Kristina Etter   |   June 29, 2020

A Virtual Event with a Human Touch

As social distancing puts a damper on cannabis conferences worldwide, one new platform offers virtual events that promise to keep participants and vendors engaged and communicating.
Before becoming a freelance cannabis journalist, Kristina Etter spent 20 years in corporate IT with a niche in mobile technology. Today, she combines her love of technology with a passion for the cannabis industry as the Editorial Content…

Albert Einstein once said, “The measure of intelligence is the ability to change,” and never has our intelligence as a collective been so challenged as it has in 2020. From pandemics to racism, health care to environmentalism, doing things the way they’ve always been done is no longer an acceptable path.

Embracing this paradigm shift and changing accordingly is the only way to survive and thrive in today’s landscape. And that is precisely what the MJ Unpacked platform hopes to do – adapt and prosper. As conferences and trade shows are put on hold in the name of public safety, MJ Unpacked provides a place for networking, information sharing, and education that offers attendees valuable human connections in a virtual world.

Reflecting on the Days of Gathering, Networking & Trade Shows Past

In the cannabis industry, expos have been an essential way to create business relationships and solidify a brand’s presence. Often these industry events are the catalyst for mergers, partnerships, and acquisitions.

With several cannabis industry trade affiliations, David Hua, CEO, and founder of Meadow, a San Fransisco-based cannabis POS tech company, has attended hundreds of events, tradeshows, and conferences. In a recent interview, Hua expressed how critical events are to the industry by stating, “The cannabis industry is built on relationships and trust, and the best way to verify someone is in person.”

Recounting his experience as the first cannabis startup to be accepted into Y Combinator (YC) back in 2014, Hua recalled, “I’ve always sought out opportunities to find like-minded collaborators. The incredible part of YC is that you’re around a community of a hundred entrepreneurs and founders trying to figure out how to change the world in their own way. Having those other people to empathize and help was very powerful. Building a strong network with deep roots is always a key to success.”

But, as Genifer Murray and George Jage discussed in a recent podcast, tradeshows and industry conferences, while valuable for the connections and information sharing opportunities, are costly, difficult to manage, and can create a negative environmental impact. Additionally, with the plight of a post-pandemic world, large, in-person gatherings also still create a public health risk.

MJ Unpacked – California Offers the Solution

Despite current risk factors, as an essential industry in many states, cannabis businesses need to keep moving forward. A panelist in the upcoming event, Hua appreciates the mindful approach to the virtual platform offered by MJ Unpacked. “There’s still a need to meet and talk about the topics that are affecting our industry and community, so in a virtual environment, where you can still get interaction and knowledge and connect with new people, the real question is, ‘why not participate?’,” Hua asked.

Similar to his experience in YC, Hua believes now is the time for canna-businesses to come together to share their successes, discuss current challenges, and find solutions as a collective. As businesses are learning to navigate the muddy waters of a pandemic, becoming an essential industry, and addressing social injustice as it relates to cannabis and prohibition, creating allies and partnerships is important to make real change.

Hua said his main goal for participating in the event is “promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion so that we can achieve some semblance of social justice.”

“How do we make it work, and be a model to allow scale in other cities, counties, and states? In this next presidential term, we have to get politicians, regulators, and legislators aligned, and the time is right... right now,” he proclaimed.

Additionally, Hua noted that due to the pandemic, state budgets are being reallocated and shifted to accommodate for profound economic losses. He added, “Cannabis is an ecosystem provider that can provide taxes, as well as increase job opportunities ranging from everything from budtenders to lawyers to real estate agents, accountants, and so much more.”

For himself, Hua wants to feel the pulse of other industry leaders at MJ Unpacked. “I’m curious to see what is happening with other parts of the supply chain since COVID and sheltering in place continues. As an essential industry, we have to keep finding ways to move forward, together. So, if you’re not participating, then you’re going to be left out. Why not experiment with innovative new ways of gathering and see what’s going on with other industry veterans?”

Meadow’s Contribution to MJ Unpacked

Asking Hua how Meadow plans to contribute to the event, he stated, “We are on a panel regarding tech strategies for customer acquisition. In this modern world of tech and online commerce, how do we achieve re-engagement with the customer with limited budtender interaction? How can we open up different channels for sales?” he asked.

“At Meadow, we are the source of truth for inventory and track and trace, but we also integrate with live menus, like Leafly and Weedmaps, which allow businesses to have more reach and channels for people to see them.”

To learn more about Meadow, or the MJ Unpacked Virtual Tradeshow, click the image below to sign up today! 

 

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