Entrepreneurs, investors gather in Seattle to talk pot
SEATTLE -- Atop Seattle's tallest downtown skyscraper Monday there was one item on the agenda: the business of getting high.
Seventy-six stories in the air, a group of about 50 executives gathered in business suits and button-downs to talk about investing in Washington state's burgeoning legal marijuana industry. Entrepreneurs pitched pot ideas to angel investors, with the hope that they might invest millions in products and concepts.
"Mark Twain had a great quote. He said, 'During the gold rush it's a good time to be in the pick-and-shovel business,' and that's most of the people we've got," said Troy Dayton, CEO and founder of the Arcview Group, a San Francisco-based investor network which coordinated the event. "Entrepreneurs and investors are realizing that this is next great American industry and they're wanting to get in now."
Fourteen different entrepreneurs took about 15 minutes each to pitch ideas - from the odor-eliminating, pot-holding "Stink Sack" to Rodawg, a New York-based company that makes high-end holders for cigars and joints. The goal: convince wealthy businessmen and women to sink money into the idea or concept.
"Being here means you have a seat at the table for shaping what that future is," said Jason Levin, founder of UpToke, a portable electronic vaporizer for cigars and cannabis. "I feel like that's a tremendous opportunity, but it's also a big responsibility."
Levin flew up from San Francisco to meet with angel investors about his product, and said he was undeterred by the fact that federal lawmakers had yet to weigh in on the state's new pot laws.
"Seattle and Colorado are leading the pack. Being from California, it makes us a little jealous," Levin added. "There is an opportunity - an enormous one, for growth. Really, we see it as a growing industry."
"What's going to develop and how the legal landscape is going to change is to be determined," added Josh Gordon, Rodawg's CEO. "We're just trying to really, at this point, build businesses on the ancillary side of things."
Investors were expected to announce Monday night which ideas would receive monetary backing.
"Marijuana prohibition is a house of cards and the first two cards have just been taken out: Colorado and Washington," added Dayton. "People are just coming out of the woodwork with ideas."