Rob Rusher: Bringing User Experience to Cultivators in the Cannabis Industry

Rob Rusher: GrowBuddy

What a man like Rob Rusher, founder of GrowBuddy, is doing is that he’s revolutionizing something that has been in practice for decades upon decades. He is an expert in the field of user experience and making it so that software is a tool that increases efficiency and expands the boundaries of what’s possible. This is his expertise and this is what Rob has brought to growers and cultivators in the legal cannabis industry – A new way to journal and document growth. He’s passionate, inspiring, and we loved seeing just how he plans to shake everything up a bit!

What was the deciding factor for you to join this particular industry?

Looking at what’s happening with the cannabis industry, everyone knows that it’s a commodity, but it’s a commodity that hasn’t ever really been exploited by business because it’s been illegal for the last 80 years or so. So, I saw this as an opportunity that doesn’t come around very often and I jumped in from my industry perspective, knowing that I could add to it.

What were you doing before the green rush?

Well, for the last 20 years I’ve been involved in the software industry, specifically focusing on user experience design. We built custom software applications that really helped people use software more effectively by way of workflow, design, and functionality, much like the iPhone did for the mobile phone industry.

What are you doing to impact the industry?

GrowBuddy is doing something very unique in that, for ages, cultivators and growers have been journalers. If you grow cannabis, you journal about it; you have to keep track of what you’re feeding your plants, what’s happening with them, the starting dates, etc. Now, most of these guys are writing all of this with pen on paper, whiteboards, sticky notes, and some of the more advanced will use an excel spreadsheet. The problem with most of these methods is that what they’re keeping track of is always changing and the data that they’re actually capturing is always getting lost or isn’t even captured in the first place.

If you grow cannabis, you journal about it; you have to keep track of what you’re feeding your plants, what’s happening with them, the starting dates, etc.

GrowBuddy is a system that allows them to capture all of that data. Now, what do they get with that data? Well, data is power; we’re able to give them back that data in a format that allows them to see the cause and effect analysis of what they’re doing. All of a sudden, these growers are becoming more educated about what works and what doesn’t. This is really a kind of disruptive technology; everybody has been doing this the same way for ages and now, we are shaking it up and giving them an astoundingly more effective way to capture that data on the appropriate device, in context, and access it at any time they may need it.

Describe your work ethic to us in one word.

Resilient.

Tell us about a time in your career that didn’t go as planned and what you did about that? How did you handle it?

Well, I’ve been the founder of a few companies now and none of them have gone exactly how I planned them to go. It’s actually really hard to look at all that you’ve done and not find something that didn’t go perfectly. The main thing to do, and this is true for business and life in general, is identify what went wrong, learn from it, and move forward with that information to use in the future. Just always know that you’re going to have to make slight adjustments to whatever plans you make.

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What book have you read that you’ve been inspired by? Any particular read we should put on our list?

You know, I still fall back on a book that I really enjoyed and that would be, The Wisdom of Crowds by James Surowiecki, and it happens to fall into so many things that I do, especially with what we are now doing with GrowBuddy and how, by analyzing data, you start seeing trends. The Wisdom of Crowds is really all about this data. It shows how you can start seeing trends about the way people think, the way people work, the way people act together, and it plays along nicely with what we’re doing with GrowBuddy.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?

It’s kind of a funny one, actually! I was back in college and was a bellman at a hotel and I had this 80-or-something year old man come up to me and say, “Son, let me give you some advice. Take care of your teeth.” And then he just walked away! That was great advice! When you’re talking to people in general, dental health is an issue that all of them struggle with. It has nothing to do with business, but it is just one of those things. Talk about happiness and think about how awful it is dealing with painful deteriorating teeth!

How would you advise someone who wants to join the industry?

It really depends on how you’re going to approach it. I actually had somebody ask me this the other day. They were looking at moving to Denver to get involved in the industry and I told him, “You know, getting in this industry is just like any other industry. It’s not easy! There’s a lot of people jumping in. You have to have a plan, you have to think it through, and you have to really work to get the traction that you need.” This industry is the same as any other industry, except that it has a lot of spotlight on it.

What is a skill or trait that you think is necessary to make an impact in this industry?

You know, there’s a lot of fears you can have going into this industry. There’s that underlying fear about what’s going to happen with the legalization and that’s just one of the ever looming questions. So, I’d say that having a lot of tolerance and open-mindedness are things that you absolutely must have. Now, legalization will happen, it’s just a matter of time, but you have to be patient and tolerant. It’s being pushed by the people, not the politicians, and we are going to see a lot of benefits from this. We’re going to see this industry literally blossom around that happening.

Now, legalization will happen, it’s just a matter of time, but you have to be patient and tolerant.

What are your thoughts on activists who don’t agree with mega-corporations approaching the hemp and cannabis industry?

Well, I absolutely know it’s going to happen. This is a commodity, it’s a plant, and it has a high per-pound dollar value attached to it. So, it’s going to happen! As an entrepreneur, you just need to focus on making your business successful before they come in, so that you’re one of the businesses that’s here to stay. I’m fine with the mega-corporations coming in. It’s inevitable and the only reason why they haven’t done it yet is because most of them are publicly-traded companies and they aren’t going to touch a federally illegal substance, yet. They’re going to come, so get used to it! Just focus on building your business now so you’re ready when they come.

If we are sitting across from each other a year from now, how will our conversation about the ‘green rush’ be going?

I think we will be a lot closer to legalization which will then open up even more opportunities. I think it will start to open more investors’ pockets, I think a lot more people are going to come into this industry, I think that it’s going to double or triple in the next year, and although I don’t think it will be legal quite yet… I think it will still give us, as entrepreneurs, the opportunity to get in and be ready for when full legalization does occur.

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