Raising Cannabis Capital 0132: Blaze's Success Story

Chris Violas is the founder and CEO of Blaze a cannabis software company and a former guest on Raising Cannabis Capital podcast.  He joins Dan Humiston to share the story of his successful capital raise.  He also talks about Blaze's growth and managing the sales and distribution of cannabis at a recent San Francisco music festival. 

MJBulls Media | Cannabis Podcast Network 

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Dan Humiston:
Today's show is brought to you by a former guest, the Hemp Marketplace, which is the first to market most active Hemp community on Raising Cannabis Capital Episode 1 24. Joleem Loh in Zev Paiss talking about their work to expand the Hemp marketplace beyond connecting buyers and sellers. But all parties from farmers processors to end users, enabling the parties to connect, trade and transact to Hemp community with an integrated Hemp platform will provide higher visibility and transparency to make the marketplace more efficient and secure. To learn more about Hemp marketplace and how to invest in their expansion. Go to Hemp dot raw market that place or listen to Raising Cannabis Capital episode 124.

Chris Violas:
In terms of the investment, this is our largest investment today. She rounds and so we're completely honored to have. There have been million dollars, a good universe Cannabis type of investment. Just use a lot of backing and we've been able to push a lot more sales deals across lines. We have professional backers.

Dan Humiston:
From MJBulls Media, it's the Raising Cannabis Capital show. I'm Dan Humiston. And on today's show, we have another Raising Cannabis Capital success story. This former guest is back in the MJBulls studio to tell us about their successful capital raise.

Dan Humiston:
Today in Raising Cannabis Capital, we are celebrating another alumni successful capital race.

Dan Humiston:
Chris violas is founder and CEO of Blaze, which is a Cannabis software company, is here to tell us his Raising Cannabis Capital story. Chris, welcome back to the show.

Chris Violas:
Thanks, Dan. Excited to be here and excited to be called in and alumni. So thanks for all the support so far and excited to be back.

Dan Humiston:
It's really great news. It's really great news. Many of our listeners will remember the show we did with Chris back in 2018 where he talked about plays and their growth plan. And on today's show, we're gonna pick up where we left off that show. So if you want to know more about plays, you can go back and listen to Raising Cannabis Capital Episode 33. So, Chris, first off, congratulations. This is super cool news, I think, to refresh everyone's memory. What did you need the money for and how much did you set out to raise?

Chris Violas:
Yeah, happy to pick up where we left off originally. You know, back towards the end of 2018, we're you we're growing pretty quickly and we needed capital, mostly water resources. These are, you know, customer success team, great engineering teams, designers tells folks. Not many people know their stuff. And I was actually the only sales guy up until about two months ago. So I was doing, you know, every single demo. I was closing these deals, getting them across the line and then handing off to our team. So, you know, a lot of that raise was allocated for just resource rich, really. You know, when we spoke back in 2018, we were looking for partners and we were in contact with quite a few, especially after the episode we did with you for the first time. And really, it came down to a pretty clear distinction on which path we're going to go. We're going to go down this angel path where we've got a relatively inexperienced investors, right. People are well off that I've done well for themselves. Right. Or we're going to go down this path of more institutional type of investors. And so that's where we spoke. That's what we're out. We're out back. Crux of where do we want to go? Sure. What? Who is the right partner and what is the right partner look like in the future?

Dan Humiston:
It's a big decision when you're in the seed stage round. I mean, do you want somebody that's going to be sitting right with you to help you through it? Or do you once just want the money?

Chris Violas:
That was a big part of the decision for those I don't know for the first two years of the business. We were completely self-funded. And so we were the ones calling the shots. I wish I knew where these funds are going and how we're getting them, what burn rate was term and what we were doing when we're doing it. And then as we started to get it towards 2018, we realized that just due to our main focus being California metric, hitting California in terms of our compliance and a regulated body hitting California operators, we knew we had to kind of get the momentum going and really move it fast. And so that's when we kind of decided to kind of pivot away from the angel investors and really, really focus on the institutional because they could help us raise that second, third round and do it in a very swift manner. That's ultimately where we're at. And I think through the end of 2013 into early 2019, a lot of back and forth, obviously kind of finding angels, getting them, finding institutionalise, writing them, talking about our growth strategy, talking about investments they've made in the past. And I think one thing that was super enlightening for us was saying, hey, can we check on some of these investments? Can you provide a list of references and talk about some of the value that you added to the organization? You know, after the funds were injected and these were just critical steps that we took, I think really helped set us up for our successful raise.

Dan Humiston:
I think it's important that people realize that it's a two way street. It's not just, oh, my gosh, thank you. Thank you. Anybody that wants to put money in it, you'll take the best way to do it is to make sure that it's somebody that fits because this is a long term relationship. And it sounds to me like you did a lot of vetting on there. And that is the next take the first one. I know you're excited about who you ultimately selected.

Chris Violas:
Yeah, absolutely. So very excited about who we ultimately get across the finish line with and how is. One ventures, they're based in L.A., primarily focused on seed investments and really targeting kind of the B2B space for software. And so I think a lot of city tech investments, you know, they haven't done any Cannabis investments, which was pretty interesting in that they got in touch with us so quickly. You know, I was actually speaking with you just kind of, you know, get him to know. The L.A. media did not B.S. us through Sound Ventures, which Sassy Butchers Fund said, hey, this is not really what we're looking for right now. And passed the debt on to Michael actual in Ventures. And Michael is one of the main partners within, I would say, 24 hours. They were up in San Francisco and we were having meetings. I think that started on Tuesday. By Thursday, we had an offer on the table. And so it was very quick. Got to meet with some other startups and just felt very comfortable, felt like they understood the pace, understood the business we are in and where we needed to get to.

Dan Humiston:
It sounds like a great match and so far so good. Everything is going well. Yeah, maybe tell us how the investment has improved your company in terms of the investment.

Chris Violas:
This is our largest investor today. She rounds and so we're completely honored to have them come in at a million dollars. A good being. The first Cannabis type of investment just keeps a lot of backing. And we've been able to push a lot more sales deals across lines. We have professional backers in terms of the team, but really lifted everyone up. I took a lot of pressure off a lot of folks, although it comes with its pressure. It hasn't necessarily. Hey, what are we going to do in two minds? Right. Hey. Okay.

Chris Violas:
Now we've got a long term partner. Let's really be strategic about the moves that we're going to be making.

Dan Humiston:
Yeah, that's cool. That's super cool. I want to take a quick break. Thank you for listening to today's show and to invite you to check out all of our other Cannabis podcast as the industry's number one Cannabis podcast network. We are constantly adding new shows to go to MJBulls.com, to see our new shows and to become part of the Cannabis podcast network.

Dan Humiston:
So tell us about some of the moves that you've made.

Chris Violas:
Yeah, we've been doing a lot. Think back in 2013 I mentioned we were gonna be doing a cultivation software Hemp. We actually ended up acquiring a software company. Oh no. It's girl. Who is that? That was I was very interesting. Yeah, it was a company that was just about to go into beta with their products. And I saw it and I've known the team for quite some time to sort through some mutual connections. And the company is called Flow Manage. Again, they didn't quite get to market in California. We kind of snagging up ahead of time. Great team, extremely experienced team in the Cole Commission space in particular, large scale corporations in California. So, yeah, now there's just one acquisition that's really done before. That's for me. Yeah, but I would say the next thing I would love to bring up is kind of a historic moment. Our team had this weekend's over in San Francisco displays outside lands. There's a big music festival that happens in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. There's about two hundred and twenty thousand people that go there over the weekend right near major headliners. This is one of the major music festivals on the West Coast.

Chris Violas:
This year we're seeing outside bands. They deployed a new installation called Grasslands. And essentially this was the first large scale both selling and consumption, even for Cannabis within a music festival ever. So I was pretty excited. Blazers actually selected as the software of choice to run the entire spy team for that event. When I say that we're talking the distribution software to basically bring all the products into the park. I think we brought some like 70000 physical units into the park, right? Well, like I says, crazy. It was crazy. And not just that. We then had about 50 registers in the middle. Golden Gate Park selling Cannabis throughout the weekend. So it was all managed by blaze. All managed by blaze. You know, we obviously had a production team and a dispensary and licensed distributor license software itself. Right. The actual infrastructure which plays it was great. You know, we're really great partners. We're all going to pulled together and made it happen and we made history. So that is very, very smooth. And this event space is something that kind of popped up for us. So we're seriously assessing right now.

Dan Humiston:
Well, how well, I mean, think about that. If this is becomes a thing, somebody is going to have to manage that side of it. That's, again, another huge opportunity. I saw the photos on Instagram and a bunch of stuff that I follow you guys on. And I was like, I wonder what this is all about. Oh, my gosh, that is really cool. Let's jump forward. What's next? I think you'll be doing another raise. Will there be an opportunity for people to invest in plays in the future?

Chris Violas:
Yeah. I mean, at this point, we are having discussions internally. I would say it's very likely that we will be doing a raise towards the end of the year. Just, you know, given kind of market share that we're starting to see in other markets, we want to penetrate the very, very strong possible in the future. So, Daniel, definitely keep you up to date as those things come along and we'll have you back on.

Chris Violas:
Yeah, for sure. Come the third time. Why not?

Dan Humiston:
Well, we've been speaking with Chris Vale is founder and CEO of Place and all of all of his information on the MJBulls website. But if you haven't listened to his previous show, I encourage you to go back and listen to Raising Cannabis Capital episode 33. Chris, it's really cool stuff. Congratulations again and I look forward to having you back on the show when you do your next race. Awesome. Thanks, Dan. I really appreciate it.

Dan Humiston:
Thanks for listening to Raising Cannabis Capital. To learn more about today's guest, what do become a guest? Visit our website at MJBulls.com. Today's show is produced by MJBulls Media with original music produced in part by Jamie Humiston. I'm Dan Humiston and you've been listening to the Raising Cannabis Capital podcast.

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