Business of Cannabis “20 in their 20s” Class of 2021

14 mins read

In early March, Business of Cannabis launched “20 in their 20s” in an effort to identify and celebrate emerging cannabis leaders in their 20s. 

The response was overwhelming and narrowing the list down to 20 was incredibly difficult. The editorial and business teams as Business of Cannabis reviewed all nominations and candidates were selected on the basis of organizational leadership, creative thinking and problem-solving, as well as industry influence. 

Please note, there are a few pairs of emerging leaders below – representing a number of leading companies founded and led by leaders in their 20s. 

We are proud to announce the Business of Cannabis 20 in their 20s, Class of 2021.

We are also pleased that the team at PAX has agreed to ship a PAX prize pack to each member of the Business of Cannabis 20 in their 20s, Class of 2021.


Evan Adcock + Mackenzie Ferguson

Position: Co-Founders, Verda

What Others Say:

I’m nominating Evan because I think for 22, he’s accomplished some crazy things! He and his co-founders were entrepreneurs since high school, and even stepped away from university to kick-start Verda, knowing that this was the time and the place to do it if they wanted it to happen.

I’m nominating Mackenzie because of his determination, drive, commitment, and because he’s really grown into a leading role in a lot of different ways since we launched our company. Mackenzie wears a lot of hats, juggling being our President, stepping in as HR, Sales, Operations, Marketing, Client Success, and so much more. He’s proved time and time again that we can achieve so much by getting creative, working together to problem solve smarter, not harder, and by using our position and age to our advantage.

Connect with Evan.

Connect with Mackenzie.


Abbey Bortolotti

Position: Retail Acquisition Executive, Headset

What Others Say: 

Abbey is playing a critical role in allowing Headset to have a dominant share across Canada. Abbey was also instrumental in understanding the pain-points that many retailers in the cannabis industry face and drove an internal program to move our messaging away from “feature-based” messaging to more “solution-based” messaging to help our core clients better understand the company’s value proposition.

Connect


Jake Crow

Position: Past – Founder and CEO of BudTender (acquired by springbig) Current: Vice President of Canada, springbig

What Others Say:

I have been lucky to witness Jake’s story from the start. For the last 4 years, Jake built Budtender out of his parents basement and grew his company to 4 employees, and a multi-million dollar valuation. He remains one of the only founders in the space to successfully sell a company, especially at only 27 years old. He has been featured in Techcrunch, Yahoo Finance, PR Newswire, Benzinga and Ganjapreneur.

Connect.


Ashley Chiu

Position: Manager, Strategy & Transactions, EY-Parthenon

What Others Say:

Ashley was a driving force behind the creation the cannabis practice at EY (multi-national professional services firm). Ashley has evaluated over $5B of investment opportunities in the cannabis industry and is a strategic advisor to governments and regulators, publicly traded and private cannabis and hemp companies, financial institutions, and other cannabis industry stakeholders, globally.

Connect.


Taylor Jones

Position: Co-Founder and VP Revenue, Pistil Data 

What Others Say:

This nominee started young and had a drive to learn anything and everything about cannabis. He is a goal setter and doesn’t stop until he reaches his goals. He works with software but can give you information from the seed of cannabis to the plant and its benefits. His knowledge is expertise when it comes to cannabis as he has been working in this field over 5 years. Taylor is hardworking, dedicated, and his new ideas are limitless! Taylor has made his way to the top with long hours and perseverance to be a successful part of the cannabis industry. 

Connect.


Shahbaaz Kara-Virani

Position: Canadian Lead, Dutchie

What Others Say:

Shahbaaz consistently has shown himself to be a great leader, mentor and advocate for the cannabis sector. He not only has raised his profile, but raises the profile of the industry and the other members of the space. An individual that pushes our industry forward daily.  A wealth of knowledge, someone who asks questions that make you think.  A huge person in Canadian Cannabis.

Connect.


Albert Kim + Calvin Ho

Positions: Co-Founders, Greenline POS

What Others Say: 

Greenline POS – service over 400 stores with very little capital investment, is going up against very large companies. Together, they are 1. Growing a successful cannabis retail software platform while building new innovative features with thoughtful consideration of the end users and the team, and 2. They created an avenue for cannabis retailers to access credit for their operations.

Connect with Albert.

Connect with Calvin.


Thaomy Lam

Position: Communications Manager, Superette 

What Others Say:

I am nominating Thaomy because she deserves it more than anyone I can think of. Thaomy lives and breathes corporate social responsibility and is one of the kindest, most selfless people I know. Nothing is more clear when talking to Thaomy that her raison d’etre is to GIVE BACK. Whether it’s something as big as setting up an Ottawa Food Drive Collaboration or something as small as personally delivering hand-made, beautifully designed sugar cookies for the holidays…Thaomy CARES. Not to mention her brilliance as a PR/Comms/Marketing mastermind. Thaomy’s ability to connect with her consumers is bar none.

Connect.


Catherine Marion

Position: Business Development, Nextleaf Solutions 

What Others Say:

Catherine has the kind of drive that every team needs. She is not only passionate about her work, but strives for a level of excellence that raises the bar for everyone around her. She can always be relied on for her organization skills, her follow through, and her work ethic. Catherine is absolutely a rising star in the cannabis industry, it’s been my pleasure to work alongside her.

Connect.


Jessica McCann

Position: Director of Sales, Other People’s Pot

What Others Say:

Jess brings a fresh, genuine, and unique perspective to the cannabis industry. She is vocal about the importance of building an inclusive and diverse industry, and is one of the true leaders in cannabis that is willing to put in the work to do her part to support these important efforts. She serves as a refreshing reminder that leadership is so much more than “level” or title, she brings authenticity, optimism, and determination to all projects that she takes on, and I look forward to seeing what she does next for our industry!

Connect.


Cole Miller

Position: Founder, A1 Cannabis Company

What Others Say: 

Cole successfully negotiated the first Contract Manufacturing Agreement for Cannabis Beverages in Canada with Valens in the Summer of 2019. He went on to launch Basecamp and Summit beverages in February/March 2020, launching the same week as his larger competitors, Tilray and Canopy, and is currently the only independent company in the beverage category. 

Connect.


Daniel Nguyen

Position: Owner, NUMO Cannabis

What Others Say:

I am nominating Daniel because of his contributions to the Canadian legal cannabis industry. Since being one of the first legal stores to ever open on legalization day on October 17, 2018, he has provided valuable insight and recommendations to provincial regulators in building the new industry. Before Ontario opened its legal cannabis market, regulators and policymakers traveled to Alberta to meet with Daniel and tour his flagship location. In March 2021, Daniel was invited to a private meeting with the AGLC Board of Directors, to discuss red tape and areas of opportunity for legal cannabis to flourish. Daniel has been able to build NUMO to multiple locations by focusing on customer experience, and quality cannabis products. Daniel’s background is a B.Comm in Accounting, and also during the same time, he was medically cultivating for himself under the ACMPR program.

Connect.


Robyn Rabinovich

Position: VP, Strategic Initiatives, Thrive Cannabis

What Others Say:

Robyn is one of the strongest, most discerning, intuitive, resourceful, motivated, devoted, brilliant and stead-fast women who make up this cannabis industry. She has more experience in the regulated market than 90% of the players today, starting with CannTrust long before legalization.  

Connect.


Emily Riehl

Position: National Sales Manager, Zenabis

What Others Say:

Role model for all women & budtenders across Canada – proves anything is possible… First LP signed into the province of Nunanvut thanks to her, First budtender to get to a National Sales Role in Canadian Market!

Connect.


Benjamin Tran

Position: CEO & President, The House of Cannabis

Benjamin has displayed outstanding leadership through his work at The House of Cannabis. His work also extends to ensuring his brand encompasses a strong community focus with recent campaigns to promote Black History Month, Black Mental Health Day and International Women’s day through team events and social outreach. He is dedicated to changing the negative social stigma in the cannabis industry through education and community engagement. Benjamin strongly believes in volunteering and giving back to the community he serves. He is also a part of the marketing and PR committee for Moffitt Cancer Centre.

Connect.


Ika Washington

Position: Founder, DiversityTalk

What Others Say:

She has been making strides in the cannabis space and leading discussions on social equity. She has been forthright about the need for diversity and been engaging with the cannabis community to make positive changes in attitudes, HR, policy and education.

Connect.


Klaudia Wawrzyniak

Position: Product Development Manager, Olli Brands

What Others Say:

Klaudia has been my manager and mentor for almost 1 year at Olli Brands. I have learned many things about this growing industry through her guidance, and she has helped me to overcome many obstacles when it comes to cannabis edible development and commercialization. She is very hardworking and a team player. She takes on roles outside of her position, helping with regulatory for packaging, as well as marketing initiatives. Klaudia is also very creative and encourages the R&D team to pursue their creative ideas to produce amazing cannabis edibles. She looks at where she thinks the market is heading, and leads the company in that direction to keep up with market trends.

Connect.


Nicholas Williams

Position: Owner, Wavy Buds Recreational Cannabis

What Others Say:

Williams opened up a cannabis retail store named Wavy Buds Recreational Cannabis that has been operational for a month (and already profitable.) As well, he created and operated an e-commerce business called Wavy Merch in 2018 that specializes in manufacturing and selling men’s grooming products that has been operational and profitable since 2018. 

Connect.

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