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As he was getting his business accelerator off the ground in fall 2014, Tyler Dautrich was thinking about leaving Philadelphia and moving to Colorado. He’s in the cannabis industry, and a medical marijuana legalization bill still hadn’t been passed in Pennsylvania — let alone a recreational provision.
But Dautrich was convinced to keep his company Greenhouse Ventures in Philadelphia by Lindy Snider, the daughter of Ed Snider, the late owner of the Philadelphia Flyers and former chairman of Comcast-Spectacor.
“In a couple of years, we’re going to have a lot more legalization on the east coast,” Snider told Billy Penn. “There’s really no infrastructure here and actually nothing for entrepreneurs or businesses that want to start up in this region, and I feel [they] would be well-positioned to be an East Coast sort of hub.”
Now, Snider is formally advising the cannabis business accelerator. Though she’s not full-time, Dautrich said she’s providing growth advice and, of course, considerable clout in Philadelphia. Snider’s said she got her business acumen from her father Ed, who also encouraged her to embrace libertarian ideas.
Greenhouse Ventures is a business accelerator and a startup itself for the ancillary side of cannabis and the industrial hemp industry. Essentially, it’s an online school for startups. The founders offer a 10-week virtual “bootcamp” so others can master everything from business development to the legal and financial side of working in the cannabis space to fundraising best practices.
In addition to that bootcamp — in which classes are run by industry professionals contracted with Greenhouse — the accelerator provides 12 to 18 months worth of business consultation to the business owners taking their courses. Greenhouse takes an average of 5 percent minority stake in the company in exchange for what they consider to be $60,000 worth of services.
Just after graduating from Temple University, Dautrich officially founded Greenhouse Ventures in September 2014 in partnership with Kevin Provost, the CEO and founder of Greenhouse’ parent company CoFund360. Snider said that partnership is what first drew her to Greenhouse. CoFund360 was already a working business accelerator in the non-cannabis space that had its virtual infrastructure already in place.
“They have a background in doing accelerators in the non-cannabis space and they built a very robust technology platform to support this,” Snider said. “To be able to take best practices from a business point of view an leverage that into a new, burgeoning space is very smart. They’re not starting from scratch.”
A year after it was founded, Greenhouse hosted its pilot accelerator semester and took on three companies in the cannabis space on the west coast to go through the virtual program. It’s starting its second semester in October and will take up to 10 startups to receive its services. It also organized events earlier this year as part of Philly Tech Week related to Innovation in the Cannabis Industry.
Early on in the company’s development, Dautrich and Provost met Snider who Dautrich said “comes with tremendous expertise not only in the cannabis industry, but in growing businesses in general.”
Snider said she first got involved in the cannabis industry because of the skin care line she owns, LindiSkin, which is marketed to cancer patients and cancer survivors. The company was looking to test marijuana compounds to see if it could be integrated into some of their products. In the meantime, Snider found there wasn’t a whole lot of clinical data out there, so she poked around in the industry herself.
She started attending meet-ups and workshops, and realized that as the business of cannabis was growing, there was a disconnect between them and the medical community. She has tried to — and will continue to work to — bridge that gap.
“I was meeting unbelievably creative people — vibrant and innovative people,” she said, “and I really fell in love with it overall. It drew me into the industry so that it would be professional and science-based and evidence-based.”
Today, she’s an investor in Kind Financial — a former Philadelphia real estate broker’s pot company financing firm — and Poseidon Asset Management, an investment company and cannabis hedge fund. And she’s formally added advising Greenhouse Ventures into her growing cannabis repertoire. Snider recommended that anyone who wants to get involved in the business side should hop in now while the industry of legal marijuana on the east coast is just getting started.
“if you want to start learning about the space,” she said, “this is exactly the time and place we can start.”