Previewing ELEVATE Northeast's Live Social Equity Pitch Competition
Five companies will receive a combined total of $200,000.
ICYMI: Due to budget cuts at Worcester Magazine, Cannabis Confidential is on-hiatus until 2023. In an effort to continue bringing much needed attention to the Central Mass cannabis scene, I’m going to continue to put out a weekly Worcester-focused column in this space. If you want to support my work, please consider a paid subscription.
Current and prospective social equity cannabusiness owners will descend on Worcester’s DCU Center on Thursday night, hoping to secure a big novelty check in Elevate Northeast’s first ever Social Equity Pitch Competition.
The Shark Tank-style event will be giving away a total of $200,000, as ten finalists will be given ninety seconds to make their final pitch to the audience and judges, followed by a 4 minute and 20 second Q&A period.
Participants will have multiple chances to bring home some cash, hopefully giving these applicants a little bit of breathing room until the state is able to implement its Social Equity fund. Three winners selected by the judges will each receive $50,000 checks, and audience members will also get to select two “people’s choice” winners, who will get $25,000 each.
Judges for the event will be:
Adam Fine, Esq. Managing Partner of Vicente Sederberg's Boston office
Scheril Murray Powell, Esq. COO, The JUSTÜS Foundation
Kebra Smith-Bolden, RN. Founder, CannaHealth
Tauhid Chappell. Journalist/Founder, Color of Cannabis Conference
Dr. Jose Perez. CEO/President, Roads Consulting Group
Jonathan Tucker. Actor and Chairman, The Boston Garden.
Arthur Lewis. Accounting/Financial consultant.
Limited tickets are still available, and can be obtained for free here.
Here’s a rundown on the competition’s ten finalists:
Background: Evoke hopes to open a dispensary at 1102 Blue Hill Avenue in Dorchester, becoming one of the city’s few black-owned cannabis retail businesses.
Mission: “To become the premier provider of high-quality flower and related products.”
Fun Fact(s): CEO Cleon Byron has previously worked as a Production Associate and Talent Agency liaison in the film industry.
Background: This Wareham-based company is the state’s first vertically-integrated social equity licensee, and has been open to the public since March. One of the company’s founders is Jesse Pitts, who previously served nine months in prison for being caught with 70 pounds of cannabis in 2007.
Mission: Creating "a craft cannabis company at the gateway to Cape Cod."
Fun Fact(s): Trade Root’s dispensary showroom has a window into the company’s grow space, offering customers the unique opportunity to actually catch a glimpse of the plants. The company won third place in the extracts category at this year’s Terpdown Throwdown Hometown Cannabis Awards .
Background: Founded by Derrell Black, Let’s Talk Weed is a media/event company that focuses on cannabis education in areas that have been disproportionately impacted by the War on Drugs.
Mission: “Let’s Talk Weed is a community-focused forum developed to educate the public about the various aspects of Cannabis and its vast industry.”
Fun Fact(s): Derrell is the former Chapter President of MA’s Minorities for Medical Marijuana, and was a speaker at last year’s NECANN Conference.
Background: Rolling Releaf CEO Devin Alexander has been an outspoken advocate for delivery companies in the state, and has been one of the main opponents of the state’s “two-driver” rule. The company will operate out of Newton.
Mission: “Transporting only the highest-quality cannabis products to the consumer — by purchasing directly from the best producers and farmers in Massachusetts — and delivering them directly to their door.”
Fun Fact(s): Devin was quoted in my previous Cannabis Confidential about cannabis delivery regulations in Massachusetts.
Bando Alternative Group Delivery
Background: I haven’t been able to find a whole on Bando but the company has been approved as a pre-certified delivery applicant — meaning they are eligible to open during the CCC’s three year moratorium on non-social equity/economic empowerment delivery licenses.
Mission: Cannabis delivery.
Fun Fact(s): It looks like the company is based out of Westport, a town that produced Pixies lead singer Black Francis.
Background: LowKey Dispensary is a retail cannabis brand that is planning to operate in several locations in the Boston area, with their first dispensary currently set to open in Dorchester in late 2022.
Mission: “Work with our community in Dorchester which has been disproportionately harmed by the past prohibition of cannabis to ensure their inclusion in the legal cannabis industry.“
Fun Fact(s): The company has been approved for a cultivation center in Hyde Park, making them one of the few companies that’s planning on growing cannabis within Boston.
Mission: “Our locally owned and operated cannabis home delivery service is here to connect you with the best cannabis products in Massachusetts.”
Fun Fact(s): The company’s slogan is “When we say we’re 5 minutes away, we really are 5 minutes away!” — a somewhat subtle nod to the tendency of weed dealers to fib about their expected arrival time.
Background: This Worcester-based company aims to grow high quality cannabis and deliver it directly to the public.
Mission: “Our primary objective is to become Massachusetts' industry leading brand for premium cannabis, specializing in exotic strains.”
Fun Fact(s): Teddy’s Veggie Farm plans on obtaining a Microbusinesses license, giving it the unique ability to deliver products that they grow directly to consumers.
Background: A delivery company operating in the Greater Boston area, Zyp Run
Mission: “Cannabis you love, delivered in a zip.”
Fun Fact(s): Zyp Run was the first company to receive a wholesale cannabis delivery license from the Boston Cannabis Board.
La Bodeguita Cannabis
Background: This company aims to be a delivery/social consumption company in Lowell.
Mission: Bringing the bodega experience to cannabis.
Fun Fact(s): La Bodeguita plans on operating a speakeasy style consumption, regulations permitting.
I’ll be doing a full recap of the event in Friday’s newsletter. Subscribe now to make sure you receive it in your inbox.