Founder and CEO Giadha A. DeCarcer’s journey to the cannabis industry began September 11, 2001, for example. That fateful morning, DeCarcer, who was a few years out of college and working at JP Morgan Chase in New York City, was running late for a team meeting at the World Trade Center. As it turned out, that delay made all the difference.
“Everyone in my office unfortunately passed. I was very lucky to be spared,” she says. “It was the wake-up call I needed to leave banking.”
DeCarcer, a self-described “diplomat brat” and half-Cuban/half-Italian immigrant, decided to go back to her passion, international security, which she studied as an undergraduate at the University of Pennsylvania. So she went back to school, getting her master’s degree at Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service and then joined the War on Terror, working for a “three-letter intelligence organization in the United States.”
She says it was there that she first learned how technology was used to collect information and how to turn human-collected information into “actionable intelligence.” But the lifestyle, though “unique,” was also “gruesome” and while DeCarcer loved the mission, she realized this was not something she wanted to spend the rest of her life doing.
After leaving the organization — and having a “big hole on her resume” at the time due to the nature of her work — DeCarcer founded her first company, GNI International, which in 2007 was the first company to have a patent pending for the type of GPS systems that track driving behavior, used by many insurance companies today. But due to the timing, while it gave her experience with technology and “creds” for her vision, she says the invention and the company did not lead to them becoming millionaires.
“Fresh out of brilliant ideas,” DeCarcer says she went back to analyzing data, opening a small consulting firm with a focus on emerging markets. It was there that she got her first calls about the cannabis industry in 2014. At first, she thought it was a joke, but once convinced the callers were serious, DeCarcer and her firm took a deeper look at the burgeoning industry.
“Through our due diligence, what we realized is there was nothing to base due diligence on,” she says. “Because of my background I connected the dots: data, intelligence and technology, and so the lightbulb went on.”
Within weeks she had shut down the consulting firm and New Frontier Data was founded as a data solutions provider solely focused on the legal, international cannabis industry. As she began to navigate the industry dressed as she always had for work — dark suit, glasses, hair in a tight bun — she realized she stuck out like a sore thumb, but decided to embrace it and found the industry overall very welcoming, though she says many in an industry just emerging from the shadows were reticent at first to share their data with the company.
“It felt like I was asking people to show me their underwear on a first date,” she says. “They were like ‘You want me to do what?’”
Six years later, New Frontier has 30 employees working on four continents and offices in Washington D.C., Denver and London, and DeCarcer says the company continues to grow and embraces its role of elevating the discussion through facts and enabling others to make good decisions, whether in cannabis or hemp, another emerging market she has her eye on.
Looking back, DeCarcer says everything she did led her to this point, where she feels not just happy, but “complete” as she leads a highly diverse team of analysts in an industry with huge potential.
Going forward, New Frontier’s vision is simple, if lofty: to be the global nexus of cannabis data.
“What that means is if you need data, come to us. And if you have data, come to us,” she says with a laugh.