Data-Driven Decisions: Exploring the Intersection of Cannabis and Technology with Adam Hutchinson (CannaSpyglass)

Episode Description

In this episode of the Kaya Cast podcast, we dive into the fascinating intersection of cannabis and technology with Adam Hutchinson from CannaSpyglass. We explore how the cannabis industry is the first emerging market to benefit from the current era of open technology, allowing businesses to access and move data without needing a team of experts. Our guests discuss the importance of utilizing data and technology to improve decision-making and financials, as well as the value of offloading clerical work to focus on core business strategies.

We also touch on the importance of avoiding the "build it and they will come" mentality, and instead focusing on a minimum viable product that allows clients to guide development. Hear about real-life examples of businesses using data to reinforce their intuition and make informed decisions about dispensary locations.

Looking ahead, our guests envision a future where cannabis business executives can seamlessly monitor and manage their operations from seed to sale with the help of platforms like CannaSpyglass. They also share valuable advice for aspiring entrepreneurs in the cannabis industry, emphasizing the importance of networking, collaboration, and learning from the successes and failures of others.

Don't miss this insightful conversation on the future of cannabis and technology, and how these two worlds are coming together to create a more efficient and innovative industry.

Find out more about CannaSpyglass at:

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Episode Transcript

Adam Hutchinson: What's so interesting about cannabis and technology right now is cannabis is this first emerging industry.

Within this era of open technology for anyone, right? 10 years ago, 20 years ago, you had to be a company. You had have big teams that were very sophisticated skill sets. And now we're in a, an era where it's more turnkey. You, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to understand how to move data or access data.

Tom Mulhern: Welcome back to the Kaya Cast podcast. I'm your host, Tom Mulhern. Today on the show I have a conversation with Adam Hutchinson, who is the co-founder of Canna Spyglass. Canna spyglass is a data analytics company that really uses data to help cannabis businesses make data driven decisions in their business, whether that's launching a new business and needing to know sort of what competition is in the area to ancillary businesses or software businesses wanting to kind of target dispensaries.

Adam is working with that giant data set to help. Cannabis businesses grow help operators and vendors grow their business using data. And, you know, as a fellow data nerd, we both kind of geeked out on the possibilities that are out there for how to really utilize data to grow a business, to launch a business.

And so I really hope you enjoy this conversation with Adam Hutchinson of Can of Spyglass

Tom Mulhern: Adam Hutchinson is a seasoned entrepreneur and business leader with decades of experience in the oil and gas and cannabis industries. He is the co-founder of CannaSpyglass, a leading provider of data and analytics for the cannabis industry. Prior to starting CannaSpyglass Adam held a senior management positions at several successful oil and glass companies in Oklahoma and Texas.

He has a proven track record of success and a deep understanding of the cannabis industry, its trends and its challenges. Adam holds a bachelor's degree in chemical engineering for the from the University of Oklahoma, and he is an expert in data analysis and business strategy.

Adam is passionate about using his skills and experience to help shape the future of the cannabis industry and is committed to using data and analytics to drive growth innovation and positive change. CannaSpyglass provides cannabis industry analysis and market research to support businesses in making informed decisions.

They offer data-driven insights on the latest industry trends, consumer behaviors, and market dynamics to help clients stay ahead of the competition. Their services include market reports, custom research projects, and data analytics solutions. With a team of experts in the field CannaSpyglass provides comprehensive and accurate information to help businesses make strategic business decisions and stay ahead of the rapidly growing cannabis industry.

Well, Adam welcome to the Kaya Cast podcast.

Adam Hutchinson: So I love the way you tailor things there, Tom.

Tom Mulhern: Well, you know, when you've, when you've got quite a lot of highlights of things to, to highlight, then hey, it's, it's gonna be long.

Adam Hutchinson: I like proven track record of success. All of us know what that means. Is it, it comes with a proven track record of failures, right? So, but it's always nice to mention the success.

how does working in cannabis compare to other industries that you have experienced in? Like energy or business or technology regulation, how does it compare to those and what's kind of been surprising about the industry as you've worked in it?

The simple answer, like everybody's, everybody's much more happy and, and enjoyable and having fun at events and trade shows and, and these type of podcasts.

People are excited. It's emerging industry. It, it, it's changing and, and yeah, with that comes some stress and thoughts of the unknowns, but also with that is also an excitement of new challenges, new mountains to climb and, and new things to accomplish.

It's pretty interesting in Oklahoma because of the downturn a few years ago, the pandemic negative $20 oil. There were quite a few folks that moved outta energy into cannabis, and of course, Oklahoma's kind of known as the wild West of the cannabis industry. And, and there's a lot of similarities because it's a, it's a heavily regulated industry.

Things are different from state to state, right? some of the multi-state operators and even in smaller shops have found success with, you know, folks that think from a, well, we have to go out and grow.

We have to operate. We have the supply chain. We have to think about, we're impacted by commodity prices that we can't necessarily control. And so how do we manage our business to that? So while there's a lot of differences, I think at the surface when you think about energy and cannabis, there's also a lot of parallels as well, Tom.

Tom Mulhern: So what kind of inspired you to start? CannaSpyglass, like were there certain problems in the industry that you were aiming at to address, or was it just something, an idea that you kind of just ran with? Like what was the inspiration behind what you guys created?

Adam Hutchinson: As my brother-in-law and I were, we're similar story energy looking into cannabis. we started to dip our feet into the pool, so to speak, and invest behind the scenes in an outdoor grow in Oklahoma. And as we would sit,and ponder the business and ask ourselves questions.

Kind of got back to what you were asking earlier. It's like, where. Where is this place that we can go to find out who are operators in the state, who's applying for licenses? Who are the five operators within five miles of us, right? Who are processors that don't have grow licenses, because those may be processors clearly that are going to market.

For, for product to process and so forth. And, and, and in other industries and in energy, you have those types of things, right? That we're tracking the activities of the energy companies, where they're leasing, where they're putting rigs and so on and so forth, right? And, and so that, that really is where CannaSpyglass came to be is, Hey, we, we can do this, we can build it.

And, and we can make it easier for the industry to have those insights, to have those analytics at, at their fingertips.

Tom Mulhern: So Adam, can you give me a brief kind of overview of the technology behind CannaSpyglass and what, what do you guys actually do?

Adam Hutchinson: What's so interesting about cannabis and technology right now is cannabis is this first emerging industry.

Within this era of open technology for anyone, right? 10 years ago, 20 years ago, you had to be a company. You had have big teams that were very sophisticated skill sets. And now we're in a, an era where it's more turnkey. You, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to understand how to move data or access data.

And so that, that's what we've taken advantage of, not only the technology, but you know, the timing of this industry and, and people's need for that information to run their business.

Tom Mulhern: What is some of that information that you provide, like to help operators, vendors and investors and anyone that's looking to get into the industry kind of examine those industry trends like. you provide reports and different things.

Adam Hutchinson: With operators, vendors, investors, they all come to our data with different angles. So they may be coming to the same data, but they're looking at it with a different lens or for a different reason to answer a different why.

So getting into the details can really take you, but at, at a high level, we, we, we've started with a, a taxonomy or structure, if you will, of earth model. Where are locations? Where's agriculture, certain soil, certain electricity availability. Where are power outages? 9 1 1 services, daycares, churches, things that impact where you run and operate and put in a cannabis business.

The second bucket is cannabis lifecycle. So we think of that seed to consumption. What are all the things that happened from that original seed? Endless people here, seed to sell, but just a little bit further. Well then what are. What are people's preferences around those strains and followers to certain strains.

And so we see you know, seed to consumption is, is a lot of moving parts in the supply chain, right? To make things happen from vendors to operators and so forth. And then the final bucket is enterprise performance. So it's really looking at those first two buckets and saying, Well, how well are things performing?

Are these companies vertically integrated? Are tax revenues going up? What, what are the publicly held companies? What are they doing? How are they growing? Who are multi-state operators? And so if you think about then that, that enterprise performance speeds into decisions made to get back into the earth model and cannabis lifecycle process, right?

We want to use different fertilizers. We want to use, do different things to. Create a better product and have better outcomes.

Tom Mulhern: Must be so many challenges working. In data, cuz data, you, you gotta have that clean data In an industry where the regulations vary from state to state, municipality to mu municipality, like everywhere is different. Every code is different. Sohow do you handle those challenges of working with data in so many different like different regulations from everywhere you're, you're working.

Adam Hutchinson: Last count which was probably last fall, late fall, we were over 150 data sources. And that was just in the US and US territories. As we expanded into other countries. Clearly that's gonna add to the list, but you're exactly right. It's disparate. It's apples and oranges across states. Where this data's held, who holds it, how much do they hold, what do they protect by ongoing investigation, which others a allow through other mechanisms.

there's this constant decision tree and process and algorithms in our data that's mining, deeper, mining, different sources to go collect this data. And that's part of one of the key values for our client is if they're spending less clerical time trying to go find this information, and they're, and that's offloaded to us, then they're able to spend more time with their core business.

Right. And, and making decisions and, and improving their, their financials.

Tom Mulhern: Who are your kinda your prime customers? Like are you working with vendors? Are you working with dispensary owners? Who's that that like ideal customer that you're reaching out to, to provide them with this data?

Adam Hutchinson: Through past experiences, let's say some of those failures with the success, success we've learned, Not to have a build it and they will come mentality, right? So get just enough in that minimum viable product and let your clients guide you, right? And they know. And so by taking that approach and strategy right now the, the, the majority percentage of our clients are vendors.

So they're wanting to come in, they have marketing budgets, they're spending money to be at trade shows anyway. And man, as they wanna do their research And then the other is definitely operators, growers dispensary owners, tending to be a little bit more analytic in their approach to business versus kind of feel and relationships, which is a culture within cannabis itself.

But yeah, so vendors and then operators.

Tom Mulhern: And how many of those operators actually utilize that data because I mean, I, I feel like that's every single operator is trying to find a way to kind of stand out and be unique, and especially in oversaturated markets. Are there lots of operators from growers to dispensaries that are utilizing data and it's making a tremendous impact on their business?

Adam Hutchinson: Data information to run your business is not a new thing, as maybe it was 15 or 20 years when we were, it seems like it spent more time trying to convince folks that data was an asset. Now it's kind of a given.

Okay. Data is an asset. We need to go, go leverage it to its best ability.

And so we see operators doing that. They, they've come into our platform. They wanna see emerging trends and west coast strains, and what are the seeds we need to be looking at next year for this harvest.

They've looked at it to look at certain trends and the brands and products that are emerging and, and also trending down.

Adam Hutchinson: I just think that there's so much benefit that can come from analyzing the data that's out there and in the cannabis industry there, like you said, there's, there is so much data that you can, you could go out and scrape it and find out all these different operators and who's this person, who's this person, but having a service that, like you guys, that you can provide that data in like a really accessible way must be such a benefit to any of those cannabis businesses that.

Tom Mulhern: It must be night and day from when they started analyzing the data to you know, to where they are now.

Adam Hutchinson: And, and sometimes it's reassuring their intuition, right? That they can go back to their investors and so forth. We worked with a group in Mississippi and the small business owner, her intuition was right. She grew up in Mississippi. She knew where the colleges were, she knew where the tourism wa and where do I put my dispensary?

And so we are able to reinforce right through traffic patterns, population density demographics. Hey, you're right. we're able to support it with numbers.

I think an aha in that is one of our data scientists said, well, what if we expand the border by five 10 miles?

What does that cha? And you start to see a population increase of 20, 30%. Knowing that those folks are gonna be traveling in to Mississippi, right? While it reassured, it also adjusted some of the potential locations for the dispensaries and then also some of the proforma or protection she was doing in her business plan for it.

So that, that's another great, great example from an operator.

Tom Mulhern: How would federal legalization impact your business and your company and kind of the industry as a whole, but how would it impact you and how would you have to pivot?

Or do you still kind of see a place in that if say tomorrow they just signed off and you know, now it's, now it's fully legal, how would you guys pivot in in response to that?

Adam Hutchinson: You know, for, for me, again, I go back to industries and go, wow, there's been iterations around different administrations and are they

oil and gas friendly, are they not? You know, awareness across the industry in the United States around environmental concerns. And how has the industry changed over the last couple of decades to address those? Uncontrollables around commodity price, right? So then I go, well, that's exactly gonna happen right in cannabis as it goes federally legal.

and for us, we just need to be able to serve all of those at, at the end of the day.

Tom Mulhern: I love your perspective that you're able to kind of see these parallels between, you know, commodities and oil. Oil and gas into the cannabis industry and you, you're, you're almost, you almost have like a, a magic ball that you can see the future cuz you're like, I, I've seen this before.

Adam Hutchinson: Those changes in the market impact everybody, right?

Negative and positive. And you stay dedicated in the opportunity and virtually things come up. So that's gonna happen with the federal legalization as well. And

Tom Mulhern: Every industry has its ebbs and flows. Its ups and its downs. And you know, I, I don't know about you, but I get. Tons of emails every day from different cannabis newsletters that I follow about, follow that tell me the industry. And sometimes it'll say, oh, things are, things are bright in, you know, this state.

And then it'll say you know, this company just laid off 800 employees, or whatever it is. And so, you know, kind of looking forward to the future of the industry. What, what are some of the goals for CannaSpyglass like you guys have, you're up, you're running, you're viable. What are some of your goals or what do you see as like, I mean, you kind of hinted at some of the dreams of where you'd like to go, but yeah.

Kind of paint me a picture of, of where you guys are headed.

Adam Hutchinson: I would say we're, we continue to find where is that sweet spot and where we want to go. We're not big into this like three year, five year vision and, and then convince ourselves that's the right place to be. So we're always, let's say opportunistic, right? In, in, in our business and where we're taking it.

I think, you know, just mentioned pharmaceuticals is a big thing. I think there's a lot of siloed technologies within the space, right from point of sale to lighting equipment, to climate control, to all of this. So I could see one day, can a operations manager for a multi-state operator, log on to CannaSpyglass.

And see oh, the technology works like SCADA or iot, ot, of all their growth facilities, the temperatures, the pressures, the extraction equipment running that translating to cells and, and, and then really having a cradle to grave view of their operations. I think that's cool. I, I love operations accounting, that's great.

But we tend to try to stay more operational in nature with CannaSpyglass. I also think a big part of the future in the industry is, and it's not magic ball. I mean, I hear people say this and go, Hey, that seems to make sense, is, you know, lending right. The banks as that federally and some of the banking restrictions.

You know, these companies to weather the storm or to scale and grow, they're gonna need the loans, right? And the lending. And I think there's some things CannaSpyglass can help do from an operational perspective to help those banks. See certain criteria around operators help the operators, you know, really show how their business is, is worthy of the lending.

So I I, I don't know completely what that means and how it works. but I, I do think that's a space. The banking, the financial aspects around the industry in the future are gonna be more than just deposits in a bank, right.

again, going back to that data, like being able to utilize that as those, as those changes come in. And like I've seen it in the insurance industry where, you know, you used to have to go into an office and sit down with a broker and get your, now you can go online and get whatever quote you want.

Tom Mulhern: And I think that's gonna be the future for, at least for the, from the software side of things, like making it easier for those operators to open up and to. You know, get the information they need about where to open up. Or those growers, I keep thinking about that, like being able to like track their growth and the internet of things and like getting a, a ping on their phone when you know their plants are ready or whatever it is.

Like, I think there is a bright future for this industry despite some of that gloom and doom that seems to, seems to be out there.

Adam Hutchinson: A hundred percent. I think you're right. And that makes the canna tech, that makes the, the cannabis proper, the growers, the operators, it ultimately is gonna be an exciting, it'll look different. Right. And, and maybe some shops are more artisan and they, they wanted to be big multi-state farms. people will find their way and, and so will the industry.

Tom Mulhern: Just to kind of wrap it up, what is one tip that you would have for, for a cannabis business to, to help grow their business in this year ahead?What's a tip that you've had from your experience as an entrepreneur that could help them in their business?

Adam Hutchinson: I think it's awareness that I see, which then to me translates to marketing. So I think a lot of folks have come out with some really nice products, right? And clearly if, if it's tied to Snoop Dogg or know, or Mike Tyson in the whatever the year, the ear gummies, they're catchy.

They're boom. People talk about 'em. But I think marketing, search engine optimizationI I think a lot of operators, dispensaries they're not using that mechanism enough, right? And they're thinking, oh, well I'll come out with this great product.

People love it. Well, a lot of folks are doing that right now, and I do think the digital aspect,as well as just if somebody types, you know, I dunno, certain strain Oklahoma, your dispensary name pops up, right. And. So there's all this geofencing, and even being in tech, I, I sit back and listen to our marketing clients.

I'm like, you can do that? Oh yeah, I can make that If, if Tom drives through Tulsa, Oklahoma, I can make this dispensary pop up on his phone. And so I think there's a lot of, of tools and technology that can allow people to really get their brand out. cannabis isn't fully taken advantage of that quite yet.

Tom Mulhern: Well, and I've seen you've either gotta stand out like on a big, huge brand level, or you gotta be hyper-focused to your local community. Like, you know, those are the two ways you can stand out. Either you're you are the local community this is where we all go. Or you're this big cookies that, like this brand that there's hip hop attached to it, or like you said, Snoop Dogg or Mike Tyson or Jim Belushi, like these, these names that are able to kind of pull people in.

So yeah, and then leveraging that technology that's for, for marketing is, is key.

Adam Hutchinson: And even just good old fact marketing relationships, right? Go go to your local or state cannabis association, get involved with them. Go to their events, get to know other operators. Learn what they're doing successfully and failing, right? All success comes with failures. If you, man, if you can avoid just one or two, then you're, that, you're, you're those, that many steps closer to success, right?

And so I think that collaboration is, is a form of that marketing, right? As, as you get involved with the industry.

Tom Mulhern: Well, that's awesome. Well, Adam, how, how can people connect with you if they want to find out more about what you guys are providing and CannaSpyglass? Like where's the best way to kind of connect and, and you know, start leveraging data to grow your business?

Adam Hutchinson: It, it gets out there. Nice. Nice website. One pager. We, we had some fun with it. And, and there's a contact us button on there that comes straight to, to myself and, and Warren. You can email me directly And yeah, we'd be happy to hop on, hop on a call and talk with anybody, understand their business further and, and see if there's a match.

Tom Mulhern: Well, and we'll have all of the. Links in the bio so that people can connect with you. And Adam, it's been great having you on this show. And you know, it, it makes me think like, how can I be leveraging data as a cannabis business to be more effective at what I'm doing? So you've inspired me to, to be more effective in my leverage of data as well.

So thanks for being on the show. This has been really fun.

Adam Hutchinson: I appreciate it, appreciate the, the passion and the inspiration. I don't, we were joking the other day and I, I, yeah. I don't know if I, I was growing up going, man, I want to be a, into data when I grow up. I mean, you're the fireman and police officer and all these different things, but anyway, data can be inspiring as well.

And it's great to hear. Hear you say that, Tom. But wonderful, appreciate you having me on the show. You know, you come highly recommended, really enjoyed our conversations. Say, Hey, Tom and I are our kindred spirits here in, in the industry. So again, appreciate the time and, and you made this so easy and fun to do at the end of the day.

Tom Mulhern: Well, thank you so much, Adam for that conversation for sharing some of your insights about the future of the industry and how businesses can, can get there today by leveraging data to really grow their business. Adam had so many interesting things to say when it came to the future of the industry where data can be utilized to help operators really understand their clients, understand their customers. And so again, thank you Adam for taking that time. And we'll have all of the links in the bio for Adam and CannaSpyglass and how you can get connected to what they're doing.

And I also just want to thank everyone who's listening to the Kaya Cast podcast and really enjoying the content we have. I had the opportunity a couple weeks ago to head out to MJ Unpacked in New York City and really connecting with past guests that had been on the podcast and.

People that are listening to the podcast and really hyped up about what's happening, it's so cool to, you know, meet people in real life who are passionate about cannabis. So again, thank you for listening, subscribing, make sure you share this with your friends in the cannabis, and we'll see you next week.

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