Joint Investments DAO
As cannabis becomes legal in more states each year, a burgeoning and relatively new industry is being created, producing massive annual revenue that is projected to only increase over the next decade. However, a troublingly large share of these novel businesses are owned by people with an already large amount of capital on hand, as the prices of a license to legally sell marijuana products and starting such an enterprise are often exorbitant. Throughout the past half-century (and especially in more recent decades), marijuana use between different demographics in the United States (wealthy, middle-class, and working class, as well as white, Black, Latino American, and Asian-American) remained close to the same level. However, judging by arrests and criminal conviction statistics, we can see it has often been working-class and poor Black and Latino Americans who have historically been disproportionately targeted in the enforcement of cannabis laws. Now that marijuana is legal in a growing (no pun intended) number of states, the people who bore the brunt of the consequences of what is known as the “War on Drugs” are all too often being left out of the decision-making and business opportunities that have arisen from policy changes. Joint Investments aims to ameliorate the situation however we can by forming a community that rallies around common ideals of justice, wealth redistribution, and symbiosis. The community will strive to identify potential entrepreneurs (who have been formerly incarcerated for cannabis-related charges and/or whose lives have been unfairly impacted by cannabis-related laws, and otherwise may lack the start-up capital to achieve their visions) with profitable business plans, uplift these entrepreneurs, and mutually benefit from a symbiotic relationship with each one. Here is how we aim to accomplish these tenets to pursue our greater mission:
We will identify viable entrepreneurs through a few different processes. Firstly, we will use a small part of our grant funding to put towards marketing and use this marketing push to make the greater public aware of our submission-based system. We will create a Twitter account, Discord server, and Telegram server and set up an inbox to receive submissions for hypothetical business plans and models for cannabis-related enterprises, and through our social media outlets we will release detailed guidelines of what a successful submission should entail. Anything that does not adhere to the guidelines or is irrelevant will be deleted. At a minimum, submissions will need to include:
Location, including city, state, and a few potential properties for the business to be located (research about whether or not a dispensary, growery, or related business could legally be located there must already be done upon submission) complete with rent costs and information
Other startup costs, including:
Cost of applying for and having necessary licenses in the entrepreneur’s state, and whether or not they already have one
Cost of and list of proposed initial inventory, such as flower, edibles, wax products, rolling papers, glass pieces, and tobacco leaves
Cost of necessary security and surveillance equipment
Marketing and advertising costs
Staffing costs (already knowing the number of employees would simplify this step)
Any other costs the entrepreneur may incur, but be specific about these (miscellaneous business equipment, outsourcing for professional services, etc.)
A bit of information about the entrepreneur themselves (name, picture, links to social media, resume, email, etc.) and how they have been affected by cannabis laws in the past*
*This information will be kept private. Anyone who submits an application and is found to either have no need for funding and/or be lying about the effect that cannabis laws have had on their life will immediately be blackballed and rejected from all future application rounds.
Our DAO will only operate in the United States for the foreseeable future, although investors from other nations may be able to invest with us depending on their regional laws. Business propositions and potential entrepreneurs must be located in the US, and submissions will only be accepted from potential entrepreneurs in states or territories where marijuana is both medicinally and recreationally legal (Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, New York, Vermont, Illinois, Michigan, Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, Virginia, Connecticut, New Mexico, as well as Washington, D.C. and Guam). Because we will likely be receiving too many submissions for us to be able to hold community votes on all of them at once, we have a few team members with strong backgrounds in both business and economics who will meet as a group and whose role it will be to evaluate proposed business plans and pick out the top 5 or 10 at the time to submit to the community for a vote. We will be accepting submissions on a rolling basis. The timeframe in which submissions are grouped together will depend on our funding schedule (elaborated upon in Timeline & Budget). We will also analyze the long-term profitability of each business and using our analyses of the business plans and projected profits we will find an approximate “break-even” point, which is where the enterprise’s start-up costs have been made up for by its profits and the DAO members begin to financially benefit from their stake and our partnership with them (this information will be included for DAO members to read during the voting process). Due to the sheer quantity of submissions we will likely be receiving, it is possible that a few high quality proposals will be overlooked. Therefore, we encourage everyone to apply again even if their business plan was not selected for funding initially.
We will accept submissions from potential entrepreneurs who will need partial funding (for example, someone who needs assistance with 50% of the startup costs) as well as full funding (someone who needs assistance with 100% of the startup costs). We will use the percentage of startup costs funded from the DAO as well as each DAO member’s percentage stake in our treasury to determine each member’s stake in each company. As our mission is to identify, uplift, and mutually benefit, we will not ask for more than a 45% collective stake in any given company.
Another method we will use to facilitate our reception of business plans and submissions will be through networking with organizations aiming to train former inmates to become business owners (for example, Inmates to Entrepreneurs). We will reach out to the branches of such organizations which are located in states where cannabis is legal, inform them of the purpose of our organization, and prompt them to direct trainees who are interested in cannabis entrepreneurship to submit their comprehensive plans to our inbox.
After identifying viable entrepreneurs and holding a vote amongst the entirety of the DAO, we will enter the uplift phase. This portion will consist of supplying the startup capital needed to get each business off the ground. As the startup costs of cannabis businesses are quite high (anywhere from $150,000-$1 million for a dispensary, $250,000+ for a grow operation, and can vary greatly for other types of enterprises such as “cannabis cafes”), we will probably only be able to fund a small number of enterprises in our first round. This first round can be seen as a sort of trial run where, after the initial screening and subsequent voting process, we will invest in one to three businesses and prove both the profitability of the picks that our investment analysts and community make and the sustainability of our model. Once the startups we invest in during our first round are up and running, we will request our second round of funding and also begin our next screenings, votes, and investments. After the third round, we expect to be earning enough capital to the point where we can taper off the funding from the Harmony team and generate our own income, making our DAO essentially a revolving door for talent in the cannabis industry.
Perhaps the most difficult facet of our project will be helping potential entrepreneurs obtain a grower’s or dispensary license. Because this process takes place through governmental structures (and often costs $5-10k just for application costs, with no guarantee of success, depending on the state), no amount of money alone can get us over this hurdle. Some potential entrepreneurs may be coming to us with licenses already, which, while radically simplifying the process, will not give them preferential treatment over those who have not yet been able to obtain theirs. However, we are ready and willing to network with what could potentially be our sister organizations such as NuLeaf Project (nuproject.org) in handling the bureaucratic aspect of the process for applicants without the necessary licenses whose submissions are chosen in the voting process.
The benefit portion is exactly what it sounds like! After the startup capital is allocated to each entrepreneur whose submission was selected, there will be a period of time between the grand opening of their business and the break-even point (a projection of which will be included in our documentation of business analytics, available for all DAO members to browse). After the break-even point, DAO members will begin to be paid out rewards (most likely bimonthly, in stablecoins) based upon each member’s percentage stake in each company*, which will be made available to each member privately. Plus, everyone can sleep a little better knowing they’re helping change someone’s life who deserves it.
*DAO members will only receive a stake in a company if they were a member at the time that the company was nominated to receive funding by the community vote to prevent dilution of shares. Selling one’s DAO holdings will forfeit all future reward payouts and distribute the rest of their stake to the remaining DAO members who were members during the aforementioned community vote.
- Blazin is the visionary behind the idea and will be the DAO’s main governor. They hold a Bachelor of Arts in American Studies with a concentration in race relations from Cornell University and studied criminal justice reform and American history. Over the past several months, they have become involved in a number of DAOs and crypto projects and have been inspired by the change that many are bringing.
- Andrew is an established entrepreneur and investor in the marijuana industry. He has an unparalleled knowledge of the industry at large and has connections with other business owners, growers, distributors, and farmers all over the United States.
- Piripiri is our first business and investment analyst who will be performing the initial screenings of submissions. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Cornell University and works as an investment analyst professionally.
- Bazu is our second business and investment analyst who will be performing the initial screenings of submissions. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Applied Economics from Cornell University with concentrations in finance and business analytics.
- Mofongo is our third and final business and investment analyst who will be performing the initial screenings of submissions. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Cornell University with a minor in business.
- Reikin is our head of marketing and visual material. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Japanese concentrated in Business from UNC Charlotte with a second degree in Architecture. His university research project was on the topic of “movie product placement and its effects on individuals of the collegiate age” and he has been a freelance photographer and videographer for over a decade.
Timeline & Budget
We are asking for $2 million in grant funding over a roughly two-year timeline. The first and second rounds of funding would consist of $750,000, and the third round would consist of $500,000. Given the hefty price tags of startup and operational costs of cannabis-related businesses, the first round of grants would likely only allow us to fund one or two startups. Considering the variability of such enterprises, and the dependence of the break-even point on a plethora of factors, we cannot yet give an exact date for when we would need our second or third rounds of funding. However, these estimates will become much clearer over time when we begin operating and we will be able to give the Harmony team better approximations several months in advance.
We will divide the first round of funding into the following three categories:
- Seed capital: $675,000
- Payment for founding team and onboarded experts: $50,000
- Marketing: $25,000
We may need assistance from the Harmony team in onboarding three highly skilled individuals to become our remaining governors (we have six already that are well-versed in their respective areas of expertise). Among these three, we will likely need:
- A legal expert; a lawyer who is adept and well-trained in the fields of interstate commerce, tax law, and cannabis law, and is able to write up the proper legal contracts needed when handing off funding to applicants whose submissions are chosen as well as advise on DAO tax reporting
- A coder/developer; someone who can take on technical tasks if and when the need arises to create a website and/or application
- A cryptocurrency expert; someone who is able to oversee the application of profitable techniques to grow the treasury if and when the need arises alongside Blazin such as yield farming, liquidity pools, etc.
If the Harmony team is unable to recruit any one of these three, the current DAO governors may be able to find qualified individuals to fill the spots by ourselves. However, we did not want to leave anything up to chance for these key roles, so we decided to first defer to the Harmony team.
Marketing push, make the greater public aware of our DAO and our mission, set up inbox for submissions, and create Twitter, Discord, and Telegram.
Conclude the first round of submissions and begin investment analysis.
Wrap up investment analysis (a month may be needed because we are bracing for a large number of submissions), and submit the top 5-10 to the DAO members for a vote, which will be available for a week. After this week, we will make contact with those whose submissions were chosen and begin the work to assist them in attaining their necessary licenses (if needed). If such licenses are already owned, we will contact them to work out details to give them their first round of seed capital.
Over these months, we aim to have all startups we have invested in to be up and running, and should be ready for the second round of funding relatively soon after.
We thank you for your time and hope you will consider Joint Investments DAO as a candidate for grant funding.