Cannabis Industry Sector:
Information Technology and Software
NCIA Member Since:
Tell me a bit about your background and why you launched your company?
My name is Joel Milton and I am the co-founder and CEO of Baker. I’ve spent the last 8 years in the software industry, and have been working with my co-founder and Chief Product Officer, David Champion, for that entire time. Our third co-founder and CTO, Roger Obando, has been a developer for the past 20 years.
The three of us got interested in the cannabis industry in 2014 as adult use was rolling out in Colorado. We saw an opportunity to bring our years of software expertise to the industry as it was coming out of prohibition. We knew there would be a lot of issues specific to the industry, and we saw there were few entrepreneurs with technical backgrounds trying to tackle them.
What unique value does your company offer to the cannabis industry?
We proudly boast that we are on the dispensary’s team.
When we first started, we saw vendors come to the industry to take advantage of dispensaries. They had a misconstrued image of cannabis businesses: safes full of cash, lines out the door, and that businesses couldn’t stock shelves quickly enough. As a company that only serves the industry, we understand real issues like 280e, marketing restrictions, and constantly changing regulations. Due to these misconceptions, many of the early players were charging outrageous fees for basic services (like 10 cents for a text message vs. 1 cent for ours) because few companies were willing to work with dispensaries to begin with.
Additionally, everyone in this space was competing for the same end customer – trying to get them to their dispensary, download their app, go to their website, etc. We saw a dangerous “race to the bottom” on price, and realized there was an opportunity to help dispensaries engage with their customers directly.
Today, we help more than 500 dispensaries in 14 states build their brand, connect with customers, and generate more revenue. We are on the dispensary’s team and our goal is to make them have more successful businesses. We are a true business to business cannabis tech company, and we take pride in showing our clients the ROI they see by using our platform.
Cannabis companies have a unique responsibility to shape this growing industry to be socially responsible and advocate for it to be treated fairly. How does your company help work toward that goal for the greater good of the cannabis industry?
We have been NCIA members for over a year now, and have made sure to contribute not just money but time as well. We send our regional reps to quarterly NCIA caucuses all over the country to keep a pulse on local and national initiatives to see where we can help. We also try to attend and sponsor cannabis events in the regions where we operate and beyond.
In the next month we will be attending events on both coasts, and at a few cities in between. We will also have a booth at the California Cannabis Business Conference (booth 204) if you will be there please swing by our booth or send us an email (firstname.lastname@example.org) to set up a time!
We take pride in the professionalism we bring to the industry, and are constantly bringing a mainstream approach to the way we operate – from hiring people out of Fortune 100 firms into the industry, to building quality software products that’s on par with anything coming out of Silicon Valley. Our toolset is uniquely specific to help cannabis brands and retailers run better businesses. We have been approached by retailers in other industries, but our entire focus is on cannabis.
We also work with mainstream investors – many of whom are getting their first exposure to cannabis. It has been such a rewarding experience to promote the industry to influencers who can propel the industry forward with investment and leadership.
Lastly, we also are proud to have brought a lot of public and positive press to the industry. In the past year we have been featured in publications like Business Insider, Forbes, Fast Co, and dozens of others. We position ourselves as a professional company, creating jobs in our headquarters of Denver. We have 35 full-time employees and counting!
Our exposure in the mainstream media has helped millions of readers from around the country learn about cannabis in a more positive light. They can see that there is a large degree of professionalism in the industry and that it would not be a bad thing if it came to their backyard.
How do recent advances in technology, and how we use it, impact the growth and direction of the cannabis industry?
We believe this is a big industry and we have a responsibility to enhance the cannabis ecosystem – when companies cooperate, the sum is greater than its parts.
We are proud of the integrations we have with fellow members of NCIA. We work with POS companies like MJ Freeway, Green Bits, Treez, and Flowhub, as well as data companies like New Frontier (we contributed to their Report earlier this year).
Additionally, retailers across all industries have invested a lot in bringing their shopping experience into the digital age. Cannabis retail should be on par with other shopping experiences, and by providing beautiful, easy to use products, we can help make cannabis more accessible to a larger audience.
We are proud to bring retailers a modern experience that has been called the “shopify of cannabis.” We enjoy hearing stories from our clients about how our products have helped customers see that the stigmas around cannabis shopping are dissipating.
Why did you join NCIA? What’s the best part about being a member?
We are big believers in NCIA, it is an important group with a fantastic mission. I went to Lobby Days along with our COO, VP of Sales, and Director of Marketing. We were all impressed with how organized the experience was.
There is something special about getting the cannabis conversation started with influencers. Most staffers would be hesitant to bring it up, but if you go in-person and inspire confidence in the industry, you can watch the ball start rolling and it was very rewarding to be a part of that.
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