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EXCLUSIVE: Wana, Cann, Garden Society Execs On How To Scale A Cannabis Brand

On the first day of Benzinga’s Cannabis Capital Conference in Chicago, Nancy Whiteman, CEO of Wana Brands; Luke Anderson, co-founder of Cann; and Erin Gore, founder and CEO of Garden So

Benzinga · 09/13/2022 18:21

On the first day of Benzinga’s Cannabis Capital Conference in Chicago, Nancy Whiteman, CEO of Wana Brands; Luke Anderson, co-founder of Cann; and Erin Gore, founder and CEO of Garden Society, joined Madison Fiore, CEO of cannabis marketing agency Mattio Fiore, and Cy Scott, CEO and co-founder of cannabis data company Headset Inc., in a panel discussion on how cannabis brands can scale outside the multistate operator structure.

Panelists shared their strategies to scale their brands' footprint.

Wana's Scale-Up Story

"Wana started out with a first relationship being structured loosely as a joint venture that evolved into a royalty-based model, that evolved over time as the brand became more well known," Whiteman said.

“We provided the IP, the training, and the marketing assets, and our partners did all the manufacturing and distribution. We understood we were more successful where we maintained more control of marketing and sales so we evolve to a revenue share structure."

In the deals signed by Wana over the last four years or so, Wana's partners are doing the manufacturing and Wana is doing at least some of the sales, the CEO said. 

How A Cannabis Beverage Brand Scaled

The road for Cann, a cannabis beverage brand, was different. The entrepreneurs behind it concentrated on the asset they were intending to offer to the market.

“We started out making the product trying to figure out if we could commercialize a 2mg THC beverage. Once we figure that out we realize we need it to scale up. My recommendation is to start with one city and one retailer. And if you can win then you have a case to go statewide, and then when you win in that state, think about taking on the regulatory compliance complexity of the other markets,” Anderson said.

Anderson explained that Cann formulated the drink without cannabis first and ensured quality was consistent.

“We have maintained control of quality by purchasing raw materials, making cannabis tasteless so it did not impact the customer experience, and training people to produce it and add cannabis to control quality. We found somebody in Nevada [who said], 'we promise we would produce this much product for this many years,'” Anderson said.

Garden Society Builds On Its Strengths

Gore, from Garden Society, who has a background in manufacturing, advised cannabis brands to build on their strengths to scale their footprint.

“We built Garden Society as a multi-category product company, gummies, prerolls and chocolates, and we realized we were good at manufacturing, so we built out manufacturing in California to have the quality and cost structure and take our capacity to manufacture for leading brands in California, bringing a lot of resiliency to the business,” Gore explained.

Photo by Jukan Tateisi on Unsplash