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This week, Travis Steffen, chief revenue officer of Dama Financial, joins the Cannabis Equipment News podcast to discuss how he helped build GrowFlow, a compliance platform used by cannabis cultivators, distributors, processors and retailers across the United States.
Steffen has been starting, scaling and selling tech companies for the past 15 years. His experience has led him to mentorship roles at acclaimed accelerators, like 500 Startups and Techstars. It was at an accelerator that he began mentoring GrowFlow co-founders Rufus Casey and Tom Wilson, who leaned on Steffen for advice on scaling their business designed to help cannabis businesses remain in compliance with the many disparate regulations presented by various jurisdictions.
As GrowFlow began to take off, the founders needed a leader who could scale the company while they focused on innovation, and they turned to Steffen.
When Steffen came on board, he started recruiting an executive team. Neither Steffen nor the new executives had any experience in the cannabis industry. Still, they knew that Casey and Wilson, as well as the staff of 12 or so employees, were deep subject matter experts.
Steffen says GrowFlow succeeded by using customer feedback to create the management and compliance platform. The staff was deeply in touch with the market, which was collaborative in building a platform that industry stakeholders wanted to see.
GrowFlow experienced a significant growth rate with solid retention rates and became the country's largest wholesale seed-to-sale compliance platform. The company was also the fastest growing and most stable retail point-of-sale (POS) system. In particular, GrowFlow was an optimal place for vertically-integrated and rapidly growing operations with multiple locations.
Steffen attributes much of the company's success to building a focused, creative team initially based on seven core values. The core values were:
- Be customer-obsessed
- Challenge respectfully
- Extreme ownership
- Stay curious and stay scrappy (don't just throw money at problems)
- Do less, better (focus)
- Results get rewarded (align team members' greed/personal motivation with the organization's goals)
Some values were lived more than others, and they have evolved through the years.
GrowFlow is a tech startup triumph, and in February 2022, the company was acquired by Dama Financial, the world's largest financial services provider in cannabis. The deal was mutually beneficial and provided GrowFlow users with a host of new capabilities, including banking, payroll, cash management and credit.
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