A Doctor in the House Is a Powerful Way to Make Your Cannabis Startup Stand Out
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The cannabis startup industry is booming and everyone is trying to get a piece of the leafy pie. But with this explosion, it's becoming more and more challenging for any one company to grab consumers’ attention and their dollars. However, there is one solution that nobody's talking about and that is adding a medical expert to your team, especially if your company is targeting consumers.
As an internal doctor for the last 20 years with a specialty in cannabis, I speak from experience. If you are able to convince someone like me to join your team -- as a co-founder, consultant or advisor -- it can be extremely beneficial. Keep in mind though, medical experts won’t go to just any company. You need to prove yourself, as our names are very much on the line. But if you can find the right medical expert, it will pay in dividends.
Here are a few things a medical expert, such as myself, can bring to your team -- and why we're worth it.
Because the cannabis industry is still in its early stages, it's hard for a consumer to know which companies to trust. By having a person with a medical background on your team, you instantly add credibility. Medical experts have gone through the rigors of training, are certified and can speak on the nuances and technicalities of the cannabis industry.
To make the most of this expert, have them be front and center on your marketing. Show them on your website (preferably the homepage), the “about us” page and even on the product or service page. Get them involved on your social media channels, videos, email newsletters, you name it. Bottom line: Get their face in front of your audience.
There is a lot going on in the cannabis industry -- new legislation, research and findings happening all the time. It can be hard to navigate all these moving parts and know what you should and shouldn't believe.
A medical expert can help you understand the complexities in the space, review studies and provide feedback, including what is reputable and what isn’t. As the company grows and expands, the expert will be key in helping you decide where it's best to invest your time, energy and money. To help with the decision-making process, make sure to have a weekly dialogue with the medical expert to discuss new information. This can be done on the phone, through email, or by asking the medical professional to forward you new findings and news they stand by.
Also, when you can, make sure to bring your in-house medical expert to meetings and social events. They serve as impressive wingmen/women, during introductions and can be a source for answering questions.
It's really hard building up a strong network, especially when you may not be tapped into a certain community and many other companies vying for people’s attention. You can definitely have a leg up if you can get a medical expert on board.
Not only can they introduce you to people in their own network, but they can also provide introductions to a broader group they have encountered in their industry (think: suppliers, marketers and consultants). This will not only open doors for a company but will also allow it to move faster as the team has access to more resources, a stronger network and you don’t need to build it from scratch.
Besides adding credibility and resources, a medical expert can help with sales by providing a few additional revenue channels for your company, include their office, website and referrals. Make sure you discuss the business model and expectations. Do they get a commission of each product or service sold, additional equity if they reach a goal or a bonus? Get everything in writing when hashing out the financial details.
In an industry whose growth is fueled by curiosity and widespread acceptance and limited by skepticism and fear, a medical director will strengthen your company’s public image as a healthcare company, rather than simply a supplier for a fleeting recreational pastime.