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When we first dreamed of Devine, we had a vision to welcome our friends and neighbors into the company and share some of the profits, even if they didn’t have lots of money to invest. Seasoned business people told us that there was no way to do that, but we never gave up hope. Then one day, we heard about Equity Crowd-funding.
Most everyone has heard of crowd-funding, where lots of people can give small amounts of money using the internet and social networks. Some successful companies have raised capital through crowd-funding. For example, Pop Sockets (the pop-out button you put on the back of your phone) started with a crowd-funding campaign on Kickstarter. In those traditional crowd-funding platforms, sometimes you get early access to the product or something else in exchange for your contributions.
But prior to 2016, federal law prohibited giving equity – a piece of ownership in the company – through crowd-funding. Before the laws were changed, only “qualified investors” (people who earned above a certain threshold) could invest in companies that were not publicly traded. Those wealthy investors were called angel investors. The new rules allow smaller investors to do what only “angel investors” used to be allowed to do. There are still some limits to how much you can invest, though, based on your annual income and net worth.
When we heard about equity crowdfunding, we did some investigation and found Fundanna. Fundanna is an online portal that allows start-up companies to do crowdfunding like Kickstarter does, but for equity investments specifically in our industry. We have worked with the folks at Fundanna for the past several months, gathering and preparing detailed financial information, including an independent financial audit, a business valuation, filming and producing the video, and preparing the financial disclosures. It took a lot of work, but our Fundanna fundraiser launched last month! If you go to Fundanna, you can find all that financial information there, plus the fun video we had made to show you a little about ourselves: https://fundanna.com/equity/offer-summary/NewGreen.
We are so excited about this new way that allows start-ups to raise capital, because it lets us fulfill our dream of welcoming people like you — everyday people who want to participate in a promising idea for a business — to join us on this adventure. If we can get 100 people to invest $1,000 each, we can reach our goal of opening our the shop, bringing a much-needed revenue source to our small community, and supporting our broader goals of social equity and environmental protection. If you have any questions about how much you can invest through Fundanna, please contact us and we can try to answer any questions.
Another step towards our goal!
Today, April 30, we received an e-mail that our CCC application has been deemed COMPLETE.
As I have said, this is a long process… the wait is not over. The regulations state that once an application is deemed complete, the CCC has 90 days to award (or deny) a preliminary license.
However, minority-owned businesses like ours are entitled to priority. The CCC has implemented a policy to view minority applications in rolling order with the “regular” applicants. What this should mean is that our application is in a smaller pile that gets integrated into the bigger pile, theoretically shortening the 90 day period. We shall see.
I truly hope my community and friends and family see the value in the crowd funding page. We worked super hard to be able to allow our community, friends and family the investment opportunity. It won’t be around after we get our license, so now is the time!!
Ari and Heidi Zorn
As many of you know, the process to obtain a license from the CCC is long and expensive. (To read more about our journey, click here) One of the biggest expenses can be the need to secure a location prior to filing the application. That means that entrepreneurs must have the capital to purchase a location and hold it empty for many months, or pay rent to a landlord for an empty storefront.
The CBD Store
We were lucky to find a shop location that met the requirements for licensing, but was not ready for occupancy and thus did not require a large investment from the beginning. However, as the licensing process passed the six-month mark with many more months on the horizon, we decided to open a CBD shop in the interim, which could easily be converted to the sale of Cannabis once it was appropriate. We can begin hiring employees and testing our processes. The revenue from the store will reduce overhead for the business while we wait for our license.
Our Greatest Innovation
Our greatest innovation, though, arose from our desire to give back to our community and a stroke of good timing.
As our vision for Devine developed, we knew that we wanted to include our neighbors, friends and those who are economically disadvantaged in the potential success of the company. All we needed was to find 100 people to invest $1- to $5,000. They would have pride of ownership in this new business in their town or their state and be able to reap the rewards. Unfortunately, the entire regulatory system seemed built to further disadvantage small investors. We had heard about crowdfunding, but through regular crowdfunding sites you can only give investors a preview or a discount on your product, not equity. Otherwise, normally only the wealthy can be investors.
That is, until now. Because of recent changes in the laws, Equity Crowdfunding has become permissible. We realized that with our CBD store, we could launch an equity crowdfunding campaign and allow our desired investors to buy a piece of our company.
Our LLC name is New Green, inspired by the rich colors of spring growth in the forest. By investing in New Green, you are investing in our CBD store, which in turn will allow us to continue our application process with the CCC and eventual licensing and operation of Devine.
Click here to visit the crowdfunding campaign and see how you can get involved. We worked super hard to be able to allow our community, friends and family the investment opportunity.
Ari and Heidi Zorn
We want to welcome you and introduce ourselves. We are Ari and Heidi Zorn, long-time residents of South Egremont, Massachusetts in the beautiful Berkshire mountains. We are both small business owners, with a combined 40 years of experience in the hospitality, fitness and healthcare industries. Ari is a trained chef and personal trainer, and Heidi is a Doctor of Chiropractic. We both are deeply passionate about nature and the environment. We are also intensely focused on community and giving back.
All of our combined passions and interests converged in February of 2019, as we were driving by the long line in front of Theory Wellness, a licensed retail cannabis store in Great Barrington, Massachusetts, that had just opened. Seeing the explosive growth of this new industry, we asked ourselves one question: why couldn’t we do that? Why couldn’t we apply for a retail cannabis license and bring that kind of success to our community? This is the journey so far.
“It’s all very complicated”
We immediately began educating ourselves about the licensing process. While others around us fretted and complained about how complicated the process was, we printed a copy of the State Regulations (CMR 500) and began reading, and re-reading, and highlighting, and taking notes. We called on advisors and the relationships we have built within our community and charted our course. Every roadblock became a challenge that made our resolve stronger.
In order to even apply for a license, we needed a location. It had to be more than 500 ft from a school and needed the approval of the abbutters. It turns out, we had the perfect location: we previously looked at this location as the building had been for sale a few years back, it was on the main road, and we already knew we loved the spot. It is the lower level of a beautiful old building abutting Karner Brook.
We had our location, we began the process of applying for a license, first with the Town, then the State. After months of regulations and permit applications and community hearings, we had our Host Community Agreement and our Special Permit. On November 9th we uploaded our application onto the Cannabis Control Commission website. There were over 400 applicants at that time.
Slow But Steady Wins The Race
Anyone who knows us will recognize the importance of the turtle. The symbolism of the slow but steady turtle couldn’t be more apt. While the regulations state that once an application is deemed complete, the CCC has 90 days to award (or deny) a preliminary license, everyone knows that the process is much longer and more drawn out. Many applicants wait for many months or even years for a preliminary license.
This creates a major problem for entrepreneurs – they must have identified and secured a location, but are not able to operate, creating insurmountable costs while you wait for the state to act on your license. But we have a plan. Click here [https://fundanna.com/equity/offer-summary/NewGreen] to read about our desire to include smaller investors from our community in our company gave birth to an innovative approach that we hope will revolutionize the cannabis licensing process for entrepreneurs.
Ari and Heidi Zorn