A legalization advocate and entrepreneur with roots in the entertainment and promotions space, Kyle Sherman is now finding unique ways to mesh technology and cannabis while driving legalization forward in the United States as the co-founder and CEO of Flowhub, serving on the board of managers and executive staff.
Kyle continually redefines the company’s vision, strategy, and growth as the Flowhub cannabis seed-to-sale software solution continues to innovate the process by which cannabis businesses manage their compliance and supply chain. His goal is to make compliance simple, keep government transparent, and keep product off the black market. This inherent motivation keeps Kyle and the Flowhub team passionate about compliance, eliminating inefficiencies, and introducing the cannabis industry to the 21st century.
What was the deciding factor for you to join this particular industry?
While living in California for almost a decade, I saw the medical industry go from mom-and-pop to a much more commercialized industry. At the same time I found cannabis to be surprisingly useful in helping me wind down at the end of the day and rid me of daily anxieties. I also saw how it positively impacted my life. At this time I became consumed with the plant and its benefits. I watched a TV series called WEED on CNN, covering a story of a little girl named Charlotte Figi who suffers from epilepsy. The entire story brought me to tears. I desperately wanted to bring this plant to other people, but at that time I just wasn’t sure how I would accomplish that.
I decided at that time I wanted to be a part of this movement. My wife and I chose to move from Los Angeles to Denver to raise our family. While in Denver I connected with industry leaders and helped a friend set up his commercial grow facility and dispensary. While working in the grow and dealing with regulations I learned about a slew of issues that stem from not having a rock solid platform to track plants from seed-to-sale. I found my calling! If I could make compliance easy and transparent for businesses, as well as state governments, then I would inevitably impact the legalization of cannabis across the country. That’s how Flowhub came to be.
What were you doing before?
I skipped the traditional college route and dove head first into the entertainment industry in Los Angeles. At the age of 18, I was editing national commercials for the US and Mexico. I then worked my way up from a PA to an Associate Producer. Years later, I produced a movie on America’s School Lunch Program and ended up starting an advertising agency making movie posters. I sold my share in the agency before moving to Denver. I just wasn’t passionate about that particular industry anymore, and couldn’t see myself being in advertising the rest of my life.
I had done some marketing help for Weedmaps and some other companies in the space, but wanted to do more and have a more defined role in pushing the movement forward. I have experience going over regulations and compliance with dispensary owners and cultivators. The idea for Flowhub came to me when I tried a seed-to-sale software, and found it expensive and inefficient.
Tell me about the point in the time you realized the coming of the ‘green rush’?
Like I mentioned earlier, I realized pretty fast that this industry was becoming legitimate. What was most surprising upon arriving in Denver was the infancy of the legal cannabis industry. Mainstream media makes it out to be this crazy cash grab when in reality you have really hard working entrepreneurs running medium sized businesses. While some operations are large, this industry is still small.
What types of hardships has your business faced as a reult of being associated with cannabis?
State Farm dropped us as soon as they discovered we were involved with the cannabis industry, and it took a few months to find a new insurance agency to cover us. Other than that, we’ve been lucky so far that we haven’t experienced a lot of discrimination. Some things were tough, for example, finding an office space, but we were upfront about being a software company for the cannabis space and eventually got what we were looking for.
I’ve found it’s a good strategy to be very open about what we do early on, so that those working with us won’t cut us off because we were unclear from the beginning.
Right now, where are you guiding your passion and energy towards?
I’m really focused on connecting with people who are looking at the long term. I’m always surprised at how many people in this business are in it for a quick buck and are not actually thinking about how good ideas can grow into something much bigger. A lot of my focus has been connecting with our customers, learning about their needs, hustling to solve their issues and leading our team to fix these problems. Our number one goal is to support our customers through and through. They typically don’t have the time or the money to go off and build software that would substantially help their operations, but we do. We are here to help our customers achieve greatness and I want people to know we are only trying to better their businesses and push this industry forward.
Describe your work ethic to me in one word.
Who is a person that you consider as a role model? Maybe someone who has been a mentor to you? Why and how did this person impact your life?
I’ll never forget the things I learned from a producer named Jeff Balis. I begged to work for him early on in my career and he gave me an opportunity to intern with him and help him make two movies.
He taught me the fundamentals of operating a business. He pushed me to my limits and was critical in honest and constructive ways. While shadowing him in important meetings, he taught me the importance of taking solid notes and writing great script coverage. He also directed me on how to tell effective stories, meet deadlines, and to always exceed expectations. When I earned it he awarded me with associate producer credit. He opened a lot of doors for me, I owe Balis a lot and I’m currently paying it forward.
I love the book Zero to One by Peter Thiel. It gives a great framework on what makes companies successful. There is definitely a little bit of formula there and I think the book does a good job of breaking things down. I also love the book The Hard Things About Hard Things. I’m constantly trying to become a better CEO.
Tell me about an esteemed achievement of yours.
I built a tech company in about six months and put together a team of 14. I told myself I could do it, and then I executed. This is probably my best achievement to date.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
Always take notes, always follow your word, and always deliver.
What is the most important thing for us to know now about the legal marijuana industry?
The legal marijuana industry is still in it’s infancy. There is a lot of room for disrupters. There are real problems that need to be solved.
If we are sitting across from each other a year from now, how will our conversation about the ‘green rush’ be going?
Many existing companies will fold, and many new ones will spring up. I think with laws quickly changing we’ll start to see smoking lounges in certain states. With smoking lounges we have a whole aspect to the industry that we haven’t even really explored yet. Like lounges, I think we’ll start to see more innovative products that drive legalization forward.
What scares you most about this industry?
Until the federal government reschedules cannabis, I’ll be wary of the feds coming down hard on the legal industry. I’d like to think we’ve made enough progress to keep this ball rolling but you never know. There’s huge money in prohibition. We’re not going to be stopped, but I’m sure someone might be able to slow us down.
If you could tell a skeptic one thing about this industry to make them change their mind, what would it be?
As it stands right now, it’s ridiculously easy to buy the plant on the black market. Why do we want our kids to have such easy access? Show me the story of someone overdosing and dying on cannabis. The stories don’t exist. We need to legalize and regulate the distribution of cannabis – there is nothing more to it. I’d tell them to watch WEED on CNN or The Union on Netflix.
Tell us something that you wish you had known before becoming a cannabis entrepreneur.
Nobody knows what’s going on. We’re all humans trying to figure out this legalization thing, regulations, laws etc. There is no right or wrong way to do this. We the people get to shape the industry. It’s just about getting involved.
Anything else you would like to share with our readers?
There is also no better time to fight politically than now. Get out and change minds, share the facts, and don’t be afraid to share your love for cannabis.