EPISODE #27 Entrepreneurship In The Cannabis Space With Saul Kaye, founder of iCAN

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This week, we are joined by Saul Kaye, pharmacist, angel investor, cannabis expert and founder of iCAN. iCAN, based in Israel, creates advanced pharmaceutical medical cannabis brands and products. They own a portfolio of innovative companies across the entire global cannabis ecosystem and are behind CannaTech, the world's leading Cannabis conference. 

Saul provides us with some amazing insights into entrepreneurship within the Cannabis Space, we speak about: what you need to become a successful entrepreneur, how to win over investors, the importance of founding teams, and more.

Episode Summary

  • Saul comes from a science background, having worked as a retail pharmacist for many years before switching over to cannabis. 

  • Israel has the highest rate of cannabis patients in relation to the population, and is currently experiencing a bottleneck in patient access. 

  • iCAN operate across the value chain in areas including genetics, research, growing, extracting, formulating products, image processing and AI for applications in cannabis.

  • Saul became interested in the Cannabis industry when his business partner and friend Jason needed medical cannabis. As a pharmacist, Saul found this incredibly interesting and opened up Saul’s eyes and he realised that the plant had huge medical potential. 

  • Israel has had a medical cannabis program since 1996 and now have over 50,000 patients within it.

  • When starting a cannabis business, it is fundamental that you know your numbers - you need to be able to demonstrate to investors that you have a firm grip and understanding of profit and loss. 

  • You also need to have an incredibly clear vision to win over investors. You will need a clear idea of where the business wants to go in the future, actionable points about how to get there, and a solid team to execute on the vision.

  • If you are starting a business in order to solve a problem, make sure the problem actually exists. After all - nobody will buy your products or services if they don’t need them.

  • There is nothing wrong with working across the value chain and becoming a vertically integrated company as long as you have the skills and expertise to pull it off. Often, business who operate this way will be able to make more profits and therefore impress investors.

  • 50% or more of founders teams will break-up. It is important to make sure that your founders agreements are thorough and that each member of the team is pulling their weight so to speak. 

  • Israel is an incredibly forward thinking country and there are a plethora of Israeli businesses who are leading within the Cannabis space. THC, CBD and the endocannabinoid system was discovered in Israel, and there have been many clinical trials and studies within the country.

  • In Israel, all political parties support Cannabis, whether they are the far left, orthodox groups, Arab parties or the centre.

  • Saul’s advice for those wanting to get involved within the industry either as a career move or as an entrepreneur:

    • Go to meetups

    • Learn the community

    • Don’t be afraid - go and say hello because somebody is in the same position as you.

    • Create your own community

    • Find people with like minded values, because you will need help within this industry.



Quotables

  • If you’re going to go after a new opportunity, go after the biggest opportunity you can find. 17:10 

  • The cannabis industry gives us the ability to change the world, to de-stigmatise, and to help people. There is a lot of passion within the industry. 17:30

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