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AUTHOR: Heather Allman
PUBLISHER: CANNABIS LAW REPORT
Cannabis Welcomes Artificial Intelligence
About Cannapreneur Partners
Cannapreneur Partners is a leading cannabis investment firm specializing in early-stage startups. Cannapreneur’s leadership team has already raised and deployed more than $80M in the cannabis space through various ventures, and has a 40-year track-record of excellence in investment, financing and running companies at every stage to accelerate growth, success and returns for shareowners.
Headquartered in Westborough, MA, Cannapreneur Partners is a cannabis holding company with a team of professionals who help entrepreneurs attain success whilst also guiding investors to make more educated decisions and thoughtfully place capital in the cannabis space.
Cannapreneur say they are ….able to tailor a private-placement cannabis investment program based on each individual investor’s goals.
Currently, Cannapreneur has investments ,monetary, physical, and intellectual stakes in a wide range of cannabis consumer and technology companies, all focused on redefining the cannabis industry.
The most recent of these investments is anna, the first AI-powered self-checkout solution designed to meet the specific needs of individual cannabis retailers.
Initially, anna will be fully implemented at Nature’s Remedy, the cannabis retail location in Massachusetts, but more on that later.
But who are the men behind the Cannapreneur Partners curtain?
And what does artificial intelligence have to do with current cannabis?
On September 10, 2020, I talked with both Michael Scott and Todd Sullivan, the Co-CEOs of Cannapreneur Partners.
We had a lively group discussion about the myriad of ways that cannabis changes lives , not only in the traditional physical and physiological ways that we most often associate with cannabis, but also in modernized financial and experiential ways.
Talking to these Co-CEOs together feels much like there’s one collective and innovative brain with two bodies branching off to either side.
Often answering as a team, practically in unison, but present as uniquely different individuals who compliment each other perfectly, like the right wine compliments the culinary connoisseur’s picky palate.
Here’s my discussion with Michael Scott and Todd Sullivan of Cannapreneur Partners, on everything from the exciting anna AI technology, to how data will be the future “king of cannabis,” to investing.
Cannabis Law Report: Let’s start with an exciting tech product that you are bringing to market. Talk to me a bit about cannabis and tech, specifically the anna AI system in which you have a stake.
Michael Scott, Co-CEO of Cannapreneur Partners “anna is unique because there is very little competition, and unlike predecessors, anna contains an AI component.
We are very excited to add anna to our portfolio. anna is able to solve for two of the largest problems facing dispensary owners, transaction times and ticket size.
anna will be the first regulator-approved CBD and THC dispensing device available for placement inside cannabis dispensaries.”
CLR: About your vending machines powered by anna, how are these different from others on offer around the country?
Todd Sullivan, Co-CEO of Cannapreneur Partners: “anna’s technology is created to uphold the expectations of consumers and retailers while modernizing the cannabis purchasing experience.
The hardware is akin to the self-checkout second at a local grocer, but with several high-tech benefits.
We are confident anna’s value proposition will be embraced by dispensary owners across the nation. We feel the real-time data set anna will generate will have tremendous value across the cannabis industry.”
Exactly what are the benefits of incorporating AI into current cannabis?
One key benefit for individual cannabis retailers and brands, according to Sullivan, is that anna can readily integrate with existing technologies through an app, in order to streamline and quality control various aspects of cannabis retail.
The duo explains that the anna AI system can easily work seamlessly in with a brand’s current retail technologies, such as their contactless payment, inventory dispensing, and transaction or POS technologies.
Sullivan: “Customers can browse in-store using anna’s touchscreen interface or ulize online ordering by scanning their QR code upon arrival, keeping the checkout process to under a minute. This allows dispensaries and CBD retailers to service customers while adhering to today’s social distancing guidelines.”
Scott: “By bringing these self-checkouts to dispensaries, we as a company will help fastrack the normalization of cannabis, while serving to remove the stigma surrounding cannabis, stigma that’s been indoctrinated into the culture through years of Prohibition.
We can, theoretically, change the retail landscape by bringing more user-friendly technologies to today’s cannabis consumers and entrepreneurs that save time and money.”
As a cannabis consumer, this sounds fantastic to me, because it would not simply affect my wallet. Simultaneously, widespread utilization of anna throughout the cannabis industry would also affect my watch, so to speak, and time is the most valuable commodity we humans possess.
CLR: Basically, this innovative move to an AI-driven cannabis retail experience is driven by one simple philosophy: to work smarter, not harder.
Scott: “Absolutely! Our original investment in anna validates our belief in the company, its proprietary IP and leadership team’s ability to execute. The retail landscape is shifting and the cannabis business landscape is also becoming more competitive.
As we continue to deploy capital, we look forward to placing smart bets on more innovative businesses like anna that are well positioned to enable growth across the cannabis sector’s ecosystem.
Ultimately, anna’s technologies will enable dispensaries to efficiently serve more customers, while saving time for all parties involved, and minimizing face-to-face contact for consumers during the ongoing global pandemic.”
Sullivan: “Yes, our end game is that we’re trying to create a symbiotic synergy, where we all feed off one another, but adding value to each other, in personal and business relationships. It’s give and take. We try to be givers, all the way around.”
CLR: I agree. That’s a win-win for everyone involved: investors, consumers and businesses.
Speaking of businesses, initially, anna will be fully implemented at Nature’s Remedy, the cannabis retail location in Massachusetts where Michael Scott of Cannapreneur Partners is an active Partner and former Chairman of the Board.
Interestingly enough, in my August 6, 2020 interview with Tommy Chong, we talked about just such innovative, revolutionary technology and about how tech enhances every facet of our lives, including cannabis. We discussed how AI is a viable and tangible reality that will help mankind, that will assist:
“We’re coming to an era in our lives where we just have to spend the rest of our time on Earth enjoying ourselves, because we don’t have to do the tedious work anymore. We don’t have to do the laboring anymore, thanks to AI.”
On the matter of autonomous anna-powered vending machines, however, some budtenders remain unconvinced. They are worried they will be replaced, according to Scott, but he assures his team at Nature’s Remedy that these vending machines powered by anna are intended to be a supplement vital human employees, who will remain in their current positions.
The anna self-checkout vending machines will be just like any other co-worker, assisting the customers to get the job done efficiently and effectively, and existing alongside the human budtenders at Nature’s remedy. Specifically, anna will not be in place of the employees.
However, rather than a newly-hired employee, Anna will be a coded co-worker, in every sense of the word
Concerning Data and Cannabis
CLR: I always ask questions about buyer behavior, and data is an important factor that often gets overlooked in the Cannabis space. Please tell me your thoughts on data, cannabis, and investing.
Sullivan: “The cannabis space will grow to be more similar to other industries as it matures. At the end of the day, it’s about delivering products to customers in a highly regulated environment. Technologies to look at are those able to reduce friction at point of sale and decrease input costs via supply management, inventory control or other related methods.”
Data will be king in cannabis because the landscape is very much fragmented and often out of date due to the rapid ascension of the industry. Companies that are able to aggregate data in real time will become highly valuable to the entire sector
Concerning Current Investment Approach & Focus
CLR: When it comes to investing, what is the general approach taken by Cannapreneur Partners?
Scott: “Currently, we’re starting away from cultivation, because in states like Florida, for example, state-mandated, vertically integrated cannabis businesses must include the cultivation component. But that’s a market that could very well be the second largest”
Sullivan: “High risk equals high reward. But with us, there’s no get in get out practices. We genuinely have a passion for how cannabis is helping the world. We are not just in this for the profit.”
CLR: You are currently concentrating on Massachusetts and New England. Talk a bit about cannabis investment in the Northeast.
Scott: “There is a massive pool of investors, just regular people, out there that want to get into private placement investing in general and cannabis private investments in particular. Due to the significant growth in demand for private investments in today’s cannabis industry, many experts believe cannabis will be one of the biggest investment opportunities of our lifetime.”
Sullivan: “Investing in the cannabis companies is far more appealing and accessible to private investors than things like mutual funds or other traditional investments.
Scott: “Yes, because private placement investing is currently exploding, and its set to continue that pattern of growth. At the same time many institutional investors and public market investors are left high and dry due to current federal legalization roadblocks. This creates tremendous investment opportunities for everyone.”
CLR: Anything else you want the readers to know about Cannapreneur Partners?
Scott: “Cannabis changes lives. We’ve seen, as a society, the physical and psychological benefits of cannabis in people’s lives. But, as an investment group, we’ve also witnessed the financial benefits of cannabis firsthand.”
Sullivan: “When it comes to ‘All Things Cannabis,’ we are not even scratching the surface. But here at Cannapreneur Partners, we have the passion that it takes to work in cannabis and still keep a person-centric perspective in sight. We share a passion for adding real value to people’s lives, in many ways.”
Appendix 1: About Michael Scott and Todd Sullivan: Co-CEOs, Partners, Friends
Michael Scott, Co-CEO at Cannapreneur Partners
Michael Scott is an entrepreneur, family man, and martial artist with a passion for life. Michael’s core values are Family, Integrity, Helping Others, Leadership, Loyalty. During Michael’s two-decade career inWealth Management. Fast forward a handful of years and Michael is now the Founder/Owner of BAM Partners LLC an entrepreneurial holding company of 7 businesses and growing.
Todd Sullivan, Co-CEO at Cannapreneur Partners
Todd is a serial entrepreneur who founded his first business in 1986 at the age of 18. Since then, he has been involved in entrepreneurial businesses either as an investor, advisor or founder/employee for his entire working life. Todd currently is the owner of ValuePlays and former General Partner in Rand Strategic Partners a long/short hedge fund. In December 2019 Todd closed his hedge fund so he could focus his energies on entrepreneurial opportunities in the cannabis space.