As the cannabis industry matures, operators are finding that it’s time to ditch those simple spreadsheets for more targeted datasets.
t’s been a really exciting journey,” says Colton Griffin, CEO of Flourish Software and a serial entrepreneur developing cannabis supply chain and business management enterprise software for a fast-moving, still-maturing industry.
What’s been missing amid the excitement is better data analytics, including better access to and better use of the data that most cannabis businesses have in some form. That’s where Flourish comes in. “Our background is really heavy into business intelligence and big data focused on supply chain operations,” Griffin says.
Flourish started out by covering the fundamentals of running the business and managing inventory. “But we have really captured some rich sets of data where we can provide actionable insights to help understand operations,” he says. “We have datasets to use from cultivation all the way through retail built into our platform, with other capabilities being codified now to gather more insight into what the industry needs.
“Flourish was really born from interactions with operators in the industry,” Griffin says. “I realized that software and analytics was one of the pain points for these operators, and the idea of providing better analytics for them really just clicked.”
His decision to enter the market was reinforced after the MJ Freeway debacle in 2017, when its seed-to-sale software was repeatedly hacked, causing a panic throughout the industry. At the time, MJ Freeway was one of the main providers of that service. “We have built our software from the ground up, paying close attention to best practices for securing our platform,” Griffin says.
In 2017, he and a core group of four others at Atlanta-based Flourish decided to dive in, and within a few months, their software solution was operational with clients. Flourish has grown from that original staff of four to 30 people.
Inventory management using simple spreadsheets, which is how many early-stage cannabis businesses operate, makes it difficult for companies to instantly provide investors with information they need to track factors that can help scale operations.
“Spreadsheets are not built to be the system of record,” Griffin says. “That is why you need a comprehensive software platform with better structured data for things like inventory control and production costs. We create the path for that.”
Flourish has been working on retail-driven issues such as demand planning and forecasting—for instance, helping dispensaries inform cultivators about what strain they should plant based on what their customers want. “You have to have a good dataset to work off of for that sort of forecasting,” Griffin says. “And it could be 180 days from planting a plant to having it on the shelf, and it has to be orchestrated correctly.”