News & Articles

Alumni Spotlight: Best in Grow Harnesses the Power of the Budtender

Posted by Celia Daly on Nov 28, 2018 11:23:01 AM

Listen to our interview with Best in Grow founders, Jake Levin and Andrew Duffy. And, if you’re not so into listening, we’ve outlined it for you so you can get the main points without a long attention span.


  • Let's start simple - what is Best in Grow?

    • One of the big problems in the cannabis industry is the high turnover rate for budtenders. The saying goes that they are underpaid and underappreciated. Best in Grow aims to give dispensaries and budtenders the tools to build a community, fully leveraging the power of the budtender. The platform serves as a tool helping retailers engage their employees, reduce turnover, educate on brands and maximize profits.  

  • How did it all begin?

    • Andrew Duffy and Jake met during their undergrad at Harvard

    • The duo decided to come out to Colorado because they wanted to be in cannabis. Unfortunately, they didn't know anything

    • Shortly after getting to Colorado, they met Patrick Rea, Managing Director at CanopyBoulder, at a rooftop event CanopyBoulder was hosting.

    • Patrick loved that they were a team so they brought them on board for the spring 2018 accelerator cohort.  

  • So why Cannabis?

    • Jake grew up in a house where cannabis was very normalized and so he had a well-rounded view of how it could positively impact lives.

    • The founders were excited about an emerging industry. “It was interesting to be in a new area”, they explain.

    • The founders felt they could bring their expertise from other industries into this emerging market, bridging the gap between a new industry and the old ways

  • Where did Best in Grow come from?

    • For Jake and Andrew, the key to a successful venture is to marry the problem and not the solution.

    • So the founders set their sights on the retail world, talking to people who needed a solution most.

    • Their research showed them that retailers wanted knowledge and data most were what people wanted so we built out a platform for Dispensaries, Budtenders, and Brands.

      • Currently, dispensaries are cobbling together unruly methods of communication such as texting or email to stay in touch with employees. Best in Grow consolidates all of their platforms.

      • As well, retailers and brands don’t have much vision into their data so the Best in Grow platform allows for survey functionality, offering better product visibility

      • Retailers suffer from high budtender turnover so the Best in Grow platform is designed to help manage those relationships.

  • Who are you serving and who is paying for it?

    • It’s primarily focused on dispensaries.

    • There are over 1000+ dispensaries in Colorado, but, after talking to many of them, the founders realized most lack organization.

    • Many don't have an effective way to engage frontline employees and in an industry where the consumer base is so uneducated and there is so much misinformation about products. In this world, consumers rely heavily on budtender information.

      • Research choses that, 92% of the time,  a consumer will buy the product the budtender recommends.

    • The Best in Grow platform harnesses and leverages that influence. The workforce management platform allows the business to:

      • communicate

      • schedule

      • Clock in and out

      • Can tap into the resources and knowledge of everyone in the industry

      • flow of information

  • Is this a problem in other industries? Could this platform be ported into non-cannabis companies and verticals?

    • One of the reasons the founders entered cannabis was because of the lack of incumbent competitors. This allows them to leapfrog obstacles, refining the product so they can eventually move into other verticals.

    • Cannabis is one of the few brick and mortar retailers that are still expanding. The one thing that brick and mortar retailers have going for them over online is the customer experience. The founders see the platform as a tool for any brick and mortar retailer (in any vertical) to tap into their sales force and offer customers an excellent experience.

  • You guys are 10 months out of CanopyBoulder - how are you feeling?

    • Currently, they’re focused on building out a strategy and team as well as finalizing the product.

    • The team is energized. Right now, they’re spending energy on the more advanced Colorado market as well as establishing some partnerships with bigger brands

    • However, they anticipate going coastal - specifically to the east as well as looking into Canada a little.

  • Can you give us some highlights of the journey so far?

    • For Andrew, the things that really highlight the entrepreneur experience are just simple moments with the team - spending time together and learning from each other.

    • Jake points to a recent river clean up that a group of budtenders planned using Best in Grow as a highlight in his journey. For him, helping to cultivate a team culture is the goal.

  • Is there a company or a person that you follow that you really look up to in that space or are you mostly going off of customer feedback?

    • It’s really combination of both for the team - no one is really doing this so customers are the company’s best feedback.

  • Walk me through a normal day of an entrepreneur

    • Jake and Andrew explain that one of the more challenging parts of being an entrepreneur is simply setting the cadence and structure of the day. He explains that “you gotta eat your own dog food”.

    • But in all reality, entrepreneurship life consists of weekly team meetings, daily check in’s and one-on-ones to stay up to date with the team.

    • Luckily, they have a great tool in Best in Grow to use to stay up to date on what everyone is working on and solve problems collectively.

  • What advice would you give to other entrepreneurs?

    • The best way to go about it is to jump right in. You’ll never feel certain or have a crystal clear vision of what it is your doing but you just gotta do it.

    • You have two ears and one mouth. Use them accordingly.

Topics: startups, cannabis tech, startup, canopy alumni, marijuana, cannabis business, cannabis companies, Entrepreneurship, Best in Grow, software, workforce management, alumni spotlight