HEM Interviews Alex Rogers - International Cannabis Business Conference
Alex Rogers had a dream to create a series of international cannabis business conferences in as many world-class cities around the world as you could and truly make cannabis a global market well. Alex has successfully done this in his vision, ICBC the International Cannabis Business Conference hit Vancouver last year and it is truly a rare gem stone of the cannabis trade show circuit. Earlier in 2020, ICBC hit San Francisco and now ICBC is preparing to take Barcelona and Berlin and then Bern by storm in Europe. Alex, it is such a great pleasure to have you sit down with us and talk to us about the global cannabis market and what you're doing with ICBC.
Oh man Cy, dude, thanks for having me man, very nice introduction, appreciate that bro.
From our perspective watching the ICBC conferences grow over the last number of years and you have you know you've taken the Canadian market, the market in the United States and then the European market by storm and have managed to combine all these very rare elements and parts of the of the global cannabis market and churn out just some of the most amazing networking events out there okay so bring us back a little bit, give us a little bit of the history of ICBC from your perspective.
I produced events since I was a young man. I started this Medical Marijuana clinic in Oregon. A lot of laws changed in Oregon and my patients. I'm not a doctor. I have a lot of doctors supporting me. A lot of my patients were asking all these questions about, about you know, kind of regulatory stuff and what's going on and I was like and I was, you know kind of this Oracle in my community for a few years about Oregon Medical Marijuana Laws specifically and I was like man I gotta start charging these people, it's not that. It was so overwhelming and people were just coming to me for free advice and I was just like what? Here's a business model you know and here's where I can now educate the people. I can create a curriculum. I can create an environment where they can look at, learn information that was kind of how it started, was learning information and then I realized after we did the first few.
Wow! Business, was all this business was being made from, from just the networking so I realized that networking was just as important if not more important than the actual information we were we were disseminating and that kind of started me.
We started the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference and that became the biggest in the state and from that model, we started that International Cannabis Business Conference which didn't go international until we went to Vancouver which is highly international for me. I live in the Pacific Northwest you know I mean, I go to Vancouver and I feel like I'm home completely, such a wonderful place
And so it wasn't until we did Germany into what was it? 2017 that I felt now we're really international so I kind of took that same model that I had started. I made it in Oregon and we took it International. And of course with each respective location, we adapt our curriculum accordingly in each area which has its own nuance and we find those intrinsic elements that connect it all and therein lies our International branding
The best thing about the International approach that you've taken is you really do attract the best of the best from the global industry from entrepreneurs to policymakers from countries all over the world that are interested in, in the global cannabis market and I find it just amazing that you were able to do what you did in the United States, expand out here into Canada and have the foresight and the vision to see what was happening in Europe and how you could tie it all together.
It was perilous man, just think about all that work it took me...
You know I'm PTSD man, I guess every psychopath entrepreneur is.
You have a great team and you've had a great team for a number of years and being able to produce these events it's no small feat and you do produce world-class shows Alex.
The thing is, I love what I do right? I lived all over, well not, all over Europe, all over the States.
I consider myself a global soul you know I speak few different languages. I really like languages and I really like different cultures and I'm just fascinated by, by the earth then so it's, it's you know congruent and I love cannabis and I like to throw parties so you know ICBC is the culmination of that. I call it a show because you go to a lot of other conferences and it's not really expressly, they're not really expressly curated you know, the highest experience. Of course we could be better and what we do, and I will tell that but I tell you right now. We try to spice it up and make it interesting and not this kind of exercise with lethargia or shit show
I find with ICBC, it's quality over quantity and there's not a lot of people patting themselves on the back for a good job done. It's more looking to the future to see how we can make it a better global economy which brings me to my next question. I was, I was very excited, the magazine is very excited about the Global Investment Forum going on in Berlin this year, could you tell us a little bit about that? And that's a really great addition and a step forward in the of evolution for ICBC as well.
Yeah you know, I'm not really a finance guy, I'm more of a blood sweat and tears, nose to the grindstone dude that's just creates equity from sweat. However we have found that there is a great demand, having somebody, investors of all types come to these events, come to the ICBC events, we've recognize that there's a need to specialize in this niche which is investment and finance. And so there is a big need in Europe. I mean if you did do something like this in Canada or the States, it would be not an original thought but to do it in Europe is, it's still a novelty.
I don't think there's anything like this Global Investment Forum which i think is really going to springboard off the amazing platform you already built with ICBC and attract world-class finance to that to the table which is what we're all looking for.
Exactly! I'm kind of excited because it's something totally different. I'm not a finance guy. I was a finance guy when I was 13 to 18. I know that sounds kind of funny but I was. Once I was a child prodigy, I was a child entrepreneur psychopath who was a little bit famous in that community in Minneapolis because we had this investment newsletter when I was 13 so that was a big thing we did. Then I was one of the youngest people ever to study their Series 7 to become a stockbroker which I didn't, Thank God. But I've invested in stocks since I was 13 then I started smoking weed, taking mushrooms, contemplating life. I kind of went away from that. So now I'm coming back to it. So I have my roots, actually. I have a lot of finance gifts in my roots so I am able to at least understand when people talk to me, I can kind of get the gist.
With tech stuff I don't get anything right, you could talk to me about Bitcoin right all day long. I'm going to be like...okay. I'm still in the exact same place I was when we started talking about Bitcoin 3.5 hours ago but for finance, I have some propensity towards it, so some passion there for me, it's a different niche, it's a different market, it's really fresh in Europe. It's exciting. And we have a whole series of investment forums that we are about to announce in the next few weeks.
You have just finished your San Francisco show and you are launching the next three in Europe what are you most excited about over the next couple of months? Is it the Barcelona show or is it the Berlin show?
It's Berlin. Berlin, I call it my greatest masterpiece, it's the, it's the one with people from 70 countries right so this is the stuff that just kind of tickles me pink right. Like to know that there's people from 70 countries at my event. Is this... it's really cool!
It is! It's a natural evolution of ICBC to see that and to be honest we have been at the magazine have been hearing buzz about the Berlin show since December and that is the one show that we feel at High! Canada magazine that cannot be missed for any global Cannabis professional this year! Honestly it is going to be one of the most amazing shows ever!
ICBC has become a meeting point for that part of the world, "Treffpunkt" as they say in German, that part of the world. It's really cool and this year's gonna be twice as big as last year so the potential is pretty scaring what I consider to be a rapid rate.
Are there any particular speakers or sponsors you'd like to shout out gearing up for ICBC Barcelona, Berlin or Bern?
Yeah one little cool announcement, that has not been announced yet. We got Jim Belushi coming to Berlin, former U.S. House Dana Rohrabacher coming to Barcelona to keynote, DJ Muggs from Cypress Hill doing the after party at the Ritz Carlton at the most amazing space in Barcelona. I mean it is just phenomenal. We are going all out. The money I am spending for this party is off the charts and it's just going to be super fun. We can puff too and celebrate. It is going to be all that.
For the Global Investment Forum we have Graham Dallas from TMX. He is the European representative over there so things are really popping up in Europe in that regard. Peter Oliver from Dettman's, which is one of the biggest International Law firms speaking in Berlin.
What I haven't announced yet we have for our afterparty, we have Germany's biggest reggae star, Gentleman, one of the world's biggest reggae stars actually performing at our after party.
That is very amazing!
We also have an adopted European. He was the formerly with Mergers and Acquisitions branch of the DZ Bank in Germany which is Germany’s second biggest bank. We have some major cats coming in on that and they are from other institutions coming in to speak in Berlin. We will also be hosting one of the greatest cultural icons of Germany for our after party in Berlin and we will have a hidden day of networking as well. We are going to let it out at the after party.
Work hard - play hard!
Someone once told me, someone once told me.
Thank you so very much for taking this time to speak with us about the the upcoming ICBC events and the experiences that have led you up to this point. We personally cannot wait for both the Barcelona and Berlin show but Berlin sounds like it's going to set a new standard for events across the board.
Word Up Bro!
Appreciate it Bro!
Thank you so much Alex!