Yesterday, we brought investors, entrepreneurs, and sponsors together for our Momentum business accelerator’s Pitch Day. The virtual event brought together industry-defining investors and Eaze’s Momentum Class of 2021, which includes some of the nation’s most prominent BIPOC cannabis leaders.
The event, which featured a fireside chat with NBA Champion Matt Barnes and five-time NBA All-Star and NBA Hall Of Fame honoree Chris Webber, included investors from Arcadian Capital Management, JourneyOne Ventures, Ultranative, Poseidon Garden Fund, The Cannabis Syndicate, CGI Asset Fund, WebberWild Impact Fund, and more. Program sponsors included Playboy, Leune, Cann, Ritual, Vertosa, MGO CPA, and Everyday.
“BIPOC-owned businesses are often shut out from the limited capital available to cannabis businesses, so we designed Momentum to get talented entrepreneurs in front of investors who understand the power of these brands,” Jennifer Lujan, Eaze’s Sr. Director of Social Impact, “Consumers care about supporting social equity, so the smart money is on these companies.”
Recognized by Fast Company as a 2021 World Changing Idea, our annual Momentum program received more than 250 applications from across 23 states and U.S. territories this year. Momentum participants receive a $50,000 grant, a 12-week business development program led by industry experts, and support from Eaze’s business, marketing, legal, and PR resources.
For the first time, this year’s class includes founders from outside of California.
Whitney Beatty, Josephine & Billie’s (Los Angeles, CA)
Leo Bridgewater, BridgeH2o (Trenton, NJ)
James Charon, Syracuse Hemporium (Syracuse, NY)
Jesse Grundy, The Peakz Co (Oakland, CA)
Tre Hobbs, Neighborhood Essentials (Detroit, MI)
Kika Keith-Sturgis, Gorilla Rx (Los Angeles, CA)
Gidai Maaza and Cesar Casamayor, The People’s Dispensary (Fresno, CA)
Dorian Morris, Undefined Beauty (Los Angeles, CA)
Nina Parks, Gift of Doja (San Francisco, CA)
Andre Scott and Mark Mabutas, La Flor (Sacramento, CA)
“Momentum is unlike any other program in the cannabis industry,” said NBA champion and cannabis advocate Matt Barnes, a senior advisor to Eaze’s board. “By placing unrestricted money in the pockets of entrepreneurs, it helps companies become sustainable and profitable. Without taking equity, Momentum provides a clear path for people of color to grow their businesses.”
“The investor community must actively support and invest in BIPOC communities and companies. Systemic oppression and racism can make it difficult for some BIPOC entrepreneurs to feel comfortable seeking investment,” said Ford Smith, founder and CEO of Ultranative, “As investors, it’s our responsibility to make the first move.”
Momentum would not be possible without its Advisory Committee, industry leaders who provide independent oversight and select participants, so we’d love to thank the following:
Malaki Amen, President and CEO, California Urban Partnership
Matt Barnes, Senior Advisor to the Board and Cannabis Entrepreneur
Ramon Garcia, Co-founder, OEG, Locals Equity Distribution LLC, Sanctuary Farms LLC
Steven Hawkins, Executive Director, Marijuana Policy Project
LaWanda Knox, CEO of Make Green Go, Cannabis Technical Assistance Consultant and President of The Allyance
Kristi Palmer, Co-Founder and President, Kiva Confections
Mary Pryor, Co-founder Cannaclusive and Chief Marketing Officer of Tonic CBD
Ford Smith, Founding Partner, Ultranative
Austin Stevenson, Chief Innovation Officer, Vertosa
Want to support social equity brands and Momentum 2020 graduates? Check out our social equity menu:
Known for solutions that yield results, Seth Yakatan has completed or advised on acquisitions and corporate finance transactions totaling over $3 billion. He is CEO of Katan Associates International—a financial strategy and merchant banking firm specializing in commercialization and asset monetization—especially those within life-science and e-commerce sectors.