Daniel Sax is the founder and CEO at Sensi Properties, which provides real estates solutions to cannabis companies throughout the Canadian market.
What makes your company different from others in the cannabis space?
I started the first cannabis real estate investment company in Canada. We focus on helping Licensed Producers and other federally regulated players grow by freeing up the capital that’s trapped in their real estate. Sensi invests alongside the LPs in their real estate, providing a non-dilutive capital solution and allowing them to focus on an already complex and risky business. We allow them to take some of that risk off the table and grow without watering themselves down from an ownership perspective.
How did you get into the cannabis space?
I began investing in the space with a stockbroker who was really into it back in mid to late 2016, and after that in private companies. As an investor, I watched myself get diluted down as these companies raised equity capital to put it into real estate they didn’t need to own in the first place. As someone who’d spent their whole career in real estate, it made no sense to me, so out of frustration I launched Sensi Properties to try and fix what I saw as broken. In that way, it’s a typical entrepreneurial story. In the end I focused on an area that no one else was serving, and that I already had a deep expertise in.
Walk us through a normal day.
I wake up around 8, catch up on emails and canna-twitter, jump in the shower and the brew an espresso on my rancilio silva. Assuming I eat anything, it’s likely a banana. I will work until lunch, which is ideally close to noon. Ideally it would be a work lunch somewhere that is really delicious. I love breaking bread with people. Everyone likes to just do calls these days and I hate it. I’ll grind away on my phone and laptop, through dinner, and probably work through the late hours. I make sure to either ride my bike to meetings for fitness, or at least get out and walk 45 minutes to an hour each day to clear my head. I work on 2-3 coffees a day and I try and have at least one with someone else for business. I am in bed somewhere between 12 and 3.
What has been your biggest lesson about working in cannabis, and in business in general?
Not everyone operates on the same sets of ethics, or has ethics in general. Do business with people you align with philosophically. Work with people that you like, and don’t take yourself too seriously.
What do you see as your biggest opportunity?
To be the dominant cannabis real estate investor and developer in Canada (or maybe just the world).
What sets you apart to make you a potential leader in cannabis?
I’m not sure, but I am extremely passionate about what I’m doing and love the industry. I’m just glad to be here in this position. I have unwavering willpower and confidence, but I am cognizant that I don’t know everything and certainly don’t have all the best ideas. I just try and listen, learn, and keep an open mind. I genuinely care about what other people are doing, and I try and work with the ones I like hanging out with and respect intellectually.
What is the most frustrating aspect of the cannabis industry today?
I joke that the scarcest resource within the cannabis industry is rational parties. With the amazing growth trajectory we’ve had as a sector, people’s egos have gotten out of control. It’s actually tangible based on whether the stocks are in a bull or bear market. People let it get to their head and that’s not good. We are all just lucky to be here on this long strange trip.
What advice would you give to anyone looking to get into the cannabis space?
I remember when I got into the industry, I heard people over and over that were executives saying how it was too late; how the early movers were the clear winners in this game and if you were going to throw your hat in, you either had to go work for them or do something else in the space. I think they were wrong then and they still are. It’s early in this game and it is going to be a very, very, long game. Go out and build something that makes you passionate in this space.
What are your biggest tips for branding cannabis?
Paying a whole lot of money to a “creative agency” does not a brand make. We’ve all seen time and time again over the past year big LPs launch rec brands with big splashes, bigger trade show booths, and an avalanche of press releases. Most of these brands mean nothing, and are just logos plastered all over some cannaswag (I still use some of the cloth grocery bags when I go to the farmer’s market). The reality is a brand needs to resonate with people. It needs to be relatable, aspirational, or at the very least understandable.
Do you see any big changes coming in the future of cannabis?
There are nothing but huge changes coming in the future of cannabis. This is such an early iteration of the industry that it would probably be harder to pin down what won’t change. I’m really stoked to watch how our societal perceptions evolve with this great experiment Canada is on. These changes will be slow, but over a long timescale will be clear as day. I’m most excited for the medical side of the industry, which has a profound ability to improve the life of many people. Most importantly it will do so in ways we haven’t even begun to contemplate or discover. That’s genuinely exciting.
Do you consume cannabis? And if so, what's your favorite way to consume?
Yes and either at a concert, in the outdoors on a canoe trip or a snowy mountain, connecting with nature and friends. My favorite way to consume it is not as an edible I have learned.