Eaze’s 2021 accelerator class shows budding genius
For the last three months, ten businesses have given the Momentum Incubator everything they’ve got. The winners earned $50,000, and the chance to pitch their businesses to heavyweights and investors gathered to hear their entrepreneurial ideas.
The 2021 Momentum class is a dynamic group of talent, full of creative energy that spans the weed industry and beyond. And it’s not just the participants that are ready to make headlines. Eaze’s Momentum program was recognized as a world-changing idea by Fast Company this spring.
Bright ideas and brighter futures
While pitching a business in front of people with lifechanging sums of money may seem daunting, the members of the 2021 Momentum class applied both professionalism and innovation to their presentations in front of several investors, including ideas for:
- Expansions from single state to multi-state operators
- Online education platforms
- Super-fast weed delivery
- Community-centered dispensaries
- Functional wellness products, and more.
The class attended weeks of Eaze’s custom cannabis curriculum to hone their business ideas and polish their pitches. All along, they supported each other and strengthened their already deep connections to the cannabis industry all across the nation.
Amongst this year’s winners, two businesses stated plans with The Parent Company. One is ready to leap into a partnership with Seth Rogen’s Houseplant, and yet another is posed for a launch with a major nationwide retailer. These aren’t small feats.
“We’re trying to change the culture. We’re trying to change the system.”Chris Webber
The 2021 Momentum class was mentored by a council of professionals that have a deep interest, passion, and investment in the cannabis industry.
Between business pitches, former NBA players Matt Barnes and Chris Webber hosted a conversation about their desires to help more underrepresented entrepreneurs get a real shot in the legal weed business.
Webber recently launched a $100 million cannabis impact fund with partner Jason Wild to invest in cannabis companies helmed by people of color.
Embodying the evolution of cannabis
As we continue to try to learn about the cannabis plant and increase our knowledge around it, we’ll need forward-thinking businesses like the ones in the Momentum accelerator.
Dorian Morris’ Undefined dives into the magic of plants and adaptogens, finding a natural association with cannabis that cannot be faked. Kika Keith’s Gorilla Rx keeps the tenacity and spirit of South Central L.A. alive. Nina Parks provides her signature terpene flower blends to help customers curate their perfect “vibe style” with Gift of Doja. And the legacy markets of Fresno and Detroit live on in The People’s Dispensary and Neighborhood Essentials.
Peakz founder Jesse Grundy discussed his experience with a cannabis NFT, and his plans to incorporate even more technology into his business.
The group’s energy was palpable, even online. And as they explained their business ideas, many also gave the audience a glimpse into their past.
Legacy market meets present market
At least half of the businesses that moved through the Momentum program in 2021 have direct connections to the legacy markets in their communities. They’ve used their experiences from all walks of life to inspire their business ideas and bring real connections into their business plans.
Their backgrounds brought an authenticity to the presentations that cannot be faked. Between the detailed knowledge each participant had about their local consumers and the innovation outlined in the demos, they practically held a workshop for blossoming cannabis businesses themselves.
Eaze continues to fight for cannabis equity
Eaze’s Senior Director of Social Impact, Jennifer Lujan, reiterated why Momentum will continue to be an impactful program in the future.
“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. Consumers care about supporting social equity, so the smart money is on these companies.”Jennifer Lujan
And while the 2021 Momentum class may just be wrapping up their coursework, it looks like they’re just warming up.