5 Leading Accelerator Programs for Cannabis Startups

3 years ago   •   2 min read

By Juana Know Staff

The cannabis and cannabis-ancillary industry is expected to bring over $50 billion to the U.S. economy in the next 7-8 years making cannabis-related businesses one of the nation's fastest growing job markets. A highly valued model in the tech start-up world, business accelerators have become available to offer funding and mentor-ships to entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry.  Here is an overview of 5 current cannabis-centered accelerators, in no ranking order.

1. Greenhouse Ventures, Philadelphia, PA

Greenhouse Ventures was started in 2014 and operates the first international early-stage start-up accelerator for the cannabis and hemp industries. It has offices in Philadelphia, Tel Aviv, Los Angeles, and Toronto. Greenhouse helps with:

  • Contract negotiations
  • Funding advise
  • Recruiting top talent

Greenhouse accepts 10-start-up applications, twice a year to participate in a 10-week mentor-ship program geared toward fund-raising and business growth. Using a blended classroom (virtual and on-site) model, companies prepare to present their business models to potential investors, clients, and mentors.  

Greenhouse Venture’s accelerator application process requires a strong knowledge of your existing business but offers a crash course for companies preparing to apply. 2016 graduate, Releaf, has seen tremendous growth in app usage and funding opportunities because of their participation in the Greenhouse program.

2.Canopy, Boulder, CO and San Diego, CA

Canopy focuses on start-ups with ancillary cannabis and hemp/CBD products and services. Their seed-level funding aims to support:

  • Rapid growth of the ancillary cannabis industry
  • Focus on early-stage start-ups
  • Provide targeted mentor-ship

Canopy offers a 16-week, Boulder-based accelerator program for start-ups in the CBD and hemp ancillary system which provide goods and services in areas such as: data management, safety and marketing. Canopy has worked with 63 companies since 2015 and alumni statements indicate that Canopy provides sound business mentoring while understanding industry-specific needs.Canopy Boulder

4. Marijuana Accelerator, Las Vegas, NV

Marijuana Accelerator is part of the publicly-traded Player's Network, originally a Las Vegas gaming channel. Player's is now a "seed to sale" focused incubator in the cannabis industry. MJ Accelerator emphasizes a people over profit philosophy. They offer a 14-week program to qualified cannabis-centered media and technology applicants by helping start-ups:

  • Access initial funding
  • Connect to mentoring experts
  • Receive day-to-day support

MJ Accelerator's 14-week program has 3-phases: Fine-tuning business models, expanding client interest and product launch with preparation for Demo Day. With an eye toward encouraging innovation, MJ Accelerator looks to make business networks in the cannabis industry accessible to all by bringing together the entrepreneur, the seasoned professional and the investor. MJ Accelerator

5. The Hood Incubator, Oakland, CA

The Hood Incubator's main goal is bringing diversity to all areas of the cannabis industry by specifically working with entrepreneurs from communities most negatively affected by the War on Drugs: African-American and Hispanic communities. As a non-profit, Hood Incubator offers:

  • Community organized fund raising
  • Policy change advocacy (especially around expungement)
  • Economic development in minority communities

With 2000 members nationwide, Hood accepts 10-Black and Brown applicant entrepreneurs each year for its Cannabis Business Accelerator program. 10 cannabis-related start-ups graduated the first year. Each year Hood hosts a Business Pitch Day where companies can fund-raise by promoting their business directly to community investors. The Apprenticeship Program promotes employee training to increase living-wage job opportunities in the cannabis sector. The Hood Incubator

Marijuana cultivation and product development is rapidly moving away from the shadows of prohibition.  Nothing makes that more evident than the emergence of the cannabis business accelerator.

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