Entrepreneurship Tech Jun 27, 2016

How Flowhub Created a Painless POS for Cannabis

For Kyle Sherman, the CEO and co-founder of Flowhub, a seed-to-sale management and compliance platform, his “aha” moment for the technology came during a CNN documentary called Weed.  As the host, Sanjay Gupta, described the benefits of medical marijuana, Sherman actually began to cry.  At the time, he was living in Los Angeles and using cannabis to combat anxiety and sleeplessness.  He had been content, but ultimately unsatisfied, working in the entertainment industry for about a decade, running his own ad agency that specialized in movie posters.  At a crossroads in his career, Weed made him realize that he wanted to commit his life to the medical marijuana revolution.  “I knew that legalizing cannabis could change the world, and end the war on drugs.”

So, in January 2014, Sherman packed his bags and moved to Denver, Colorado to be on the front line of the cannabis movement.  There, he worked in marketing for a few well-known marijuana companies including Dixie Elixirs, WeedMaps, and Neos.  It was then that Sherman was inspired by the lack of technology software in the cannabis industry. Even though it’s one of America’s fastest growing industries in modern times, the companies that he observed were still using an outdated 90’s-style platform to track marijuana plants from seed to sale. So, in January 2015, Kyle Sherman and teamed up with childhood friend Chase Wiseman to found Flowhub, a company focused on building modern technology that is user-friendly and custom-built for cannabis.

A year and a half later, Flowhub now has two main offerings: a growhouse inventory management web app and a point-of-sale system.  First, they released the grow app, which is an intuitive app that helps grows, including the largest marijuana cultivator in the country, manage their marijuana cultivations.  In a few months, Flowhub will release the next edition of the grow app based on user feedback.  Sherman explained, “the new version will be insanely more complex. The first app was to show industry what we can do with technology and thinking outside the box. We have learned a lot since then.”

As the grow app was gaining momentum, Sherman realized the cannabis industry needed a software that would sell and track products on one platform.  In response, Flowhub created a POS system that allows for seamless compliance. Kyle Sherman compares the POS to Google Docs, where you can have multiple people working on the app at the same time with real, live feedback built-in.  “It’s a real-time inventory tracking system,” Sherman said.  “There is no delay. There’s no wait to write a report. You can have a whole store finally working on the same page.” The result is that the software now cuts down an hour-long process into five minutes. The proof is in the pudding: Flowhub is onboarding over 100 retailers on its POS system in the next month.

Flowhub also built a companion handheld scanning device, called the Nug, which allows retailers to scan IDs, take pictures of medical documents and check people into the system.  All of that information then syncs with the web-based app.  Though it was built specifically for cannabis, Flowhub has been approached by several restaurants and bars who want to use their POS and Nug for their businesses, too.

The last 18 months have been incredibly swift for Flowhub – the company has grown from two co-founders to a team of twenty employees.  Sherman attributes the company’s success to building the “Facebook to cannabis’ Myspace”: building the bigger, better, and easier to use versions of technologies that frustrated retailers and growers in the space. With the Colorado market behind him, Flowhub is set to expand to other states where cannabis is recreationally legal, with Oregon likely up next (since, like Colorado, it also uses METRC for cannabis compliance).  He hopes to one day see Flowhub become an international company.  Overall, he wants to take Flowhub wherever it can help cannabis cultivators and retailers save time and improve their operations.  “[Flowhub] doesn’t feel like a job, it feels like a mission,” Sherman said.