Women in Weed: Raising Hell

As CEO of HiFi Farms, Sara Batterby came with little knowledge of growing cannabis but invalubale expereince of raising capital. Sara now applies her expertise to training women and minorities on how to raise money for new business ventures. When asked how much should a young company raise, she replies “How big a bat do you want to swing?”

Penn: Welcome to Chalice Farms TV. My name is Pen Lewis…

Kiki: and I’m Kiki Sherard…

Penn: … and we’re here today to show you some of the inside practices behind the best cannabis producers in the state of Oregon. We’re here to show you some of the things that happen behind the scenes to create and cultivate craft cannabis products.

Penn: We’re here with Sara Batterby of the Batterby group. We’re here to talk a little bit about financing for women in the cannabis industry.

So why this industry and where’d you get your start what kind of led you to here?

Sara: I moved to the United States with the job that I got out of college which was in finance and technology. More of an entrepreneur than I was sort of an employee. Sort of 10, 15 years of just building out companies and learning a great deal about what it feels like to be in a start-up. What that first three years is like and building a company and it almost inevitably involves raising money but some friends of mine had started a grow.

Some friends of mine, they were building out a grow operation in the basement of a house in the Alberta District. Yeah they were like you know a third of the way through and had about you know, half as much money as they needed to really finish the whole thing and definitely understood that there was an opportunity because right then cannabis was legalized in Oregon for recreational use with measure 91. And they asked me to join them and come on board as the CEO and I did that and we built my Hifi Farms.

Yeah well that’s how I got into cannabis. I was still really passionate about diversity so I founded the Portland chapter of women grow, which became Oregon’s largest, well it became the largest professional networking group for cannabis people in the country regardless of identity or gender or anything like that.

Women just came out from everywhere and that’s when I knew that Oregon was just packed with amazing talent amongst this founder community. And so I knew I wanted to support women in the industry who I felt like had amazing fundamentals with regards to their businesses. But we’re probably going to be excluded because of their knowledge of and experience around capital.

I wanted to support some of those women and see them going across the line. I raised a lot of money for HiFi Farms and did it pretty efficiently and everyone was like how do you do that and I was like, well, people really want the answer to that question. This is what I should talk about, maybe I should try and create a workshop that supports other people and that was really the beginning of the work that I do now. Where it’s a very structured codified methodology that shifts the idea of fundraising to be a skill set and not just a privilege or access to a certain community. And so the skills training is really there to allow a founder who may be feeling a little intimidated initially by the process to feel like fundamentally competent in this task and then experience sort of a shift in their identity which is what I’m really doing.

I’m working on people’s experience of entitlement. The thing that people always want to circle around with a start-up and investing is valuation and people say what should my valuation be? And I’m like how big a bat do you think you can swing? But the real question is how much value can you authentically believe in for yourself?  

Valuation is on your inside not on your outside you know? Entitlement is your ability to recognize your own value and then that informs your expectations of the world.  It’s a critical aspect of identity. I have value, my time has value, my work has value. We don’t actually have an access to capital problem. I’m the proof of that.

I have no trouble raising money. Because I walk into those conversations feeling absolutely entitled and so it’s completely invaluable. And when it comes to raising money, if you don’t feel like that guy’s gonna be better off if he gives you the money, instead of that guy over there, then you’ve lost it right?

Kiki: You’ve lost it as as you walked in the door.

Sara: That’s what I’m talking about with the identity piece, and the value piece. Value and entitlement are the same thing. Value is on the outside and entitlement is on the inside. Like you’re just always gonna get exactly what you expect.

Penn: What’s next? And is the cannabis industry something that you’re looking to travel with?

Sara: It’s interesting, cannabis is, it’s been such an amazing community experience. But at the same time for me, if I’m serious about my mission which is access to capital, then I need to think about how what I’m doing is scalable. And one of the ways that it’s scalable is for me to sort of divide my time between supporting founders individually but also go back onto the capital side and figure out how to support the aggregation of capital around cannabis but not just cannabis in general, equity in cannabis.

So my goal is to gather together women who do have the resources, and do want to support and see other communities coming up, so that we can have a more equitable and just economy. And supporting those women in dealing with their entitlement issues and their identity challenges around being investors and thinking about themselves that way and figuring out how to start activating them as a capital resource for the communities of color and for the women who are coming up through the Oregon cannabis industry.

Penn: Well something that we’ve been doing kind of as part of this series especially this women in cannabis series is just asking people what’s your chalice?

Sara: I really appreciate the question, just because no one’s actually asked it before and also I totally know the answer. Through that process there’s always a point of which the sort of world responds. People don’t go back from that once they’ve had an experience of value that’s authentic and that’s different to what they’re used to, they don’t go back from that and that is just the most incredible thing to be a part of.