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But there were still deals on the table, especially for startups with growth potential. There was a significant uptick in VC interest in cannabis startups, particularly on the software side, around August.
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That month alone, two startups that made our list, Dutchie and Fyllo, closed significant rounds, and Springbig closed an $11.5 million Series A round (we cut our list off at $15 million). That quarter, venture investors poured over $57 million into cannabis startups, providing a much-needed boost to the sector.
Still, public cannabis companies accounted for a much larger chunk of capital raises this year, according to cannabis advisory firm Viridian Capital Advisors. Public companies made up 82% of all capital raises so far this year, compared to 64% in the same period in 2019, per Viridian.
The startups on our list range from private multi-state operators like Ascend Wellness Holdings, which closed a $68.2 million raise in August, to cannabis tech startups, like LeafLink, which closed a $40 million Series C funding round in December.
Most cannabis-focused investors told Business Insider that they're shifting their investment dollars from early-stage firms to growth-stage companies that already have a proven track record, though many said that they are still open to exceptional newer companies.
To put together this list, Business Insider asked private market data provider PitchBook for cannabis startups that closed the biggest funding rounds from investors in 2020. We then reached out to each company on our list to confirm the numbers, though some declined to disclose the details we asked for. We focused on equity investments, not debt.
What the company does: Ascend currently sells cannabis in Illinois, Michigan, Massachusetts, New Jersey, and Ohio. The company said in an email to Business Insider that it focuses on limited-license states east of the Rockies, "with flagship locations in desirable retail corridors serving key medical and adult-use markets."
Goals for 2021: Ascend Wellness Holdings declined to comment for this article. Some analysts have speculated that the company is mulling an IPO or another pathway to the public markets next year.
What the company does: LeafLink is a wholesale marketplace for the cannabis industry. The company says its e-commerce marketplace approach has "optimized and fueled the growth of the cannabis industry, creating new efficiencies in the wholesale buying process with supply-chain software and services."
Goals for 2021: "During 2020, the U.S. cannabis industry has gained a lot of momentum, perpetuated by the impacts of the pandemic and state legalizations following the 2020 election," Ryan Smith, LeafLink CEO Ryan Smith told Business Insider.
Goals for 2021: Dutchie told Business Insider it's aiming to "define the modern cannabis consumer experience" in the coming year. The company says it will continue to provide online shopping solutions for dispensaries of all sizes.
Biggest funding round of 2020: $31 million in a Series B round, closed in August 2020. The company told Business Insider there is up to $7 million of additional room available in the current round.
Biggest funding round of 2020: $26 million closed in August 2020. Read Business Insider's coverage of the round here, where we get an exclusive look at the pitch deck Fyllo used to close the round.
Goals for 2021: In August, when Fyllo closed its $26 million round, CEO Chad Bronstein told Business Insider that looking forward, the company eventually hopes to broaden its scope to other highly-regulated industries, like E-sports and online gambling.
"Our TAM [total addressable market] is very sizable because we built a data ecosystem that mainstream brands could target," Bronstein said in an August phone interview with BI. "You could be a Fortune 100 brand wanting to be able to target a cannabis consumer. You may not want to say it, you may not be running cannabis ads per se, but you can want to target that consumer because that consumer is very much a consumer of other products or have other behavioral traits the company wants to target."
What the company does: Greenbits is a retail technology company focused on the cannabis industry. It works with more than 1,200 cannabis retailers across 13 states to automate state-by-state compliance, point of sale, inventory control, and personalized insights.
Goals for 2021: Greenbits told Business Insider in an email that it is in "its next phase of growth," for this coming year, where it will aim to accelerate product development for cannabis retailers while expanding service offerings to new geographic markets throughout North America.
Kadenwood says that to accomplish this mission, it's leveraged decades of CPG marketing and category innovation expertise, as well as created what it says is the largest vertically-integrated CBD production operation in the US through its acquisition of EcoGen Biosciences in August of this year.
Goals for 2021: "Despite the challenges of 2020, we grew our company into the largest seed-to-self operation in the US, created new specialty divisions, led the industry in consumer advertising and launched first-to-market category products, all with an approach focused on innovation and science," Erick Dickens, CEO & and cofounder of Kadenwood told Business Insider in an email.
Biggest funding round of 2020: $15 million closed in October 2020 from Turning Point Brands, which made a strategic investment into Dosist. TPB has the option to invest another $15 million at pre-determined terms by October 2021.
What the company does: Dosist is a startup best known for its line of cannabis vape pens as well as other cannabis and wellness products that have different formulations and potencies. Its offerings range include vape pens branded as "calm," or "relief," and other categories. The company says it has developed proprietary, precision-dosing technology for its products ranging from vape pens, and soon, sprays and gummies.
Dr. Jill Seladi-Schulman is currently a freelance medical writer and was previously a project setup manager for clinical trials. She specializes in microbiology and infectious disease, having written her dissertation on influenza virus morphology. Dr. Seladi-Schulman has publications in peer-reviewed journals. She also has had her work featured on the cover of the Journal of Virology.
Dr. Alana Biggers is an ABMS board certified internal medicine physician. She is an assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine, where she specializes in internal medicine.
Sinus rhythm refers to the rhythm of your heartbeat, determined by the sinus node of your heart. The sinus node creates an electrical pulse that travels through your heart muscle, causing it to contract, or beat. You can think of the sinus node as a natural pacemaker.
For most people, a resting heart rate of 60 to 100 beats per minute (bpm) is considered normal. However, your heart rate can be either faster or slower than this, depending on the demands placed on your heart as well as other underlying health conditions.
As you can probably see, sinus rhythm and heart rate are linked. Electrical pulses must first be generated by the sinus node (sinus rhythm). As these pulses travel through the heart muscle, they cause it to beat (heart rate). Because of this, sinus rhythm often aligns with your heart rate.
Earlier, we discussed how sinus tachycardia may happen normally. There are also some situations where sinus tachycardia can happen at rest. When this happens, it can increase your risk of serious complications, including:
Sick sinus syndrome is an umbrella term for a group of symptoms that indicate a problem with the sinus node. In addition to the sinus arrhythmias mentioned above, other types of sick sinus syndrome include:
AFib is characterized by uncoordinated electrical activity in the upper chambers of your heart. This can be due to the sinus node not generating electrical pulses as it should. In fact, AFib frequently, but not always happens along with sick sinus syndrome.
The treatment of AFib typically involves medications to lower heart rate, such as beta-blockers or calcium channel blockers. Steps may also be taken to normalize heart rhythm through the use of medications or procedures like electrical cardioversion, although AFib may sometimes recur after these interventions.
Sometimes, the sinus node sends electric pulses too fast or too slowly. This is referred to as sinus tachycardia or sinus bradycardia, respectively. In some cases, this is normal, such as sinus tachycardia during exercise or sinus bradycardia in athletes.
As indicated above, some of the evidence about the effects of cannabis consumption on vision are inconclusive, especially with regard to night vision parameters. Moreover, there is a lack of data about the effects this drug has on important aspects of visual function such as stereoacuity (i.e. depth perception) or accommodative response, which are very important for the adequate performance of everyday tasks. Furthermore, while previous findings suggest that cannabis users rate their general quality of vision on a par with that of nonusers, they may experience certain effects during acute cannabis intoxication. This is important because the perceived effect could limit their willingness to carry out day-to-day tasks. We hypothesize that smoking cannabis could alter specific aspects of visual function such as visual acuity, stereoacuity, accommodative response and night-vision performance, and that some of these changes could determine the subjective perception of visual quality under acute intoxication.