VC Sparks Growing Crop Of Marijuana Startups by Mikey Tom, PitchBook
24 U.S. states have legalized at least the medical use of marijuana, but as more and more states have enacted legislation to make recreational use legal, the cannabis industry has begun to see the massive growth, investment and innovation that other budding industries are accustomed to. Below, we’ve featured a few of the companies and investors that are working to stake their claim within the marijuana industry.
Investors in Marijuana Startups
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One of the more prolific names in the industry, Privateer Holdings is a private equity firm focused on investing exclusively in the legal cannabis space. The firm currently holds three companies in its portfolio: Leafly, an online community for sharing reviews of cannabis strains, products and dispensaries; Tilray, a producer of premium medical cannabis; and Marley Natural, a cannabis lifestyle brand rooted in the life and legacy of Bob Marley. Other investors seem to think Privateer is on to something too, as the firm announced a $75 million funding round in April of last year.
CanopyBoulder has taken one of the more popular trends in the startup world today, accelerators, and applied it to the cannabis industry. Its program offers mentorship, seed-stage investment and guidance for companies focused on the industry. The firm operates two classes per year and has a total of 19 alumni.
Growing your own marijuana plant might sound like a fun endeavor for the casual smoker, but in reality the process is labor intensive and requires specific knowledge. Leaf has developed a “Plug n’ Plant” system for growing a personal supply, simplifying the process for users by offering pre-packaged materials, such as plant nutrients, as well as a smart-phone-monitored climate system conducive to growing. A graduate of CanopyBoulder, the company seems to have developed a hit, as the first batch of Leaf units has already sold out.
Billowby operates an online store for smoking-related products, such as vaporizers, bongs and pipes. The company was formed to combat and address the dodgy image of online smoke shops by offering a clean marketplace that features high-quality products and has a focus on customer service. Among Billowby’s list of investors is Queensbridge Venture Partners, a VC firm co-founded by rapper Nas.
Eaze offers an on-demand medical marijuana delivery service available in roughly 100 cities throughout California. Through the company’s app, users are able to browse different products available from nearby stores and have their order dropped off at their door within 20 minutes. Eaze has raised $11.5 million in VC funding to date, most recently securing a $10 million Series A round in April of last year. Investors include DCM Ventures, 500 Startups and Snoop Dogg’s Casa Verde Ventures.
Strainz is a cannabis brand management company that helps smaller enterprises scale across the U.S. into legal markets. The company has partnerships with cannabis production facilities in three U.S. states—Colorado, Nevada and Washington—and also secured $8 million in Series A debt and equity funding earlier this month.
The company is an online information resource for consumers and medical marijuana patients. Through either Leafly’s website or mobile app, users are able to browse strain ratings, study reviews, read recommendations, view lab-testing data and review dispensaries. The company was acquired by Privateer Holdings in 2011.