MJBizCon 2021 Recap: Takeaways from our team
Posted on October 28th, 2021 to Events
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There’s this old movie troupe where the naïve country girl/boy gets off a bus in Times Square and marvels at the world around them. Wide eyed, soaking in everything they’ve never seen before, which is…everything. This was MJBizCon 2021 (just swap Times Square for the Vegas Strip). It’s very easy to get caught up in your own bubbles and forget that perspective is one important factor in growth, and nothing pops our bubble quite like MJ BizCon does.
We are so thankful for all the meaningful conversations we had, and we wanted to share some of our biggest takeaways from the experience.
After experiencing NECANN in a post-COVID world in Boston this past September, we were stoked to get out to Las Vegas to set up our booth and meet some awesome people at MJBizcon 2021, which had to be at least 10 times, if not 20 times the size of NECANN.
Overall, we were shocked by the inconceivable growth of the convention year over year. Having been around since 2012, MJBizCon is THE cannabis convention for North Americans in the industry. People travelled from all over the country (we came from Vermont!) and some even came from outside of the US.
This year’s convention took place in the Las Vegas Convention Center, just like every year. This convention center is located at 3150 Paradise Rd in Las Vegas, NV. The facility, which is run by the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA), is well-known among industry experts for its adaptability. Aside from the nearly 2.5 million square feet of display space, there are 225 conference rooms (more than 390,000 square feet) with seating capacities ranging from 20 to 2,500 people. So, needless to say, this expo is HUGE!
To give you a bit of perspective, it took us about 10 minutes just to walk from the entrance of our room to our booth. Some estimates say the size of the convention was about 12 football fields – 6 per room, maybe larger. Leaving your booth to find the nearest coffee spot takes AT LEAST 45 minutes. This thing is massive. And it’s only going to get bigger!
The experience was eye-opening for our team specifically in 2 ways:
Our CEO Will Read has gone to MJBizCon for the last few years, but this year he was joined by our Client Success Manager Ryan Merritt and our Biz Dev Manager Ryan Buell (Will & The Ryans ). We sat down to chat about their experience after they recovered from jet lag and hangovers, and they had a few big takeaways to share upon returning to the East Coast.
“After doing this show solo for so many years, I was excited to be bringing team members – and one of the coolest things to witness is them having this eye opening experience…There’s definitely something to be said about the emotional impact on us as business people trying to find our place in this emerging industry, and being at a place like MJBizcon where we are surrounded by SO many people trying to do the same thing. It’s pretty awesome.” – Will Read
As with any business convention, if you have a booth, you’re there to collect leads. To meet people, shake hands (maybe not in 2021), and collect & share information. This was our main goal in coming to the MJBiz. However, some larger brands had a different approach. Big, well-funded companies like Dutchie focused more on improving the convention experience for those who came to their booth.
They had sit-down tables where you could have a 1-on-1 chat with an ambassador, and their entire setup was quite impressive. Similarly, Calyx Containers came in HOT with 4 booths, 75 attendees, and some DOPE drawstring stash bags as merch to giveaway. Our biz dev manager Ryan Buell was lucky enough to snag one for himself. That definitely gave us a few ideas of how to come better prepared next year!
This year we stepped our game up by bringing along 2 new team members, and it definitely helped:
“I’ve been there before, alone, and then a crowd would form, and I’d end up pitching 15 people at once – but luckily with the Ryans we were able to have many more 1 on 1s, so it was a more meaningful experience in that way” – Will Read
One thing that will be interesting to watch as this industry progresses is how things will shake out for the OG players in the game; whether or not they will get a seat at the table. On one hand, we see lots of celebrities throwing money at a product line or a brand they might not have too much connection to. On the other hand, we see dispensaries like Canna Provisions tapping into the rich industry know-how that existed well before any adult-use markets by hiring the world-renowned, legendary Chemdog as their head cultivator.
One thing that will be interesting to watch as this industry evolves is how things will shake out for the OG players in the game. While Cookies has managed to turn their Prohibition notoriety into success in the regulated market, not every legacy brand has emerged as strong from the black market. Many of the pioneers that brought cannabis into the mainstream are now having to fight just to have a seat at the table. Elevating their voices is essential to righting the wrongs of the drug war.
Meanwhile, other celebrities–both from cannabis culture and the mainstream–may be throwing money at a brand or product line that they might not have much connection to. On the other hand, tapping into the rich industry know-how that existed well before any adult-use markets.
MJ Biz was a clear display of the money flooding into cannabis and the economic opportunity that comes with that. It was also a stark reminder that we must support and create space for the people that suffered the worst effects of the War on Drugs and helped the culture thrive underground for decades.
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