cannabis lean startups
cannabis lean startups

The Importance of a Lean Startup in the Cannabis Industry

How California Bud Company used Lean Startup Techniques to explode in the marijuana space

Posted by:
Nanci Chi-Town on Thursday Dec 10, 2020

The Importance of a Lean Startup in the Cannabis Industry

cannabis lean startup

The cannabis industry is in a constant state of change. Entrepreneurs can’t use traditional product development and expect significant results. Like everything with cannabis, you have to break the mold for success. One way to get ahead with bud is with a lean startup. 

Advantages of a Lean startup in the Cannabis Industry 

Most traditional companies begin with years of careful and detailed research. The cannabis market is moving too fast to accommodate lengthy development strategies. By the time you spend even several months investigating and devising a comprehensive plan, another business sweeps in with a similar or even better product. 

Lean development involves spending less money, hiring fewer people, and working faster to put out a service or product more quickly to capitalize on an immediate market need. An excellent example is the California Bud Company. 

After Tiana Burse and her partners acquired the California Bud Company, she knew she needed to capitalize on the industry’s educational needs. California legalized the popular plant in 2016 for recreational use. But more users were still hitting the black market for lower prices and forgoing the state’s extensive safety protocols for high-quality buds. 

Ms. Burse focused on education and helping consumers understand the differences between the black market and legal market cannabis. The California Bud Company also began to lead by example, partnering with farms that grow natural, organic cannabis strains located from the Salinas Valley to Humboldt County which sets new industry standards for quality and transparency. 

She’s not alone. With the help of Josue Arteaga, the creative director for The Cali Bud Co., Ms. Burse is working to change the way people view the cannabis market. By showing consumers the benefits of legal marijuana purchase. Mr. Arteaga uses his experience working with influencers and developing B2B content to market The Cali Bud Co., its leaders, and products through high-quality writing to help the company thrive. “Sales and a business success, in my opinion, is about trust and authority. When you are trusted and the authority in your space everything else becomes easier. We call it the winner takes all effect and that’s what we are building at Cali Bud Co.” quotes Mr. Arteaga.  

These steps are boosting The California Bud Company’s reputation and sales. Together they’re using a lean startup strategy to improve the bottom line without putting them in the red with expenses. The duo’s also growing the number of users in the legal cannabis industry by showing the products are safe, all-natural, and carry much more transparency than any products on the black market. 

Think Outside the Box 

Entrepreneurs that take advantage of the lean startup to launch their ideas need to think outside the box. They also must be prepared for unexpected setbacks and consider creative workarounds for everything from funds to technology.

Joseph Khoury is the director of business systems for Marimed and emphasizes cannabis tech success is predicated on the flexibility and rapid deployment in the lean startup method.  Joe applied this methodology when scaling his co-founded a custom cannabis packaging company, iRollie. Three years later iRollie was acquired by Marimed. 

Joe has built a number of custom technology products for Marimed’s use in their managed facilities. This tech is the product of Joe’s identification of gaps in the current vendor software offering and picking up the slack to develop solutions. 

“While building iRollie, we needed certain automations and tech products and many didn’t exist. So, we built them. I took this approach to solving business problems to Marimed, which allowed us to develop tech solutions. That approach is right of the Lean Startup playbook” says Khoury. 

The self-starter taught himself new skills to succeed.

“I taught myself Google Sketchup, a 3D printing program ... and I began prototyping.”

He carried this new innovation methodology to his future job with Marimed and has since built on his success with this foundation.

To follow in Khourny’s footsteps, you have to act fast. The cannabis industry is growing so fast that you don’t have time for a few college courses, let alone a full degree program. By thinking outside the box and learning what he needed to, his product launch was successful. While not everyone will throw a home run right out of the bullpen, the talents you develop and experience gained with your first attempt at a lean startup can propel you to success with future launches.


Marimed's Joseph Khoury and California Bud Company’s Tiana Burse.


Advantages of a Lean startup in the Cannabis industry

Even before the COVID-19 pandemic boosted cannabis sales, startups were hitting the market fast, and many were flourishing. According to Investopedia, investors were responsible for a $2 billion cash influx by the end of October 2019. Revised estimates for 2020 have retail sales poised to surpass $15 billion by the end of the year. 

The medical and recreational cannabis market is booming across the U.S. It’s also moving quickly throughout the world. For example, Mexico recently passed legislation to approve recreational cannabis sales across the country. It joins Canada and parts of the U.S. that have embraced the growing industry.

If you wait to get into the business, you might be too late. Companies that use a lean startup strategy get a head start on their competition and be the first to the market with their product or service. With an entire legal market opening up on the Southern U.S. border, now’s the time to jump into the game with a lean startup. 

In addition, the cannabis industry is changing. What consumers need today may no longer be necessary for a year or two. Throwing a ton of capital into a business that could go bust in a few years if it doesn’t evolve with the market, isn’t a winning strategy. 

A good example is a hideaway product. These were great little tools created to disguise smoking and cannabis products as everyday items to prevent arrests. It included everything from containers that hide your stash to stealth pipes that didn’t look like a smoking utensil. Plus, there are items that masked smoke. 

While some people may continue to look for them or use them, they aren’t as popular as the growing need for dab pens, glass blunts, and portable vape pens with longer battery life. 

Do you have ideas for a cannabis startup? Don’t wait until you have more information or even the funds. Make your dream a reality fast using the lean startup methodology. You don’t have time to waste if you want to join successful entrepreneurs like iRollie’s Joseph Khoury and California Bud Company’s Tiana Burse. 





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