I had the pleasure of interviewing Penny Green, an award-winning serial entrepreneur who is currently President and CEO of The Yield Growth Corp.and its wholly-owned subsidiary, Juve Wellness Inc. Penny also has in-depth experience of the public markets and has worked as a securities lawyer for over a decade. She has been involved in over 100 going public transactions.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”? How did you first get into this business or get interested in the business?
I’ve been taking companies public in the cannabis space for the last 5 years and have been involved in securities and capital markets for over 20 years. The cannabis industry has been the focus of the capital markets for the past 5 years, so I have had the opportunity to learn a lot about it, what works and what doesn’t. It is an exciting space that is evolving quickly and has a huge amount of potential.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company?
When we started The Yield Growth Corp, we actually had a completely different focus. What we were initially working on was a payments platform for the cannabis industry based off the same technology as Glance Pay — another company that I co-founded. The app was called “Cannapay Financial” and we were going to offer mobile payment technology to the legal cannabis industry. However we quickly realized that the regulation wasn’t quite there and all of the cannabis operations in Canada were still grey markets. But as we were doing the research for this idea — the more people I spoke to, it suddenly became very clear that while there may not have been an opportunity for our payment app, there was huge demand for cannabis-infused topicals. So, in typical startup company fashion — we pivoted.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I think we are really at the forefront of topical cannabis. We have a strategy that allows us to launch our topical brands before full legalization because we acquired the rights to hemp root oil. Hemp root oil and cannabis oil have been used for health and healing purposes for thousands of years. It has been used as a medicinal ingredient to heal broken bones, reduce pain, stop bleeding and to ease childbirth. It is also one of the key plants used in Ayurvedic medicine, a practice which is over 5000 years old. Somewhere along the way, modern medicine forgot about the healing properties of cannabis and we are thrilled to be a part of the movement to bring back such a powerful plant — we are exiting the dark ages and entering the renaissance of this knowledge.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Everyone in the industry (myself included) is thankful for those revolutionaries who fought for cause to have cannabis legalized — “legalization warriors,” and these people took a lot of hits. This was very important because one of the major benefits of cannabis is that it can be used as an alternative to opioid painkillers which can save a lot of lives and reduce so much suffering.
Are you working on any exciting projects now?
Yield is committed to helping a the PHS Community Services Society raise money to support and help the most poorly served in society including those on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Many of these people are victims of the opioid epidemic and we believe that this is not a problem that can be ignored.
Can you share 3 things that most excite you about the Cannabis industry? Can you share 3 things that most concern you?
- I am excited about the fact that Canada is the first G7 country to legalize recreational cannabis as it brings a tremendous amount of opportunity to Canadian entrepreneurs. Canada has the potential to lead this emerging global market.
- Cannabis is going to disrupt the wellness industry in a major way, and disruptive industries are exactly where I like to play.
- The cannabis industry also has this very unique and authentic culture, with such huge support for creativity. I believe that the emergence of this industry is going to have a major impact on fashion, art and culture at large.
- Cannabis can still have toxic consequences when used improperly or excessively, despite its long list of benefits. So like with most things, moderation and education are key.
- Over-regulation could stifle innovation in this emerging industry, which can be very dangerous. The fact that the Liquor Control Board of Ontario for example will be in cannabis distribution could get in the way of independent entrepreneurs.
- There are many large facilities which receive a lot of fanfare, and while many of these are great businesses, less recognized are the many smaller facilities that are really committed to quality. Those smaller facilities are also a great type of business to focus on.
Can you share your top “5 things you need to know in order to succeed in the Cannabis industry”? Please share a story or example for each.
- Branding: You must understand how to develop strong brands in the cannabis industry, branding is way more than just fancy packaging. It encompasses the entire experience that the customer has with the product. And as cannabis goes mainstream and more and more options enter the market, branding will determine customer choice.
- Understand your customer: Whether you’re B2B or B2C, develop a tailored customer experience. Understanding the kind of experience and interaction that each type of customer prefers will make buying from you stand out. It has to be as easy and as seamless as possible for customers today.
- Looking beyond Canada: You should understand the global market beyond Canada and be prepared for when this market continues to open up in the rest of the world. Securing those partnerships early like we have done with Crop Infrastructure Corp. will set companies up for success.
- Positioning your brands: This means really not only understanding your own brands, but understanding how they fit into the bigger picture = the grander scheme of the industry. What do your brands mean to your customers and how are they differentiated? What value do you provide that is different than everything else that is out there?
- Visuals and consistency: A picture is worth a thousand words — so always keep in mind that once you have the identity of those brands figured out, they must be meticulously managed to maintain consistency so that your customers will have a consistent experience on every level.
In our experience when people are passionate about what they do they are more successful. Where does you cannabis passion come from?
I love the culture in this industry. It’s a feel-good industry and there are so many fantastic people that are not just motivated by profit, but are making a difference in the world. Further, there are so many brilliant, smart people working to drive this industry forward, and it is just amazing to be able to work with such high caliber groups. Another thing for me is the change that the legalization of cannabis has the ability to drive. By bringing cannabis mainstream, I believe that we will see a very exciting shift in our culture.
Where do you see your business going in the next 5 years?
We are growing leading international brands, especially via our fully-owned subsidiary Juve Wellness which is the force behind our highly anticipated topicals line.
What growth sectors should most people be paying attention to that they might not be currently?
Internationally, there are huge opportunities in territories like Europe — which will probably the fastest growing industry in the next 10 years.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!