Cannabis Start-Up Competition

Cannabis is one of the fastest-growing industries in the US and is expanding all around the world. Since 2017, the BU alumni-founders of Green Lion Partners have sponsored this annual start-up competition for BU Terriers (currents and alumni) who are developing innovative cannabis-ancillary companies.

To compete, you must meet these requirements:

  1. At least one team member must be a current BU student or alumni
  2. The idea/company must be ancillary; those that support the cannabis industry but do not come directly in contact with the plant. They include things like software, services, accessories, agricultural products, etc

The winning team will receive:

Here’s how it’ll go down:

  • Applications close: October 10
  • Finalists announced: October 21
  • Finals: November 8

Before applying, make sure you check out our FAQs and Tips below and give this guide a read-through.

Apply by October 10

The Cannabis Startup Competition is sponsored and paid for by Green Lion Partners. Owned by Boston University alumni, Green Lion Partners is a Denver, Colorado-based business strategy firm focused on early-stage development in the regulated cannabis industry.


Meet the 2021 Finalists


FAQs

  • Can the company already be active? Yes, but not required for this competition. 

  • Does the business need to be state-specific? No. In fact, most ancillary companies are not state-specific. Some that are include those whose particular offerings cater to specific state regulations. There are also laws in some states that preclude out of state investors from participating in cannabis touching companies due to interstate and federal regulations.

  • What do I need to include in my application? You will be asked about your team, idea/company, the problem you are addressing, and your solution to that problem. 

  • What happens if I’m selected as a finalist? Finalist teams will be mentored to help prepare the following:

    • One-page business summary

    • Social component summary: Policy reform and social responsibility are an important aspect of the cannabis industry. It’s imperative for new companies to have a plan for how they will integrate supporting the cause into their business models. All entries require a social component. Be creative and have fun with this. It could be as simple as a portion of sales going to a specific organization all the way to directly helping specific individuals with certain sales. This component can go to education or non-profit organizations; additional ideas include enabling ease of access, proceeds going to criminal justice reform, etc.

    • Supplemental financials (if applicable).

    • Pitch deck that will be presented at a virtual event on November 10, 2021.

Tips

Judges will be looking for companies that are most investable. What makes a company investable in this industry? 

  • Make sure your concept isn’t already available on the market. Cut through the hype with substantial value delivered; Not reliant on riding the growth of the industry around you.

  • Company concept:
    • Unique position within the market
    • Traction (existing and/or plan to acquire)
    • Definition and size of the potential user base
    • Marketing & Advertising plan
    • Overall branding and brand management strategy
  • Financial Opportunity for Investors
    • Financial projections for operations (revenue, direct costs, overhead, net
      margins etc.) focus on assumptions made more than specific values
    • Valuation and calculation to derive it
    • Funding required & specific use of funds
    • Potential for exit / returns to investors

  • Non-Financial Investability
    • Legal viability
    • Team
    • Advisors
    • Intellectual property plan
  • Scalability
    • Barrier to entry created
    • Biggest advantage you have other than first mover
    • Size of addressable market & ability to penetrate
    • Education needed to create demand
    • Additional funding needed / cash flow
    • Competitors (existing & future)

Companies within this industry should have a social component. Here’s what that might look like: 

  • Policy reform and social responsibility are an important aspect of the cannabis industry. It’s imperative for new companies to have a plan for how they will integrate supporting the cause into their business models. All entries require a social component.

  • Be creative and have fun with this. It could be as simple as a portion of sales going to a specific organization all the way to directly helping specific individuals with certain sales. This component can go to education or non-profit organizations; additional ideas include enabling ease of access, proceeds going to criminal justice reform, etc.
    • Potential organizations to support:
    • Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP)
    • Marijuana Policy Project (MPP)
    • Drug Policy Alliance (DPA)
    • Minority Cannabis Business Association (MCBA)
    • National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA)
    • Weed for Warriors (WFW)

The following ideas are not prohibited for this competition, but are suggested against: 

  • Non-innovative vaporizers
  •  “Band-aids” for problems that will eventually go away with the normalization of cannabis (like banking solutions)
  • Combo products (“a water pipe with an attached grinder” for instance)
  • Anything that touches the cannabis plant or could be construed as doing so
  • Things that exist and are easily found with a little research–before choosing a route to take, make sure your concept doesn’t exist, and if something similar does, be prepared to explain what significantly differentiates your offering.