Flourish Software is a seed-to-sale software platform to manage cannabis products at each link in the supply chain and Colton Griffin is the CEO of this company.
Warren Bobrow=WB: Please tell me about yourself. What brought you to the cannabis/botany world? Healing? What was your inspiration to do what you do?
Colton Griffin=CG: I’ve been a huge fan of cannabis and hemp since I was young. In high school, I spent many hours thinking about using hemp to support a green revolution to help us on a path to better sustainability. I grew up in rural East Tennessee and was lucky enough to receive a scholarship to attend boarding school. There, I worked on a project to make biodiesel, which ultimately inspired me to pursue an engineering degree at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. I’ve always had an appreciation for recreational cannabis use. Fortunately, I’ve not had any real need to use it medicinally, but I’ve observed many people close to me, who see those benefits. Overarching my experience with the plant is a passion for social justice and the environment.
In 2011 after graduation, I moved to Atlanta to start my career at Manhattan Associates, which is a software leader in best of breed supply chain solutions. Fortunately, they assigned me to a group in the consulting practice focused on implementing analytics on top of the software they sold. That allowed me the opportunity to work with many clients across a diverse set of industries and workflows, which provided a strong foundation in understanding how technology fits into warehousing, order management, transportation, and planning operations.
After Manhattan, I went in-house at Genuine Parts (Fortune 214) and built their reporting and analytics capabilities on top of supply chain applications. Ultimately, I wanted to take what I learned there and during consulting after and empower smaller and midsized businesses to leverage technology in similar ways.
WB: Please tell me about your company. What do you do that’s different, therefore better than your competition? What stigmas do you face?
CG: Flourish offers a robust supply chain management platform built specifically for cannabis and hemp. Currently, we are primarily focused on supply chain operations upstream from retail, including cultivation, extraction, manufacturing, and distribution. However, we also offer retail point of sale and delivery software, which we’ve successfully deployed that across multiple states for vertically integrated enterprise clients. Clients use our software to manage all inventory, purchasing, and order fulfillment. In cultivation they track all the plants through the lifecycle and the harvests. In manufacturing, they manage extraction runs and assemblies. Throughout all of this, we help our clients maintain compliance track and trace records and send the relevant data back to the state system.
We bring our deep operations and enterprise supply chain expertise into both the software and the delivery of it, which separates us from competitors in the industry. Many of our clients benefit tremendously from the training, guidance, and support, and they use the software to drive standard operating procedures to run the day-to-day. We’re also highly focused on the customer user experience and integrations. Flourish is built on an extremely modern tech stack, and we’ve fully embraced agile development methodologies, which allows us to quickly deliver continuous value to our customers by expanding and optimizing our platform.
WB: What is your six- and twelve-month plan? What obstacles exist?
CG: A primary focus for us over the next six months is on integrations and partnerships. We’ve positioned Flourish to be at the center of the technology landscape for our clients, and thus we are helping clients attach other solutions to our platform, such as CRMs, E-Commerce Platforms, and additional Financial Packages. We’re also working on revised pricing and product tiers. We’ve had clients on the platform for over three years now, so we have data on what type of features various clients need. Getting the “right” solution into the client’s hands at the right price will help us remove friction in the sales process and better scale the company. We will grandfather any clients who sign up prior to this change into the higher tier of the product.
Looking out twelve months, we could see some very exciting developments in the industry. Foremost, I’m preparing the company to embrace some form of national legalization. Legalization is inevitable and way overdue. We’ve been diligent to ensure that there is enough “special sauce” in Flourish specific to the cannabis and hemp verticals to be the software of choice even if other vendors move into the market. As we help our clients transition into the post-legalization world, we’ll continue to add functionality to support this. We’re also very excited to continue to execute on our “partner-farmer model” to connect farms to downstream processors and distributors in the supply chain.
In cannabis and hemp there are a few major obstacles all companies face. First is an ever-changing regulatory environment. Changes often require us to re-work or enhance integrations to the state tracking system, add new product features, and rapidly respond to new requirements in days or weeks from design through deployment. Second is banking, which fortunately as a non-” plant touching” business we can navigate a bit easier than our customers. Ultimately, we have the right team and internal processes in place to navigate through challenges as they come.
WB: What is your favorite food memory from childhood? What does your favorite (birthday) meal look like now? Favorite food?
CG: My mom is an amazing cook, and we rarely ate out when I was younger. When we did, I always loved authentic Mexican and Tex-Mex food. If I had to pick one dish, I’d say a chicken chimichanga was it. Outside of restaurant foods, I’m a fan of home-cooked and home-grown food. We always had a huge garden growing up with lots of fresh veggies. I’m an adventurous eater and always clean my plate. There isn’t much that I don’t like to eat.
Living up to all the LA stereotypes, I have finally transitioned to a mostly vegan and plant-based diet over the last 9 months. I joke about the stereotype, but this has been in the works for some time. The environmental impact of eating meat is enormous. As for health, there are many reasons to minimize or eliminate mean and animal products. I’ve always been aware of the food I eat. I was a big fan of Michael Pollan and read Eric Schlosser’s Fast Food Nation several times growing up. So today, I’m working through modifications to favorite recipes and trying lots of new ones. As much as I enjoy cooking at home, for a birthday dinner it’s all about spending time out with friends!
WB: What is your passion?
CG: Foremost my passion today is Flourish. Starting a company requires extreme dedication, and I love building and deploying new solutions to help clients. It’s incredibly rewarding to work with the team to solve problems. Outside of work, I have a passion for politics and current affairs. I’ve had some level of social, environmental, or political activism in my life since I was probably twelve or thirteen. In high school I started an environmental community service program and led that for several years. In college, a lot of activism was centered around anti-war protests and budget cuts coming out of the recession.
After college and during the course of starting Flourish there have been some years in which I have been less active than others. However, from 2014 to 2018 I was instrumental in building up the LGBTQ Caucus for the Young Democrats in Georgia and then leading the LGBTQ Caucus for the Democratic Party in Georgia. I worked with numerous state and national advocacy organizations and even served on the board for a state-focused political action committee, Red Clay Democrats. Today, I remain connected and committed to creating a more equitable, sustainable society and advancing social justice. Beyond these core passions, I love to travel and explore the outdoors.