Interview with Alexej Pikovsky, Co-Founder & CEO of Alphagreen
Could you give our readers an overview of your professional background, and what led you to the cannabis industry?
I started investing in the stock market at the age of sixteen, and have always liked to analyse different industries. After Investment Banking at Nomura in London and several years investing in private companies for a family office and a large private equity fund, I was looking to create a dedicated cannabis fund backed by several family offices in London. During my trip to Canada and the US, looking at more than fifty businesses in the cannabis industry, I realised that there was a big chance to build an operational business in Europe instead. The valuations for the cannabis industry in the past years were not very attractive to investors; at the same time, there was nobody with clear market dominance out there. This led me to the idea of teaming up with a good friend of mine and my CTO, Viktor, to build Alphagreen.
Earlier this year, your organisation finished its first equity funding round. In light of the global pandemic which subsequently swept across the world, how significant do you believe it was to complete the raise ahead of the COVID lockdown?
Indeed, we completed our fundraising in February 2020 with London and wider Europe going into lockdown from March onwards. That was lucky timing indeed. We were very fortunate to not have any distractions and to be able to scale the team, focus on developing the product and not worry about funding too much. As a start-up, you always worry about funding and always have to talk to investors, be it actively or passively. As with lots of progress and new ideas you can always think of ways to spend more money. So, while we completed a raise in February, we are about to complete another raise in due course and will announce it officially.
Your UK operations are focused around the CBD technology platform, whereas your operations in Germany are very much focused around the medical market. Would you say that you view your organisation as more of a technology business or a cannabis company, and why?
We are a technology company first as we have our marketplace as the main driver of the business, enabling us to onboard very exciting brands and then subsequently offer tech-enabled services. Germany indeed has a more physical model given the regulatory framework and the requirements when handling medical cannabis. However, also in Germany, we are very much focused to take advantage of our Tech DNA to scale the business up.
With people spending exponentially more time in their homes and many businesses yet to return to their offices, what impact do you think this will have on the future of UK retail?
UK retail is seeing an acceleration from offline to online. Online shopping trends were already taking charge, but recent events have made it clear to everyone that online will be extremely important in the future. I do not think the retail market will disappear as people love to test and try out products in person, but I think there will be many more pop-up models, rather than permanent stores which always have the same stock. Many of the stores will also become storage and micro-warehouses, so to say. We can see that trend playing out in the US already and I think the UK will follow.
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