Exclusive Interview with Green Bits CEO Ben Curren
California-based Green Bits, a provider of software solutions to help cannabis retailers run their business, achieved market domination in Washington with no external funding after starting its business in 2014 and is now in nine states with a revenue run-rate of nearly $10 million at the end of 2017. Founder and CEO Ben Curren told New Cannabis Ventures how he grew a small company with a team of four people that now numbers 50 and the steps he is taking to build out a national footprint with projected sales of $100 million by 2021 as the company evolves from a simple compliance tool to a full cannabis retail solution.
Curren started his career as an entrepreneur during the dotcom boom of the 1990s. Since then, he has founded a number of successful companies, including financial management application company Outright, which he sold to web hosting company GoDaddy in 2012. After that, Curren found himself ready for a new venture. Like a true entrepreneur, Curren has a running list of ideas, and the cannabis industry was high on that list. In 2014, he attended a cannabis industry conference in Washington where he saw a group of eager, small business owners trying to grow in a highly regulated industry without many of the tools they needed to succeed. With more than 10 years of financial, accounting, and bookkeeping software development under his belt, Curren saw a way to use his skills to develop a tool and fill a gap in the market, and Green Bits was born.
Looking back on his experience, Curren decided he wanted to build a high-quality product that was focused on a specific market, rather than trying to grow too much, too fast. The first feature Curren wanted to nail down was retail compliance, and Washington was his target market. So, the software began as virtual cash register with very basic inventory tracking and automated seed-to-sale tracking for dispensaries in Washington. Green Bits software is fully integrated with state tracking systems, and it automates a dispensary’s entire daily reporting requirements – eliminating the need to log into systems like Metrc and manually create reports for compliance.
With that narrow focus on helping cannabis retailers achieve compliance, Green Bits was able to go from zero to approximately 75 percent market share in Washington within less than three years. The company was able to achieve this rapid growth despite competing against larger companies like BioTrackTHC, which had a larger team and a state contract, because of that focus and the strength of the its software. Security breaches at MJ Freeway have also helped the company gain customers. After proving the value of its software in Washington, the company has expanded into Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Maryland, Michigan, Nevada, and Oregon.
Along the way, the company’s clients started asking for more from the Green Bits software. From relatively simple point-of-sale inventory compliance software, it has evolved into a full-scale cannabis retail solution with features designed for compliance, business growth, customer management, and efficient store operations. As the company continues to expand, Curren is looking to add more features through partnerships with other companies in the industry, like marketing platforms Baker and springbig.
After self-funding in its early years, Green Bits brought in Casa Verde and a number of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who participated in a $3 million convertible debt financing last year. Curren, who expects to more than double the company’s team in 2018 to 115, believes new products and full national coverage followed by international expansion will drive the company to his targeted $100 million run-rate for sales by the end of 2020.
To listen to the complete interview:
Green Bits website: https://www.greenbits.com/