Today’s cannabis market is smoking hot. Startup launches abound. Consumer interest is robust. Regulatory guidance is rapidly evolving.
These trends show no sign of abating. Marijuana is fully legal in 11 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. It is medically legal and/or decriminalized in 24 others.
According to Grand View Research the global legal marijuana market is projected to reach USD 146.4 billion by the end of 2025. This has spawned a flurry of new startups worldwide.
According to Fit Small Business, the cost to launch a regulated cannabis dispensary is approximately $775,000. Annual operating costs for a regulated dispensary average are around $1.92 million annually.
As is the case with any developing industry, the cannabis space is ripe with ambitious entrepreneurs who are often still new to the business world. At the same time, there are experienced business leaders who can set the pace for the others.
With the continued evolution of the industry, heavy regulation is beginning to take hold. With oversight and conformance with state laws and regulations vital for success, startups need a single source of truth where organizational decisions and actions can be effectively facilitated through document creation, management, and cap table management tools.
An Evolving Landscape
The cannabis industry is facing a corporate governance problem. And it’s one that startups can ill afford to turn a blind eye to, given the frequently changing regulatory landscape.
Today’s cannabis businesses must maintain strict compliance with state regulations along with federal law. Often shareholder registries are managed through the use of rogue spreadsheets. Because of the human element, they are often susceptible to errors.
The issuance of new shares or options prompt updates to these registries. Many early-stage companies use convertible notes which transfer into equity based on targeted milestones. The problem with this is that these transactions don’t always occur correctly. So anytime there are discrepancies in these records, they can be very time consuming and costly to reconcile.
Given the importance of these authentic record of ownership, these errors can be problematic. If the information is incorrect or out of date, contacting shareholders to vote on major acquisitions or a sale can prove difficult.
This is where the promise of a new normal comes into the picture.
In short, Equa endeavors to allow companies to focus on their core business while taking care of the nitty-gritty backroom stuff that they cannot achieve in terms of bandwidth, knowledge, and experience.
There are a number of ways that Equa hopes to become a differentiator for cannabis companies:
Compliance: Because Equa is an all-in-one documents platform it can help address regulatory concerns, It can also serve as a valuable tool for KYC (Know-Your-Customer) procedures.
Information Transparency: The blockchain allows for the storage of relevant corporate information (i.e., shareholder name, address, shares, etc.) all on a digital, immutable ledger. This will provide an easy way for shareholders of cannabis enterprises to register their holdings directly with the company, rather than through a broker. Moreover, a distributed ledger approach can offer greater public access to share ownership percentages, boosting the likelihood of more informed investment decisions.
Voting Transparency and Shareholder Engagement: Equa can provide a mechanism that allows shareholders easier access to their voting rights, proxy transfers (if required), and more accurate vote tallying.
Organization and Efficiency: Equa can mitigate the need for paper share certificates while providing an accurate documentation record of shares issuance and ownership. It can help streamline organizational processes as well as reducing asset transfer settlement times. And in some cases, counter-parties could potentially be eliminated altogether.
Conversions: Through the use of smart contracts, preferred shares could automatically be converted to common shares with each financing round. Each transaction will be recorded in the digital ledger, eliminating the need for human updates or multiple copies of shared registries.
To learn more about Equa and sign up for a free trial, please visit us at www.equa.global
Maintaining low operational costs amid a sea of legal documents is an ongoing challenge for today’s businesses. Manual processes are often costly, inefficient, and fraught with inaccuracies.
Given this prevailing trend, growing numbers of companies are exploring the viability of artificial intelligence (AI) as a potential solution for streamlining their document management systems.
The use of AI is not a new trend. Rather it’s already exerting a quiet presence in our lives. Whether it be personalized playlists on Spotify, book recommendations on Amazon, or the curation of Netflix movie options, AI is fueling an impressive set of advancements.
Now, AI’s algorithmic approach is seen as a revolutionary approach to document management, providing new ways for storing, archiving, processing, and extracting information. Unlike traditional data processing systems tied to a consistent set of logic, AI systems become more intelligent as data volumes increase.
OCR (optical character recognition) is a key element in AI’s promise. Allowing for text recognition, it is able to “read” document information, correctly classify it, and automate workflows based on that classification. This signals a new normal for managing large numbers of scanned documents with human-level accuracy. This information can be efficiently read, contextually understood, and extracted.
By way of example, an AI-powered document management system could sort through invoices and other key information. Organizations will also be able to access data tied to how documents relate to one another (i.e. shipping order and invoice), providing deep levels of analysis that have since been impossible.
Securing The Future
Data security is a top-of-mind concern for today’s business leaders. AI-driven document management systems can boost security and protect customer data by offering permissioned access protocols that help mitigate the unauthorized viewing or alteration of documents. It can protect documents by safeguarding the files in conjunction with whitelists, blacklists, and firewalls.
AI technologies allow for post-scanning character recognition, virtually mitigating the need for human intervention. All this can occur in fractions of a second, resulting in significant cost savings and enhanced efficiency for an organization.
AI thought leader and expert Mariya Yao, in her book Applied Artificial Intelligence: A Handbook For Business Leaders noted:
“While brilliant minds worry about achieving marginal improvements in competitive benchmarks, the nitty-gritty issues of productizing and operationalizing AI for real-world use cases are often ignored. Who cares if you can solve a problem with 99 percent accuracy if no one needs that problem solved? What’s the utility of a tool whose purpose is so arcane that no one is sure what problem it was trying to solve in the first place?”
Equa is committed to these sorts of real-world applications for the business world — With the advent of AI, the future of document management systems hold immense promise, with early adopters first in line to reap the rewards.
Concludes Equa founder and CEO Shawn Owen:
“AI is how we get to frictionless agreements. By knowing the information of all parties involved, AI can instantly answer all of the needed information in any given situation to form agreements that are near ready to sign at any time.”
To learn more about Equa and sign up for a free trial, please visit us at www.equa.global
Whenever a new business is launched, it’s long-term survival is a key aim.This is symbolized by a “Built to Last” mentality, a theme popularized by management guru Jim Collins, co-author of a popular business book by the same name.
The evolution of a business can be very ephemeral and uncertain. Moreover, poorly designed systems, mismanagement, and neglect can quickly sink a company. This symbolizes a terribly weak, fragile infrastructure. For often it’s not outside influence that destroys a company but rather inside neglect.
In his bestselling book Antifragile, author and prominent thought-leader Nassim Taleb explores a concept known as fragility through the lens of the following metaphor:
At some point, you’ve likely received a package in the mail at some point in your life marked:
FRAGILE: PLEASE HANDLE WITH CARE
But have you ever received a box that says
PLEASE MISHANDLE THIS BOX AND DROP IT?
Most likely you haven’t
In Taleb’s taxonomy, fragility reflects the inclination to ignore risks. Or to be overwhelmed in monitoring the risks in an attempt to survive and prevent disaster.
That’s the state of many companies and their document systems — they’re massively unprepared for unforeseen risks, what Taleb affectionately refers to as “Black Swan events.” An example of this would be a major compliance audit, where a company discovers major deficiencies in their document systems.
So what is the antithesis of fragile? Given that we don’t really even have a word define it, Taleb took it upon himself to invent it.
And he calls it:
To approach this from an antifragile point of view means to do so with strength, wisdom, systems, and resources. This allows a company to not only survive, but prosper amidst the uncertainty, and turbulence of these events.
In explaining his own personal proclivities in terms of antifragility, Taleb is fond of saying:
“I want to live happily in a world I don’t understand.”
Skin In The Game
“Skin in the game” according to Taleb is the foundation of risk management. As he says, “The symmetry of skin in the game is a simple rule that’s necessary for fairness and justice and the ultimate BS-buster. Furthermore, he says: “Never trust anyone who doesn’t have skin in the game. Without it, fools and crooks will benefit, and their mistakes will never come back to haunt them.”
Chuck Williams, Lead Developer for Equa and huge fan of Taleb “antifragility” model argues that business owners, investors, entrepreneurs, change-makers, innovators, creators, and builders all inherently recognize that an important attribute that should never get lost in the shuffle irrespective of how much money a company makes is the reward of a personal achievement that aligns with one’s identity. In fact, it is for this very reason, he believes, that our identity is often wrapped up in the work and projects to which we are most dedicated.
“Equa enables participants to manage their portions of “skin” (identity), in the form of legally recognized equity (backed BOTH by reviewed legal documentation, and blockchain-enabled asset issuance of stock & equity agreements) and allocate these across and among multiple organizations within their networks and communities.”
According to Williams, we call this “ownership.” Being an owner of an organization, project, or even simple task, he believes, measurably improves results for EVERYONE involved.
“As an “Agreements Service Management Platform” the #1 goal of Equa is to structure, maintain, protect, solidify, communicate, and amend AGREEMENTS. In business, ALL failures and ruin can be easily traced back to failures in an agreement due to the lack of or failure to effectively execute these types of agreement activities.”
Williams goes on to note that company agreements that are not structured properly with regulators may lead to the IRS, SEC, or CFTC knocking at your door.
“Failure to maintain these filings can get you slapped with fines, or worse, shut-down by government agencies. Moreover, a lack of due diligence in protecting the authenticity of your agreements can leave you with a worthless bill of goods.”
“Communications, finalizations, and amendment of agreements manifest as Operating Agreements, Board Meetings, and Voting activities. All of these activities are centered on keeping organization agreements alive, functional, relevant, pragmatic, and true. This greatly reduces the risk of ruin for any organization.”