By Eric Peterson | Feb 23, 2021
Supply-chain management and compliance software
After exploring some options, Griffin and his co-founders developed an analytics platform for distribution centers called WMSight to manage supply chains with Internet of Things (IoT) technology, data analytics, and even drones.
Then the operator of a California cannabis cultivation facility opened their eyes to the challenges of managing supply chains in the space. "There was a huge need for software for upstream operations," says Griffin.
Flourish launched and landed its first three clients in 2017: the aforementioned cultivator, a manufacturer in Oregon, and Parallel Brands, a vertically-integrated operator in Florida. "There's so much complexity and so many pieces to manage that they really need something like this to keep up with it all," says Griffin.
Growth has come swift in the time since. The firm then moved into the hemp/CBD space in 2018, and it now generates about a quarter of sales. Year-over-year doubling has been standard, as the customer list has grown to include more than 100 different accounts, including Pharmer's Market in Oregon, Eminent Extracts in California, Golden Piedmont Labs in Virginia, and Second Century Ag in Georgia.
"We do really well with operations who are managing a good amount of inventory," says Griffin. "The last thing you want to do is have dispensaries ordering from you and not have the stuff in stock."
For manufacturers, Flourish's software helps manage raw materials and equipment, track data from the extraction process, and vertically integrate operations. Parallel Brands offers a case study: The software helped underpin the operations as the company scaled from two dispensaries to 40 while expanding from 10,000 square feet of cultivation space to 500,000 in less than two years, says Griffin.
Flourish's platform also helps on the compliance side by helping manage documentation and procedures on a state-by-state basis. "We take a lot of that burden off of them," says Griffin.
Certifications are going to be increasingly important for cannabis companies, he adds, and integrated into the Flourish platform. "This is where the industry's going. If you're not thinking about that, you're not thinking about the future of the business." For Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP), "Those SOPs and processes, we're a piece of it."
In the end, Flourish is all about bringing a more rigorous, professional approach to a nascent space. "The whole reason we founded this is to bring our domain knowledge, expertise, and experience in running supply-chain operations into this industry and make it successful," says Griffin. "It allows people to forget cash and forget time and truly focus on what they want to do -- which is grow weed and make good products and make money."
Challenges: A crowded marketplace for cannabis-centric software. "A bunch of new software companies have thrown their hat in the ring, and it's a super confusing environment for our buyers," says Griffin, citing Flourish's experience and track record as big differentiators. "We're differentiating ourselves with our experience in actually doing these kinds of operations and continuing to innovate on the product."
Opportunities: "States are opening up," says Griffin. Flourish is getting "good traction" in Massachusetts and Arizona, he notes, but there's room for growth in more established legal markets as well. "It's still early in California, despite being around for so long. . . . This market is expanding every single month with new operators coming online."
But Flourish -- which has doubled its sales force in the last year -- doesn't focus on one state, and is now in about 15 markets. "We're opportunistic, which is nice," says Griffin. "We have a team that's both East and West coasts."
Needs: "We're always keeping a talent pipeline," says Griffin. Flourish currently has 10 open positions in marketing, implementation, support, and engineering.
Capital is not an immediate need -- "We're fully funded, and we're making good money," he says -- but it is one in the longer term. While Flourish has gotten seed funding from venture capital firms, Griffin is evaluating options for a Series A round or private equity investment. "Cannabis fundraising has a world of challenges," he notes. "It's nice to have choices."