Neil Patel

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In a world where success stories often seem reserved for the privileged few, the journey of Basem Hanna stands out as a beacon of inspiration. From humble beginnings as an immigrant from Egypt to becoming the CEO of a billion-dollar, publicly traded company, Basem’s trajectory is a testament to the power of hard work, resilience, and unwavering determination.

In this blog, Basem also talks about his experiences with transitioning into a good student trying to raise money in a more limited education segment. He also discusses the misinformation around the segment of cannabis. And his efforts to take the immigrant community to the next level.

Listen to the full podcast episode and review the transcript here.

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Immigrant Grit: The Foundation of Success

Basem’s journey begins with the familiar narrative of immigrant struggles. Born in Egypt and raised in Canada by hardworking parents who left their home country in search of a better life, he witnessed firsthand the challenges of starting anew in a foreign land.

Despite facing adversity, Basem’s parents instilled in him the values of perseverance, grit, and the importance of education. Reflecting on his upbringing, he shares, “You either struggle yourself or you watch your parents struggle.”

The experience of seeing his parents transition from skilled professionals in their home country to taking up menial jobs in Canada left an indelible mark on Basem.

His mom is a doctor by training, and his dad is an engineer. He ended up working as a factory line worker or a cashier at McDonald’s.

However, they went back to training, and it took Basem’s mother eight years to become a doctor again. He learned the true meaning of hard work and sacrifice through their resilience and unwavering determination to elevate themselves. As Basem says, it taught him grit and mental strength.

From Mediocrity to Excellence: The Transformative Power of Education

Like many teenagers, Basem admits to not being particularly motivated during his high school years. However, a pivotal shift occurred when he entered university.

Realizing the impending responsibilities of adulthood, he decided to take control of his future. “I wanted to do more, to squeeze everything I can out of this life,” he recalls.

Basem transformed himself from a mediocre student to a high achiever with newfound determination.

Embracing his mother’s mantra of “do your best and leave the rest up to God,” he embarked on a journey of academic excellence. He recalls how getting good grades developed confidence, spurring him to do better.

Basem also realized that not doing his best meant leaving something on the table and not taking advantage of an opportunity, which was a mistake because he would not get it twice.

He left the school to go to and graduate from a different business school, culminating in a successful career in management consulting at Boston Consulting Group.

Foray into the Real Estate Industry

This job platformed Basem’s career in a completely different trajectory. However, he soon decided to transition into the real estate industry. He started working at real estate development shops and for a publicly traded real estate company.

Basem also went on to work for a real estate private equity company. He was 26 when he decided to start his own business based on his career in real estate. This was sometime in 2011 when he bought his first property. Basem bought a second property in 2012 and a third in 2013.

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Seizing Opportunities: From Real Estate to Cannabis

Basem’s entrepreneurial spirit led him to explore diverse industries, from real estate to cannabis. His foray into the cannabis industry was serendipitous, sparked by a conversation at a dinner celebrating a real estate deal.

Recognizing the potential of Canada’s burgeoning medical cannabis market, Basem pivoted his real estate business to venture into cannabis production. He recalls how he saw it as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. He started researching the legalization of medical cannabis in Canada.

Basem realized that Canada was going to be the first country in the world to federally legalize medical cannabis. They were well on their way to making it recreationally legal, probably in a few years, with the legislation coming out in 2014.

Undeterred by the unknowns of a nascent industry, Basem and his team transformed a former industrial building into one of the world’s first cannabis production facilities. Their boldness paid off handsomely, with the company eventually going public and achieving remarkable success.

Scaling and Exiting TerrAscend

Basem remembers approaching his investors with a business plan and getting their buy-ins. Once the company TerrAscend was licensed, Basem took it public and started to scale the operation.

He was 28 when the business started, and by 30, he was the CEO of a billion-dollar, publicly traded medical and recreational cannabis facility that operated in Canada and the US.

As the company started to scale exponentially, Basem and his investment group decided that it was time to bring in professional and seasoned management to take over the helm. Basem was making decisions but was in over his head and handling orders of magnitude.

In 2018, Basem sold the controlling stake of the business to a US private equity firm led by Jason Wild, who successfully took the company to the next level.

As he recalls, the investors had earned 40 to 60 cents a share when the company went public; later, that figure went up to $4 or $5 a share.

However, under Jason’s ownership, the earnings per share rose to a phenomenal $18. At the peak of its evaluation, TerrAscend was worth $5B. Basem anticipates that once the US federal legalization comes through, the company will grow in value from $2.5B to $5B.

As Basem explains, TerrAscend is probably one of the top three global cannabis producers today. It has annual revenues worth around $300M on 50% margins.

Empowering Communities: Redefining the Real Estate Landscape

Driven by a desire to empower his immigrant community, Basem established Almega Capital, a venture aimed at pooling resources to invest in real estate projects.

With a vision to transform immigrant neighborhoods through strategic investments, Basem aims to create sustainable wealth and economic growth within these communities.

Basem talks about the inception of Almega Capital. He came to the conclusion that immigrants like himself in Canada are incredibly unorganized when it comes to their financial literacy and financial capacity. They need better investment avenues like private equity-style deals.

Basem’s experience with big real estate companies and private equity firms gave him the idea to pool financial resources and buy bigger real estate assets than individuals could on their own. This strategy could help them earn higher returns than RSPs and money managers could get them.

Basem’s success in raising significant capital for both the cannabis and real estate ventures underscores his belief that “if there is a will, there is a way.”

He came up with the strategy to purchase apartment buildings, renovate them, and hold them for cash flow, which is what he did from 2011 through 2020.

The cash flow they earned was distributed among the partners, who had twice or three times the money over that time period, depending on when they sold the individual properties. Basem successfully demonstrated that real estate as a group works.

They had the power and ability to organize themselves and level up. Doing development gave them a bigger spread. Basem has shattered barriers through his journey and demonstrated that anything is possible with determination and a clear vision.

Vision for the Immigrant Community

Basem reveals that he has raised close to $50M for Almega Capital. He foresees a time when the company partners can be the largest owners and operators of real estate. They would own and operate rental buildings, commercial Plazas, and industrial buildings.

They would collect rent and earn passive income while watching the real estate appreciate at a scale that would be hard to replicate. Eventually, they can see their economies grow two or three times of what they are now.

Basem has raised money in two different industries. For TerrAscend, he raised around $80M before the IPO; for Almega, he raised $50M.

He looks back at the opposition and resistance he faced at the beginning and how his resilience was able to power through every individual conversation he had.

Storytelling is everything, which is something that Basem Hanna was able to master. Being able to capture the essence of what you are doing in 15 to 20 slides is the key. For a winning deck, take a look at the pitch deck template created by Silicon Valley legend Peter Thiel (see it here), where the most critical slides are highlighted.

Remember to unlock the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.

Lessons Learned: Embracing Self-Belief and Ambition

Reflecting on his journey, Basem offers invaluable advice to aspiring entrepreneurs. He emphasizes the importance of self-belief and overcoming self-imposed limitations. “Don’t be afraid of scale,” he advises his younger self, urging others to dream big and seize opportunities without hesitation.

In a world where uncertainties abound, Basem’s story serves as a potent reminder of the transformative power of resilience, determination, and unwavering ambition.

From immigrant struggles to entrepreneurial triumphs, Basem Hanna’s journey exemplifies the limitless potential within each of us to defy the odds and achieve greatness.

Listen to the full podcast episode to know more, including:

  • Basem Hanna’s journey underscores the transformative power of resilience and hard work in overcoming adversity.
  • Transitioning from a mediocre student to a high achiever, Basem emphasizes the importance of seizing opportunities for personal growth.
  • Basem’s ventures in real estate and cannabis showcase the value of exploring diverse industries and seizing emerging opportunities.
  • Through Omega Real Estate, Basem aims to empower immigrant communities by leveraging collective resources for strategic investments.
  • Basem’s story inspires aspiring entrepreneurs to dream big, embrace self-belief, and pursue opportunities with unwavering determination.
  • Basem’s advice to his younger self underscores the importance of overcoming self-imposed limitations and daring to pursue ambitious goals.
  • From immigrant struggles to entrepreneurial triumphs, Basem’s journey exemplifies the limitless potential within each individual to defy the odds and achieve greatness.



For a winning deck, see the commentary on a pitch deck from an Uber competitor that has raised over $400M (see it here). 

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Remember to unlock for free the pitch deck template that is being used by founders around the world to raise millions below.

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Neil Patel

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