Exclusive Interview With Guardian Data Systems: ERP Mavens of the Cannabis Industry
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iCAN:israel-cannabis is very pleased to re-introduce you to the incredible folks at Guardian Data Systems. We are proud to have had them as sponsors of CannaTech 2017 and more than that, we’re proud to call them friends.
For those of you who missed them on the CannaTech stage, both Lance Ott, Chief Executive Officer and Rick Gilchrist Chief Development Officer joined us. We wanted to offer you a deeper dive into the the how’s and why’s of Guardian Data Systems. So, we sat down for a little chat and are very happy to share with you a little bit more about what they do.
Enjoy this exclusive interview with Guardian Data Systems.
What can you tell us about your business and why you decided to start it? (Lance Ott):
I started Guardian Data Systems in 2008 to provide banking, credit and financial services to cannabis businesses, primarily because most traditional banks consider the industry to be too high risk to get involved with. In order to fuel growth, businesses need options to receive payments, as well as meet payroll, and pay vendors and taxes. We started meeting those needs, and built a reputation as a highly trustworthy company.
Over time, our customers needed more reliable ways to operate their businesses. So, we decide to develop ROAR. In my view, ROAR is the most complete cannabis software available in the market today. It comes with Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) and Point of Sale (POS) solutions vertically integrated across all business operations. Whether a cannabis business focuses on growing, processing, testing, dispensing, delivering, or all of the above, the ROAR cannabis software solution is designed to meet those needs. We give people the power to automate their operations, gain insight into their data, stay compliant and control costs.
What is unique about Guardian Data Systems and what sets you apart from other data systems software? (Rick Gilchrist):
What makes Guardian Data Systems unique is our focus on customer needs. It permeates our banking and financial services, as well as our technology solutions. Cannabis businesses are all under a very tight microscope. They need to have inventory control, solutions to prevent shrinkage, and reliable ways to ensure compliance with state and local regulations. They cannot afford to have system outages or poor customer support. Fragmented tools also do not cut it. You can’t juggle inventory, accounting, delivery, HR, marketing and other needs between different systems. It is too time-consuming, costly, and prone to errors. What we hear from cannabis businesses is that they need total insight – from seed to sale. That’s why we have a cloud-based solution that covers the entire supply chain and all business operations, and comes with a highly secure and reliable platform.
Another key point that separates us from other companies is that we are not in beta, nor are we stagnant in our development. Guardian Data Systems is the longest running financial services and software solutions provider in the cannabis space. We’ve invested over $7 million in our technology and infrastructure over the last 10 years, and have 99.9% up-time. In an industry where so many businesses are new, one day of downtime can result in significant revenue losses and non-compliance. Those are two factors that could quickly put a company out of business.
Our durability and reliability are great strengths.
Tell us a bit about your company’s growth. (Lance Ott:)
Guardian Data Systems has been serving the cannabis industry since 2008. As a company we have worked with thousands of businesses across the United States, and currently employ over 30 people across several states. Our longevity and experience gives us a much deeper awareness of how the industry works, and what businesses need to be successful. As I mentioned above, we started by providing banking and financial services to cannabis businesses. Then we built and released our ROAR solution, which provides all cannabis businesses with a state-of-the-art ERP solution. Due to our continued growth, we have added new IT and financial services personnel, as well as specialists in manufacturing and inventory control management. We take pride in listening to our customers and being responsive to their needs.
What are some of your current opportunities and challenges as a business? (Rick Gilchrist):
We see opportunities in the commercial and state government sectors. For commercial, the more states that legalize medical marijuana laws and recreational use, the more growers, cultivators, labs, dispensaries, delivery and other types of businesses emerge. We see there is a lot of need, not just for our technology, but also for our expertise. In the government sector, legalization of cannabis means that states need seed to sale systems specifically designed for them. Given the reliability and security of our platform, along with its ability to integrate into other solutions, we see a great opportunity for Guardian Data Systems to become even more of an industry leader.
As far as challenges are concerned, we are impacted by the same challenges that others in our industry face. For example, we are tracking how states are implementing new or managing existing medical marijuana and recreational use laws. We also monitor how the banking and financial sector is responding to the changing marketplace. Both are areas important to our customers, and therefore, to us.
What expectations do you have for the future of your company? (Lance Ott):
I have the same expectations of Guardian Data Systems as I do of myself: Growth and support of an under-served industry. We will continue to grow and support the legal and medically regulated cannabis industry across all verticals and work directly with government and regulators to bring transparency and legitimacy to the industry and both the patients and constituents in which we serve. Our systems will continue to evolve to support the entire enterprise through partnerships, ingenuity and innovation as we see legalization on the horizon, changes in banking, changes in the opinion and acceptance and, of course, changes in Washington, DC. We expect this growth globally as other countries look to the other world leaders in cannabis regulation, compliance and infrastructure. We expect Guardian Data Systems to be part of that growth. While we are already thought of as leaders in banking, professional services and now software solutions, years from now we hope to be the resource for mainstream data, contributing to the overall health of the industry through these areas of expertise, fully supporting federal (and global) legalization and compliance.
I might also add that our involvement in the industry is personal. It’s not just one founder or one crusade, but each of our lives has been touched by medical cannabis in one way or another. Whether it’s losing a loved one to cancer, watching one struggle through pain and malady, or personally dealt with a condition that cannabis helped to cure or treat. Our team is in this for more than just revenue potential and growth, but to continue to provide our solutions and market knowledge to cannabis business owners, so they can focus on providing medicine and life altering treatments instead of focusing on running a business or constantly needing to audit or review the systems in place.
Is your company concerned about the future of the industry under the new Trump administration? How does this affect your business model? (Michael Hackmer (Chief Marketing Officer):
First of all, the cannabis industry is experiencing such tremendous growth. Analysts predict that by 2024, revenue from legal cannabis will surpass revenue for the NFL. We are part of one of the biggest emerging industries in the world that has the potential to contribute significantly to our national economic growth. Any effort by Congress or President Trump to stop the cannabis industry from growing, and prevent legalization from expanding in the states, only serves to prevent economic growth and goes against the will of the people.
Secondly, I think that while all of us in the industry try to identify exactly where President Trump and his administration are headed, we all need to stay very focused on building sustainable and responsible businesses. That means deploying secure and reliable technology, and emphasizing strong customer support. Credibility is powerful currency in cannabis. Our business model is based on these values, which positions us for success now, and well into the future.
A big thank you to awesome people who design and run Guardian Data Systems for their support and for making the time to join us at CannaTech 2017. As a not, so side note, readers take note: The National Cannabis Industry Association, the only national trade association representing the businesses of the legal marijuana industry, recently named Guardian as the winner of their CannaTech Award for Cultivation Technology. An amazing and well deserved recognition from the industry as a whole, that Guardian Data Systems is indeed changing the industry for the better.