The business of cannabis

Peter Vogel, founder and CEO of Leafwire, which connects folks in the cannabis industry. Courtesy photo

Peter Vogel, AB ’97 (economics with a minor in writing), looks at the cannabis industry and sees nothing but growth. As CEO, Vogel leads a budding online network, Leafwire, connecting folks in the cannabis industry and helping them meet their business needs. As of July 2021, the network had 40,000 members, representing 18,000 companies, and the numbers are only going higher. 

“Leafwire is the LinkedIn of the cannabis and hemp industries. We’re a network focused on the business side of cannabis. We attract growers, dispensary workers and those swirling around the industry in fertilizing, packaging, shipping, etc. We designed the platform for people to conduct business and learn more about the industry. It’s not a place to talk about smoking cannabis. It’s all business.”

“A lot of social media sites — Facebook, YouTube, Google — still won’t let you use the word cannabis.”

Peter Vogel, CEO of Leafwire

“I was recruited by a group of investors. I’d been in the tech startup space for 20 years and had success building member bases of a couple million people. I started at Leafwire in late 2017, helping build the platform from scratch. A year later, we launched to the public. We had a big coming-out party, where we hosted a “Shark Tank”–style pitch contest in Denver. Since then, we’ve hosted 12 other pitch contests in other cities, including Miami, Los Angeles, Toronto and Vancouver, as a way to establish the Leafwire brand.”

A lot of social media sites — Facebook, YouTube, Google — still won’t let you use the word cannabis, even if you’re talking about cannabis news or the science and politics of it. They can shut you down and cancel your account. We built Leafwire because industry workers needed a safe space to discuss their businesses, find business partners, find employees, find investors and just simply network.”

About Peter Vogel



First Job

While working at Student Life, Vogel answered the phone when someone was looking to place an ad for a summer job. “I need a job; hire me,” Vogel said. It led to a summer job and then full-time position. Vogel has been working in sales and startups ever since.

Industry trends 

Legal cannabis is projected to drive $65 billion in sales in 2021. Senior citizens are one of the most rapidly growing segments of new consumers.


“As a startup CEO, I am involved in almost every aspect of the operation, more than I even usually want to be. In the beginning, we had basically two people. I was more on the sales/business development and customer-service side, and my partner was on the technical side, managing a team of developers in Sri Lanka and developing a product road map. We’ve since brought in more people in sales, marketing and customer service, but I still work across divisions. Since the cannabis landscape is ever-changing, we’re always launching new initiatives.” 

“Everything we’ve done to date has been web-based. Now we’re planning to expand by developing a mobile app. Around 300,000 folks, [who are] considered “plant touching,” work for licensed cannabis companies. They grow, transport, extract, formulate and sell it. Probably a million more work in non–plant-touching functions. We’re just scratching the surface with member numbers, especially as more states become legal.”

“In the cannabis industry, conferences are a big deal. Since the industry once operated in the dark, you typically worked only with people you knew. We’re building our app to be used also as a meeting tool: to connect with other Leafwire contacts and to schedule appointments during conferences. We’d also like to partner with organizers and offer layouts of the event site, the schedule, and information on sessions and speakers.” 

“People use Leafwire now as their go-to networking site when they’re at home; we’d like them to use the app as a connection tool anywhere they go, on the road and even in-person at cannabis/hemp conferences around the world.”

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