“Cannabis is providing the opportunity for tech companies, for operators, and for everybody to stand up and say that, you know what, this is an opportunity to do things a little bit differently. We do not have to follow the way other industries have gone... We're gonna do it our way.” - Peter Huson
Welcome back to the To Be Blunt podcast! In this episode, Shayda Torabi welcomes Peter Huson, Chief of Operations at Backbone, to discuss how he applied his background on music and technology in brand positioning, utilizing marketing opportunities for product awareness, and creating a unique cannabis experience for consumers through speaking the customer’s language.
[00:01 – 06:55] Shayda shares updates of the MJ Bizcon and introducing Peter Huson
[06:56– 14:11] Peter’s Stories on Cannabis Branding through Music and Events
[14:12 – 20:48] Translating Passions into a Language of Understanding and Novelty
[20:49 – 24:41] Recognizing the Various Avenues of Cannabis Marketing
[24:42 – 33:25] Integrations on the Power of Technology in Cannabis
[33:26 – 42:44] Utilizing the Right Tools for Unique Positioning in the Industry
[42:45 – 45:24] Food for Thought: How do you create a unique experience for the consumer?
Peter Huson, PhD, is Chief of Operations at Backbone where he oversees Professional Services, Sales, and Partnerships. Peter holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from UC Santa Barbara, a Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering (subcontracting for NASA), and a PhD in Structural Engineering from UC San Diego. Peter is also co-founder of the Northern Nights Music Festival in partnership with Starr Hill Presents/Red Light Management, having co-authored AB2020 allowing Northern Nights to be the first festival with legal cannabis sales — this led to co-managing compliance and operations for both the Northern Nights Tree Lounge and Outside Lands Grasslands, paving the way for future events in California. Additionally, Peter is Co-Founder and COO at One Log Cannabis Business Park, Compliance Officer at Mesh Ventures, and to date, he’s successfully acquired over 50 cannabis licenses across the supply chain.
Connect with Peter
Follow him on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn @backbonesoftware
Shayda Torabi has been called one of the most influential Women in WordPress and now she’s one of the women leading the cannabis reformation conversation building one of Texas’ premier CBD brands. She's currently the CEO and Co-Founder of RESTART CBD, a female-run education first CBD wellness brand. And has formerly held marketing positions at WP Engine and WebDevStudios. Shayda is the host of a podcast for cannabis marketers called To Be Blunt, where she interviews top cannabis brands on their most successful marketing initiatives. When Shayda's not building her cannabiz in Texas, you can find her on the road exploring the best hikes and spots for vegan ice cream. Follow Shayda at @theshaydatorabi
“It's the big time normalization, especially from a music festival standpoint, which is, you know, you can have straight edge people that normally wouldn't party, normally wouldn't necessarily let themselves go. But they do it once in a while at a music festival that they go to every year.” - Peter Huson
SPONSORSHIP is brought to you by Restart CBD. Check them out for your CBD needs
LEAVE A REVIEW + help someone who wants to join me for episodes featuring some serious cannabis industry by sharing this episode or click here to listen to past episodes
Peter Huson 0:00
I mean look like obviously ag tech supply chain ESG are all very strong buzzwords these days. And luckily for us, we're kind of sitting right in the middle of that. And at the end of the day, right, if you look at it's kind of interesting. So first and foremost, right? You've got so for everyone to understand, like recording and reporting to the government every day on what you've done is the most restrictive and most difficult thing that's out there. Nobody makes you do that. But because you're doing that, right, that means there's a lot more data available because you're required to do it.
You're listening to two B one B podcast for cannabis marketers, where your host Shayda Torabi and her guests are trailblazing the path to marketing, educating and professionalizing cannabis light one up and listen up. Here's your host Shayda Torabi.
Shayda Torabi 1:07
Hello everybody. Welcome back to another episode of The to be blonde podcast. I'm your host Shayda Torabi get him his business owner and brand marketer. Also, if you can't tell my voice is super shot. I am on what is day five of mjbizcon mj unpacked, currently sitting in my hotel room, waiting for dinner overlooking the Vegas strip and just super exhausted if I'm being really honest, but also really grateful really excited for all the things that I was able to absorb learn the people I was able to meet the parties I was able to attend the brand activations I was able to see I think that was Whoa, like there needs to be like a whole friggin episode on these mjbizcon brand activations. Like literally if you can just picture going to, especially for those of us in Austin, if you can picture go to like a South by Southwest party sponsored by like Amazon or the New York Times. This was like sponsored by puffco. And there was like free dabs and all this like you know, interesting aspects that you might see when you go to a food and beverage kind of event or like those aspects was like open bar. This was like an open cannabis bar. It was really truly otherworldly. And like I said, I still haven't fully recovered. So unfortunately, this is the version of me that you are getting this Monday morning. So if you're on the struggle bus coming back from mjbizcon, you are certainly not alone. Honestly, I'm recording this on a Friday, and I literally can't wait for Monday. Like I look forward to how I feel on Monday. Because I imagine it'll be a little bit better than how I'm feeling presently. But nonetheless, we progress on. And so yeah, I will talk more about MJ biz MJ unpacked in upcoming episodes, I did do some live recordings while I was here. So that's super fun. I can't wait to share those episodes with y'all and really just like take a chance to step away from the conference and really digest everything that happened to me. I'm still in the Vegas Hi. Definitely pun intended. But transitioning into today's episode is a gentleman who I think our conversation will really inform delight and challenge you because my guest Peter Houston, he is the CEO of backbone backbone is a for all intents and purpose a data tracking company that helps basically businesses understand the seed to sale process, and are all the different intervals, you know, kind of how things are working, how is their cultivation going? And what is that data reporting? How is retail going? And what's that data reporting. So it can give the business that insight to better prepare themselves to make smarter decisions, smarter calls, and create, innovate and build that brand forward. So definitely don't want to take away from obviously the function of what backbone does. But I think Peter has a really interesting kind of, you know, side life, if you will, although I'm sure he doesn't think that he puts them in buckets or separates them. But it was definitely interesting information for me to learn that aside from Peter being the chief operating officer of backbone. He is also the co founder of Northern Knights Music Festival, which is a very popular electronic music festival that takes place in California, and even more so the reason that that is super relevant. But sidebar for those of you who do know this or don't know this about me, my background prior to getting into cannabis was technology. And prior to getting into technology, I was in the music industry in Austin and so live music and experiential marketing is something that it's my language. It's literally like the thing that I think I correlate that to brand marketing because branding to me is so much about the experience, but like really if you're want to get into the nitty gritty of like, where I really fell in love with my passion for marketing, it was live music, it was like how do I feel when I go to this concert and why Is the aspect what is the sound? What is the lights? What is the design the decor, the stage decorations? Like what is what does all that come together to make me feel like wow, how did I feel when I was listening to this band have this live set. So that's always resonated with me. And even though I don't work in live music, I definitely believe that cannabis is what kind of created that bridge for me because it's no secret cannabis and music go hand in hand. So when I learned that Peter was the co founder of this music festival, that made me even more interested in just like getting to pick his brain because I think that there's so many ways to be in the cannabis industry, of course. And so to me, like live music, and also data, and technology don't always overlap. So if you're also like interesting, then keep listening, because Peter is a wealth of knowledge. But I don't want to steal his thunder, who talked about it a little bit more in the episode. But basically, while he was at Northern knights, he helped establish and change law in the state of California that allowed for Northern Knights to be the first music festival to allow cannabis consumption on property on premise. And now that is something that has influenced a few other events in California and has opened up the dialogue and the opportunity for on premise consumption. And it might be something that you're like, Whoa, I didn't even know that we couldn't have that or wait, we don't have that in my state. Like how do I establish that law? Peter kind of touches on how he went through that, you know, process to establish to be able to step into position to help make that you know, influence happen, and ultimately change the law so that you can't consume cannabis on premise at a concert listening to your favorite brand and creating more of that continued brand experience. So again, super excited to have Peter on the show. We touch on a wide range of basically everything I just shared, but you'll get to hear from Peter. So let's just welcome Peter to the show.
Peter Huson 6:56
My name is Peter Houston. I'm the Chief Operating Officer at backbone software. I've got a few other hats that I wear. I am the co founder of a music festival called northern Knights Music Festival, also co founded a cannabis business park in southern Humboldt, Northern Mendocino. So working on a few different aspects and they do all tie together on the cannabis side of things.
Shayda Torabi 7:16
Well, let's kind of kick off you know, from that perspective, I think when I was reading your profile definitely want to get into backbone since that's kind of the primary hat you wear but maybe we'll touch on that in a little bit. I want to hear about your experience of music one because I come from the live music background myself being here in Austin you know we tout ourselves black music capital of the world. I often share that you know, cannabis and music is really where I found my you know, happiness that's really where I found my happiness and love for the cannabis plant and the extent of you know, you listen to good music and you smoke some bud and everybody feels great and it makes the music more enjoyable. So kind of, you know, what is that journey? I mean, you also have a PhD How did you get into live music and what are some of the things that you saw were maybe missing from the live music experience that you were able to introduce cannabis into and what that has done for live music from your perspective
Peter Huson 8:11
Yeah, I mean, I think you hit the nail on the head right? I mean, how do we all start right we started by us you know, smoking in the car and bombs and bass louder always been very into music specifically I kind of pride myself and you know, one of my favorite things when we had CDs back in the day is when you'd get in one of your friends cars like you know that you haven't seen in a while and there's still a slap in the CD that you gave them like a year ago is like my favorite it's like one of your you know, ego hits right when that happens. But yeah, I mean it all really was just started that enjoying that right? hosting parties, whether it's at your parents house or whatnot, and then kind of you know, always went to school as an engineer, but you know, I was always extroverted i think is the best way to put it. So I you know, consistently was hosting events got into promoting I mean, you know, we were doing shows in San Francisco, we had grid sleep on our couch and do his laundry at our house, right, like back in the day. So it's always kind of tried to be on like the forefront of on the music side. And at the same time, right, it goes hand in hand with being with your buddies and smoking weed. And to be honest, it's also cannabis has been something that's slow to help, like, slow down the noise in the mind a little bit. Sometimes there's a lot going on, and it kind of settles things down and gives you a little bit perspective on things. So I think that's natural for many folks. And yeah, I mean, school grade college, gray grad school, great, did a lot of interesting work there, but a lot of like defense work and not necessarily, I'd say making the world a better place. And so you know, on that end, I think that you know, you can go through all the motions and people tell you're supposed to do things and you're good at certain things. And at the end of the day, right, what's the meaning of what you're contributing to this world right now? Right and to the people around you, and so you know, what really Gets me happiest when you've got people, you know, dancing to music, and especially if you know, you're able to provide that venue for them. And so I think that's kind of what led up to, I don't know, for whatever reason there was a checkbox in life that needed to throw the biggest party possible. And so we started that in 2013. Build it very organically, last harass too many times, as one person said in the music industry, right? It's kind of like compulsive gambling. And so a went through that we actually were lucky enough since we're in Northern California Emerald triangle, we really got lucky in terms of the Emerald cup and that team from Mendocino we kind of all they took us under their wing, they were connected with Korean Capshaw on the red light and psycho presents group, which I'm sure see three, you know, very well, Korean Robbie, Jim Louis, Pat. And that team kind of took us under their wing as independent promoters and said, Hey, this is you guys are the type of people we'd like to support. And I really appreciate the way in which corn and his team, they look out for those independent folks. So they really came in and gave us kind of the shot in the arm and the boost that we needed to kind of Excel. And that really kind of, at the end of it come 2018 and not the end of it. But the sixth year of it, we're sitting there, and you know, legalization has kind of come to the table here in California, we had kind of connected with a lot of the operators in cannabis just from being in the region, you can't be up there and turn a blind eye to what's powering that economy at that time. And so, you know, engaging, understanding what was needed up there. And at the end of the day, right to having folks like myself who are I can handle the government relations, I can handle the cops, I can handle the Board of Supervisors, I can deal with all the people that they don't want to deal with. So it was kind of a natural thing where they said, Hey, I see you getting permits for this music festival in Mendocino and Humboldt, like, you have to get these weed permits. And I said, that sounds interesting. And you know, there's more of a challenge there, right? Fighting for water rights, right? Fighting for trying to get a handle on you know, what you're allowed to do and what you're not allowed to do and how to go ahead and, you know, not manipulate things, but at the end of the day, like you can really understand what they're like, what's the intent of what they're trying to say? and ensure that you're kind of following that intent. And so I started getting licenses for folks started getting myself deeper and trench into the industry. And it was way too interesting not to become an operator. I think as you probably mentioned earlier, it's kind of you get sucked into it, and you're like, Okay, like this is the culture that in a lot of ways, right? We're fighting for from a counterculture standpoint, right. We've been doing that and music and cannabis since the beginning. So yeah, and you know, that's what really started to get my interest in what was happening California was really progressive and doing this event permit for cannabis events, right? And that really stemmed from the Emerald cup in High Times having those you know, to 15 vendor villages and whatnot. And so the way we kind of looked at it, though, was well, you know, and this is where I get into what was the intent was the intent to do that? Well, we said no, why don't we actually turn that into a run in a concessionaire model? And so we helped pass a bill in California that allowed it to be you know, be held at private events. And you know, in 2019 we held a four day 8000 person camping festival finally got Zoo I've been trying to get Zoo forever. I was like,
Shayda Torabi 13:12
I remember how about the zoo?
Peter Huson 13:14
I remember 20 I was looking at my emails right in 2013 and there was two that I was like, zoo and major laser I still haven't gotten to major laser but that'll be down the road.
Shayda Torabi 13:25
I want to invite without event is going down major laser is my number one. I'm putting it out in the universe.
Peter Huson 13:30
Me too. I mean, I you know, but I've been following Diplo on that whole things is the Mad Decent days and that whole kind of just like and that's what I'm, I kind of feel like somewhat like proud of Major Lazer in terms of like, they came from that like really hard streets like counter. I don't know if I can swear on this. But if everybody like we're gonna do whatever the hell we want, right? And we see that all of a sudden on the other side come out on top for the entire world is dancing to that beat right is really powerful. And so I think intention wise it's kind of just like standing up for the little guy standing up for what you believe in. And at the end of the day, just the man's trying to tell you you can't do something like do you're going to do everything that you can to say Yes, I can.
Shayda Torabi 14:12
Absolutely no I love that story. I think it's so one insightful just for listeners to understand obviously, you know, like, you had all these different skill sets and passions and kind of like things that you were you know, cultivating no pun intended, but obviously also the the geography for which you were existing and an operating and was also just like super hyper focused on cannabis and like you highlighted it's, you know, the economy was just so driven by that influence. And so being able to take these passions and kind of find yourself in a position to like, kind of translate it and distill it into being able to speak the language of understanding like, okay, you know, I like music, I like cannabis. But hey, we do have to navigate and deal with the law and then being able to go in and help pass a bill that's going to make it possible for us. Only your business to succeed from that capacity of being able to introduce consuming on the property of the music festival. But obviously, that has so many other reverb effects in terms of being able, I mean, like you go to anywhere on social media with a cannabis brand in California, and they're talking about consumption events, they're talking about being able to do this kind of, you know, opportunity of bringing the plant obviously to the people in a, quote unquote, legal way where people can actually enjoy the plant on the premise, which is something that, you know, for us here in Texas, we obviously don't have in that capacity. And I think even other legal states are struggling still, I think Nevada is just now kind of working on consumption lounges. And I've heard of kind of some onesy, twosie kind of things, maybe in Colorado, here or there. But it's still such a new thing that again, I try to, I don't know, highlight these stories, because people don't really hear understand that, like, they just don't realize, like, you can't do certain things like I think from a tourist perspective, right? People assume and for all of us listening, or especially myself, like you go to a music festival, you consume cannabis, whether it's legal or not, but obviously to you know, want to be able to do it legally, and have that opportunity to embrace it, not only for consuming, but kind of the way that you approached it, you were able to bring concessions. Can you explain a little bit more about what that is? It's like actually being able to sell cannabis on the property and being able to make transactions, right?
Peter Huson 16:21
Yeah. Yeah, absolutely. I mean, look like, then it's funny, right? Because then, you know, it's especially the press, right? It's like when they ask, I remember in the beginning to like you, the press wants to ask, and they're saying, Well, you know, or how are you going to handle you know, that area between the weed garden beer garden where people have drank and you know, maybe they've smoked, what are you going to do? And it's like, my answer is like, it's a music festival. Like, what? How do you want me to answer that question, right, since the dawn of time, exactly. Somehow, the government and everybody else has said, Oh, it's a music festival, right? And yes, it's on the promoters to you know, they're supposed to be regulating and everything else. But at the end of the day, if you think about it, it's kind of cool, that everyone kind of says, Oh, it's just a music festival, right? Like, I mean, think about it, you could be rated any music festival anytime, right? I can just say, No, there's all of that happening there. And, you know, culture almost wins in that sense, right? And that they say, okay, you can do whatever you need. But on that same token, I'd say like, there's the Oh, answer your concessions question, but I kind of want to get back to kind of the intent of it, right? It's like, Sure, you can bring your own weed in the somewhere, sure, you can do your own thing. And I think it's more of the novelty of saying that, hey, there's a new concoction. There's a new rosin thing and it's more about this concept of you're not you know, you first and foremost, it's this novelty concept where Wow, I can go in and buy something that's I wouldn't normally able to buy. Number two, it's the big time normalization, especially from a music festival standpoint, which is, you know, you can have straight edge people that normally wouldn't party normally wouldn't necessarily let themselves go. But they do it once in a while at a music festival that they go to every year. Right? And so if that's the place where you know, the normal, more straight edge, Joe, the world says, I'm going to let loose a little bit. Right then what a beautiful way to introduce him to cannabis with a little bit more education and guidance and dosages. And rather than just say, hey, eat this vegan brownie from some friggin you know, some work who they just came out of the corner and is going to give you a brownie versus like a bar, a bud tender that's gonna say, oh, you're new to Canada? I mean, I remember my parents shopping at the treeline, right. And my dad, you know, of course, not my favorite. But you know, he gets the doses, and he thinks it's the most beautiful, amazing thing because it doses him perfectly right. And it's like, the novelty of it right and normalize it for him. And so in general, I think that's kind of the more power of it more than anything else. I think that's once and again, obviously, I'm used to it. So I can say that other people are like, well, I can just smoke some weed wherever I want. It's legal, right? It's, you know, at the end of the day, sure, you've got your lounge where you're supposed to be confined to right, but the whole idea is, you know, just to be respectful about what you're doing to just like, you're aware you're smoking cigarettes or drinking alcohol. So anyway, on that side, and then on the consistent side, yeah, I mean, that was the the goal, right is to kind of turn around and be able to transact and have people come in and make purchases and get educated about the brand and go through that buying experience. Now, it's you got to look at it a little bit differently in the terms of like, alcohol is a little bit more straightforward, right? It's a $2 pour and a $15 Cup, the profit margins, everyone understands them. It's been happening forever. Versus cannabis where you know, there's a different price point for a cart or an eighth or, and the taxes and those margins are not necessarily there. So it's also been a big education to everybody in the industry to understand that. Pick your products carefully, right, your margins are going to be higher on things like pre rolls and beverages and things like that. Basically you can have that type of margin. But outside of that, right, I don't foresee it, you know, people spending, you know, on those types of margins, we think about a cart that's 50 bucks on the margins of alcohol, you're not going to go in and pay $350 or $500, or what that markup is for alcohol, right? So there is that piece of it, a lot of it's going to end up being and it has been a sponsorship is where the money is going to be on all of that placement branding, as it always has been. That's the only thing I kind of make sure everybody's aware of that Oh, and jump in and say I'm gonna sell a bunch of weed and music festival and get rich, right? Like, you're going to set the tone you're going to establish yourself and hopefully you're going to have the support from brands enough that want the presence at your event that will actually make it such a big offering. And that's what we really saw was just the sponsorship vertical and all of our sponsorships ended up being over 50% of what we used to do.
Shayda Torabi 20:49
Now I'm glad you brought that up because I do think that's an interesting Avenue just from what i've again understood from the music industry and just coming from an event background myself and obviously overlaying it with cannabis. I mean, people think it's hard to be on social media, right? But they don't really realize other areas where it might be taboo or not welcome for cannabis brands to sponsor and so I think music festivals, just given everything that we've both kind of highlighted obviously it kind of is like a no brainer for cannabis and music to go together but it's been so off limits for brands to even be able to sponsor music festivals. So from what I've understood your event is really one of the only ones that's actually allowing it like I talked to someone from Coachella and they were saying that I guess they've had cannabis brands try to sponsor Coachella Coachella is like really anti it so I think it's still
Peter Huson 21:35
traded right that's the bit that's the bottom line and so like Outside Lands northern nights were so independent and that so
Shayda Torabi 21:42
you can kind of make the decision to do it do what we need to do but
Peter Huson 21:46
don't get that twisted either right Live Nation ag right there right there they know exactly what they're doing they're definitely going to be in the mix here so they're waiting on one I don't even know if they're waiting I'd say there's definitely some action happening so I would say by no means you know and this is not to discourage anybody absolutely do your thing but don't get it twisted as if like somehow they're not paying attention.
Shayda Torabi 22:15
Hello, just want to take a quick moment to thank my sponsor and full disclosure my company restart CBD, restart CBD is a brand that I built with my sister so we are family owned and a women owned we do operate a brick and mortar in Austin so if you ever find yourself in Central Texas, we'd love for you to come say hi, but we also ship nationwide and we carry a wide range of CBD products. We really care about this plant we really care about educating our customers this show would not be possible without their support so please go check us out at restart CBD calm and use code to be blunt for $5 off your next purchase. Thanks and let's go back to the show. No, that's a fair point. It's definitely kind of like a quick story from our perspective. You know, we're in Austin ACL c three puts them on now Live Nation, we got a call from one of our partners, we are top CBD brand in town. We'd like to educate people like you highlighted, you know, it's not just I'm going to sell my product at this festival. It's like how do I kind of create this environment to educate people. So we got a call one day from one of our vendors are like, Hey, we want to know if you can supply like X amount of CBD. We have a really big event coming up. And we're kind of like, you know, it's October. We know what October is it's ACL like, what do you and this is a couple of years ago before COVID and they're like, we can't tell you what the event is we don't know yet. And it ended up being ACL so it was a company called tiny pies, they were making a CBD Carmel sauce for one of their Texas Two Step pies. And at the time, you didn't really see CBD vendors be able to go pop up and do vendor ship in the markets and things like that. But these food companies were able to kind of you know, start incorporating it into some of their products. And so that activation ended up being super popular for tiny pies as well as a great experience for us to be a part of the festival without actually being a part of the festival. I think this year I saw some CBD vendors were able to pop up so it's obviously evolving in that regard. But just kind of you know, fodder for you know, people listening and thinking of different interesting ways to kind of you know, I don't know say like capitalize but just like lean into these new marketing opportunities, right? It's just it's evolving and it's obviously taking people and individuals like yourself who are in positions to create that influence and kind of challenge that law and challenge the norm to be able to go like build the pathway for it to be so so super great story. I want to transition a little bit into backbone now. Just understanding obviously the power of technology when it comes to cannabis I don't think is lost on the industry, especially when you realize so many of these larger brands obviously come from other successful industries. So technology integrations, you know, improving kind of the streamline of your flow, being able to leverage true data. Like that's not new. And it's not new to cannabis. But it is actually kind of new to cannabis. Because I do think you have a lot of people who want from my experience, the integrations are far and few between. So it's kind of like a call to action for anybody who's in tech, like we need more technology in the cannabis industry, but to just being able to go implement it and make it all function and work. So I'm curious kind of from your purview, and the position that you're in, and obviously, just the influence that backbone has had in the industry. I mean, you have an amazing roster of clients who have adopted your product, kind of, you know, what is backbone? How does it work from a high level perspective? And what has backbone done? Kind of prior to backbone? What were people having to do that now, backbone helps clients navigate better?
Peter Huson 25:52
Yeah, I think the best way to reframe that, in a sense is that it's not just that tech is new to cannabis, but it's also that cannabis is new to tech. And when I say that, and I'll kind of explain what I mean by that is, the big systems that are out there today, for really large companies, the oracles, the sap is right that are out there. That's not a light endeavor, right. And I think that everybody's got to be a little bit careful when they start using the words e RPS, and kind of throwing out and saying, oh, like, like, an understanding of what that means, from the very beginning, I think it's kind of lost, and people, people get lost in these acronyms of the different things that they supposedly need to operate. And I think there's just a big lack of education in terms of actually what that means and what they do. And as you know, what happens is the cannabis industry, there is a good portion of people, especially the operators, and the boots on the ground that haven't come from other industries, they've been doing this for a long time. And they're good at what they do, they're great at their craft, but at the end of the day, they're going to be new to these types of systems. And these systems hasn't seen the cannabis plant, every strain is different. Every harvest is different, every appellation is different, every genetic is different. And so at the end of the day, what we've really found is that the you cannot it's a kind of like a square peg in a round hole, right? Trying to go ahead and say, Well, this works for other industries, it has to work for this industry. And I think we found that there's a lot of nuances and they needed the flexibility. And so when we kind of approached this, we really did take it Luckily for us, our you know, our development team, they can be doing a lot of different things right now. But they decided because of the culture. And if you really look at it, like cannabis is actually almost like the anti bro culture of tech Silicon Valley in tech that it's been. And so I think what we found is a lot of people who are sick of the bro culture in tech, really said this cannabis industry actually lends itself a little bit more to our ideals. And how do we kind of go ahead and take this on from a cultural standpoint. And I think that's been the most interesting approach. So we've got really strong folks from, you know, from NetSuite from sage, from Intuit, and kind of really strong enterprise developers who have been, you know, willing to come in to kind of a team of us, Cannabis, I don't want to say floaters. But I want to say helpers, right? It's like, so there's, what cannabis is needed is all the consultants and all the bookkeepers and all of the lawyers, and all of the folks who just been trying to push this industry along and helping all of those people who didn't really have the tools, and so kind of a group of cannabis consultants and a group of very enterprise technologists have been working on, how do we take the best pieces of you know, a lot of MRP and MRP systems that are out there. And one of the classic faults of those things is that they're not operator friendly. They're you're not going to get your night shift, I would say the graveyard shift. Can you get the graveyard shift to buy in to using that? And at the end of the day, what are we talking about is live data capture, right, like the most to get visibility into whatever you're doing all the fancy terms that everybody want to use around automation and etc. It's, at the end of the day, how much data about what's happening in real time is available. And in order to do that, you're going to have to get buy in from the graveyard shift to say, I get this enough that I'm going to buy into it that I'm going to actually make this part of my workflow, rather than a hassle that I have to kind of do separately. And I think that's been the approach that we took in this first and foremost was boots on the ground. Right. And I think if you understand if you've seen the cannabis industry, that's where people get the most upset is people who don't respect the boots on the ground and the people who have been doing this for so long. And so I think that is you know, I we were lucky enough that we were in the Emerald triangle and folks around us were willing to kind of, you know, say hey, I'm an operator peter out Do you, you know, shout out, you know not, or at the madrone team, Mac, and a lot of those folks who said guys will let you into our kind of world here, right and understand it, and it will kind of show you the ropes of all of this. And at the end of the day, it's like to be able to turn around and say, Okay, now I get how this supply chain is working, I see where the bottlenecks are going to be why you've, you've never had a, you know, it's been farm to club forever, right, there was never a processing and manufacturing and additional license, right, like none of that existed. So that's where we said, That's gonna be the bottleneck. That's actually where a lot of the branding, co packing, and brands are going to be right. And that's where the money is gonna end up being. And so we really that was our thesis was that retail is going to be a race to the bottom, cultivation is going to be a race to commodity. And that middle piece where kind of all the actions happening on both those sides will be where the margins will be. People can argue each left, right, and either way that you want to, I think regardless of the margins, I think the most interesting problems that started to show themselves in the middle of the supply chain, and that's where we really focused on. So that's kind of the whole goal here was to say, how do we give put a tool in the hands of the operator, where they're going to say, Oh, this is an invitation for me to input data, but I like it because it feels like me, it smells like me, it tastes like me, it looks like me. And so that was really the name of the game was that's the approach we've had. And so we've done this for we've been around for about four years right now, people think we're new, it was just more that we weren't really pounding our chests about things, we were just building things. And word of mouth was is always the strongest thing in cannabis. It always has been. And now we're fortunate enough that we've made it this far, a lot of companies don't very lucky that we have and, you know, we always continue to keep this kind of idea or a backbone that's like, how are you going to try and you know, unite cannabis and tech culture? externally? If you can't do it internally first. And I think we're still right today, like, you know, what do they say eating your own dog food, I think somebody said the other day or drinking your own champagne, whatever the word is, is like snuck in your own milk in your own blood, right? All of that. And so I think we're still doing that we're still walking. We're still getting through that right now. And it's a cool it's a it's a very interesting thing, every single operator in cannabis across the world right now it's got a different take on what they do. I don't want to spoil the boat here. But people are a lot of people are doing the same exact thing to just call it different things and do it in different ways. So give them credit words do and most importantly, I think we were just looking for best practices, right? I mean, that's the end of the day. And I heard what you said about integrations right? And I hear the integrations. I know, nobody wants double entry. Nobody wants more work. However, I'm starting to see a pattern right now where, yes, everyone wants all the integrations to work. But at the end of the day, I'm finding that a lot of these investors and executives actually what they're asking for is to say, Look, you've worked with hundreds of companies across the world now in cannabis, like, Can you just get my team of stoners to best practices template and just get them to like, just the basics, please? Right. And I feel like that's kind of where we've slowed down a little bit and try to, don't get too complicated, right, it's very easy for us to try to solve all of the bookend pieces, all of the variations are going to take into account and at the end of the day, you spend too much time thinking about the 5%. Right, you missed the 95%, which was just get them going.
Shayda Torabi 33:26
Yeah, that's a really fair point, I think you really spoke to me when you talked about obviously, tech culture, which is very unique and specific to kind of this bro culture kind of environment. And it doesn't obviously translate into cannabis. And furthermore, you know, you do have this almost clash, but I think it can have some moments of overlap and embrace between the enterprise, right, and then the actual, like boots on the ground, like you were defining. And obviously, the boots in the ground is what created and established this industry. But to neglect that the enterprise is also you know, being a part or not being a part is not smart, either. So it's just, you know, trying to navigate and kind of figure out and find, what are the right tools that fit slash work for me in the unique position that I'm in, in the industry, whether I'm kind of like you highlighted maybe just a retailer versus I want to cultivate, maybe I want to cultivate, you know, three acres versus 300 acres, those are, you know, different levels of scale. And I think, for people, not that every enterprise, you know, to kind of say was always you know, it always started from one seed, and then it grew. But like that's kind of the idea, right? Like, I believe anybody can be successful and reach these different levels of success. But coming from a technological background, I always really believe in like, how are you building your house? How are you building your ship? Like what is the foundation for which you are building this business? Maybe again, you aren't 300 acres right now or 300 stores or, you know, international or even a multi state operator, but could you be and so how Build your setup today definitely is something for consideration of maybe where you want to be three 510 years from now, especially as the industry continues to grow and change. So I wanted to pull something from your website that I saw just, you know, obviously, we're a marketing branding podcast and you had a quote from burner cookies, it said, backbone is our brand playbook, we have so many moving parts. And backbone helps us keep track of what's happening and what we need to do next. And you kind of mentioned it when you were discussing, obviously, the supply chain and the different facets of it. I'm curious from your, you know, perspective, how backbone does actually help enable the brand at the end of the day to, to do what the brand does best, right? I mean, some states are vertically integrated, required, some are not. So there's definitely these different levels of what you're actually involved with in the supply chain. But knowing that, you know, branding is definitely on the heart of myself, and most of my listeners is just, you know, I'm curious to kind of dive into that thought a little bit more.
Peter Huson 36:00
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, look like, you know, obviously, ag tech supply chain ESG are all very strong buzzwords these days. And luckily for us, we're kind of sitting right in the middle of that. And at the end of the day, right, if you look at the it's kind of interesting. So first and foremost, right, you've got, you know, cannabis is one of it. So for everyone to understand, like, recording and reporting to the government every day on what you've done, is the most restrictive and most difficult thing that's out there, nobody makes you do that. But because you're doing that, right, that means there's a lot more data available, because you're required to do it. Right. And so that means there it is. And so with that data of being available, what it starts to say, for a brand is one of the hardest things for a brand is to say, Okay, I want to put a bunch of money into this, I'm going to get a manufacturer and a grower, and I'm going to have them kind of help me create these products, well, you're going to put a bunch of money up, and what visibility Are you going to get in terms of how things are going, right? Usually, you know, in the past, maybe a monthly report, they're going to say, and they're going to write you an email, everything's going great, we've done this many products, etc. So that's great to kind of start out. But as you start to scale, the biggest things that you see is just the lack of kind of visibility of you as the brand being able to say, How are my costs of production doing right? Why am I waiting at the end of the month to find out that my costs went up, because you guys bought a new piece of equipment, right? Like those, that's the type of information that's going to affect my bottom line. And so cannabis, as well, because of its federal, illegal, and everyone's in their own kind of pod by state, what that does is that it actually makes for what's happening across the world from a distributed supply chain, where you can't, you don't have to own every building and put up get raised hundreds of 1000s and millions of dollars to buy everything you can be what you know, we really were headed is this asset light, right? Where you say no, I'm going to get a grower with the capacity that I need that it with the genetics that I need a you know processor, that's going to do it the way that I want to do it, whether you're in a solventless, or whatever you're into, and hone on their craft, and be able to kind of with a minimal effort as much as possible, be able to get some insight into how things are going across your supply chain, and across your brand without having to you know, essentially buy everything to enforce it. And so I think that's the name of the game is like that relationship between the brand and their suppliers. That's where this all kind of stems from is what is that relationship? Like? how transparent is it? How much information is getting back and forth to each other? And so for us, that kind of lighter weight, being able to say, hey, if I if you share your production data with me, Well, why I'll give you insight into how things are selling and we're gonna get paid, right? That seems like a pretty normal transaction to say, Oh, that's fair. Like, I'll give you more info and you'll give me more info. But you can imagine that's not necessarily like, like, so obvious to everybody else. So I think that's I think that's a big message is to say that you do not this day and age, if you look at the rest of industries, you look at Apple, they can on a on a dime, if they want to switch who's doing all of their manufacturing, they'll just find out someone else with the same capacity, put up their slps and move to the next right they don't need to buy the facilities, they need to buy the capacity. And I think that's kind of where that's that's the big thing that we're seeing in cannabis is just almost emphasizing that distributed asset light supply chains is where this world is going. And cannabis is providing the opportunity for tech companies for for operators and for everybody to stand up and say that, you know what, this is an opportunity to do things a little bit different. We do not have to follow the way other industries have gone. And so fuck that we're gonna do things a little bit differently. We're gonna do it our way
Shayda Torabi 40:00
I think that's so smart. And on the money, obviously, I think, you know, even just speaking from my own experience in the, you know, fractions that I've been involved in the industry here in Texas, you know, we don't know what we don't know. And so sometimes you're you kind of get into it again, like I was saying, like people have the green in their eyes, and like, oh, cannabis is either taking off, I want to be part of this industry, but don't really understand how to navigate it necessarily, and what are the different components for being able to be smart about the investment that they're making. And sometimes, I do think that the industry gets a little bit of a bad reputation in terms of like this massive overhead, I feel like you have to invest so much should be a part of it. And I do think that's a little bit of a fault to the industry, to the extent to have, like, regulations vary state to state and even municipality to municipality. So there are different requirements. So I don't want to shy away and kind of make people think like, Oh, it's you know, anything you want to dream up, you can go do definitely check what your state regulations and compliance requirements are before you get in the industry, or take the next step, per se. But obviously, being able to leverage technology like backbone and just have that understanding of when you are able to adopt technology, it can ultimately empower you to be planful, to be mindful of where you are investing and where you could maybe be making more margin or just obviously providing you that insight of like, hey, everything's working great, you know, continue on what you're doing. So
Peter Huson 41:25
it doesn't always have to be a fire alarm. Right, exactly. That's the biggest thing, though. And I think in any emerging industry, everything is always a fire alarm. Like there's, that's not going well. And I have to do 10,000 million things differently. And at the end of the day, like, Where's your baseline? Like? Have you given your baseline and like, we see this on the ESG. front as well, like, I know, I mentioned that before, but like you think about supply chain, you think about the vendors that you work with you think about the vendors that they work with, right. And so we're also kind of working with a company called regenesis. Very, very progressive team. And really just focus in also using cannabis as an opportunity to kind of spread the message about ESG and kind of environmental, social and governance and how are we actually like looking at ourselves as a culture? And how are we as employers and companies, you know, how are we not just giving lip service all of this? Because at the end of the day, what's your score? Right? Do you have like, have you done a baseline, I think that's the biggest thing of all, which is so hard to do. And even as backbone itself, we're always trying to tell ourselves the same thing. It's like, have we given ourselves a baseline, but do your baseline, right? Whether it is technology, whether it's a consultant, whether it's somebody, give yourself the opportunity to breathe, and give yourself a little bit of time to run through an analysis, it's going to give you a baseline, start there.
Shayda Torabi 42:45
I hope you guys enjoyed that episode. As much as I enjoyed talking to Peter, I definitely feel a little bit of a connection coming from music and technology from my background as well. And trying to make sense of that, as it relates to cannabis sometimes can feel overwhelming. But as Peter outlined and highlighted and shared his experience, it's possible, right. And I think that for me is always what I want this podcast to remind you of to inspire you to encourage you is that anything really is possible. There might be challenges in your way, you might have to take a side door, a back door, you know, take a pause for a moment, regroup before you get back to it. But ultimately realizing that really anything that we want to accomplish in this industry is possible. But the way that you go about doing it is so critical. So whether it comes to creating these experiencial opportunities for your brand, whether it is trying to influence and change policy for your state or city, or trying to help people understand the data that exists in their business so that they can make better decisions. Kind of for me the takeaway, what really resonated was just Peters belief and going to the community kind of goes into the people who are a part of it and trying to work with them directly, to make products to make change to do something that is ultimately going to benefit the people of the industry, the people who are consuming the businesses, and ultimately our customers because at the end of the day, we're all in business to sell a consumer packaged good to sell a product to create an experience for a consumer. And so yeah, that was just something that really resonated with me. I'd love to hear what resonated with you whether you went to mjbizcon whether we got to meet IRL at the show whether you heard something from someone or if this episode spoke to you gave you some aha moment. please reach out Connect Instagram LinkedIn just search for Shayda Torabi, you'll find me and I'd love to continue the dialogue. But until then, thanks so much for tuning in to another episode of The to be bought podcast. I'll be back next Monday with another episode and I appreciate y'all so much now. I'm gonna go take a long fat nap. Bye bye.
Love this episode of To be blunt. Be sure Visit de Shayda torabi.com slash to be blind for more ways to connect new episodes come out on Mondays and for more behind the scenes follow along on Instagram at V. Shayda Torabi
Transcribed by https://otter.ai