Published on January 31, 2024
Artificial intelligence may dominate headlines today, but several years ago it was the cannabis industry that was seeing massive growth and investment. Basem Hanna recognized the potential early on and positioned himself to ride the “green rush” to great success. He became CEO of a cannabis startup in 2017 and led rapid expansion into new recreational markets. Just two years later, Hanna sold the business for an impressive $25 million in cash and stock, now worth even more.
Hanna’s journey started in college when he studied business and began following the burgeoning cannabis industry. He took a job with a cannabis startup in 2014 just as legalization was expanding across the US. Hanna rose up the ranks quickly, bringing bold leadership and shrewd decision-making to propel growth. When he became CEO in 2017, he pushed aggressive expansion into the booming California recreational market, followed by other states.
However, this rapid growth required major capital investments. Hanna demonstrated fundraising skills by securing a hedge fund investment at a key moment, allowing expansion plans to continue. He avoided problematic investors by vetting thoroughly and maintaining control. Hanna also motivated his team through high-pressure situations with an inspiring startup culture. When regulations changed unexpectedly, he pivoted strategies nimbly to keep momentum.
In 2019, Hanna sold the successful multi-state company for $25 million cash and stock. Now 35, his shares could double in value soon, setting him up as a potential cannabis fortune heir. However, Hanna is also outspoken about the mental health impact of selling a business you built. He admits to struggling with depression in the aftermath despite the financial outcome.
Hanna now sees the cannabis craze cooling, but he knows new opportunities emerge constantly. His advice? Pay close attention to trends, take calculated risks when momentum builds, raise money from aligned investors, motivate your team through uncertainty, and move boldly but smartly. With the right execution and mindset, fortunes await those who build around emerging industries. But also prepare emotionally for the journey after a sale. Hanna weathered the green rush better than most and came out on top – lessons he happily shares so others can replicate that success.
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