Meet the Professional is a spotlight feature, highlighting DCN members-  giving them a voice to share their knowledge, expertise and helpful tips for your company. 

There comes the point in every business when the owner realizes they need advice and wonders, “Should I hire a consultant?”. Business owners hire consultants as a cost-effective way to bridge a gap in knowledge and skills within their company, or as a way to bring a fresh, objective, and professional perspective to the company.

Whether you’re starting a new company or growing an existing business, hiring the right consultant can be a cost-effective way for your business to leverage specialized knowledge.

This is where Cannakins Consulting comes in.

About Cannakins Consulting

Cannakins is a business and technology firm specializing in the cannabis industry. We work with technology addressing cannabis specific requirements and mainstream solutions that are now available to the cannabis industry. Connecting with us taps a business owner into almost unlimited business resources and opportunities. Companies who are open to working with cannabis businesses but not in a position to announce their support publicly, engage Cannakins to bridge the gap and bring world-class support to our clients.

Meet The Founder

Brett Macomber

Brett Macomber is the founder of Cannakins Consulting. Brett has developed and implemented business and technology solutions for some of the country’s largest companies, including Koch Industries, Georgia Pacific, and Kaiser Permanente. In 2018, Brett founded Cannakins to provide these same services to the evolving cannabis industry. As a business owner, Brett knows first-hand what it takes to run a business, grow the business through different stages, and watch it succeed. Cannakins provides a full suite of scalable services that can be leveraged by cannabis businesses, bringing additional value with competitive advantages to clients and propelling their revenues to new levels.

But work isn’t everything! In his downtime, Brett enjoys riding his sport bike through the SoCal canyons. A midwest native, Brett finds life in SoCal to be engaging and interesting. Where else can you drive an hour to go skiing then grab lunch and head to the beach!? The cannabis market in SoCal also lends itself to many opportunities for getting involved with the various communities. Brett volunteers with industry organizations and is a member of the local NORML chapter as a means to give back to the industry. Nationally, Brett participates in NCIA events.

Meet the Professional: Brett Macomber of Cannakins Consulting

DCN: Cannakins offers a variety of tools to help companies when it comes to tech and cybersecurity. When looking more at the cybersecurity approach, why is it important for even small to mid-market businesses to begin looking at protecting their business and how can Cannakins help?

Brett Macomber: Small to mid-market businesses, no matter the industry, are the soft spots attackers go after most often. Most small or medium-size businesses (SMBs) don’t have the resources of a larger company, may not be sure where or how to start securing their business, and frankly have a million other business needs to address. SMBs are less likely to have active network scanning, disaster recovery, and/or remediation plans in place which, in turn, means they will not even be aware the business has been compromised until is it too late.

2018 was the second-most active year for breaches since 2017. No doubt our readers have heard about concerns in healthcare, banking, social media, and other large company security breaches recently. And these companies have huge staff/budgets to throw at the challenge! Big and small companies alike are victims of email phishing attacks, poor password management, and social engineering vulnerabilities.

Cannakins is supporting the cannabis industry through several initiatives. We offer services to actively scan and monitor your existing business infrastructure for attacks or build secure networks from scratch. Looking ahead to a future where full legalization is a reality, Cannakins provides PCI and HIPPA preparation programs designed to assess and remediate your business security posture. I believe we are all looking forward to the day we can use debit/credit payments freely and PCI compliance is a way to get there.

We recognize basic security training on best practices is needed as well. To meet this need, Cannakins has partnered with a cybersecurity organization who curates culture-based training programs covering the basics any owner/employee needs to know. The business owner or manager creates a fully customized and documented cyber security SOP during the program and earns a certificate of completion award that can be displayed so customers know your business takes their security seriously. A huge (and smart) win-win for everyone!

Our message regarding cybersecurity is simple, we are all in this together. Cybersecurity doesn’t have to be scary but it is a necessity for any business. Resources are available to cannabis business owners to address this need, you just have to know where to look!

DCN: After speaking with many dispensary owners myself, I have noticed many business owners may be missing out on what is fully available for them to streamline and better understand their business especially when it comes to their POS systems, what common mistakes are you seeing with dispensary business owners, and how has Cannakins been able to help?

Brett Macomber: I look at it as less of a mistake question and more of a new industry challenge. But, you did hit the nail on the head! It is common for business owners to be unaware of all possible solutions to their business needs. Having support from Cannakins means we do all the tedious work researching vendors and building relationships with them, assessing their technology roadmaps, handling sales reps, and so forth. Half of the top 10 google results of ‘cannabis POS systems’ are well-known companies, but more exist and could be better for your business in the long run. We look at many factors when helping clients select a solution.

Examples for POS situations are: how long has the company been in business, where are they based, do they have sufficient support in place and participate in security updates/patching, are they partnering with other cannabis companies like loyalty programs or menu platforms, and if they do, are there efficiency gains from platform integrations or other upsides to justify using them as your solution?

Often times working with a consultant or industry specialist gets your business access to the latest updates, features, and advanced services offered by the vendors you work with already. You just have to know where/how to find us.

DCN: What are the common biggest challenges business owners are running into when it comes to technology and their business?

Brett Macomber: Everything is a challenge right now. Business owners have to deal with changing regulations, lack of banking access, a need for industry standardization, and more. From my perspective, a big challenge for cannabis business owners is knowing where to find trustworthy partnerships. What tech tools make sense for owners to invest in and which vendors will be there, in the long run, is a common challenge.

Industry awareness is another challenge I see. When we are out traveling to different trade shows, it is amazing to hear that local businesses are unaware people from the cannabis industry are in town. I recently went to Seattle for a tradeshow and the dispensary down the street was not aware of the event, less than 10 minutes away. At the local level, when I’m chatting with business owners, they often lament about being in a bubble without having a broader picture of the industry. Even one town or county away, many owners are not connected with what their peers are doing and opportunities are being missed.

DCN: Where do you see Cannakins Consulting going?

Brett Macomber: The vision for Cannakins is to be a trusted partner and resource for business owners throughout the cannabis space. Our bus is parked at the crossroads of cannabis and technology at a time when other firms won’t or can’t get involved. We are ready for those who want to come along on the ride. Industry innovation will give way to amazing technology, not in the mainstream or even thought of yet. We will keep our fingers on the pulse and our clients on the path to success.

DCN: What do you think are the most critical aspects of a successful business and technology firm?

Brett Macomber: The answer to that question rests with the goals of the firm. For Cannakins to realize its vision we need to have trust from our clients, partnership and collaboration with vendors, and rock solid customer service.

DCN: What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?

Brett Macomber: Seeing a client succeed and achieve their goals.

DCN: What is one piece of advice in your industry you would give to business owners?

Brett Macomber: You are not alone! Reach out to your network of peers, attend conferences and trade shows or local MeetUps, be a part of the community in whatever way you can. Resources for you to leverage are all around you.

DCN: Brett, Thank you for sharing your insight with the DCN community. Any final thoughts that you would like to share?

Brett Macomber: We work with businesses in all parts of the cannabis industry. Retail gets a lot of IT and technology attention but cultivation, distribution, processing, packaging, marketing, and other ancillary businesses can all benefit from connecting with a firm like Cannakins.

A couple of examples are companies that have gas products or services. We are working with two such companies. One is dealing with CO2 for cultivation and the other works with testing labs, enabling them to create their own gas and mixtures for themselves.

The 4 benefits for a startup or small-to-mid-sized business to work with an IT firm

From Brett Macomber of Cannakins Consulting

Staffing a full-time IT department is not a cheap endeavor for business owners. Some estimates put the cost of a full-time IT staff consisting of one general support resource, a security resource, data/software management resource, and an IT leader at $300-500k once you add up salaries and benefits. Add to that the necessary ongoing training, trade shows, etc… and the cost goes up even more. Working with a managed services provider (MSP) like Cannakins augments a business’ IT capabilities on demand and at a fraction of the cost. We provide the stop-gap resources while your business grows and can even help you staff for IT when the time is right. We succeed when our clients succeed!

Time is something we all seem to have a shortage of. One of the reasons firms like Cannakins exists is to share the load with our clients. They can focus on running their business and we handle the details. Cannakins has the time, resources, and expertise to bring solid solutions to our clients for review. Our implementation and support services make sure your business gets going, then stays up and running reliably and securely.

We bring the rain when it comes to collaboration and partnerships. Industry vendors recognize the value of working with firms like Cannakins in every sector, not just cannabis. There isn’t a week that goes by without a vendor or someone in our network turning us on to new and exciting solutions for us to vet.

A great example is that one of our vendors in the business intelligence (think product sales analytics) discipline just announced a strategic partnership with Nielsen, the famous TV ratings/analytics service most of us have heard of. Think of the analytical power this brings to business owners wanting to understand what products are being sold to which demographics during what days, weeks, months, or hours? How would this knowledge improve your inventory and sales methods? Pair that with a loyalty/CRM vendor and a business owner now has a suite of tools to help manage customer communication and retention, sales projections, inventory, and marketing. Depending on the choice of vendor, all these opportunities could even integrate seamlessly with your existing POS system.

Advanced services round out some of the benefits associated with leveraging a firm such as Cannakins. Many vendors are responsible for pre-sales support and some post-sales engagement, but not daily use or custom configuration of the product. Our relationship with vendors gives Cannakins access to advanced training and support not available to the general public.

Take the example above of multiple solutions that can be combined to create the business intelligence and customer loyalty/marketing suite. Separately, these vendors do not work together on a daily or even monthly basis. If you asked the business intelligence vendor to help you pick a loyalty/CRM program to compliment their service, they might have a partner to reach out to but can only go so far… their role is to support their company, not everyone else’s.

Cannakins is connected with the industry big picture and goes above and beyond what individual vendors can provide. We are there when a business owner wants to integrate different solutions, we are there when clients want to increase competitive advantage, and we are there to level-up your business.

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