The 5 Biggest Marijuana Startups by Funding
As the cannabis market blooms in the US and across the globe, industry credibility rises with each successful entrepreneurial venture. Prior to the trial-by-fire of running a successful business, all companies begin by obtaining funding: funding that comes from sources like private investors, bank loans or by selling company stock to the public. Due to the ambiguity of differing laws between States and the Federal government, funding a cannabis-based business often relies on private investors more so than bank loans. That’s why all these cannabis venture capital firms have started popping up alongside cannabis focused incubators that will give you seasoned advice and contacts in exchange for a small chunk of equity. When determining whether to invest in an up-and-coming cannabis related business, funding can be a tremendous indication of a strong stock, especially when a lack of financial history casts shadows of doubt.
While we compiled a list of 57 “marijuana stocks”, most of them are over-the-counter scams and the only notable standouts are the big Canadian growers. The real opportunity in the United States is in the privately funded startups, though exit events like IPOs are questionable given the fact that marijuana is still an illegal drug. Here listed are five of the biggest marijuana companies operating right now based on the amount of funding they have taken in. While not all are publicly traded, most are in search of private investors, and all of them should be watched closely by investors as the cannabis industry takes its rightful place in the world economy.
Founded in 2010, Seattle Washington-based startup Privateer Holdings was founded by three entrepreneurs; all of which were experienced in venture capital as well as investment banking. After raising $122 million dollars in capital from investors that included Peter Thiel, Privateer Holdings has established itself with three distinct cannabis industry identities.
Under the umbrella of Privateer Holdings there are three readily recognizable brands. First, Tilray Medical Cannabis operates a world-renowned medical cannabis research and production facility in Nanaimo, British Columbia. Operating in Canada allows Tilray’s facility to hold the title of being the only American-owned, federally licensed, commercial cannabis production facility in the world. Second, Marley Natural offers a comprehensive line of cannabis, body care products, and also accessories. This brand is rooted in the legacy of Bob Marley: respecting nature, preaching justice and promoting cannabis as “the healing of the nations”. Oh, and making money. Lastly, Leafly is a media channel primarily purveyed through their informational website. They inform cannabis consumers about all aspects of cannabis and the industry, while empowering cannabis businesses through technology and advertising. Leafly sees roughly 10 million monthly page visits and has almost 2 million subscribers.
Pharmacannis is a medical cannabis production and dispensary business operating in New York and Illinois that has taken in $68.8 Million in funding so far. The Company focuses strongly on three core principles: quality, safety, and service. Pharmacannis has split their resources evenly between NY and IL with four locations in each State. You can find Pharmacannis in the following cities:
In addition to their dispensaries and production facilities, Pharmacannis hosts an informative website where patients can find out what qualifying conditions warrant a cannabis treatment in either NY or IL. There are other resources for patients like articles on how to use medical cannabis, but there are also resources for Physicians, including a history of cannabis as medicine and details regarding the Endocannabinoid System. They even have online continuing education courses for doctors. This is a huge amount of funding so we’d expect to see that list of locations grow pretty quickly.
Syqe Medical has taken in $33 million from investors to develop, produce and sell their selective-dose, pharmaceutical grade, medical plant inhalers. Syqe’s CEO/Founder, Perry Davidson, had been an inventor of patents across a slew of fields prior to founding Syqe. He also led the largest medical cannabis production company in Israel as their CEO. With over ten years of experience in controlled substance regulation/integration, Mr. Davidson clung to the concept of a dosing inhaler for cannabis after developing a patent for one, thus resulting in the formation of Syqe Medical.
Two of their products, the Syqe Inhaler and the Syqe Inhaler Exo are inhalers that process pre-loaded cartridges of cannabis medicine and deliver it to patients in doses incremental by 100 micrograms (a millionth of gram).
While the Syqe Inhaler is intended for consumer use, the Syqe Inhaler Exo has a caregiver interface and is designed for hospital use. The fact that $38 billion pharamaceutical giant Teva Pharmaceuticals (NYSE:TEVA) signed a distribution agreement with Syqe for its inhaler should be a good indicator of the potential this hardware has. It’s presently being used in Israeli hospitals today.
Copperstate Farms is an Arizona-based company that employs 3,000 people and has greenhouses full of vegetables covering +850 acres. The Company has decided to pivot into the marijuana-growing business with a solid $27 million in funding and they operate as producers of fine quality cannabis. Despite their solid eight figure funding total, Copperstate Farms has an extremely minimalist website featuring their brand logo and name, a portal for vendors, and a portal for career searchers. While this may be for security purposes given the differences between State and Federal cannabis law, Copperstate Farms falls short of a public online presence comparable to their competition throughout the country. With that said, there’s plenty of info in the public domain about what they’re getting up to. Like this huge grow operation in Arizona:
In September of last year they purchased a 40-acre greenhouse in northeastern Arizona from a tomato grower and plan to hire 130 plus employees to have the 5 acres up and running by the start of this year. By the time the 40 acres is fully developed, they expect to employ 1,227 people in the region who will generate $41 million in wages and represent $219 million in “economic output” every year. That’s a lot of weed man. Aphria Inc., one of Canada’s lowest cost producers, has also taken a 5% equity stake in exchange for sharing their intellectual property on how to grow cannabis so cheap.
Eaze Solutions is a medical cannabis delivery business run by CEO Jim Patterson, (former CEO of Zinc, and former CPO of Yammer) with an Uber-esque feel that has taken in $24.5 million in funding so far. We wrote about Eaze before and most recently highlighted their very informative report on The State of Marijuana in California. Based out of San Francisco, Eaze Solutions currently has sixteen listed jobs through their website for corporate jobs, yet they openly recruit for drivers, similar to Uber or Lyft. Be prepared to pass a thorough background test first though. Since Eaze Solutions was established, dozens of reputable media sources have published articles on the emerging cannabis delivery sector of the cannabis industry, helping to bring exposure to the marijuana industry. With an order happening every 30 seconds, Eaze is massing a huge marijuana big data set that can tell us all kinds of interesting things about the market like this very interesting report.
Due to legalization in some States and countries, cannabis as an industry is just beginning to thrive. Though many companies have historically focused on medical cannabis due to Federal law, much good has come of it. Tilray Medical, Pharmacannis and Syqe are just three examples out of hundreds of successful, innovative, cannabis-based medicine suppliers and producers. With a continued surge of States legalizing cannabis outright, resources like Leafly will explode in popularity: new cannabis consumers always have questions, and Leafly is quickly becoming a cannabis fact authority. While it may be difficult achieving brand recognition in the cannabis community on the same level as the name “Bob Marley”, all of the above-mentioned businesses have the funding, experience in administration, and economic foresight to become longstanding pillars of industry; serving cannabis enthusiasts for generations to come.
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