An Industry Expert From Cannabis E-commerce 🛒

"The highlight of my cannabis career has been the pleasure of working with my team at Jane."

There’s one platform that I’ve used more than any other to learn about the cannabis industry: LinkedIn.

I joined last year to stay up to date on everything that was happening in the industry, and since then have found it to be the best online cannabis insider community that I’m aware of.

One of the primary benefits of using LinkedIn is that it brings together a wide range of industry folks who frequently start interesting conversations. There has also been substantial growth in the sheer number of cannabis professionals on the site.

For today’s edition of Four PM, I had the opportunity to sit down with Brian Geddes, the VP of Sales for Jane Technologies, a cannabis e-commerce expert who shares a wealth of great information on—you guessed it—LinkedIn.

Brian Geddes is the former Senior Key Account Manager for Anheuser-Busch and is currently the Vice President of Sales at Jane Technologies.

What motivated you to move into the cannabis industry? 

Before Jane, I worked at a "fun" beer company—a stable of billion-dollar brands, intelligent people, open layout offices in NYC, etc. For the people who loved the mission of the company, it was heaven—I was not one of those people. 

There was the bureaucracy that I couldn't overcome, and, ultimately, I felt like we were peddling something harmful, effectively, to lots of people. My personal experiences around alcohol were informed by overindulgence in my inner circle—sometimes to the point where my loved ones had to pack up and head to rehab. So the whole equation didn't feel quite right. 

On the cannabis side, however—my personal experiences were informed by a lot of highly-intelligent, motivated people who happened to enjoy the plant in its various forms. And don't get me wrong, I grew up under similar cultural circumstances to a lot of people: D.A.R.E. officers visiting my classrooms, telling us that cannabis was flat-out bad. It led to harder drugs, they said. There are zero redeeming qualities, they said. My personal experience just didn't match that narrative. 

I started looking into the industry because I believe in the mission. It sounds corny, but it's true. Cannabis, contrary to the racist propaganda that we've been served for decades, is viable as medicine, viable as a safe indulgence, and viable as the cornerstone of an efficient industry. I wanted to play a small role in that mission. 

What lessons can the cannabis industry learn from the success of the alcoholic beverage industry?

We can learn a few things from alcohol. 

1) We are dealing in consumer packaged goods.

There is a playbook. Although we are precious (rightly) about the plant, we shouldn't reinvent the wheel. Alcohol brands do a phenomenal job of identifying their target consumer (down to a prototypical individual, usually with a name: e.g. "John, 30s, from Detroit, loves football and Bud Light"), then being relentless in delighting that target group. Advertisements are geared towards John based on his habits on his phone, in-store executions are built with John in mind, etc.

They do all of this within the confines of an extremely restrictive regulatory environment, so the comparison with cannabis is highly relevant. 

Alcohol brands also tend to test features, measure response (in sales or brand sentiment or both), then iterate product attributes from there. Cannabis brands tend to launch a product born of passion, then bulldoze through some tough times if their assumptions happened to be incorrect. 

2) Supply chain sophistication.

In the U.S., alcohol abides by the three-tier system of manufacturers, distributors, and retailers (for the most part). It's not unlike current cannabis regulations—except that every tier of the alcohol supply chain is more efficient than its cannabis counterpart.

Honestly, I think this just reflects growing pains, but we should study and replicate the alcohol supply chain as much as possible to mitigate out-of-stocks and to ensure we are providing new brands with a meaningful platform on which to grow. 

From an industry standpoint, how important is the federal legalization of cannabis in the U.S.? 

Federal legalization is important insofar as it can further democratize the plant.

If it means consumers can start paying with Visa or MasterCard and receiving interstate shipments, that’s great. If legalization also means we can have bank accounts and deduct business expenses on our corporate tax returns, that’s great too. 

I think any regulation from the federal level will likely leave specific nuances to the state regulatory bodies, but the widening of our collective scope is always a good thing. 

What's been the highlight of your career in the cannabis industry so far? 

The highlight of my cannabis career has been the pleasure of working with my team at Jane. I have never experienced a more driven, supportive, and intelligent group of humans in my life. 

They live the mission of safe access every day, and I think it’s apparent in our work. 

In terms of a particular achievement, we surpassed $2B in cannabis transactions on the Jane platform in 2020—that was a major highlight and a nice way to end a ridiculously challenging year.

If you enjoyed this interview, by all means …

Please do both you and me a favor and check out 👉🏽 the weekly emails 👈🏽 Brian has started writing. You will likely gain a lot of value from them.

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