Smoke Wallin, Partner and Managing Director of STS Capital Partners, joined five distinguished leaders at the Eclectic Convergence Cornell Entrepreneurship Summit in New York City on October 21st. The conference was held at the Verizon Executive Education Center at Cornell Tech on Roosevelt Island in New York City. Smoke graduated from The Charles H. Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management, Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Cornell University.
The conversation featured an in-depth look at Smoke’s entrepreneurial journey, leading a global M&A practice, and the importance of giving back. He started with his deep foray into the beverage industry. Right out of college, he was accepted into the Seagram Company Ltd., the largest spirits group in the world at the time, and joined their leadership management program. He quickly moved from sales and marketing to one of the distributors. He helped grow the company to over $1B in total beverage sales through M&A and organic growth of new businesses, eventually exiting into a ~$14B distribution business. This early exposure in his journey as an intrapreneur allowed Smoke to gain an innate understanding of how to build a multi-faceted organization and was invaluable to his transition to the regulated cannabis industry. While still in its infancy, the Cannabis industry presents many opportunities, but equally, there are still many challenges as it transitions into a fully legally regulated market.
His highlights included learning about the positive impact and benefits of the industry in helping with PTSD, chronic pain management, and sleeplessness, and the need to create a stable banking and cash management system. He also addressed dealing with a market whose biggest challenge on a national scale is the illegal market and how to navigate alongside its limited government enforcement. The discussion continued the evolution of other plant-based medicines, including Canada’s newly legalized Psilocybin space. The conversation also touched on his journey into M&A and how he impacted the M&A space by empowering and guiding other business leaders in the journey of their strategic exits. Finally, he addressed the widespread epidemic of homelessness in America and the need and moral mandate for the world’s most prosperous country to solve it.
Smoke Wallin is a highly accomplished CEO, entrepreneur, leader, board member, and philanthropist with leadership across the consumer products, beverage, cannabis, hospitality, health & wellness, distribution, M&A, and technology industries. Smoke serves as a Partner and Managing Director at STS Capital Partners; a global boutique investment bank focused on M&A. Smoke is Co-Founder & Director of DignityMoves.Org created to end unsheltered street homelessness in our communities by building Interim Supportive Housing with rapid, cost-effective, scalable solutions.
The Eclectic Convergence Cornell Entrepreneurship Summit is hosted by Entrepreneurship at Cornell annually, every fall in New York City. The summit features inspiring speakers who are entrepreneurial role models and a chance to network with fellow Cornellians, students, and business executives. The Summit sees approximately 450 enthusiastic attendees, including faculty and alums – many of whom are active entrepreneurs, venture capitalists, and angel investors. The other distinguished speakers at this year’s event included: Amy Bunszel ’89, Executive VP, Autodesk; Josh Wolfe ’99, Co-Founder, Lux Capital; Kate Ryder, Founder & CEO, Maven; Dr. Lara Sullivan ’94, President & CEO, Pyxis Oncology, Marcus Bullock, Founder & CEO, Flikshop.
View the recording here.