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In this month’s member spotlight we caught up with Maureen Ryan of RoseRyan, a finance and accounting consulting firm based in Silicon Valley that officially launched its cannabis solution this April. Finance is the language of business, and her firm, since 1993, has helped hundreds of companies get their financial house in order, efficiently and effectively, so they can go further, faster. Passionate about women in business and excited for the racial equity that she sees in the cannabis field, Maureen believes her firm’s best practices and proven approach are a match for many emerging growth companies in our field. To learn more about finance fundamentals, tune into our conversation with her colleagues that we hosted on the NCIA podcast on June 12.
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Tell me a bit about your background and why you launched your company?
My career at RoseRyan has mostly centered around the finance needs of fast-moving tech companies. That changed a couple of years ago after working with a cannabis biotech company and loving it. Around the same time, our consulting firm saw signs that recreational cannabis was headed for legalization in California, and it was then that we realized many cannabis companies of all sizes were going to need the kind of professional finance and accounting support that we offer.
Our focus on the high tech and life sciences markets here in Silicon Valley has put us in tune with the needs of companies that move rapidly and that need to work with government agencies to get their products market ready — much like the cannabis industry. We’ve responded with a specialized solution that will take cannabis companies further, faster.
What unique value does your company offer to the cannabis industry?
From working with fast-moving Silicon Valley companies for 25 years now, we’ve been able to apply our expertise and best practices to the cannabis market quickly and easily.
In addition, we know what investors want. Whether they are private equity or venture capital players, investors want a rational strategic plan, timely, reliable and accurate financials and a solid budgeting framework, just to name a few. Given the current cannabis environment with Canada, these expectations have become even more critical for companies to meet.
From working with over 275 life sciences companies through the years, we also know how to relate to government agencies, like the FDA. And from working with over 325 tech companies to date, we have experiences with helping companies scale fast, in a variety of business situations.
In a nutshell, we help cannabis companies get their financial house in order. Finance is the language of business, so companies absolutely need to get it right. No matter where they are in the business lifecycle — when starting up, growing at high velocity, tackling a tricky transaction or maturing as an ongoing enterprise—cannabis companies need to have their finance function tightly managed for ultimate success.
Our Cannabis Solution offers four levels of finance: 1) a rapid diagnostic review, 2) an outsourced CFO and accounting team to strategize and set up all the essential financial systems and processes, 3) partner referrals to build up or build out a trusted ecosystem, and 4) financial prep for potential merger and acquisition transactions.
Is cannabis that much different when it comes to finance and accounting?
Frankly, no. Let’s face it, when companies are starting out, their books are typically a mess, whether you’re talking about cannabis companies or companies in any other industry. Business leaders are typically not focused on their finance operations — they have so many other parts of the business to attend to, and we get that.
Many of the same business situations that happen to tech and life sciences companies are happening to those in the cannabis market. They’re dealing in the early stage with worries about survival and running on fumes, before they’re able to fundraise and determine their top investments for growth. When the business reaches velocity or even hypergrowth, they have careful decisions to make. Opportunities for a major transformation can spring up, like an IPO or a merger or acquisition. Every industry has their nuances, but many of the business situations that CFOs and accounting teams face are similar in nature.
Cannabis companies have a unique responsibility to shape this growing industry to be socially responsible and advocate for it to be treated fairly. How does your company help work toward that goal for the greater good of the cannabis industry?
We recognize that women and people of color are heavily involved in this industry, which we love. As a woman-owned business, we support and promote the further advancement of diversity. We also find that working with cannabis companies to professionalize their financial operations helps the entire industry, as it creates a stronger, leveled up playing field for their business interactions. A strong finance function is essential for cannabis companies to raise funds. It’s imperative for their valuation, should an IPO, merger or acquisition transaction arise in the future. Accurate financials and tight operations are a direct reflection on the experience of the management team and, to a larger extent, the industry as a whole.
What kind of challenges do you face in the industry and what solutions would you like to see?
If a cannabis company lacks best practices in their essential finance operations, they’re going to run into trouble when dealing with hypergrowth situations. It happens with founders in every field—they’re passionate about their businesses yet many struggle to keep the business running at today’s standards. This is a challenge for any cannabis company that has blinders on and only seeks advice from other cannabis companies or experts who focus on just one industry.
What’s needed is a crystal clear understanding of the critical aspects of a company’s finances, or strategic decisions will be off-base because they don’t have accurate data on hand. Cannabis companies also risk a slowdown if they’re missing a key partner at a critical time, such as valuation, tax, marketing or legal expertise.
We’d love to see cannabis companies absorb the best practices and talent from other explosive-growth industries that’s tailored to meet their exact needs. No need to pave a new trail when one exists already.
Why did you join NCIA? What’s the best part about being a member?
We joined NCIA to be part of the industry-leading association that is dedicated to the industry’s success. NCIA brings key players together, inspires community, shares best practices and keeps us up to date on the industry trends and news. We also like that NCIA is an active investor in cannabis companies. By being part of NCIA, we can stay informed and play a vital role in this burgeoning industry.