Pitch Deck: Judges for New York Cannabis Competition

Heavy Hitters Join Panel to Award up to $500,000 in Investment Funds

Four esteemed judges join founding partners Diane and Jay Czarkowski to evaluate cannabis business pitches and award a significant prize package to help kickstart a New York cannabis business dream.

Together, they’ll be reviewing your proposals for innovation, preparedness, social equity, and a host of other criteria.

Submit by March 25, 2022.

Included in the Pitch Deck guest judges panel:

Rafael De La Cruz – Managing Partner, Universal Brand Ventures
Chanda Macias – CEO, National Holistic, Illera Holistic, and Women Grow
Coss Marte – CEO/Founder, CONBODY
Patrick Rea – Managing Director, Poseidon

Rafael De La Cruz

Serial entrepreneur, angel investor, and strategic advisor with over two decades of experience in marketing innovation, Rafael De La Cruz has led teams in successfully launching and branding a variety of products, creating new categories, and effectively connecting with the most elusive audiences.

Rafael attended the prestigious Bronx High School of Science in New York City and studied Bioengineering and Materials Science at the University of California, where he founded his first venture at 17.  From there, he led powerhouse and iconic tech startups, national brand campaigns from Mountain Dew to glacéau (vitaminwater and smartwater).

Raphael currently consults e-commerce technology and early-stage companies in growth hacking and audience development strategies. He is also an active investor, advising various successful ventures in the cannabis industry. Universal Brand Ventures provides capital, advisory, and support services for early-stage companies. He serves as a member of the investor selection committee for the Arcview Group and an executive board member of the Cannabis World Congress.


Chanda Macias

Dr. Chanda Macias, MBA, is one of the most influential women in cannabis and hemp. For over 15 years, Dr. Chanda has been driven by her passion for education, bettering the lives of patients, and empowering women and minorities in the industry. She brings a background in academia, government, technology, and the cannabis industry to build powerhouse influence on the cannabis industry, overall, and to support women’s roles and success in the industry.

With a Ph.D. in cellular and molecular biology from Howard University and an MBA from Rutgers, Dr. Chanda serves as CEO for National Holistic Healing Center, the leading medical marijuana dispensary in Washington, D.C. She also leads medical marijuana cultivation and processing in Louisiana as CEO of Ilera Holistic based in Baton Rouge. In her role as CEO and Chairwoman of the Board at Women Grow, Dr. Chanda educates and empowers women across the U.S.

Coss Marte

In 2009, Coss Marte was sent to jail as the leader of a multi-million dollar cocaine operation. He was also grossly overweight and warned by his physician that his current lifestyle, if left unchecked, would likely kill him. Faced with this grim prognosis, Coss started to get in shape using the tools he had—his prison cell and his own body weight. Within six months, he lost 70 pounds and replicated his successful formula of body weight exercises with 20 other people incarcerated alongside him.

After he was released from prison, Coss launched CONBODY a “prison-style” bootcamp that hires formerly incarcerated individuals to teach fitness classes. Since the launch of his company he’s gained over 25,000+ clients , supported many folks coming home from prison, and has been featured in over 200 major media outlets such as NBC, CNN, The New York Times, TED Talks, and Men’s Fitness. Coss has also won major pitch competitions such as Pitch for Good by TOM’s shoes and the YPO shark tank competition, which combined raised $350,000.

Patrick Rea

Currently serving as Managing Partner for the notable Poseidon investment group, Patrick Rea’s impact on the cannabis industry is long and vast. Prior to Poseidon, Patrick founded CanopyBoulder and was CEO for over 6 years. Leading the cannabis industry’s top business accelerator, Patrick raised and managed five funds and led investments in 115 companies.

Before joining the cannabis industry in 2013, Patrick spent 15 years in the natural products industry. His first role was as the first hire at a boutique investment bank and venture capital firm. Moving onto a portfolio company, Patrick led the eventual sale to a B2B media company, where he eventually became a Market Leader where he managed 14 P&Ls and a staff of 40.

Patrick was a Division I soccer player at Brown University and graduated with a double major in Geology and Organizational Behavior and Management.




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