Amanda Ostrowitz Esq. is the founder and CEO of RegsTechnology (formerly CannaRegs). Residing in San Francisco, Amanda is a regulatory attorney and entrepreneur who developed a comprehensive database of federal, state, and local U.S. cannabis laws. Prior to starting CannaRegs, Amanda worked as a bank examiner at the Denver Branch of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City.
Raised in Glastonbury Connecticut, Amanda moved to Colorado in 2004 and earned her B.A in Economics at Colorado College. She later received her Juris Doctor from the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, and after winning first prize for CannaRegs at the First Annual Massroots Marijuana Technology Startup Competition, she launched the company June of 2015.
Being an entrepreneur is hard. Being a female entrepreneur who has never run a business before is much harder. I’m an attorney and in the early versions of the platform, I built a tool for other attorneys. The platform user base has grown to be much broader, but in the beginning, finding places to test our ideas, and networking with business professionals outside of the legal world was difficult. And of course, access to capital is always hard when your business is still an idea, a Powerpoint (and you) toiling away in your garage. I was fortunate to be able to bootstrap the platform through development and our first group of launch customers helped with overhead before we needed to take outside capital.
I’m inspired by my grandfather who was a Holocaust survivor and arrived in America with nothing. Despite that, he built a terrific life and an amazing legacy for his family through hard work and an unyielding focus that allowed him to get there.
We need to make sure every board has female representation, like in Sweden where they established the first ever feminist government in which gender-equality is central to the governments priorities in policy and decision making. We need females to recruit more females and we need investors to fund more women-run business, men are getting higher valuations consistently hence there is more investment into male dominated companies, this needs to change.
Mentors have been critical to me on my journey. In particular, I had one mentor called John Sasson. John was always able to make me see clearly and when to tell me to take a step back and think about my business. He reminded me that when everything was hitting the fan to keep your mind on the product. There are hard circumstances that can arise and having someone outside your organization is important.
Firstly, when I realized I had to cut people from my team and start fresh – that was scary. We went through a turmoil time and I knew it was time to let people go and give the company a fresh start. I did so but we kept a few of the initial employees but keeping them had a negative influence and it transpired that I also had to let them go. I hired a whole new team of passionate and driven individuals and it has completely refreshed the energy of the company and ultimately changed the culture of the company and we all became more productive because of it.
Secondly, it was hard for me to bring in a new operation’s director who had decades of experience in people management, which I didn’t. Bringing Stacey in allowed me to focus on the bigger picture and take the company to the next level.
Everything we do is challenging, you have to convince other people to work for you for less than they would get elsewhere. At the start, you’re the person doing absolutely everything and then transitioning to CEO and trying to find that balance. Being a first time CEO and getting through the fundraise, it’s all challenging.
Men come in with more confidence shooting for the sky (this can get more funding) and some women question themselves. Women need to think what would a guy say in this conversation? Women need to change their mentality and not hesitate so much. Lean on your network and immerse yourself.