The laws and regulations governing the growing medicinal cannabis industry are complex and ever-changing, and navigating them requires lots of diligence and hard work. Luckily for cannabis business owners, the tech geniuses have stepped in with software solutions for marijuana producers, processors, infused product manufacturers and retailers.
Amy Poinsett and Jessica Billingsley, owners of Colorado-based MJ Freeway, were both managing separate information technology and development firms in Telluride, Colorado, when they decided to open their own company together in 2010.
Poinsett’s background includes directing technology development teams in software application design and research analysis in the financial, luxury tourism and medical technology industries. Billingsley’s experience was in building and managing very successful technology operations—prior to co-founding MJ Freeway, she was the founder, owner, director, COO and CEO of companies with revenues exceeding $11 million.
We founded MJ Freeway because we knew we had the skills to create a technology solution that would enable the legal cannabis industry to grow successfully and help business owners achieve their goals,” explains Poinsett. “Seed-to-sale compliance tracking makes it possible for governments to regulate cannabis and ensure public, patient and product safety. And our additional software tools and services help business owners accelerate their growth while achieving operational efficiencies.”
On top of having the tech skills needed to create this kind of software, it’s an industry the pair believe in and truly want to help, adds Billingsley. “We believe in cannabis’s medicinal value and we believe that people who need access to medicine should have it,” she says.
MJ Freeway’s tracking and reporting systems include GrowTracker, MixTracker, GramTracker and MJ Mobile, which provide accurate, real-time data to cultivators, infused product producers, dispensaries and collectives. They ensure every gram and dollar is accounted for throughout the entire chain of custody process.
In addition to these software systems, MJ Freeway offers consulting services that help business owners in the application and operation of their products, professional marketing advice, and access to essential materials and supplies for the regulated cannabis industry, including packaging, product labels and hardware.
Leaf Data Systems is the company’s regulatory solution, which combines compliance data from all licensed cannabis businesses in a state or municipality, giving regulators improved visibility into operations. The system offers full cannabis life cycle tracking and is customized based on differing state requirements to provide an efficient and easy-to-use solution.
he company’s growth and innovative technologies led to Poinsett and Billingsley being featured in Cannabis Now’s Eight Cannabis Entrepreneurs to Watch in 2014. MJ Freeway was also included in Entrepreneur Magazine’s annual list of 100 Brilliant Companies and the company was listed in The Inc. 5,000 list of fastest-growing companies in America.
Why are thousands of businesses choosing MJ Freeway products?
“Our seed-to-sale tracking system helps improve business workflow, tracks inventory, guarantees compliance, and manages customer and patient data,” explains Poinsett. “Each suite supports the entire marijuana production and distribution process from seed to sale. We guarantee state and federal compliance by providing intuitive tools to manage the entire process while controlling costs and maximizing efficiency.”
If staying on top of state and federal rules, and running a more efficient business are two major goals for you, check out mjfreeway.com for more details.
4 QUESTIONS WITH AMY AND JESSICA
What are some of the struggles and challenges you’ve experienced so far?
Poinsett: At one point, we thought growth would be something we could easily handle, even embrace, but scaling our employee base, infrastructure and reach has proven to be more challenging and demanding than we anticipated. Managing growth requires the right infrastructure, partners and people. And scaling for growth is a job within itself. What we learned is our customers are facing the same challenges and opportunities with their growth, and we are developing next-generation products to solve those challenges.
How do you support your clients?
Billingsley: Our software is powerful and flexible, which means it can support a variety of business models and business processes, whether it is an established business or a concept still to be executed. Our Implementation Package, which comes with each subscription purchase, is eight hours of custom software and hardware set-up.
Any advice for new business owners?
Poinsett: Build a strong foundation by establishing a banking relationship for day-to-day needs, hiring qualified staff from labor talent pools and completing a SWOT analysis to identify your greatest weaknesses and develop a long-term strategy. Choose a software partner that is best for your operation and business needs, and train your employees. Formalize your business operations with employee handbooks, workflow diagrams, internal controls, inventory and cash control processes, standard operating procedures, etc. Partner with people you trust, develop a formal marketing plan and, most importantly, enjoy it!
How do you both spend time outside the office?
Poinsett: I’m a dive master and fine arts painter.
Billingsley: I’m an Ashtanga yoga practitioner and rock climber.
MJ Freeway’s Tips for Building an Extraction Operation
- Do your research! Know what is required by your state.
- Be sure to develop relationships with your local fire department and other community agencies to get the proper licenses and permits.
- Understand zoning and secure a location that both the city and state have approved.
- Find a space that can be easily modified as the extraction process is constantly evolving.
- Seek out a team or consultant with prior expertise who can help you make the best decisions for your business.