Succeeding As A Sales Leader In Cannabis

"The industry is beautiful chaos; start-ups servicing start-ups, in a start-up industry."

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I was recently asked why I choose to work in the cannabis industry when it means signing up for less pay and likely longer hours than just about any other industry?

For me personally, and for countless other individuals I’ve met working within the industry, the answer is that we or someone close to us has greatly benefited from consuming cannabis, and to pay this forward we choose to work in the industry.

For today’s edition of Four PM, I had the opportunity to sit down with Taylor, who has worked in the cannabis industry for six years. Like many of us, he was drawn to the industry because of the benefits he personally gained from consuming cannabis.

Since joining the industry in 2015, Taylor has was worked solely in cannabis software, helping thousands of license holders remain compliant at BioTrackTHC, with a current focus on helping sales teams succeed—something he knows the struggles of all too well, having led sales for TILT Holdings prior to joining Pistil.

Taylor Jones is the former VP of Sales for Baker Technologies and is currently the VP of Revenue & Customer Success for cannabis software start-up Pistil Data.

What motivated you to join the cannabis industry?

I've always had a passion for the plant and when I visited Colorado for the first time in 2013 it blew my mind how dispensaries were operating and how sophisticated the businesses seemed on the surface.

Out of college, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do but was inspired by my older brother, who is a tech founder, to get into tech sales in some capacity. After spending some time working at an Oracle partner, I had a lightbulb moment where I started to get curious about the technologies that were being used in the cannabis industry.

After a night's searching, I found BioTrackTHC. I messaged the founder on LinkedIn and was hired within weeks. Within my first 90 days, I realized how much of an opportunity I had to shape a brand-new industry and change stigmas from the inside.

It was a dream come true, and I always remind myself how lucky I am to have access to this plant and what it's done for me personally.

How would you describe the experience of going from a start-up to becoming a publicly-traded company? 

I look at every company in the cannabis space as a start-up.

Whether they are a multi-billion dollar public company or a small scrappy tech company just getting off the ground. The industry is beautiful chaos: start-ups servicing start-ups, in a start-up industry.

We’re all in this together; building the plane as we fly it. The transition and merger of Baker Technologies with three other companies, and eventually adding two more, was the best learning experience of my career. Mergers are difficult, and in cannabis, everything is more difficult due to regulations.

At the time, several other companies were going public on the Canadian stock exchange, and only time can reveal whether this was the right move or not. It's still very early in this industry and I'm glad to be back at a scrappy start-up, building something from the ground up, solving problems to help move the industry forward.

How has the cannabis software sector changed since you joined this vertical of the industry in 2015? 

I believe that people make great companies, and over the last six years the level of talent entering the cannabis tech space has increased every year, which in return has created great innovations.

The pioneers of the cannabis tech space (BioTrackTHC and MJ Freeway) are still around, but we've seen several companies fail over the last few years.

We've also seen companies able to raise enough money to give away their software for free, which has caused disruption for the legacy players who are trying to grow revenue and market share at the same time.

I expect the next wave of cannabis 2.0 tech companies to emerge and begin to steal market share. I also believe we will continue to see consolidation in the software space as companies look to roll up and provide a more holistic offering.

Are there any cannabis companies that you admire?

I'm a big fan of LeafLink. I've watched them grow over the years and they've consistently stayed the leader in their vertical while remaining hyper-focused on what they do best. It's also been very exciting to watch them expand their offerings with LeafLink financial which I expect will do very well.

For non-cannabis tech companies, I'm a big fan of Terrascend, and expect them to emerge as one of the top five MSOs over the next five years.


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