide into the cannabis industry.
https://www.techstars.com/accelerators/boulder (Techstars Boulder Accelerator)
https://www.linkedin.com/in/troy-dayton-850a0a21/ (Troy Dayton), Founder, https://arcviewgroup.com/ (The Arcview Group)
Colton Griffin, Co-Founder & CEO, Flourish Software
Taking full advantage of every opportunity; both the apparent and the hidden, is the best way I can sum up our guest’s founder's Journey.
Growing up in rural Tennessee, he enjoyed all the nature, and freedom, country life had to offer.
At the age of 14, he was identified by a teacher for a life changing opportunity, nominating him for a scholarship to boarding school, vastly opening up his world.
In a biodiesel project, our guest discovered a passion for engineering early. It was a first step in following his passion for solving complex problems. A career day presentation from a global executive at UT solidified his focus on Industrial Engineering.
Recruited into a consulting firm, his very first day onsite was training seasoned executives on their Supply Chain software at a client called you may have heard of: Nike.
He learned to Just Do It!
His journey solving complex global business problems progressed from consulting, to in-house, eventually starting his own consulting practice.
During a trip out to California to meet with a potential client, the vendor never showed. Chatting while they waited, their solution sounded like maybe it could work for a friend of one of the attendees, who happened to be a Cannabis Grow Operation. After a listening tour, and review of the marketplace, they saw the HUGE opportunity! In March, 2017 they pivoted and dived full into Cannabis. They have since grown the company to a full seed-to-sale software, helping to drive some amazing success stories of their own.
Please enjoy the Founders Journey of Colton Griffin, Co-Founder and CEO of Flourish Software.
Colton is the Co-Founder and CEO of Flourish Software, a leading supply chain management and seed to sale tracking software solution for the cannabis, CBD, and hemp verticals. Prior to Flourish, Colton was a consultant at Manhattan Associates, a market leader in best-of-breed supply chain software. There he specialized in business intelligence and data analytics for supply chain applications, helping dozens of companies optimize their operations. He moved onto Genuine Parts Company (Fortune #177) where he built and managed a reporting platform deployed to dozens of distribution centers as well as corporate inventory optimization and trade management systems. He started a consulting practice focused on this discipline and ultimately founded a startup to build a SaaS analytics platform for distribution center operations. Flourish was born from this endeavor. He graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville with a BS in Industrial Engineering.
Flourish Software is a leading technology provider of enterprise supply chain and inventory management software built for the cannabis, CBD and hemp industries. Flourish currently serves cultivators, manufacturers, processors, wholesalers, distributors and retailers. Flourish is integrated with state compliance systems, so cannabis operators remain compliant while they capture critical business data, operate more efficiently, track product from seed to sale, and leverage advanced analytics. Flourish Software was founded in 2017 and is headquartered in Atlanta, Georgia.
Top 5 Articles/Interview with our Guest:
How Cannabis Could be the Model for the Modern Supply Chain: https://supplychainnow.com/episode-618/ (https:
Kevin Hart, Founder & CEO, Green Check Verified
During Kevin’s Eagle Scout project, he learned a great deal about communicating effectively. As an able bodied person at the age of 14, he led and mentored deaf and blind scouts for a year. It was then, and continues to be, a very impactful experience in his life.
It was in a programming class in college that Kevin found a passion and love for technology. From never being in the library prior, to practically living there! After completing only one class, he interviewed his way into his first tech job, starting what would become an impressive career in enterprise technology. Listening a lot, Kevin earned his way up the corporate ladder; going public with one company, consulting for VC firms, and helming two others as CEO. Leading an Apple Reseller, Kevin’s team helped bring iPads to Airport kiosks, which are now ubiquitous today. A follow up consulting opportunity related to Cannabis Point of Sale systems; Kevin saw the Cannabis Money Problem, and his next big idea.
What many may see as a tech, finance, regulatory, or compliance company; communication was the core to Kevin’s Founder’s Journey, and company building philosophy. So many experiences in his life he shared, reinforce the lessons of effective communication. It will be key to their success, and the industry at large, as Cannabis becomes mainstream.
Please enjoy the Founder's Journey of Kevin Hart, Founder and CEO of Green Check Verified.
Kevin Hart is the Founder and CEO of Green Check Verified. Kevin brings four decades of enterprise software experience as part of his founding vision for Green Check. He has worked in the C-Suite for a variety of software companies with global clients and partners, and he has led two companies to successful exits with publicly traded companies, as well as another to an IPO. With decades of experience at the helm of venture backed companies, Kevin has brought together an unmatched team to help him lead Green Check to its leading position in the cannabis financial services market.
Green Check Verified (GCV) is the leading provider of regulatory compliance technology solutions and advisory services for financial institutions serving the legal cannabis industry. Our team of technology, banking and compliance experts provide the tools and guidance needed to build compliant, scalable and successful cannabis banking programs. Learn more at www.greencheckverified.com
“Build your company first, then build your product”
“God gave us two years and 1 mouth, please use them in proportion”
Top 5 Articles/Interview with our Guest:
Emily Paxhia, Co-Founder & Managing Partner, Poseidon Asset Management
As a kid who grew up with the D.A.R.E program, to becoming co-founder of a first mover in the cannabis investment space, Emily Paxhia has had quite a life and Founders Journey.
Growing up, she found an early passion in the rough sport of sailing. Predominantly a “boys sport”, her father reassured her that gender was a false barrier in pursuing her passions. She went on to skipper many, many crews, and so much more.
A series of tragedies struck her family when she was in High School and College, losing both her father, and later mother, to cancer. A passing comment from a hospice worker, during her fathers illness she learned of the medicinal use of cannabis.
After graduate school in New York, and years focusing on Macro trends consulting for some major brands, it was her move from New York City to San Francisco in 2011 that opened her to the opportunity of Cannabis. Cannabis decriminalization has been a long and complex process in California. But with people lined up down the block for Cannabis retail, when retail is supposedly dead, Emily had her spark moment that Cannabis was the future and the time is now!
Circle in her brother Morgan, who, as she says, was “born with a calculator in his hand”; things started to take shape. They are now raising their third fund. Please enjoy the Founders Journey of Emily Paxia, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Poseidon Asset Management
Emily L. Paxhia is a co-founder and one of the managing directors of Poseidon Investment Management, LLC (“Poseidon”), which has three dedicated investment funds in the cannabis industry. Emily has reviewed thousands of companies in the cannabis industry and has worked with countless founders in many capacities. She has helped to shape founders’ pitch preparations, go-to market strategies and product launches, and she has advised companies on day-to-day business operations. Emily has held board seats for multiple portfolio companies and participates as an adviser to multiple teams. Further, she has dedicated time and energy to supporting policy groups and has served on the Board of Directors of the Marijuana Policy Project. She also currently serves on the Board of Directors of Athletes for CARE. Emily graduated from New York University with an M.A. in Psychology in 2008. She graduated from Skidmore College with a B.A. in Psychology in 2002.
Poseidon was founded by siblings Emily and Morgan Paxhia in 2013, making their first fund one of the longest running dedicated cannabis investment funds. The Poseidon team has focused on a diversified strategy covering a range of company stages and industry sub-sectors across the capital spectrum. Now in the seventh year of conducting due diligence, deploying capital, and serving on multiple company Board of Directors, the team is considered a leader in the cannabis industry. This recognition, in conjunction with Poseidon being a first mover in the cannabis investment space, has led to a level of trust with industry insiders. Poseidon has forged a positive reputation in the cannabis industry by helping companies when others would not, resulting in proprietary deal flow.
Morgan Paxhia, Co-Founder and Managing Director at Poseidon: https://www.linkedin.com/in/morganpaxhia/ (https://www.linkedin.com/in/morganpaxhia/)
Kyle Sherman: Founder and CEO at Flowhub: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kylesherman/ (https://www.linkedin.com/in/kylesherman/)
“I'm on a need to freak out basis”
“We are extremely comfortable being uncomfortable Nauseously optimistic”
Abner Kurtin: Founder Ascent Wellness Holdings. Cannabis CEO. Value Investor. Father. Libertarian on a Quest to End Mass Incarceration of Non-Violent Criminals. https://www.linkedin.com/in/abner-kurtin-78b8b66b/ (https://www.linkedin.com/in/abner-kurtin-78b8b66b/)
Aaron LoCascio, Co - Founder & CEO, Greenlane
The ability to step away and see the big picture is essential as a leader. It’s what allows you to work on the business so you can then then work in the business. As a leader, you have to be able to see the broad view, to formulate a theory, develop strategies, and finally assemble and inspire your team to get there; time & time again.
Today’s guest exemplifies just that. Through a fundamental belief that business is a series of problems to be solved, through many iterations, he grew his company from selling vaporizers on eBay to a Nasdaq listed, leading global platform for the development and distribution of premium cannabis accessories and lifestyle products.
Grab a lemonade, iced tea, or even better, an Arnold Palmer, and enjoy the founder's journey of Aaron LoCascio, co-Founder & CEO of Greenlane.
Aaron LoCascio is Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Greenlane. After encountering his first vaporizer at the age of 19, LoCascio sensed the commercial and technological potential of vaporization and began purchasing and re-selling units online shortly thereafter. Since then, Greenlane has flourished under Mr. LoCascio’s continued day-to-day operations. Mr. LoCascio holds a degree in Accounting from Valencia Community College.
Greenlane (NASDAQ: GNLN) is the leading global platform for the development and distribution of premium cannabis accessories and lifestyle products. The company operates as a powerful house of brands, third-party brand accelerator, and omni-channel distribution platform. Greenlane serves the global markets with an expansive customer base of more than 11,000 retail locations, including licensed cannabis dispensaries, smoke shops, and specialty retailers. Greenlane’s world-class team provides services including product development, go-to-market strategy, sales and marketing support, customer service, direct-to-consumer fulfillment, supply chain management, and distribution.
Greenlane also proudly owns and operates a diverse brand portfolio including packaging innovator Pollen Gear™, the K.Haring Glass Collection by Higher Standards, Marley Natural™, and VIBES™ rolling papers.
Higher Standards, Greenlane’s flagship brand, offers both a high-end product line and immersive retail experience with groundbreaking stores in both New York City’s Chelsea Market and Malibu, California. Greenlane also owns and operates both Vapor.com and VapoShop.com, two industry-leading, direct-to-consumer e-commerce platforms in North America and Europe respectively. For additional information, please visit: https://gnln.com/.
Top 5 Articles/Interview with our Guest:
Hashtags: #LitUp #FoundersJourney #CannabisEntrepreneur #Founder #Cannabis #Entrepreneur #smokingaccessories #highsociety #hightimes #highlife #dispensary #smokeshop #vapeshop
Aaron LoCascio, Co-Founder & CEO, Greenlane
Brian Weber, Producer & Host, Lit Up Cannabis: A Founder's Journey
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Cannabis Entrepreneur stories
The scope of talent in the cannabis industry is amazing as well as the continually emerging ancillary businesses that provide so much opportunity for the cannabis entrepreneur. I enjoy listening to such entrepreneurs share their stories on the Lit Up Podcast.
The TED of Cannabis
This is such an inspirational and great cannabis and entrepreneur podcast!
Cannabis, entrepreneurs and their stories: I love this show!
This show takes you on a journey throughout the life of a cannabis entrepreneur. The host goes back to the beginning with each guest to give the audience a true understanding of what makes these entrepreneurs tick and the “ah ha” moments that changed their careers. At the end of each show I want to know more and look forward to the next episode. This is a must listen for anyone interested in personal journeys, business creation/development or the cannabis industry movers and shakers.