Sure the latest initiatives from the Teslas, Apples and Googles of the industry tend to dominate the tech news space — and with good reason. Still, the tech titans aren’t the only ones bringing innovation to the sector.
In an effort to highlight up-and-coming startups, Built In launched The Future 5 across 11 major U.S. tech hubs. Each quarter, we will feature five tech startups, nonprofits or entrepreneurs in each of these hubs who just might be working on the next big thing. Read our round-up of Atlanta’s rising startups from last quarter here.
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To thrive in the tech world, companies have to adapt to new circumstances and shift gears at a moment’s notice. Specializing in an industry where change is constant, Flourish Software built a supply chain solution to help cannabis businesses bloom.
Over the course of his career in the enterprise sector, Flourish’s CEO and co-founder Colton Griffin gained extensive practice in data analytics and supply chain operations. In 2017, around the time select states started to legalize cannabis, Griffin decided to put those skills to use within the increasingly popular market.
“Every year, every quarter, a new state is coming online, and it’s either happening by the voters voting it in, or in some states, the legislature approving it to happen,” Griffin told Built In. “We’re all waiting for [a] federal movement to happen but it’s a longer process. So it’s a patchwork of state by state laws.”
More consumers are turning to cannabis for a variety of reasons like health benefits, pushing the global market value to $25 billion, a number that’s expected to grow to $176 billion by 2030. While several states have implemented programs for medicinal and adult recreational cannabis use, these various regulations are inconsistent across different parts of the country. This creates challenges in areas like transporting the product over state lines. Because of this, the cannabis industry is highly fragmented without a steadfast operations system for the space.
“If you live in this industry, you wake up one day and you think, ‘God, I’m late to the party,’ and then you wake up the next day and realize, ‘No, this is just getting started.’”
Flourish is on a mission to build a better system for the cannabis vertical. The company provides logistics software for more than 100 licensed businesses in the cannabis industry across 17 states. It works to enable upstream supply chain operations, including cultivation, manufacturing and distribution, as well as point-of-sale capabilities at retail locations.
“What I think is really exciting about what we build is that [the] connectivity from raw materials through retail sale is pretty unique. There’s not a lot of industries [where] you take something from the dirt all the way to the consumer, especially as one company,” Griffin said.
By passing the Farm Bill in 2018, the U.S. federal government approved the agriculture of hemp for industrial use, however, the rules concerning cannabis bred to have a higher THC content have been much stricter. As use cases for the plant continue to unfold, from consumable treats to wellness products, lawmakers worldwide are easing up on incriminating regulations that have been in place for decades.
“At the end of the day, cannabis is changing medicine, it’s changing recreation, it’s changing cultural norms,” Griffin said. “It’s a massive, interesting movement across the country because it touches so many pieces of people’s lives.”
Since the country is moving away from the age of cannabis prohibition, there are multiple layers of compliance mandates for businesses within the space that differ by state. Flourish works to connect these disparate data points, find common workflows and help its customers seamlessly run their businesses. Growers can use Flourish for tasks like labeling inventory, collecting data on crop harvests, managing the combining of raw materials, shipping and invoicing orders and recalling products immediately.
“We’re trying to create an environment where there’s some equity and participation and opportunity for small businesses to be competitive and thrive and build generational wealth [by] creating new companies [and] great consumer products,” Griffin said.
Flourish prides itself on the growth of its customers since the growth of the cannabis space itself is full of starts and stops. After a state legalizes cannabis, it may take up to two years for a business to garner customers, according to Griffin. From there, it takes up to another two years to get the business on its feet. All the while, growing a single crop takes three to four months of cultivation.
“If you live in this industry, you wake up one day and you think, ‘God, I’m late to the party,’ and then you wake up the next day and realize, ‘No, this is just getting started,’” Griffin said.