Direct Cannabis Network had the opportunity to sit down and share in a conversation with Gary Cohen, CEO of Cova, a technology company focused on point-of-sale [POS for short], touchscreen menus and digital signage solutions for the cannabis industry. As more businesses and consumers flood both the recreational and medicinal cannabis markets, dispensaries and brands will need to step up their point-of-sale game to meet customer demands.
Cohen provides insight into Cova’s operations and describes similarities to beginnings of the cell phone industry back in the 1980’s to the current situation in the cannabis industry. Read on to learn more about what Cohen meant by this statement, and how Cova is positioning itself as one of the reputable brands to address the point-of-sale demands of the cannabis industry.
What is Cova?
Cova is a leading technology company that provides point-of-sale, interactive menu and digital signage solutions for the cannabis industry. Cova enhances the cannabis retail experience for both consumers and dispensaries through an integrated solutions platform (POS, ERP, CRM, eCommerce, Touchscreen Menus, Digital Signage, and Dropship).
How is Cova addressing point-of-sale pain points for dispensaries?
“To answer that question, we first did research and asked questions such as: who is your current provider for POS, what do you like about them, what don’t you like, and what do you wish you could do,” stated Cohen, “after doing market research, the conclusion was that nobody loves their point-of-sale solution.”
“Our mission is to create the best cannabis retail experience. The POS does the core heavy lifting of keeping the dispensary running, but we can also enhance the dispensary experience through digital signage and touchscreen menus. Our parent company has had years of experience in retail best practices, and as a result, has built products like digital signage and touchscreens to enhance the in-store experience.” explained Cohen, “Picture this, interactive signage where people can browse products and view live inventory. Once a product has sold out, the menu automatically updates not to show that product and instead suggest another.”
Cohen added, “People are used to using services that we love and convenient to use, such as TurboTax or Amazon. Here at Cova, we want to build lovable software that is easy to use, easy to learn, and powerful in terms of reporting.”
Who is the team behind Cova?
“Cova is a small, tight-knit team operating within our larger parent company – iQmetrix, a leading provider of innovative software solutions built for complex retail, especially the wireless market. Our founders of iQmetrix saw the cannabis industry evolving with all sorts of complex retail and technology issues within dispensaries – one that we could help solve based on our 18+ years of experience in software development and the wireless industry. It may have sounded like a stretch at the time (cell phones and cannabis?), but I got the vision. I went through the cell phone boom, and I get it. It’s a similar movie being played,” stated Cohen.
What I like about our business approach at Cova: we are not reinventing the wheel. We are taking years of experience and proven knowledge of another complex industry, and applying relevant pieces of it over to the cannabis industry to address issues relating to both the business’ and consumers’ experience in the retail environment.
You made references to the cell phone boom of the 80’s to the current cannabis industry. What similarities do you see?
“Back then we were known as early pioneers – risk takers for seeking a career in the cellular industry,” stated Cohen proudly. A similar sentiment felt among cannabis entrepreneurs!
“At the time the cellular industry was a skeptical place. People were receiving licenses, but you couldn’t just say ‘I want a license to build a company,’ back then it was a lottery based process on applications for licenses,” recalled Cohen, “once you got the license, you made the investment in an unknown value.”
To provide further context, Cohen presents an example between growers and early cellular entrepreneurs below.
“Think of the growers who do everything to secure real estate to grow and operate. They need a license first to get the real estate and then work with local neighbors to start construction and begin operations. It was the same process with early cellular companies, they first secured real estate to buy and construct a cellular tower, but at the time neighbors protested the tower being built near residentials. The similarities to dispensaries and grows when it comes to having to jump the legal hoops to get to the next step of obtaining the permits and permission to purchase the real estate in the first place, and then finding out locals don’t want a dispensary in their area, now that sounds familiar,” explained Cohen. “I remember [referring to the cellular industry in the 80’s] it was a complex system, the rules changed every month, commission, taxes, the cost of the hardware — it was an ever changing ecosystem in business, something the cannabis industry can empathize with.”
What are potential markets for Cova?
“Our team is focusing on the main factors such as compliance; we will not launch in any state that does not have compliance set up. The first two markets that we are fully compliant and fully operational in are Colorado and California. The rest of the year we will launch in a new state every month, as we build out,” said Cohen.
The cannabis industry will become a legal industry in America, especially if companies like Cova enter the marketplace, and give other canna-businesses the boost needed to be an active contender in this rapidly changing industry. The interview with Gary Cohen motivated and added fuel to my fire of being one of the pioneers in the cannabis industry. Cohen’s insight into the cellular industry’s past shined a light on the fact that many emerging markets met opposition at first from outsiders who didn’t see the vision, but that didn’t stop them, and now nearly everyone has a cellular device on hand.
If you’d like to learn more about Cova, please visit www.covasoft.com