5 Things We Learned During our Cannabis + Technology Virtual Conference

by: Jay Rosenthal + Blaine Pearson, Co-Founders, Business of Cannabis

The Business of Cannabis team just wrapped our first, fully-virtual event series: Cannabis + Technology | Retail Tech presented by LeafLink. We learned a lot throughout the week – about the cannabis sector, about the time we are in right now and about what our audience is seeking.

Here are five things we learned during our Cannabis + Technology event last week. 

1. Virtual Events are the New Normal – for Now

Since late February, the Business of Cannabis has been planning for a business world where travel and events are either mandated to shut down or corporate and individual preference will be to stay closer to home. That’s why we shifted a full-digital event series and why we are doubling-down on our ability to engage and educate our growing professional industry audience. Based on attendance and participation, our audience remained undaunted by the shift into virtual experiences.   

2. We Are Driving Audience Serious about Professional + Industry Learning

During the era of physical distancing and large-scale economic disruption, creating opportunities where industry professionals can both connect and level-up their personal and professional knowledge base is critical. We have seen that the Business of Cannabis audience is engaged in thoughtful programming and, over the past month, our reach – both breadth and depth – has skyrocketed. In fact, in the past month, we have increased 100x our impressions and engagement.

3. Innovation is Happening + Cannabis Retailers (and Service Providers) are Sprinting

During our Lunch+Learn with LeafLink co-founder and CEO Ryan G. Smith, he described a whiteboard he and his co-founder saw in 2016 where a cannabis dispensary was tracking inventory and orders using a dry-erase marker. The image Smith shared is a reminder of how far the industry has come and how fast the industry has evolved over the past four years. Innovation is happening in real-time in places like Ontario – as retailers move their in-store operations online to take payments, prepare orders for curb-side pick up and add delivery options for consumers. The tech part of the sector is stepping up. 

Slide from presented by LeafLink’s CEO Ryan G. Smith showing inventory logistics in 2016.

4. Cannabis Industry Is Well-Positioned to React to Uncertainty

Because cannabis companies up and down the supply chain are almost all in some phase of start up – being nimble, adapting rapidly to changing circumstances, making fast decisions and moving directly to execution has been the norm. So, when a pandemic disrupts business, skills like nimble execution, operating remotely and sprinting to adapt are second nature. The cannabis industry has adjusted to more change over the past two years that many industries encounter over two decades, so the fact that cannabis has gone from essential, to non-essential and back to essential in the span of two weeks in Canada’s largest province is met with a, “how can we adapt?” instead of a collective, “oh shit!”

5. Industry Coalescing Around Advocacy

Since early March, the cannabis industry has rallied in new and united ways. Whether for BDC or Farm Credit Canada treating cannabis companies like all other industries or advocating strongly to the Ontario government for essential designation after the non-essential list was published – the industry has come together in times of challenge. We hope we played some small part in this as we launched the Cannabis Talent Help List to allow for those who had their jobs affected by this downturn to publish their skills and contact information so employers could connect with talented potential employees. We hope that this is an enduring legacy of this era of social distancing. 

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