Sherri Haskell, founder and CEO of the investment group Canna Angels LLC, is a petite woman, but her energy makes her seem much larger. I am 6’2” and I find myself standing up straighter when I am around her to match the size of her personality. This persona has, no doubt, not only helped her achieve her success in business, but also in her life’s passion: training horses.
I see many parallels between the two pursuits. She, above all else, has an eye for potential. Be it a wild horse, early stage company or a stock option, she has enjoyed success in identifying winners and giving them what they need to succeed. Now, as she sets her sights on establishing an angel investment consortium focused on early stage cannabis companies she will attempt to use her skills not only to benefit her group’s investors and portfolio companies, but to advance the nascent cannabis industry as well.
She started her career in the medical field, first as a cardiac nurse specialist and eventually becoming the first female representative of pacemakers for Intermedics in the Midwest. Both the pacemaker industry and Intermedics experienced enormous gains during her tenure.
She then moved to the Bay Area from her home in St. Louis. While interviewing to find an acceptable position with another pacemaker company, she decided to switch gears. “I found myself looking at all the skyscrapers and thinking about how all this wealth was created,” she told me recently. She wrote a letter (yes, an actual letter) to Security Properties Inc., the 8th largest U.S. real estate syndicator, which was opening a new office in San Francisco. She landed a job in the corporation’s securities division. Within 5 months after passing her securities license exams, she was their top stockbroker, specializing in limited partnerships and other alternative investments.
So prolific was her success that she was later approached by renowned trader and author Alexander Elder, to be a case study for his book Entries and Exits. Dr. Elder was impressed enough with Sherri’s approach to trading that he made her profile the first chapter of his book.
By 2008 she started her own hedge fund, which by her own admittance was “the worst possible timing you could imagine.” Even in this tumultuous era in the global economy, Sherri was able to see potential, or, more precisely, the lack thereof. After her fund made strong initial gains, she sensed something systemic was wrong with the global economy long before many other traders. ”I noticed that something was going on that none of us knew about. The normal rules of technical analysis and indicators were no longer applying,” she remembered. Ultimately, she made the hard decision to liquidate to cash and close the fund. This decision initially angered some of her investors, but “a year later, no one was angry at me anymore.”
During her time working with the public markets, she became an expert on raising money for small publicly traded companies; often through a financial mechanism called a P.I.P.E (Private Investment in Public Equity). She soon realized that the intimate interactions and exciting business opportunities prevalent in the startup world had peaked her interest and suited her personality.
After several years in private equity, on a whim and an invitation, she attended a pitch event for cannabis companies in San Francisco. While there she saw potential that she had been looking for. “These people were excited, passionate, everyone in this group had the enthusiasm I love. I hadn’t been around people that were so personally passionate as these people in a long time. This passion is apparent to anyone that has been close to the cannabis sector.”
“No other modern industry has seen the depth of challenges as have been placed upon these entrepreneurs. Now that there is light at the end of the regulatory tunnel, the excitement is palpable.”
Sherri sees massive potential in this industry that is just now gaining legal and social legitimacy. She also sees private investment’s role as an important factor. “We are not just dealing with startup companies, we are dealing with a market metamorphosis. Growth is raging now, along with needs for expanding infrastructure commitment. Exciting times!,” she explained.
Canna Angels has identified multiple verticals within the cannabis industry to be of the greatest interest, including agriculture technologies, genetics, bio-science and medical applications, real estate, lab/data analytics, and more. Unlike many other funding groups that only deal with ancillary companies to marijuana production and sales, Sherri plans to curate the best companies inside the industry as well. Upon achieving funding, founders and their teams will receive expert follow-up support through Masters Mentorship, a program developed exclusively by Canna Angels to guide startups through sustained success.
In the often zero-sum-game of business, investment groups like Canna Angels offer a rare win-win. Investors can rely on Sherri and her team to conduct the extensive research necessary to find the companies with the most potential. Through Sherri’s robust capital networks, startups will find much needed funding in an industry that is experiencing expansion, but without the benefit of traditional bank loans and access to capital.
The first pitch event is set for January 10th in San Francisco. Companies and interested accredited investors can sign up at Canna Angels LLC. If you do have the good fortune to attend, look for Sherri to be doing what she does best: connecting people.