Before there was the iPhone, there was the Blackberry. Everyone who was anyone had a Blackberry. It was a status symbol and a very functional piece of technology. It was also groundbreaking until it wasn’t. First-generation technology has its place as a pioneer, but it’s the next generation that is typically a better consumer experience.
Cannabis tech company Strimo is a textbook example of next-generation software that is better than its predecessors. CEO Helkin Berg learned that many cannabis companies were unhappy with the existing first-generation software options on the market. In the early days of the cannabis industry, Berg says the pioneers were creating frankensoftware to address the industry’s specific compliance requirements. “Seed-to-sale” didn’t exist before legal cannabis came along. So the pioneers were tasked with creating a new product in a short amount of time. This cobbled-together software, while somewhat functional, was in Helkin’s mind, flawed.
First Generation Headaches
“It was often software built on top of older software from other industries and made to look new,” she said. “The underlying technology was not flexible.” She also felt the software was only designed to solve specific problems and wasn’t designed to harness big data or IoT (Internet of things). Operators only had a few options to choose from because, in the early days of legalization, the stigma of working in cannabis remained strong among traditional software companies. In addition to that, many of these options took months to implement and, in the fast-moving pace of the cannabis industry, companies don’t have 9 months to install a software program.
Another challenge for the early pioneers of cannabis software was the ever-changing legislation. Each jurisdiction created its own set of rules and regulations, which changes at the municipal and county levels. As the programs have matured, jurisdictions tweak the rules, which sometimes set off a new round of software updates. In addition to that, some U.S. states select their regulatory software provider and cannabis companies have to ensure that their software provider can exchange data with several different state-run programs.
And then there is cost. Mainstream big names like Oracle or SAP command price tags anywhere from $150,000 to upwards of $1 million each year. This is a price tag that most in the cannabis industry, especially startups, can’t afford. In addition to the price tag, these companies’ implementation time can often take half a year or more.
Solving The Problems
Helkin’s vision for Strimo was to solve for cost and time. It needed to be affordable and quick to set up. It also needed to be consistent, reliable, and keep the customer’s data secure. Strimo has quickly emerged as a leading player in the cannabis tech world and is winning customers over with its improvements over existing cannabis software options.
As Helkin talked with cannabis business leaders during the Strimo research and development phase, many expressed their dissatisfaction with the options on the market. There had been data security issues and dependability problems with first-generation solutions. Executives complained of rigid platforms that were outdated and didn’t properly provide inventory management, traceability, or data insights such as costing. Plus, many cannabis companies are in multiple states and expanding into multiple countries. Flexibility was critical.
“Companies were outgrowing those first-generation options and I saw an opportunity to fill that gap,” she said. “We can meet cannabis businesses where they are today and scale with them.” Berg’s talent lies in bringing second and third-generation products to global markets. Her background is in highly regulated industries with former clients like Bank of America, Novartis, and PricewaterhouseCoopers. She chose Bret Cline as Strimo’s lead engineer. He brings over 25 years of experience in building warehouse and inventory management programs in the beverage industry. He has also designed RFID tracking systems for big names like CAT, Raytheon, and even the Department of Defense.
Together, they created the Strimo platform that optimizes cannabis business operations. It’s like a multi-tool for cannabis executives and operating teams. Instead of stitching together several tools, top executives can rely on Strimo to capture their key data, from seed-to-sale, and operating teams can support daily processes. Strimo handles compliance and quality control for both cultivation and manufacturing. The Strimo platform manages all cannabis and non-cannabis inventory with full cost accounting support.
It does all of this in a secure environment. “The Strimo platform is hosted in the Microsoft Azure cloud, so in addition to having peace of mind, you and your team can access data from any device,” said Berg.
Strimo employs a global attitude to its product. The software is multilingual and can handle multiple currencies. A big bonus for global cannabis companies. Berg said, “Our platform allows for the flexibility to send compliance data to any regulatory authority, including Metrc, BioTrack, Health Canada, Thai authorities, etc.”
Strimo captures mission-critical data, makes it historically searchable, and helps teams forecast and plan ahead. By tackling resource planning, the platform helps executives make informed decisions instead of relying on gut instinct or “educated guesses”.
Strimo was recently named the best of ERP (enterprise resource planning) Software company for the cannabis industry by ERP Focus. The reviewer wrote, “Several common ERP components are included in Strimo. Production lets you take control over your entire process, cultivation, extraction, packaging, and track your batch manufacturing. Accounting meets GAAP, SSAE16, ISAE accounting and audit standards, and helps manage your organization’s finances.” Strimo also made the top ten list of ERP Software Providers when counted by states in a recent Cannabiz Media Software Stack report.
As the word gets out that Strimo is making cannabis tech problems easier (not harder!) to solve, this company is one to watch. Cannabis tech has been a favorite channel among those with capital for the cannabis industry and investors are undoubtedly putting them on their radar.