It only took about four years for Nabis LLC co-CEOs Vince Ning and Jun S. Lee to build up their company to $500 million in sales and 1,300 retail customers as the largest wholesale cannabis platform in California.
Now they’re not slowing down at all, with plans to apply for a distribution license in New York as the state readies its adult use market by preparing to award licenses in coming months.
While California is widely known as the U.S.’s cannabis giant, with $7 billion in legal sales projected by 2025, New York is also a massive population center as well — some projections estimate the state will see $7 billion in cannabis sales by 2025.
With private capital providers eyeing the e-commerce, cannabis and logistics sectors, Nabis continues to generate incoming calls from potential investors as it takes aim at New York, Ning said.
“Investors are coming out of the woodwork from more traditional tech and venture communities, which is exceptionally exciting and validating for the industry,” Ning, 28, told MarketWatch.
Nabis, which takes its name from the last two syllables of the word cannabis, chalked up $23 million in Series B venture capital financing in the summer of 2021. Gmail inventor Paul Buchheit, retired NFL quarterback Joe Montana, and Twitch founder Justin Kan are among the company’s investors.
New York State officials have been receptive to Nabis as they seek to learn about programs in other states.
“We’re working with state legislators to share our experience growing the business from the ground up,” Ning said. “Regulators in newly legalized state need to hear from thought leaders from other markets.”
As a licensed cannabis wholesale marketplace that distributes cannabis products to retailers, Nabis focuses on rapid distribution, sales, marketing, financing, and data analytics services for cannabis sellers.
Ning has started up companies before. He launched Scaphold Inc., a backend-as-a-service provider in 2016 as co-founder and chief operating officer, after working as a software engineer for Microsoft Corp.
for about a year. In 2018, he sold the company to Amazon.com Inc.
and the product is now known as AppSync on Amazon Web Services.
He co-founded Nabis in 2018, the same year he became a venture partner at the Pioneer Fund. Ning has also completed Y Combinator’s incubator program for startups in 2017 and 2019.
Nabis’s offerings include its online wholesale marketplace with first-party licensed fulfillment, and additional business-to-business products such as its financial services and data analytics platform to help its brand and retail partners grow.
Overall, the New York market continues to heat up with companies looking to set up shop in the state as it prepares for the adult use market.