She Co-Founded One of the First Investment Funds in the Cannabis Industry
U.S. banking regulations making cannabis the toughest business there is for funding and investing.
Emily Paxhia co-founded one of the first funds to invest entirely in the cannabis and hemp industries with her brother in 2013: Poseidon Asset Management. She has been investing solely into cannabis for five years and has been one of the most successful funds in the space. Her mission has been to invest in quality companies that will help to drive the industry forward, hence changing outdated perceptions and allowing for job creation, innovation and social policy changes.
What brought you into the cannabis industry?
We saw an industry that was coming into the light in spite of all of the historical challenges around it. People want safe access to quality cannabis, and the cultivators and artisans want to connect with the consumers and patients to provide it. In 2012-13 when we were investigating the industry, we saw that there were so many opportunities for companies to emerge to help the infrastructure, the efficiency of growing and processing and to evolve the perceptions around the industry, all of this would require capital.
Seeing cannabis through a compassionate lens has been easier for us, as we lost our parents to cancer and the notion of cannabis as a palliative care resource was brought to our attention in the mid-90s.
What obstacles and challenges have you experienced in operating within this industry?
We have faced countless obstacles in operating in cannabis. When we first endeavored to launch the fund in 2013, we had trouble finding service providers such as lawyers, auditors and banking support. We were fortunate to find teams who believed in our mission and hence became great providers. Further, we have faced banking issues just like other businesses. Banks have liked working with funds, because of our reporting and transparency, however, if they get pegged as an institution supporting the industry, they tend to shut it off.
How have you overcome these obstacles?
Perseverance is key to staying in this industry. We have seen many groups come and go, we are firm believers that overcoming obstacles makes us better. You have to love what you do in cannabis, or you will not find the strength to stay.
As a woman in cannabis, do you feel that you are at an advantage or a disadvantage (or both) and why?
Women and cannabis can share many of the same challenges. Women have been long been undervalued or undermined. We still live in a time of implicit (or explicit) biases that they are not as effective, strong or smart as men. Cannabis has similarly had to overcome assumptions that it is not a plant of value. I think that alignment can be exceptionally powerful when it comes to advocating clearly and effectively for a change in perceptions, attitudes and actions. We also have the ability to draw on recent history of the tech industry to see where skewing to one gender dominance is a disservice to a growing industry. Teams with a variance of gender, race and background make for better companies, this industry has the opportunity to get it right from the earlier starting points.
What is an accomplishment you have achieved in this industry that you are most proud of? I am proud that we are one of the earliest and longest running funds in the industry and we have done that with a woman co-founder. We have raised and deployed capital through truth and integrity and thereby have cultivated strong relationships with our investors and founders. It has not always been easy to take the high road in this industry, as there are a lot of people looking to get rich quick at the cost of others, but we believe that good work will build and industry and drive the returns for our investors. This is already proving out.
What is your greatest lesson learned?
Stay true to the core of our strategy and values and this will help to navigate the obstacles that are faced in this industry, as well as the noise of an exciting space. It is important to have a strong foundation, to provide that touchstone when there is so much frenetic energy and buzz in a sector. Also, speaking up even when it is contrary to what others are saying or not saying -- the only regrets I ever have are from when I did not make my voice heard on an issue.
What trait do you rely on most when making business decisions and why is this useful for you?
I rely on the importance of taking a moment to reflect on a situation or decision and reviewing all of the information that is available. Reflection and careful consideration is worth the time and rushing tends to lead to mistakes. It is critical to have trustworthy partners to work through the decision making process and to set ego aside during this process to truly consider the factors and outcomes at play.