When we started Leaf over a year ago we had one simple goal, to meet new people in the cannabis industry. In that regard it’s been a wild success, we’ve met so many new fantastic people who help this industry so exciting, and we’re proud to have connected the members of our community with professional connections, business partners, and new friends.
Since our first Leaf Toronto meetup in January 2017 with Vic Neufield of Aphria, the Leaf Community has heard from speakers from across the industry, including Mike Lickver (Wheaton Income), Setu Purohit (Avicanna), Darryl Hudson(InPlanta/Flowr), Vanmala Subramaniam (Vice Money) and Darren Karasiuk (MedReleaf). In June, we moved out west launching Leaf Calgary where our guests have included Alan Gertner (Hiku), Nick Whitehead (Aurora Cannabis), and Jason Kujath (51st Parallel). More cities are on our radar, more on that in a minute.
In 2017 we also launched Leaf Forward, Canada’s First Cannabis Business Accelerator. The Leaf meetups introduced us to a wide range of entrepreneurs looking to solve problems in the cannabis industry as well as a group of kick-ass industry leaders eager to help build the cannabis ecosystem. We did what was logical and put them in a room together. In September 2017, we held our first Founders Classes in partnership Minden Gross (thanks Matt Maurer!), where over two days 12 businesses worked with 16 industry mentors to get actionable feedback in order to take their businesses to the next level.
In January of this year we kicked off our Sprint to Pitch program in partnership with Dentons and MNP. Over six weeks 11 canna startups met twice a week with industry leaders and subject matter experts to build the essential toolkit for raising money in the cannabis industry. We covered everything from designing an engaging pitch deck and refining your elevator pitch to the legal structuring of financings and due diligence.
Our success to date in building this ecosystem is all thanks to you, our community of entrepreneurs, leaders, mentors and friends.
Leaf Forward has big plans to continue to build the cannabis industry ecosystem across Canada, and globally through our three verticals of meetups, CannaStart Bootcamps and the Leaf Forward Accelerator.
First, meetups in new cities. We believe that the Leaf meetups are the best way to meet new people and get your foot in the cannabis industry door. We’re growing and growing fast. In the next six months we’ll be launching a monthly Leaf Meetups in Montreal, Winnipeg, Vancouver and Melbourne, Australia, joining Toronto and Calgary for a total of six markets.
If you want to start a Leaf chapter in a new city, let us know.
Second, start-up bootcamps. We’ve learned that entrepreneurs can use an extra hand when they’re taking their first step towards starting their own business. Starting in Toronto, we will be hosting 4 day bootcamps where entrepreneurs will learn everything they need to know to launch their cannabis business, from understanding the regulations and the value chain, to writing a business plan and raising money.
Finally, the Leaf Forward Accelerator. Three times a year we’ll work with 10 businesses through an intensive 3-month program where they will be supported by industry leading mentors, connection to capital and for those who need it, access to licensed space.
We’re looking forward to working together to continue to build the ecosystem, solve problems and create opportunity.
If you’d like get involved in any way, as an entrepreneur, mentor, investor or just want to chat about collaboration, get in touch.
Alex, Brett and Taylor
Co-Founders, Leaf Forward