Noids at Spannabis
“Visiting this event brought noise and focus at the same time. Things will change, because my vision becomes clear.” - Chu Chai
It’s March 9, 6 AM when my phone beeps. It’s a heads up from Chu, our frontwoman. She’s the product designer and the director at NOIDS. “I’m going to Barcelona today, just arrived at Schiphol. Last minute decision, I’ll keep you guys posted during the event.”
Last-minute calls are always the best calls.
Attending a cannabis event is something we have been considering for some time. It's similar to planning for a baby: it's never really convenient. Chu: "I have a lot of work to do and I have to think carefully about where I put our money. It's difficult to act when you cannot tell if something is spending or an investment."
The original idea was to go all together. We wanted to rent a market stall to showcase POT by NOIDS. But at NOIDS, we are keen on perfection. We don't have experience in exhibitions.
The closer we get to the weekend of March 10-12, the more it gnaws at us. Every time our director looks at her schedule, a feeling of doubt grows. That's the weekend of Spannabis, the biggest cannabis event in Europe. Someday we will be there to present our products, sooner rather than later. “Something kept me awake in bed. I know that feeling, it comes when I know I should have done something but haven't.” So she booked a flight to Barcelona and drove to the airport at 4 am.
I will learn about my inadequacy at Spannabis for sure, from those who are experienced and established. It's scary, and it's good.
If something scares you, run toward it, now
An impulsive action from Chu is never a surprise. In contrast to her company, which operates on the principle of ‘we do it well or we pass,’ she has a real "move fast and break things" mentality. Just look at the photos; you'll recognize her by the brace on her right arm. That doesn't mean it's all fun and games for her, on the contrary: “I really had to overcome my introvert fear. The first day I was panicking for ten minutes. There are all these big businesses that are doing so well. I will surely learn about my inadequacy at Spannabis from those who are experienced and established. It's scary, and it's good.”
Fortunately, Chu has faced tougher challenges. It's only been five years since she landed at Schiphol as an immigrant with roots in China. She landed with two suitcases, not knowing how to get a coffee from a vending machine, now she is the owner of a company. “I was there to meet people and see the world. So much to learn.”
People that she’ll never forget.
Chu was impressed by the people she met at Spannabis. "People in the cannabis industry are different, it is a true community built on a shared culture. Everyone has time for each other, there is little room for the status game, so there is plenty of room for characters and personalities to shine through."
Chu talked about Canna, the leading fertilizer company in this space. She met a part of the Canna team at the hotel bar, "you can see Canna is a great company, they are happy to be with each other, and everyone is relaxed and attentive." She feels grateful to Carl and Johnny from Canna, "I was sitting there at the bar, having my introvert moment of not knowing what to do, I asked them if I could join their table, and five minutes later, they have already made it so comfortable for you, you feel like you are at home."
She later had the opportunity to talk to the owner of Canna, who kindly advised her on doing business, and introduced her to the others. "He didn't only encourage me, he also helped me. It was meaningful that he showed interest in my design and took the time to give me advice. He is wise and kind. No wonder Canna has such a great culture."
She was impressed by Dagmar and Miriam, the mother-daughter team from Mary-Jane Berlin. "I've never seen that kind of mother-daughter dynamic, they finish each other's sentences, and they are always in a shared good mood." Chu says, "They are extremely competent, helpful, and grounded. Now I have new role models for being in business, being a mother, and being a daughter."
She met Dieter and David from Hanf Magazin, the leading German media on medical cannabis and hemp. "There is a kind of person who loves life so passionately that he/she manages to live it three times fuller, Dieter is that. When I get old, I want to be David's neighbor, you expect good and deep life stories from him told in a calm voice."
Work and party at the same time
Europe's biggest cannabis event is not limited to the exhibition site, there were also after-parties scattered around in the social clubs of Barcelona. "I was expecting coffee shops as I know from Amsterdam. But these social clubs are something else."
To enter a social club, you have to be introduced by someone who is already a member of the club. Chu notes the atmosphere: "It's not a collection of random people that happen to be in the same space. It's a group, you can feel it. There was eye contact, music, conversations and food ... say, Dutch coffeeshops have an indica vibe, then the Barcelonian social clubs have an uplifting sativa vibe. People are here to celebrate."
The most surprising thing for Chu on her first visit to a cannabis event: "I am surprised how competent and productive people are in this industry. Seems like they have found the secret key to the work-party balance."
Learned what should be learned. and more.
Chu says her visit to this event brought certainty. "I wasn't sure if NOIDS is ready for B2B side of the business, I learned that we have done a solid job, we are ready." She tells us, "it's great to know it for sure." She came back with a revelation: "The hardest question for everyone to answer is how to enjoy your work while doing it day in and day out. People in the cannabis business strike you as fun and diverse because they celebrate each other's personalities and everyone welcomes surprises, that's the core of the culture. That is something that never gets boring. As a writer myself, nothing interests me more than real people and open dialogues. That's what I saw at Spannabis. It gives me the certainty that we are on the right track and we are going to enjoy the ride.”
That insight cut big knots. "Visiting events brought a lot of noise and focus at the same time. As a business owner, my job, ultimately, is to make decisions that will take us forward. When I came back it became clear: we need to focus on getting B2B onboard."
"Let's partner up with other businesses so that we can focus on what we do best: design."
"Let's do things that matter for those who care."