- Cannabis tech startup Flowhub hired Stephanie Jenkins as an SVP of sales. She was formerly an executive at Glassdoor.
- Jenkins told Business Insider that when she was evaluating new opportunities, cannabis tech was the highest risk — but also potentially the highest reward — for her career.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
When Stephanie Jenkins got on a Zoom call in early May, she knew it would be one of the toughest days of her career.
Then an exec at the job-hunting site Glassdoor, Jenkins says she understood the economic recession caused by the pandemic hurt many industries, but perhaps none more than recruiting. As company budgets dry up, hiring is usually the first cost on the chopping block.
“I had to fire my entire team of about 160 people over a Zoom call that morning,” Jenkins told Business Insider over the phone. Glassdoor laid off around 300 people that day, mostly shuttering its Chicago office, and Jenkins said that as part of those layoffs she’d be leaving her job by the summer.
Jenkins said that while she was still at Glassdoor, she’d had a series of conversations with Flowhub CEO Kyle Sherman. When the two set up a formal interview, Jenkins said what was supposed to be a 45-minute interview turned into a two-and-a-half-hour conversation.
“We talked very theoretically about where the business is going, how it’s operating, and how to make it better,” Jenkins said.
Read more: The buzziest startup in cannabis doesn’t even sell marijuana. Meet Flowhub, the cannabis-tech platform that’s already signed on more than 900 dispensaries.
In September, Jenkins made the jump into the cannabis industry as Flowhub’s senior vice president of sales, a strong signal that investors and executives from inside and outside of cannabis think that the tech side of the industry has a lot of growth potential.
Flowhub is a cannabis tech company that helps dispensaries track inventory and process sales. The startup — backed by $27 million in funding so far — was named to Business Insider’s list of the 15 buzziest startups in cannabis.
Despite the cannabis industry’s recent struggles, cannabis tech has remained remarkably robust in terms of getting venture funding. Since July 1, VCs have poured $57 million into cannabis tech startups, marking the first quarter that cannabis tech funding has outpaced all other sectors of the cannabis industry.
One of the cannabis tech sector’s advantages is that companies don’t directly handle marijuana, making them palatable to a broader range of investors.
Cannabis tech and the risk-reward calculus
Jenkins says her first goal will be shifting the startup from a sales-led business to one that’s product-led.
That means less outbound phone calls, and more letting Flowhub’s software speak for itself by bringing in new customers through free trials. And bigger picture, Jenkins said part of her goal is to broaden Flowhub’s business.
“How do we start shifting our business to be more of the one-stop shop to make it easy for them [dispensaries] to buy things like hardware, software e-commerce or delivery, versus going to a lot of different places?” Jenkins said. “How do we kind of cornerstone ourselves as the company that you can use for everything versus part of part of the narrative?”
That being said, Jenkins — as a seasoned executive — clearly understands the risks involved with getting into cannabis. She says she evaluated lots of opportunities in other industries, though none appealed to her as much as Flowhub.
“It’s the riskiest opportunity, but probably one with the highest reward,” Jenkins said. “If we can get it right — if I can make this bet on myself and the team members around me, then we’ll be able to pull it off.”