The cannabis industry experienced a 45% growth in dispensary licenses in 2018 according to CannaBiz Media, a company that tracks cannabis licenses. Cultivator licenses grew by a whopping 110%.
One company that has managed to take advantage of the opportunity in the cannabis industry without actually touching the plant is Denver-based Flowhub. The company provides point-of-sale software that is sold as a compliance solution to dispensaries Flowhub includes a small handheld mobile device called a Nug to help speed up daily operations like scanning barcodes, checking in customers, and auditing inventory. The software gives managers complete control over their data, allowing them to generate inventory discrepancy reports and make adjustments before submitting via an API.
The system is also tightly synced up to METRC — the track and trace system used in most legal cannabis markets — making compliance really easy in those markets. At this time, it isn’t aligned with MJ Freeway or BioTrack, but that is expected to happen as the company expands into other markets. CEO Kyle Sherman said that he wanted the company to be laser-focused first on integrating with METRC and excel at that program before taking on others.
The trend of consolidation within the cannabis industry has not affected Flowhub negatively. Sherman said that it has actually worked in their favor. “With the bigger guys buying smaller players, our customers have been able to put our products there,” he said. “Of course, the single owner-operated stores will continue to exist and there is always room for them in the market,” he added. “It’s important for us to service both the big one and the small ones. That way they can outshine the competition, make better decisions, improve margins.”
Flowhub also works with lots of other popular apps and services in the cannabis space. This adaptability has made Flowhub and easy company to partner with. Sherman noted that its software comes with a free loyalty program, but they also integrate with other loyalty software companies like Springbig and Baker. In addition to that Sherman said they work well with Leafly and retail programs like Dutchy.
Another example of Flowhub flexibility within the cannabis industry is that its platform welcomes others to leverage its API to build apps on its platform. Sherman told a story about one dispensary customer who used to be a programmer and for fun he created his own dispensary software to use with Flowhub’s.
Flowhub’s clients seem to be pretty happy with the system since it brings order and compliance to their cannabis business. One dispensary client, Nectar, is currently in the process of expanding quickly across the state of Oregon with Flowhub. Similar to other emerging dispensary brands, Nectar’s growth model involves buying other dispensaries who are interested in selling their license.
Because Flowhub is integrated with METRC track-and-trace system, Nectar would easily be able to expand from its 16 retail locations in Oregon,to a completely new state, with few compliance headaches.
According to Owler, Flowhub is estimated to have annual revenue of around $2.5 million. The company is also estimated to have raised $8.8 million in capital through three different fundraising rounds beginning in 2015. Its last round took place in April 2017 for $3.25 million and it came from Green Lion Partners, Altitude and Phyto Partners.
At the time of the deal, Larry Schnurmacher of Florida-based Phyto Partners said, “The technology solution Flowhub provides is critically important to operators, they can’t do business without it. This vertical is where we will see billion dollar valuations in the coming years.” The company also made the Green Entrepreneur 100 Cannabis Leaders of 2018 list.
Since the company’s tech and POS are so simple to replicate across multiple stores, cannabis dispensaries can easily expand and grow their businesses at scale, without missing a beat when it comes to compliance. The handheld device also speeds up the time it takes for employees to track the plants.
Sherman said the company has some new products in the pipeline that are expected to be introduced in 2019. “We’ll be supporting more hardware and making transactions faster,” he said. “We’ve listed to the customers and we’re launching new products that are even better suited for the retailers.”