With cannabis law reform steadily on the rise across the U.S., it is increasingly important that we continue to normalize and legitimize the cannabis industry and market. It was so refreshing to see SXSW include a cannabis track in their programming this year, and I am so happy to see that TechFestNW will be including several cannabis companies as part of their event this year in Oregon as well.
TechFestNW offers the opportunity to explore the best of tech trends in an up-close and personal way and includes four tracks of content- Blockchain, Future of Work, Smart Cities and Future of Health and Fitness. This year’s event takes place this week on April 4th and 5th in Portland, Oregon.
This will be the 8th TechfestNW and the 4th PitchFestNW. Sarah Nanbu is the Director of PitchFestNW and said that of the approximately 130 startups participating,10 of them are cannabis startups, which is more than in past years.
One would think that you’d see more of this kind of crossover in a state where we have had legalized adult-use/recreational cannabis laws for over 4 years, yet there is still a stigma associated with the cannabis plant and people who choose to work in this sector. While this is starting to change, especially in the “Portland bubble” as I call it, it is so encouraging to see several cannabis brands on the list who are pitching to investors at a mainstream event on an even playing field.
Samantha Montanaro is the Co-Founder and COO of Tokeativity, the global cannabis community for women that offers regular events, and online platform, and educational resources to women. Tokeativity is one of several cannabis companies who are pitching at the event. She and her business partner, Lisa Snyder, are taking their custom built tech platform to the next level by launching ALTA Social, and are looking for investors to fund their seed round. ALTA is a web and mobile tech platform that features women-centric groups, event resources, a proprietary journal feature, all geared towards the feminine experience.
Montanaro said, “It feels very exciting to be pitching alongside mainstream companies! As a mother who has worked in cannabis for 4 years, any situations where cannabis is held at the same status as other more established industries are exciting to me. I hope to educate and inspire others who have not explored the cannabis industry. The presence of cannabis at this event speaks to the normalization and maturity of the regulated cannabis market. We are being taken more seriously and that is a good thing.”
Her partner Snyder added, "With widespread legalization across the country and now, the world, we're validating our prediction and gaining clarity that cannabis does not need to be kept secret and separate, it actually crosses over perfectly into many parts of our lives. Everyone holds the power of the internet in their hands with smartphones, and we're excited to help get women connected to the people, products and experiences that can help liberate them the most."
Meryl Montgomery and Valarie Sakota are the Co-Founders of Barbari, and are pitching in order to attract partners to invest in their vision of products which includes a line of loose leaf Herbal Blends and the first to market herbal spliff that comes in a pack of branded prerolls, containing a low-dose of cannabis mixed with botanicals. They explained that they're already seeing the market begin to shift. Montgomery said, “Being a women lead, minority owned cannabis business, we are energized to bring our message of low-dose consumption for the modern cannabis consumer to the audience at TechFestNW.”
It’s exciting to hear the motivation and drive these entrepreneurs have, and also to see cannabis companies placed in a pitching competition that says they present “the best and brightest startups from all over the world.” Go team GREEN!!
You can learn more about TechFestNW and purchase tickets here.