CACannaBizCon 2019: Five questions with Vangst
The National Cannabis Industry Association’s annual California Cannabis Business Conference 2019 took place last week in Long Beach, CA, and The Elegant Stoner was in attendance, covering the show as it happened. The show expo featured lots of different businesses involved in the cannabis space, including many that don’t really sell consumer products — they offer help to growing cannabis businesses, or support the industry in other ways. Even though we mostly focus on cool stuff consumers can buy, we still wanted to highlight some of the people and businesses at the show, and so we’re going to be posting a series of quick interviews from around the CACannaBizCon 2019 show floor, asking people at the show what they’re up to, and what they’re thinking about in the cannabis industry.
What's your name, title, and what do you do?
My name is Yousef Ezz, and I'm the marketing coordinator for a company called Vangst. Vangst is a cannabis recruiting and staffing platform. We operate within direct hiring gigs, which means temporary or seasonal work. We hire everyone from the budtenders, trimmers and packagers, all the way up to C-suite. And we're here today to tell people more about what Vangst does, and connect with more businesses and try to help them find the top talent that they deserve.
How did you get involved in cannabis?
Our company came together when our CEO and founder, Karson Humiston, wanted to explore the cannabis industry. She came to a trade show and figured out how to try to get hired. And she found that there was no structure to the hiring process in cannabis yet, so she saw an opportunity for graduates to enter the business. She developed a company called Graduana, which was the first hiring and recruiting platform for new college kids to get into the cannabis industry. After a while, she decided to expand the business into what is now Vangst, which is a whole new rebranding of the Graduana business model, and it applies to anyone and everyone in the cannabis space that is looking to be hired or hire people. She said that she wanted to make a tech company that was strictly serving the cannabis industry, because she thought that was such a good niche. And it has proven to be a really good business model for the past five years, seeing how quickly we've grown since then.
My own journey in cannabis started when I worked at a social media app, and we were exploring market opportunities for businesses to go on our platform for B to B or B to C. My background is in marketing, and I worked with Vangst at my old company, and after several years I've found myself working for Vangst now.
What do you like most about the industry?
What I love about cannabis is that it's a team effort to work through the limitations and regulations of the industry. Because highly regulated industries require everyone to come together and be like this is what we want to do, and this is how we want to provide value not only to the country and internationally but to the consumer themselves.
And that appeals to me more than working at a standard company -- not to say that other industries don't provide to consumers or add value to the country or the system, but I feel like when it comes to cannabis it's been so highly regulated it's unfair and I think it's great to be part of the movement and to help expunge people's records, and help people that have been building this industry, not only from the black and the grey markets, but as part of the current industry, to help grow us from there and do what's right.
What obstacles are you facing in the future?
I think right now everyone is kind of in the "green rush" mentality -- everyone is trying to rush into getting their investments in, and that's causing a lot of back and forth in terms of the scalability of the industry. I think right now legally, obviously, we have the current obstacles. But we're seeing progress. Unfortunately it's not happening as fast as we want -- while we did just have a big victory in the House, I think it's going to take a while for it to go through the Senate and become actual law. But for the most part, I think the main obstacle is weeding through the different problems that we have legally, and then also seeing the business mentality that's coming in here and kind of watering down the value that we bring to the industry.
At Vangst, as a company, we are working very tightly with people that are making a difference in the industry. Those partners are very important and together, we're educating the masses on what needs to be done.
Anything else you've seen that's cool or that you want to recommend?
I think in terms of B to C companies, my favorite is Dixie Brands. Dixie Brands is a wonderful company out in Colorado and they are a multistate operator. They provide edibles and elixirs as well as other CPG products to the industry. Working with them, I've seen the passion that goes through their company. They want to help consumers, and not only consumers, but the consumers' best friends, a.k.a. pets. I've seen them really put a lot of effort into creating not only CBD products for pets, but a variety of ways for consumption for the patient that couldn't consume an edible because they're allergic to chocolate, for example. The amount of care and detail that they put into products really shows, and I think they're one of the best companies to be partnered with.
And you've worked with them, did hiring for them?
Not yet! But hopefully soon!
Thanks for reading! You can see all of our NCIA CACannaBizCon 2019 interviews all in one place with our CACannaBizCon2019 tag. Stay tuned for more interviews with cannabis business owners and professionals, straight from the show floor.