23 March 2018 Weekly

A cannabis first: a co-working space just for weed businesses

PLUS: Neurodiversity – Sofa wars – Shoppable social media – Meditation for leaders

Growing pains for cannabis companies.

The world’s first co-working space solely for companies working in the cannabis industry is opening this July in Los Angeles.

The new space, being developed by Paragon, a tech company bringing blockchain to the cannabis industry, comes at a time of uncertainty in the weed sector.

California became the largest cannabis market in the United States almost overnight after it lifted its ban on recreational marijuana use early this year – but for cannabis entrepreneurs in the golden state, it’s not been plain sailing.

Local councillors who are politically opposed to weed’s legalisation are flexing their powers in a bid to block marijuana businesses within their jurisdictions. Orange County is one of the most restrictive, having granted licences to just two marijuana businesses in its 34 cities.

On top of this, the lack of licensing, professional distributors and retail points has led to an ongoing battle between licensed companies and black-market operators.

We need to talk about neurodiversity.

Advertising Week Europe took place this week in London. One fascinating panel discussed the need for ‘neurodiversity’ in the workplace – bringing in people with different minds and ways of thinking, including those with dyslexia, dyspraxia, and autism.

As with all efforts towards increased diversity, workplaces which are welcoming to many types of people tend to retain neurodiverse talent more successfully than conservative competitors.

Some key takeaways:

  • Statistics suggest neurodiverse personalities are drawn towards creativity and entrepreneurship – 35% of US entrepreneurs are dyslexic, compared to 15-20% of the general population.
  • Some companies are reworking their recruitment processes to cater to different neurodiversities. On the panel, Pip Jamieson, founder of The Dots, pointed out that she risks being ‘screened out’ due to a poorly spelled CV – something she finds hard to rectify due to dyslexia. Roxanne Hobbs, founder of Hobbs Consultancy, said that some companies are no longer doing interviews because they are difficult for people on the autism spectrum.
  • Role models are essential for people to feel comfortable speaking out about these non-visible forms of diversity. Jamieson, for example, includes the phrase ‘delightfully dyslexic’ in her email signature – in part to excuse typos, but also in the hope that people will feel more comfortable discussing their own dyslexia.

Battle of the online sofa companies.

Online furniture retailers Made and Swoon are vying for customers via thousands of adverts on the London Underground – and increasingly through physical retail, too.

Made, which opened its first showroom in London in 2012, two years after launch, announced a £40m funding injection on Monday. The money will be used to continue expanding in Europe – it already has retail spaces in Paris, Berlin and Amsterdam.

Meanwhile, competitor Swoon, which has historically taken a roving, pop-up approach to retail space (most recently in Birmingham) to avoid high property costs, has announced a permanent concession in Debenham’s White City store.

Instagram gets better for business.

On Tuesday, Instagram announced it will roll out its shopping functionality to the UK.

Now retailers can tag their products in photos, providing direct links from the social platform to their web shops.

Before shoppable Insta images, there was Semaine, which we covered in the latest issue of Courier. The digital publication creates editorial-quality stories where every item is for sale – from clothing to wallpaper. It launched in 2015 and has worked with contributors such as burlesque performer Dita Von Teese and footwear designer Charlotte Olympia to select items for sale on the website.

When asked for thoughts on Instagram’s e-commerce play, Semaine founder Michelle Lu said it couldn’t replace her site’s curatorial abilities. ‘Instagram is incredibly good [at] knowing what the customer wants. But we believe in having a deeper experience on the web.’

One for the weekend.

This podcast from Harvard Business Review is a good listen, discussing how to lead ‘without ego’. Experts reckon that if leaders can put the needs of others in an organisation before their own, it enables everyone in the company to do their best work.

The episode also starts with a guided and rather relaxing (albeit sped up) mindfulness session.