A Professional Dominatrix Walks Into a Cannabis Investor Conference…

I walked into the ballroom of the downtown Toronto Marriott Hotel and looked around at the throng of people talking, laughing, and swapping business cards. It looked like any ordinary business conference—at least to me. Still, this was the first business conference I’d ever attended, so I didn’t have a lot to compare it to. I’m a professional dominatrix, and I’ve never had an office job in my life. So this was a completely new experience for me.

However, this was no ordinary business conference. This was the Arcview Group’s Investor Network Forum, a gathering of fledgling cannabis entrepreneurs who have come to make their pitches, in a Shark Tank-style environment, to angel investors looking for rising cannabis businesses. And I had come to showcase my new business: a cannabis sex lubricant called Velvet Swing.

Cannabis enthusiasts share many good traits with kink/sex enthusiasts. They know what they like, and they are not afraid to ask for it.

I first learned of the Arcview Group when Seattle cannabis company Tarukino invited me to join them at the conference and learn the fine art of pitching to investors. Tarukino was presenting their two cannabis-enhanced drinks, Happy Apple and Pearl 2.0, at the conference, and since I’ve partnered with them for the manufacture and distribution of Velvet Swing, they were game to take me along.

I can lace up my corset and swing a whip at a man I met only minutes before with perfect ease. But pitching my business to 200 sharp-eyed cannabis investors? My stomach fluttered at the thought. Still, a cannabis business requires a lot of cash to get going, and I would never have a better opportunity to learn how to get those kinds of funds. Getting people to give me money is something I’ve been reasonably good at so far, so I agreed.

RELATED STORY

The Haymaker: Are Cannabis Stocks Finally Growing Up?

The day I arrived, I went down to the hotel’s convention center and walked around the room where booths were being assembled. Some offered things like accounting services or insurance specifically geared to the cannabis industry’s highly specialized needs. Others held unique devices like a robotic arm in a glass box that deftly trimmed (faux) buds of marijuana, and a “Lightlab Marijuana Analyzer,” a suitcase-sized tool for measuring cannabis potency.

A bud-trimming robot, on display at Arcview

It gave me a warm glow of pride to see my product there among them. There are not many personal lubes being offered for sale in the legal cannabis market. Topical marijuana products of any kind are dismissed by some as a small, not-wildly-profitable niche of the industry. But the people who think that have never met me, and they’ve definitely never tried Velvet Swing.

RELATED STORY

Meet the Woman Throwing the Coolest Cannabis Parties in California

My confidence flickered slightly, though, when I walked into the ballroom for the evening’s meet and greet. I’m completely comfortable talking to one person, or one hundred, about BDSM and sex, and I love talking to potential consumers of Velvet Swing. But I’m far less accustomed to pitching my three-months-old business to ruthless corporate tycoons. I don’t know all the latest business buzzwords, and I’m not especially good with numbers. I briefly considered ducking back out of the event and fleeing upstairs to my hotel room.

No, you came here to learn how to do this, Matisse. You are going to make some rookie errors, but if you talk to everyone in this room who will listen, at the end of it, you’ll know a lot more than you do now. So get going, lady. I made sure my freshly-printed Velvet Swing business cards were handy and waded into the chattering mix of people.

Another new product being pitched at Arcview

Here’s the best part of the story: I have never met a nicer, friendlier bunch of people in my life. Everyone I talked to—and I talked to a LOT of people—was delighted to listen to my pitch. How’d I manage that? I decided: if you can’t fix it, feature it. So I told each person I met that this was my first investor’s conference and asked them to give me tips on my individual pitch to them. People love to give advice to a beginner. By the end of the weekend, people were coming up to me and saying “Hey, I want to introduce you to some people. They want to hear about Velvet Swing!” I may be a rookie, but it felt like a win to me.

RELATED STORY

This Cannabis-Infused Meal Box Wants to Be the New Blue Apron

Here’s the thing about selling a cannabis product: You are constrained by the fact that you cannot simply carry samples around and hand them out to people. It is less illegal for me to give someone a taste of my skills as a dominatrix than it is for me to squirt a little bit of Velvet Swing onto the back of their hand. Legal pot comes with a boatload of laws and regulations. Only a licensed pot shop can dispense pot products, no exceptions. So without the ability to actually demonstrate your product, you just have to be extra persuasive.

Here’s the thing about pitching a cannabis product: You can’t legally hand out samples, so you just have to be extra persuasive.

In this regard, I think pitching to people is a little like having sex: there are important points that you must make sure you touch on, but everyone likes it just a little bit differently. What I have found about talking to cannabis enthusiasts is that they share many good traits with kink/sex enthusiasts. They know what they like, and they are not afraid to ask for it. No one spent a lot of time shilly-shallying in what they wanted to know from me.

“Okay, but you can’t use it with latex, can you?” “Velvet Swing is revolutionary—it’s a water-based lube that’s safe to use with condoms. As far as I know, it is the only truly latex-safe cannabis lubricant in the world.”

“Pot lube huh? I tried that once—made a mess on the sheets and it smelled really skunky.” “I’ve tried products like that too. But Velvet Swing has a light, lotion-like texture, its non-staining, and it doesn’t smell like WEED.”

RELATED STORY

Five Real People With Real Cannabis Jobs

Best question ever? A tiny sixtyish woman who asked me, somewhat sternly, “But…what does it DO?” “It makes women have longer, stronger, multiple orgasms,” I told her. She broke into a smile. “All right, you have my full attention. Tell me more.”

Did I get anyone to invest in Velvet Swing? Well, they say a lady never tells. But by that calculus, there are not many ladies in the world! Let’s just say it was very definitely worth overcoming my new-business-owner nerves. Money aside, Arcview was a great overall experience for me professionally—I learned a lot about how to pitch in a really short span of time. And I started doing the one essential thing in any industry: I began building personal connections with smart, successful people in my field.

As a late registrant for this event, I was spared the ordeal of pitching up on the main stage—this time. Am I rehearsing already to get up there at the next Arcview conference I attend? Yes I am. I can’t think of a better place to do it.

Leave a Reply