Annu Khot: The Indian American Cannabis Entrepreneur

Annu Khot
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“You need to be fiercely independent and a true risk-taker in order to thrive in the US, and I’m so blessed to have developed those traits,” Khot says.

Annu Khot, an Indian American woman who runs a Cannabis dispensary in Chicago, spoke with Hindustan Times detailing her entrepreneurial journey. Despite its wide usage, Cannabis remains a controversial topic of discussion. Its legality is often misconstrued although it is currently legal for recreational use in 24 states in the US.

Born and raised in India, Khot moved to the US in 2008. After witnessing first-hand the medicinal properties of cannabis, Khot set out to launch one of the world’s first cannabis dispensaries opened by an Indian-American woman, known as Socíale.

Speaking about the initial days of her entrepreneurial journey in a field, which is only now getting recognition, Khot revealed the various challenges she faced as an Indian-origin woman. “As an entrepreneur in the cannabis space, I felt like I heard the word ‘no’ more than my own name on some days!” she said.

“Being part of the cannabis industry isn’t for the faint of heart–as an industry that’s not legalized on the federal level, we don’t have access to traditional banks and can’t market through social media.”

“Pushing past these challenges has been one of the most difficult parts of owning Socíale. I always remind myself that I just need one ‘yes’ and not to worry about all of the ‘no’s,’” she added.

Despite India’s rich cultural heritage surrounding the usage of cannabis, Khot faced backlash from people in her own community. “Though cannabis has been a part of Indian traditional medicine for decades, there are still major taboos around the plant. Some older family members and friends were sceptical of the idea…and wished we pursued a more mainstream idea!” Khot recalled.

“However, three months post-launch, they have been floored by the design of our dispensary, our repeat customer base, and the people across age groups who consume cannabis.”

Khot, who has been in the cannabis industry for a long time now, also shared her advice for Indian Americans trying to make it big in the US. “When I first moved to the US, it was a steep learning curve. Back in India, I was constantly surrounded by my family and friends–but in the US, you have to make your own village,” she said.

“Community exists here – you just need to be more intentional about creating it. When it comes to entrepreneurship, you need to go to people with a specific ask – they are not going to fully guide you as is the norm in India. I’ve been lucky enough to connect with mentors who understand my ambitions and support them as they come to life.”

“You need to be fiercely independent and a true risk-taker in order to thrive in the US, and I’m so blessed to have developed those traits,” Khot concluded.