Crowdfunding a new opportunity for cannabis investors

Published on September 24, 2019 · Last updated July 28, 2020

On the verge of producing its first large-scale grow, Ontario’s Wildfire Collective has also just opened its sustainable craft cannabis farm to crowdfunding investors.

Aiming to be Canada’s first organic outdoor collective, Wildfire Collective’s process will use 90% fewer resources and 99% less electricity, says founder and CEO Mark Spear.Join the Leafly Canada CommunityFor individual investors, Wildfire’s crowdfunding campaign represents a new way to get into the cannabis market. As of August 1, 2019,  investors can participate with a minimum buy-in of $1000, although Spear says the average retail investor contributes $10, 000 to 30,000.

The difference with an equity crowdfunding campaign is that unlike the stock market, minimum and maximum investments are predetermined by each province. As with other models of private investing, equity crowdfunding investors are locked into their stocks, i.e., they can’t turn around and just sell them the next day.

According to Spear, Wildfire decided to go with equity crowdfunding so they could accommodate a range of investors.

“A number of retail investors in our seed campaign, which was only opened to friends, family and accredited investors were interested in investing but they were not able to,” said Spear. Crowdfunding raises are still unusual for Canadian cannabis companies, and only a few have tried this model, leaving pioneers to discover its advantages and disadvantages on their own.

“[Our crowdfunding campaign] has generated awareness in the investment community, but also developed a significant amount of brand awareness to the point where we are probably the best known pre-licensed cannabis brand at the moment,” says Spear.

At the same time, Spear also notes the campaign has been slow to take off, speculating that Wildfire’s minimum may be too high for the average investor.

“There is a bit of a crowd mentality thing, says Spear. “[Investors] want to see something get to its minimum or have a high degree of reassurance to succeed before they jump in.”

The Benefits for Micro Cultivators

At a time when Canada is mired in agricultural exports sanctions, the Wildfire Collective is an opportunity for experienced organic farmers to try something new.

Farmers who join the collective receive assistance with licensing, and what Spear calls an “exceptional” profit share. While Wildfire will handle 100% of its members’ cannabis crops, they only take 30% of the sale price. The other 70% goes to producers.

“This is really a great deal for farmers because it gets them into the system, it gives them tried-and-tested genetics, and there is someone there to help them through the entire process until they are comfortable with the crop and producing under Health Canada’s regulations,” says Spear.

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Amy German
Amy German
Amy German is a Montreal based journalist that has worked in the industry since 2001. With a journalism career that has spanned almost 20 years, she has covered everything from Indigenous issues, politics, entertainment and has a focus on health.
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