How It All Started
I’ve always been interested in societal trends that offer a business opportunity, as seen from my early acceptance and business focus on healthcare’s HMO/PPO industry in the early to mid-1980s. This was followed by my entry into the capital markets and on to Wall Street raising millions of dollars to consolidate physician businesses in the late 1990s and early 2000s. With this mindset and background, and being a calculated risk taker and an early stage investor, I became interested in the cannabis industry in 2013 as it was just beginning to be introduced as a medical treatment for certain neurological disorders.
Being an adventurer, which goes along with my willingness to invest in growing entrepreneurial businesses, I went to my first Burning Man in August 2013. It was there that I met one of the founders of the ArcView Network who talked about the cannabis movement and industry in California. The ArcView Network was founded and based in California; and its business model was focused on introducing cannabis entrepreneurs to cannabis investors. Shortly after, Colorado became the first State to open its adult use cannabis market in 2014.
After researching the cannabis industry and the ArcView membership, I paid my initiation fee in October 2013 and became a Lifetime ArcView member and one of 50 “founding” members of the organization. Most importantly I started to attend the quarterly ArcView investor meetings, seeing first hand early stage cannabis companies and the beginnings of the legalization movement for cannabis country wide.
From 2013 -2015 I did no investing but continued to read articles and literature regarding the cannabis plant, and witnessed the growth of the industry with the introduction of the now very popular vape cartridge. During that time the push for legalization of cannabis was beginning to take hold with Oregon and Washington State following Colorado and legalizing adult use of cannabis; as well many new states considering legalization of cannabis for medical use. Finally in 2015 I made my initial investment in the cannabis space by investing in ArcView’s sponsored Canopy Boulder, a cannabis accelerator entity modeled that has existed in early stage tech for years.
In early 2015 as I was talking to family and friends about my investment focus on the evolving and growing cannabis industry, there was great interest from many to also invest in the cannabis industry. With that enthusiasm I raised a $2.25 million early stage family and friends investment group, known as TL Partners, LLC and began the process of investing in early stage companies. TL Partners focused on technology companies with a unique solution and business model for the evolving cannabis industry. This led to investments in twelve early stage companies including BDSA (formerly BDS Analytics); Manifest7 (formerly MJIC), Green Flower Media and other companies.
It took approximately two years to deploy the funds raised in TL Partners, LLC which I am still actively managing; and during those years I met and became friendly both professionally and individually with many in the cannabis industry. One of those individuals I met was David Friedman while he was running MJIC Media and eventually he became CEO of MJIC, LLC prior to its evolution to Manifest7. By late 2016 David had managed to get MJIC ready for its public company funding and left his role as CEO to pursue his next cannabis opportunity. As it was meant to be, David and I were both wanting to continue investing in the cannabis industry and assisting cannabis companies to grow. At the same time, my son Jordan, after twelve years in finance and other operational roles in early stage and high growth companies was looking for a career change. It did not take long for David. Jordan and I to agree to start the Panther Opportunity Fund, LLC (“Panther”) in January 2017.
Panther is a venture capital fund focused on providing cannabis companies with growth capital. We invest primarily in Series Seed and Series A funding rounds, engaging with companies that have shown traction within a niche product or service and are led by experienced management teams.
Shortly after launching, Scott Berman, co-founder of Cannabis Rep Network which became Calyx Brands, a cannabis distribution company in California, joined the Panther team as did Billy Carroll, Panther’s relationship guru. Over the following three years, our Panther team has raised millions of dollars and has invested in fourteen portfolio companies.
While we are still investing and giving strategic advice to portfolio companies, the principals at Panther have decided to take our skills and cannabis industry knowledge and form Institutional Cannabis Consultants (“ICC”), https://www.institutionalcannabis.com. Our services are broad based and leverage the strengths of our entire team. We become your partners helping you from the early stages of financing, through operations, and ultimately through your exit, providing strategic advisory, mergers and acquisitions, corporate development, data monetization and more.
As experienced investors and operators in the cannabis industry, we are excited at what the future holds and look forward to ICC being a valuable resource for companies looking to excel in the cannabis industry.