“Oh man, I have come a long way in this industry,” Colby McKenzie says.
McKenzie is the co-founder of Enlighten, a marketing platform that uses tools such as digital signage, digital kiosks and in-store advertising, among others, and has more than 1,300 clients across three countries.
Five years ago, McKenzie had just left his career as a private equity attorney at Weil, Gotshal & Manges in New York and founded his own investment fund with a portfolio of startups and other small companies. From that venture he met and partnered with Jeremy Jacobs to form Eyechronic, the ad-monetized, in-dispensary education network that would eventually become Enlightened.
The business started with a humble collection of 30 Denver dispensaries and soon reached recreational stores in Oregon and Washington. As the company grew in sizev, it grew in scope. More and more customers were asking about other digital services, and being pragmatic, the company obliged them.
“Each time we went through that exercise we would get a little more expansion and a little more expansion and then you look up five years later and you have a really robust solution,” McKenzie says.
McKenzie’s experience in mergers and acquisitions played a big part in the company’s expansion. In 2018, the company acquired numerous intellectual properties and a few new businesses, prompting a name-change to Enlighten to reflect its wider suite of services.
“If someone told me five years ago, after having left a premier New York law firm, that I was going to be in the cannabis space, I would have thought they were crazy,” McKenzie says. “Over the past five years, I have really embraced the cannabis industry and the industry has, in turn, embraced me back.”