High Hopes

One founder contemplates product-market fit

The side parts behind a boom in cannabis startups

It wouldn’t shock you to hear about a pair of Ivy League MBA financial types who ditched their careers to pursue tech startup riches.

But it might surprise to hear them talk furrow-browed of Sour Kush, Skywalker, and Chernobyl. Yes, these are cannabis strains we speak of.

Buoyed by well-documented regulatory changes, there’s a slew of startups gaining attention in the legal cannabis space.

What’s notable is how buttoned-down the founders are. If you envision a slightly grown-up version of the dorm room Cheetos-maniac, think again.

Privateer Holdings is the first venture capital fund dedicated to the space. It’s run by two Yale MBAs who left their financial jobs to start the company. (In an absolutely made-for-HBO moment last week, Privateer announced the hiring of DEA agent Patrick Moen.)

Leafly, a Yelp for cannabis connoisseurs and the darling of the space, was founded by three former Kelley Blue Book staffers. Yes, the same Kelley Blue Book that decides what a ’95 Buick could actually be worth.

And Canna Security America, which provides security systems and mobile monitoring solutions to dispensaries, is helmed by Dan Williams, who previously implemented security software for the mundane Chipotle Grill chain.

A conference to match founders and investors was held recently on Wall Street (yes, that Wall Street). Watch this video recap on mute. Tell us it doesn’t look like any other startup meet-and-greet – or an auto insurance conference.

Now go forth (and focus).

Nitty Gritty:

$50 Bln: Privateer’s estimate of the size of the cannabis market

1933: Year Joseph Kennedy secured broad distribution rights for liquor in the US, while waiting for Prohibition to end

1992: Year Bill Clinton admitted in an interview that he tried marijuana as a Rhodes Scholar