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A Chat With LeafLink CEO Ryan Smith: 'Not All Money Is The Same' In Fundraising

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A Chat With LeafLink CEO Ryan Smith: 'Not All Money Is The Same' In Fundraising
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LeafLink is a cannabis industry-focused wholesale marketplace. The company takes pride in defining the way that hundreds of brands and thousands of retailers manage and track their orders and relationships so they can focus on growing their businesses.

Benzinga caught up with Ryan G. Smith, the CEO and co-founder of a company that serves more than 900 brands and 2,700 retailers across 15 U.S. states and territories in the U.S. and Canada.

In his view, the company’s biggest challenge is continuing to grow as fast as it has in the last two years. In order to achieve this, LeafLink plans to expand to 15 more territories this year, Smith said.

Some of those territories may be international if the markets make sense, the CEO said.

In order to expand quickly, a company needs capital. How does LeafLink raise money?

“One thing I keep in mind while fundraising is that not all money is the same,” Smith told Benzinga.

“We always look for investors who add value to the company and culture based on their past experiences and successes. We’ve raised $14 million to date and will evaluate future fundraises and going public as we approach those milestones, similar to other venture-backed, scaling tech companies.”

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Consolidation And Legalization

When asked about the cannabis industry’s ongoing consolidation, Smith said it’s only natural as the industry gets bigger. Yet LeafLink is more focused on organic growth than on M&A.

“We’re focused on scaling our offering by building our internal team. We have our eyes open for strategic partnerships, but are most excited about writing our own story and solidifying LeafLink as the industry standard platform."

When asked how legalization would affect LeafLink's business, Smith said it would be "great" for his company and the indsutry as a whole due to more state selling regulated cannabis.

“Even when cannabis is federally legal, it will still be highly regulated, and LeafLink was built to accommodate that regulation. Only licensed brands and retailers are able to access the platform, and each state has its own closed marketplace.”

Q&A

Benzinga: How do you apply your previous work experience to the cannabis industry in general and to your marijuana business in particular?

Smith: Prior to LeafLink, I founded another company, which was also a B2B firm in a highly regulated space. I have been able to bring my experience growing that business — and ultimately selling it to a NYSE public firm — to scale LeafLink to our current stage.

BZ: What are the main challenges faced by your company and the industry it operates in?

Smith: Many of our clients can’t access financial services like opening a bank account or credit card, which poses a lot of issues for efficiently operating a business. Since federally backed banks are reluctant to support cannabis businesses, much of cannabis commerce is still conducted in cash. We are actively exploring some solutions for our clients that we’ll be rolling out slowly across our markets.

Related Links: 

Analysis: Are State-Run Cannabis Sales 'The Smart Way'?

The Best-Selling And Fastest-Growing Cannabis Brands, According To LeafLink

Read more about our latest Cannabis News! CANNABIS HOME

Posted-In: LeafLink marijuana pot Ryan SmithCannabis Markets Tech Interview Best of Benzinga

 

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