He’s certainly not someone who tiptoes around the outer edge, he’d much prefer a more bold approach and his company’s mission being to ‘bring disruptive technology to the industry’… he’s not afraid of the breaking down the barriers and taking on new challenges. Tom Bollich, CEO of Surna (OTC:SRNA), is a man of clear, concise, and daring ambition and he’ll certainly be one of the entrepreneurs who will be responsible for advancing our industry.
What was the deciding factor for you to join this particular industry?
I really saw cannabis shaping up to be an emerging and ultimately, a huge industry. Since I had been through a similar experience of seeing an industry start at nearly the beginning while I was at Zynga, I felt like I had a really good idea of what to expect when starting a business in an emerging industry such as this. From where I sit, cannabis will disrupt everything – it will be the biggest industry since the Internet.
I really saw cannabis shaping up to be an emerging and ultimately, a huge industry.
What skills from your previous experiences helped you in what you are doing now?
My experience in AI and robotics is key in how I’m looking at Surna’s ability to build an entire system that will work together to benefit growers and business owners. In terms of understanding how to go with the flow with an industry that is moving like a freight train, that comes from my days at Zynga. There is no way to slow things down, so being flexible is really the only way to survive.
Right now, where are you guiding your passion and energy towards?
There is so much progress to be made in the cannabis industry by way of technology. This is an industry that hasn’t had much of a chance to grow until very recently, and so I envision that we’ll be experiencing massive advances in technology fairly soon in terms of how we can improve quality and efficiency in the grow. I’m really guiding my passion and energy towards bringing innovation to the space and letting growers really “stretch their legs” in terms of what they can produce with the right technology.
Describe your work ethic to me in one word.
What do you consider your weakness as an entrepreneur? Your strength?
I would say that speaking from a script is the hardest thing for me. On the flip side, speaking free form is definitely one of my strengths. Surna’s marketing team has learned that by putting talking points in bullet form, it empowers my strength in free form speaking, instead of forcing me to memorize.
How are you differentiating yourself from the competition?
Surna brings the best engineers from outside the industry to work on the problems that the cannabis industry is experiencing from the perspective of technology. Our VP of Engineering helped put the Rover on Mars – you just don’t see any other company in cannabis building a team like we’ve built. Our whole team is working really hard to engineer and manufacture improved technology for the grows.
How do you find inspiration in this industry? What have you found that has inspired you?
I usually look outside the industry for inspiration. There are so many incredibly cool things going on in other industries from which cannabis can benefit, especially in states like Colorado where regulation is met with an understanding that this industry needs to be built out. My other inspiration? Robots. Definitely.
I usually look outside the industry for inspiration.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten?
Don’t open a restaurant.
What’s your newest knowledge about the marijuana industry?
How little the industry really understands about LEDs.
If you could rewind time to 5 years ago, how would your business be different?
It would be different in every way. The whole industry has done a lot of growing in the last year and if any of us knew then [when we started our businesses] what we know now, everything would be different.
What will we be seeing from you and Surna in the coming future?
I’m going to remain a little bit secretive on this one, but what I can guarantee is that 2015 is going to bring newer and even more innovative technology. You’ll just have to stay tuned to see exactly what I mean by that!