I first met Cameron Forni way back in 2017 when he invited me to dinner at Pican Restaurant in Oakland. He had the number one oil brand in Oregon at the time. It was called Select. He asked my advice on entering the California market and he wanted to start getting onto the shelves at Harborside – which I owned and operated at the time. I was struck by his relentless pursuit of a goal and that he was smart enough to join me over dinner before asking his question.
I gave him a few tips and the next thing I know, Select is on our shelves and everywhere else. The amount of products, innovations, in-store displays and world-class service from Select was impressive. Just a few years later, Select became national, and Cameron achieved one of the most robust exits in cannabis industry history.
Now he is the one who gives advice and guidance to the people. I had the opportunity to meet with Cameron to learn all about the new investment fund he is launching called Hypescale Ventures, which is helping forward-thinking cannabis founders and technology.
You’ve had a nice exit from your previous companies like Select. Most people would tick off their bucket list. Why launch something as stressful as a fund instead of enjoying the exit?
I love cannabis, the industry and the people I have met. Legalization is just the beginning. There is still a tremendous opportunity that I want to take advantage of. My goal for Hypescale is to facilitate what I call “Cannabis 2.0”.
I expect this will be the next generation of operators looking to get into space or already in space and looking for guidance. Our fund will not be a standard fund in which we will provide capital, but we will also provide unparalleled strategic relationships.
The quickest route to success is mentoring from someone who has already been successful. By providing mentoring, key capital at inception and early stage startups, Hyperscale is poised to usher in Cannabis 2.0 and the entrepreneurs who will make it happen.
Has the success influenced your current business decisions and with this fund?
I understand what it takes for an entrepreneur to thrive with cannabis. I also understand the challenges and hurdles entrepreneurs face in this space. This fund really brings those two together. It allows me to build the future with exceptional entrepreneurs who provide intelligence and practical guidance to prepare their businesses to scale.
How do you deal with investors? Can anyone participate or are you picky and why?
There are still so many opportunities in the cannabis space. Legalization is just beginning, which will attract even more investors to this space. We have a comprehensive vetting process for our investors. Working with the right strategic investors who share the vision and mindset is what it takes to be a leading brand or company. You need people who are on board.
Where do you see the fund in 5 years?
Working with all of our entrepreneurs to achieve liquidity exits in the 10-20 range.
Is the fund purely transaction-oriented or is it about more than just a whopping return for investors?
This is a key focus of Hypescale. Fifty percent of our partnerships are with social justice applicants. Nine out of ten companies typically fail in the first five years. This is especially true for the cannabis and hemp industry. This is what we call the three pillars of cannabis success. In my experience with legalization, three things struck me about the transitions between medicine and leisure. Almost every entrepreneur out there either has the cannabis know-how, the business acumen, or the capital. I usually find two out of three, but rarely do we see all three together. Hypescale’s goal is to ensure our social equity entrepreneurs and their businesses have all three pillars.