CHICAGO, January 31, 2023 – 1871, non-profit global innovation hub, announces its first-ever list of cohort members for their Cannabis Innovation Lab 2023, strategically built with Grown In, anchor partnered with Cresco Labs, and supported by World Business Chicago.This is 1871’s first tech Cannabis Innovation Lab, designed to bring startups, growth scalers, corporates, investors, and operators together to approach the Cannabis industry’s problems collectively. 

The 42 tech and operator companies selected for Cannabis Innovation Lab will collaborate to collectively solve leading industry problems with tech, through industry programming, leadership panels, and group problem-solving strategy sessions. 

Tech Cohort Members

Abide Assay | Chad Carpenter, CEO 

Abide allows budtenders and patients to select cannabis products based on active ingredients and research, instead of strain name and potency. 

Acute on Chronic | Rebecca Abraham, CEO 

Acute on Chronic provides accurate evidence-based education and guidance to support patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals nationwide. Our compassionate team of nurses and doctors makes it easy to eliminate symptoms safely using cannabis. 

Appature | Eldon Brown, CEO

Appature is a software platform that leverages your data to take the guesswork out of managing the operations of your cannabis business and drive increased revenue.

Avid | Fredrik Lindseth, CEO 

Avid’s fully automated grow system makes home cultivation of high quality cannabis effortless by controlling the most difficult parts of growing and coaching customers through the fun parts. 

Beuhi | Paloma Camper, Founder; David Martin, Founder; Richard Martin, Founder 

 Beuhi is a beautifully designed home confectionary appliance that provides cannabis/CBD consumers with an elevated non-smoking experience.   Through the appliance and the secure app, consumers have a reliable, consistent, secure and discreet method where they control all the ingredient inputs and choices.  

CannaTrac Financial Corp |  Edwin Sochacki, CMO 

 The Future of Compliant, Legal Cannabis Payments – CannaCard®️

CannMenus | Vibhav Gupta, CEO; David Adams, Co-Founder; Jonny Carlyon, CTO 

CannMenus is a data and analytics tech startup specializing in real-time market insights, customized sales enablement tools, and universal product search offerings to serve both consumers and businesses within the cannabis industry. 

Dapsocially | Dwayne Perry, President 

 Dapsocially provides TV broadcasting and digital signage for businesses and events.

Distru | Azam Khan, COO 

 Cannabis ERP software for cultivators, manufacturers and distributors

EZAF.eth | Joshua Hernandez 

EZAF.ETH aims to create decentralized tools and marketplaces for craft cannabis growers. Our mission: Establish a new cannabis category: decorative hemp. 

Flourish Software | Colton Griffin, CEO 

 Flourish is a leading seed to sale supply tracking and chain management platform built specifically for the cannabis, CBD, and hemp industries. Companies who cultivate, extract, manufacture, distribute, or retail cannabis, CBD, or hemp use Flourish’s software to drive their supply chain operations, manage costs, and stay compliant.

Human Elements Consulting, Inc. |  Sam Tanios, Founder & CEO 

 Human Elements Consulting was born out of a desperate need for “real” HR solutions for small businesses.  Real, proactive solutions that provide the tools, talent, and strategy to support and elevate small businesses in ways never seen before.

Natuur Brands | Alexander Choi, Founder & CEO; Steven Bruening, Co-Founder & COO 

 Natuur is a Chicago-based cannabis processing technology company developing revolutionary cannabis nanoemulsions for infusion. Natuur Nano is the only flavorless & chemical-free nanoemulsion, your all-in-one solution for better cannabis edibles, beverages & more. 

Niwa | Zachary Damato, COO 

 Niwa’s goal is to make indoor growing easier by offering software and hardware that is plug-n-play and affordable.

Notiphy | Bob Wise, CEO 

 Notiphy is easy-to-use cloud-based software that replaces paper and spreadsheets in manufactures, cannabis cultivators and manufacturers and warehouse/distribution. It makes labor accountable, efficient, productive, and safer while generating financial savings and operational data that management teams never previously had.  

ProCanna | Dede Perkins, CEO; Tony Perkins, Co-Founder & General Counsel 

 ProCanna is a simple, scalable operational and compliance software solution specially designed for the cannabis industry. It enables cannabis operators to achieve their operational goals faster, with consistency and with fewer operational and regulatory mishaps. 

Progress Retail |  Raymond Riley, CEO 

 A single platform for retail operations, underpinned by dynamic learning, smart retail task execution, and analytics that drive associate and store performance.

Run Transportation Solutions | Jesse McCurty, CEO 

 Professional reliable conveying people and products our business is to deliver yours.

Sa Wea Luxury | Julia Fofanah, Founder 

Sa Wea Luxury is the premier cannabis accessories marketplace, with a unique brand and vision.

Tetragram | Otha Smith III, Founder & CEO 

 Tetragram, an award winning, innovative technology company helps not only consumers, but the entire cannabis industry understand the effects of cannabis use, both positive and negative. 

TRUSTT | Mike Sikorski, Co-Founder & CEO 

TRUSTT is on the mission to make cannabis safer for patients, consumers and less risky for businesses through a development of blockchain and AI enabled cannabis tracking and quality verification platform.

VapeNprop | Kirsten Velasco, CEO 

 VapeNprop produces a unique accessory that protects devices and vapes, while keeping them in the upright position for peak performance. VapeNprop is ideal as promo merch to provide customer engagement incentives and relationship-building opportunities. 

Zentrela | Israel Gasperin, Founder & CEO 

Zentrela is a research company that specializes in studying the effects of cannabis using proprietary neurotechnology (EEG, neuroscience, and AI). We help cannabis producers reliably and objectively validate the efficacy of their products/formulations to create intended effects and guarantee their success in the market.

ZKsciences | Matt Kuznicki, Co-Founder & CEO 

 ZKsciences provides plant growth enhancers that increase yields for indoor and greenhouse cultivators. Our growing media additive technology boosts plant growth and yields for container grown cannabis without requiring any additional changes to the growing process.

Operator Cohort Members

Bridge City Collective Illinois | Shelli Hayes, Co-Founder & Co-Owner 

 Bridge City Collective has a coast-to-coast fellowship of cannabis operators, educators, activists, and innovators. With decades of combined experience across every branch of the cannabis trade, we strive to be model citizens of this industry.

Buckbee Weed Co. | John Murray, CEO 

 Buckbee Weed Co. offers premium cannabis and hemp products. Our famous fresh baked goods are sold at Mrs. Buckbee’s Wake N Bakery in Rockford. 

Catalyst Cannabis | Robert T. Brown Jr., Director of Security 

  We set the standard for a customer-focused dispensary experience by providing superior customer service that is coupled with our incredible menu at the best prices.

Drecisco Farms | Alisa Brill, CFO & COO 

 Drecisco Farms, LLC is a social equity craft grower with a facility in Marengo, IL.  We will be focusing on producing high quality edibles and plan to go to market mid-2023.

Excelleaf | Maria Davis, CEO; Crystal Anderson, CFO; Brian Garner, CSO 

We are a 100% minority owned, majority female, veteran owned company.  We are here to bring creativity, variety and education to this emerging industry.

Hemp Heals Body Shop Inc. | Tiffany Joi, Founder & Owner 

 Hemp Heals Body Shop is a solo woman minority-owned business that provides premium and luxurious CBD infused products that’ll help our customers live a pain & stress free life! 

Herban Gardens | Bobby Burns, Founding CEO 

 Herban Garden is an 83% Black-owned independent Craft Grower with the ability to cultivate 5,000 s.f of canopy space, with 3,000 s.f. added yearly for an eventual 14,000 s.f.. We plan to produce flower, and extracted/infused products for conscious consumers seeking physical and mental well-being.

Holy Vana | KJ Saffold, Owner 

 Holy Vana is a premium dispensary that offers a wide variety of high-quality organic cannabis products, including flower, edibles, concentrates, and topicals, to help customers find the perfect product for their needs. We pride ourselves on providing exceptional customer service, a comfortable shopping experience, and competitive prices.

HT23 Growers | Reese Xavier, CEO 

HT23 vision is to serve as Illinois’ premier cannabis cultivation operation. As a 100% African-American owned business, we are committed to community revitalization and providing residents with the opportunity to fuel the economic development and growth within their community.

Lighthouse Dispensing Company | Marlan Hicks, Owner’s Representative 

Lighthouse Dispensing Company creates a top tier dispensary experience through selling a variety of high-quality cannabis products and top-shelf smoking accessories. Bolstered by the dedication of its founders, Lighthouse aims to provide safe, reliable, and destigmatized access to quality cannabis products

MKPG LLC. | Moira Corcoran, CFO 

 MKPG LLC is an IL retail license holder in the Chicago BLS region. Women(and sister)owned!

NOBO | Lori DeCarlo, Regional Director West 

 NOBO IL is a retailer, an educator and on a mission to create a movement that encourages a more progressive understanding of the cannabis industry. 

Seven Point | Brad Zerman, CEO 

 Seven Point was formed in 2014 in order to provide safe and secure access to medical cannabis for IL patients.

Star Buds | Ahmad Joudeh, COO 

  Fully Vertical integrated Company with a dispensary craft grow and transportation. 

The 1937 Group | Ambrose Jackson, CEO 

 The 1937 Group is a leading minority-owned cannabis operator based in Chicago, IL. As a vertically-integrated company, The 1937 Group is in the process of launching multiple cultivation and retail dispensary establishments across Illinois and New Jersey.

The Culinary Cannabis Company | Kate Nadolski, Owner & CEO 

 The Culinary Cannabis Company (CCC) makes convenient cannabis-infused pantry staples that let the home cook make her own culinary creations with confidence. Mary Jane Infusible’s are the house of the brand’s flagship portfolio.

UMI Farms | Akele Parnell, CEO 

UMI Farms is a craft cannabis and retail brand based in Chicago.

Village Court Holdings | William Laws, CEO; Amber Laws, CMO 

 Village Court Holdings is a family-owned company based in Chicago that looks forward to opening its first dispensary in 2023. The company’s mission is to advance social equity by not only increasing diversity and inclusion but also by positively impacting communities harmed by the war on drugs.

Growth-Scale Cohort Members 


TECVINE helps businesses select and implement the best enterprise technology solutions for operations, while solving existing issues. We provide turnkey services to our clients, by offering unbiased advising, negotiating contracts, and overseeing implementation of best-in-class solutions for mobility, networking, and cloud computing.


The name nuEra highlights the fact that legalization in Illinois didn’t just change the laws on the books – it unleashed a whole new era of cannabis. An era in which cannabis is safer, higher quality and available in a greater variety than ever before. Canna-consumers have more methods of consumption, more strains, more precise dosage labeling, and better information about the effects of each of our products than any generation before them.


Aeropay is a financial technology company that helps people move money with bank-to-bank (ACH) transfers. We enable businesses to accept compliant, cashless and contactless payments, giving customers the freedom to spend. Leaving cash and cards behind and paying with a personal mobile device promotes safety, convenience and a modern lifestyle.

About the program

The Cannabis Innovation Lab uniquely enables innovation across the full business maturity curve with an immersive, yet hybrid, experience. Exclusively built to serve each stage respectively, and uniquely bringing everyone together in one entire group, the lab includes public and private workshops led by industry’s best.

“We are honored to host this incredible, diverse community of innovators as they create and drive technological advancements in the Cannabis industry,” said 1871 CEO, Betsy Ziegler. “With Chicago quickly becoming a place of massive importance in Cannabis, this lab, strategically developed with Grown In and partnered with Cresco Labs, is a key starting point for tech innovation and collaborative breakthroughs in new solutions for Cannabis.” 

“Capital formation and introductions to prospective investors is critical for any cannabis company today, including the recently licensed Illinois operators and technology startups from across the globe participating in Cannabis Innovation Lab accelerators,” said Brad Spirrison, CEO of Grown In. “Through collaboration with World Class innovation hub 1871 and globally recognized industry operator Cresco labs our aim is to get this next generation of startups up and rolling.”

Chima Enyia, Executive Vice President of SEEDTM, Cresco Labs’ Social Equity & Education  Development initiative, added, “Illinois has been at the forefront of creating one of the most responsible, respectable, and robust regulated cannabis markets in our country. To ensure this industry reaches its potential, it is critical  that operators help create permanent pathways for innovation, inclusion of different perspectives and cultures, and opportunities for entrepreneurship and employment. We’re honored to support 1871’s inaugural Cannabis Innovation Lab and look forward to lending our resources and insights to help these cohorts succeed in cannabis.”

Led and facilitated by Rachael Feuerborn, 1871’s Chief Product Officer, cohort members will be participating in virtual and in-person experiences held during one week in January, February, March, and April 2023. The experience provides cohort members with resources, programming, and networking opportunities to collaborate together during each week’s events. 

The program culminates with our capstone-like event, the Cannabis Innovation Summit, open to the public on 4.20.23. We are thrilled to have the support of our anchor partner Cresco in addition to NuEra as a summit sponsor to help bring the program to life. The summit is a full-day program on ALL that is happening in Cannabis innovation that includes cohort one startups, VCs, partners, and industry enthusiasts.  

To stay up to date on all Cannabis Innovation Lab news + summit, subscribe here

About Grown In

Grown In is a Chicago-based company offering cannabis industry insights, events and education. They provide cutting-edge content, strategic networking and online training for cannabis companies. Their mission is to create and cultivate connections among cannabis industry professionals with complementary interests to catalyze business opportunities and growth. 

About Cresco Labs Inc.

Cresco Labs is one of the largest vertically integrated multi-state cannabis operators in the United States, with a mission to normalize and professionalize the cannabis industry. Employing a consumer-packaged goods (“CPG”) approach, Cresco Labs is the largest wholesaler of branded cannabis products in the U.S. Its brands are designed to meet the needs of all consumer segments and comprised of some of the most recognized and trusted national brands including Cresco, High Supply, Mindy’s Edibles, Good News, Remedi, Wonder Wellness Co. and FloraCal Farms. Sunnyside, Cresco Labs’ national dispensary brand, is a wellness-focused retailer created to build trust, education, and convenience for both existing and new cannabis consumers. Recognizing that the cannabis industry is poised to become one of the leading job creators in the country, Cresco Labs operates the industry’s largest Social Equity and Educational Development initiative, SEED, which was established to ensure that all members of society have the skills, knowledge, and opportunity to work and own businesses in the cannabis industry. 

About 1871

1871 is Chicago’s innovation hub and the #1 ranked private business incubator in the world. It exists to inspire, equip, and support early stage, growth stage and corporate innovators in building extraordinary businesses. 1871 is home to ~400 technology startups, ~200 growth stage companies, and ~1,500 members, and is supported by an entire ecosystem focused on accelerating their growth and creating jobs in the Chicagoland area. The member experience includes virtual and in-person access to workshops, events, mentorship, and more. The nonprofit organization has 350 mentors available to its members, alongside access to more than 200 partner corporations, universities, education programs, accelerators, venture funds and others. Since its inception in 2012, more than 850 alumni companies are currently still active, have created over 14,500 jobs, and have raised more than $3.5 billion in follow-on capital.

Join as an 1871 Early Stage Member.

Attend info session

Subscribe to our ICYMI newsletter.

Share this post: