That’s a winner!
For the second year, Eaze is granting small businesses with another chance at success. The California-based delivery service is pursuing their desire for a more equitable industry by granting 10 winners $50,000 and access to their best and brightest.
On February 3rd, former NBA superstar and current Eaze senior advisor Matt Barnes made the announcement that Eaze had chosen their winning businesses for their Momentum class of 2021. The group contains growers, dispensary owners, product innovators, veterans, and more.
“Improving conditions is important especially in today’s climate and in the cannabis space. Eaze has stepped up to the forefront and created a model that can scale. The winners aren’t just getting lip-service, this is money – tangible goods. This program is leading by example, and I hope that we can start teaming up with other people so no one has to reinvent the wheel. The more people working on one problem is how you get the best results,” he says.
Helping tomorrow’s cannabis leaders
Eaze’s focus on underrepresented businesses provides much-needed resources for the group of business owners committed to the cannabis industry. Some winners, like Whitney Beatty, entrepreneur and owner of Josephine and Billie’s dispensary, applied for the Momentum grant two years in a row.
People need to see destigmatization, people need to see action, and people need a heck of a lot more education. If this was the end of alcohol prohibition, you’d want someone to tell you if you should be drinking a shot of tequila or a bottle.Whitney Beatty
Though she received her social equity license in 2019, the opportunity has been costly. Her city-granted license requires her to maintain property and pay rent on it, even if she doesn’t have her business up and running yet.
The Momentum grant is helping Whitney finally bring her vision to life and to profit in a way that uplifts her community. Now, she’s set on opening her business focused on the wellness of Black women.
“For me, as a woman of color, there just haven’t been a lot of things that have pointed towards our community when it comes to cannabis. In Los Angeles alone, over 70% of women identify as women of color, and yet there is no dispensary speaking to this demographic. To me, that’s a huge hole in the marketplace. I enjoy doing things that have a place in my heart, and I think it makes a difference when you come into a place that is set up for you,” she says.
A wide range of cannabis ideas
Whitney Beatty is joined by nine other winning ideas, but each program participant will receive tailored curricula and mentorship based on what they are trying to accomplish. For example, winners Jessie Grundy and Tre Hobbs are ready to previously established businesses to the next level.
Jessie Grundy wants to accomplish this by taking his flower brand, The Peakz Co. going multi-state and taking care of the people who have helped him along the way. Though his team is small, he wants to make sure that they feel empowered and appreciated.
“This money means I can expand my team and keep my employees happy. It took me three years to get to a team of three, but now it’s me, one driver, and one sales rep. I have to make sure they’re good. It’s key to keep your team happy. The money is going to help me do some collaborations and get more raw flower, too,” Grundy says.
And while the first class of winners from Eaze’s program were strictly Californian, this year’s class features three winners that are from other states, like Tre Hobbs and his Detroit-based Neighborhood Essentials.
“Detroit is growing fast right now. Everybody from the legacy market is preparing for the new legal world that we’re in. Our economy is bad, and we’re hoping cannabis can be our new General Motors and help us out. The number of jobs that it can bring, the amount of money that it can bring in, and the weed itself puts everybody in a better headspace.”
“Neighborhood Essentials is a cannabis flower brand and a clothing line, but that’s just what’s on the surface. The roots of Neighborhood Essentials is in the community. It’s a voice for the ones who are unheard in our community,” says Hobbs.
“I want to use it as a platform to uplift my community and those just like it. We do community clean-ups, food drives, toy drives, and education, and I want Neighborhood Essentials to spark the next generation of minority cannabis businesses.”
Branching out from the state of California was intentional for the masterminds behind the program, and Barnes agrees that it was the right choice.
“We’re trying to make a nationwide expansion knowing that markets all across the country like Detroit, New York, and New Jersey are going to be prominent in this space,” he says. “Their stories touched us, and I think we picked the right people to try what we’ve been doing in California out their way.”
Onward and upward
I’m excited to see the winners grow and take off.Matt Barnes
Now, Eaze has the honor of helping these business owners as they navigate the cannabis industry in the name of their communities and more.
Each participant of the program will attend 12 weeks of virtual workshops and discuss their biggest obstacles with the Eaze team in hopes that they can be the next big thing in cannabis.
Take a look at the full list of winners, and keep your eyes peeled for what the 2021 class will do.
- Whitney Beatty: Josephine & Billies (Los Angeles, CA)
- Leo Bridgewater: BridgeH2o (Trenton, NJ)
- James Charon: Syracuse Hemporium (Syracuse, NY)
- Jesse Grundy: The Peakz Co (Oakland, CA)
- Tre Hobbs: Neighborhood Essentials (Detroit, MI)
- Kika Keith-Sturgis: Gorilla Rx (Los Angeles, CA)
- Gidai Maaza and Cesar Casamayor: The People’s Dispensary (Fresno, CA)
- Dorian Morris: Undefined Beauty (Los Angeles, CA)
- Nina Parks: Gift of Doja (San Francisco, CA)