SAN FRANCISCO–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Eaze, California’s largest legal cannabis marketplace, today celebrates and congratulates the investors, entrepreneurs, and sponsors who took part in its Momentum business accelerator Pitch Day on May 25. 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.
Recognized by Fast Company as a 2021 World Changing Idea, Eaze’s 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. Check out this short video clip to meet the 2021 class:
- 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)
“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.”
“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.
- 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
Eaze delivers good with the goods. As California’s largest legal cannabis marketplace, we bring enjoyment and convenience to our customers, break down barriers to access, and cultivate community in everything we do. With over six million cannabis deliveries to-date, we are committed to creating a more diverse and sustainable industry through our Momentum business accelerator and Social Equity Partners Program. Learn more at eaze.com.
Founder & Interim Editor of L.A. Cannabis News