Marion Mariathasan, Co-founder & CEO, Simplifya

Thinking Outside The Bud - Marion Mariathasan

Marion Mariathasan, Co-founder & CEO, Simplifya

Marion is a serial entrepreneur who has founded, invested, or advised over a dozen start-ups. He is the CEO and CO-founder of Simplifya, the leading cannabis regulatory and operational compliance company. Marion is also the Founder and Chairman of Ceylon Solutions, a software development company that he founded in 2005 which now primarily focuses on developing applications for the cannabis industry. He is a regular guest speaker at events such as Denver Startup Week, CU Denver's program on social entrepreneurship, and the United Nations Global Accelerator Initiative. Marion is currently an investor, board member and advisor to multiple cannabis and non-cannabis companies. He is always on the lookout for additional opportunities.


[00:00:01] You're listening to Thinking Outside the Bud where we speak with entrepreneurs investors thought leaders researchers advocates and policymakers who are finding new and exciting ways for cannabis to positively impact business society and culture. And now here is your host Business Coach Bruce Eckfeldt.

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[00:01:06] Welcome, everyone. This is Thinking Outside The Bud. I'm Bruce Eckfeldt. I'm your host. And our guest today is Marion Mariathasan. I think I said that right. That's a tough one. Tongue twister. And Marion is an investor. He's an entrepreneur, has been in many spaces. But cannabis space. We're going to learn about what he's done in cannabis. We're going to look at his focus now, both on the entrepreneurial side and on the investor side. Fascinating background. I'm looking for in this conversation. I think there's a lot we can talk about in terms of where the industry is going, where entrepreneurial efforts are going in the Canada space with that. Marion, welcome to the program. Thanks, Bruce. Great to be here. Yeah. So, well, let's start with your personal background and then we can talk us about simplify and we can talk about zafir and the work that you're doing on the investing and the development and entrepreneurial side. But let's get to know you and your background.

[00:01:50] Yeah. So it's it's a bit of an interesting one, I suppose, from at least from my perspective. I'm originally from an island called Sri Lanka, immigrated to Kansas when I was 10.

[00:01:59] And I've been in Colorado now for 16 years, 17 years. By education, computer science and architecture and a minor in business management. You know, in terms of a corporate background, about six years in various massive companies, Goldman Sachs and Orbitz, Cerner. But really, my my passion is in entrepreneurship. So I've been fortunate enough to have started, build and sold a handful of tech companies. Now, you know, from philanthropic software, real estate software, automotive software wasn't the tequila business for a while. So that and I ended up in cannabis primarily because of the law firm resende Cedarburg and the partners of that.

[00:02:37] Yeah. So let's let's talk about I mean, clearly, I mean, I've I've been going through your resumé and and your background, clearly a long history of of entrepreneurship and various industries.

[00:02:46] I mean, you know, the cannabis space, obviously a somewhat complicated one. Dynamic one. Tell us about how simplify a kind of the original idea came to be, how you get involved and how you guys got started and how the company evolved.

[00:03:00] Yeah. So as much as I'd love to take credit for the idea, simplify. I can't.

[00:03:05] It literally was incubated within the walls of this NDA Cedarburg, you know, law firm that's instrumental in Amendment 64. You know, the three partners, you know, Brian Christian and Josh were friends and primarily Christian at that time.

[00:03:17] And, you know, I ran into Christian at an event and we were talking about what's happening in cannabis. And he said they've got a concept that's a software play and that they think it's going to be really vital to this emerging industry. And it's run compliance. So we went and we sat down and they kind of talked to me about what was to become simplify a highly regulated industry. One of the things that Christians said that really resonated with me in a highly regulated industry complains becomes extremely vital. And, you know, one of the other things he said was most people that get into the cannabis industry think they're getting into the cannabis industry when in fact, they're getting into the compliance industry compliance. Well, they get to do cannabis. Right. And so that was the early beginnings. I became an investor along with the three partners of US and NDA. Cedarburg is one of the first investors in the company, got my software development company called Saline Solutions involved to build the product. And you know, the rest is history. And we're coming up on three years this October.

[00:04:12] Yeah, I'm Chris. As an investor, when you first got approach to this, how much of this was just another business transaction, another investment opportunity, and how much of this was kind of unique because it was this kind of unique cannabis space? I mean, I did talk to me about that thinking or that conversation.

[00:04:30] You know, I've been fortunate enough to have played it in various different spaces, various. But cannabis was something that I was really excited about, not only because it was an emerging and it was new and it's exciting.

[00:04:40] But just from a you know, I know people for illnesses that have used cannabis, you know, there were ways to literally just kind of live life. Right. And so I really felt like, you know, this was a chance to get in on the ground level, make a real difference on a global scale. Right. I mean, when we talk about that joke within simplify, that simplify is not the sexiest of companies because we're dealing with complaints. However, know it's such a vital part. If you won this movement, you want to call that you to expand and move in the direction we want it to. So, you know, I think part of it was like, hey, this sounds like a great investment opportunity because it's compliance. But also it was more of a personal like love and passion for what I think this plant can do for humanity. Right. And so it was just it checked off all the boxes perfectly. Yeah.

[00:05:27] And so I guess what, any any surprises? Particular challenges that you didn't expect as that company got off the ground and, you know, either from a business point of view, from, you know, from a market point of view. I mean, it's a pretty dynamic space.

[00:05:40] It has you know, I think of all the startups that I've been involved in, either as an investor or as an operator. This has been probably by far one of the most rewarding, but also probably one of the most challenging because a lot of my background's then in tech outside the tequila side, of course.

[00:05:55] But when in tech, usually you're building a product and you know, you're marketing it and then you're, you know, then you're kind of watching it grow as an example simplifies a little bit more complex. And then not only a tech product, but it's also a content product. Right. Because regulations on us. So let's simplify it as it takes all the state and local regulations. And then as the name implies, we simplify it down into a 12th grade reading level and have it through an auditing system for licence holders to use. And so we had extremely pinpointed in what we do. We can't take these regulations screwed up. We had to be on top of it when they update them. So that's double the level of effort, if you want to call it that, because it's not just tech, but now you got content. Yeah.

[00:06:36] And you know, if we screw things up, we really screw things up for our customers and we take that very seriously. And so that certainly has been, you know, a much more dynamic and interesting and challenging than that typical tech startup.

[00:06:49] But it's always a cause it with its rewards. And so it's it's been just phenomenal.

[00:06:53] Yeah, I'm sure. I'm sure. Any particular sort of interesting business challenges that you've run into in terms of just growing and scaling the business?

[00:07:00] Has it been a, you know, lead generation? Has it been, you know, marketing? Is it been finding talent? What would it have been like? What's been the throttling gating factors to the growth?

[00:07:11] So, you know, we've been pretty low key, I would say, for the last. We officially kicked it off October 2016, let's say up until about January of this year. You know, we've been working with clients really trying to understand their pain points.

[00:07:24] And so it's been a slow growth process. But this year we really put the pedal to the metal, if you will.

[00:07:29] And one of the challenges has been just finding talent, right, because everyone wants to be in the cannabis space. You know, we're just going to be in cannabis. Yes, exactly. And so I think part of the challenge is and we've been we've been interviewing constantly because we're constantly hiring and it's finding the right person that fits in with our culture. I know that it's passion and so forth that's been that's been much harder than I think any of us anticipated.

[00:07:55] And then outside of that, it's just been, you know, trying to really get the pain points around the licence holders and try to understand, you know, where they approach it from.

[00:08:04] And those have been a little bit more difficult than anticipated. But on the other side of that, no. Right. So in terms of product and understanding where we feel like we have a good grasp on what the industry needs, and we're also now getting into banking and insurance and government.

[00:08:18] And so it's been an exciting ride. Like I said, it's it's fun.

[00:08:20] Yeah. No, I'm sure it gets you it gets your fingers and a lot of kind of the industry and I'm sure every one of the things I know certainly find and working with a lot of companies that are in a growth process is kind of keeping them focused and not chasing shiny objects and looking at squirrels and all those things.

[00:08:39] Have you had any. I'm sure you've had Tony Abbott.

[00:08:43] I mean, I guess any rules of thumb are things that you use to help decide which which opportunities you're gonna pursue and which ones you're gonna let go.

[00:08:50] So, yeah. So, you know, we're very laser focused on really the first two years actually up until. But this January, the focus has been the MJB is right. If you have a license, we want to be able to support you, streamline their complaints process, make it easy, et cetera, et cetera.

[00:09:06] So we have been very, very focused on that. Only as of this year, actually last December did we take on a banking data client because they work with MJB is right.

[00:09:15] No plans at the end of the day is about risk mitigation. And so for banks and even insurance companies, it's by risk mitigation and they work with licence holders. And so we sit very nice in the middle where we can help facilitate a lot of this compliance effort to both parties.

[00:09:29] And so in terms of shiny objects, Bruce, you know, we've been approached by opioid opioid industry saying, hey, we'd like to use your tool in the opioid industry. We've been approached by oil and gas. And so those are shiny objects that we won't even consider, at least for the time being. So we gladly passed on them.

[00:09:46] But, you know, we're focused on on this industry and the license live for the most part. And now, as I said, banks and insurance and maybe government.

[00:09:55] And I know that this is you know, this is how you got started in the cannabis space. But tell us more how this is branched out for you as much as an investor. What else are you involved in at this point and how is that kind of unfolded for you?

[00:10:06] Yeah. So, you know, Saline Solutions, which is a company I've had now since 2003, which has been a software development shop.

[00:10:14] It was a natural fit to bring that into the fold, because as I'm spending most of my time now in cannabis, we actually pivoted that company to focus entirely on cannabis software development.

[00:10:25] And as an investor now going to conferences, meeting, clients meeting. Pardners. It's a great way to find opportunities. Right. So I am obviously an investor and simplify a company called Leeph Wire Zephyr, which is a consumer data company. We're also shareholders in Frontier Data. But you know, in total, I've got about 14 different investors now in cannabis.

[00:10:47] I can't even remember them all, but I think I had a few of them on the program.

[00:10:52] But, you know, so I started out with just anslee, but now I've done a few plant touching as well.

[00:10:58] So as as an investor and as an entrepreneur, this face has been just amazing because now that I'm living and breathing this industry, it's much easier to understand the nuances and what's going on and the types of companies and the people that are coming out with great ideas.

[00:11:13] And it gives me an opportunity to be a part of other, you know, ideas as well.

[00:11:18] Not like any, I guess, any particular investment thesis or focus or things that you're looking at getting involved with. And the companies which are so big. I mean, cannabis entails so many different things, like how as an investor, how how do you stay focused or what are you looking for?

[00:11:33] Sure. So the biggest thing for me and I think a lot of investors might say this is a referral from a trusted friend or or a peer or an investor. One of my closest business partners and friends is a guy named Allen Bank.

[00:11:48] You know, he's probably one of the most active angels in the space. So between him and the partners at this end, a Cedarburg, you know, when they bring a deal to me, I know it's been vetted and I know that they know that they've done their due diligence. But outside of that risk, for me, it's really comes down to the people. Right. I really look for the team. I think it holds true in many industries where ideas are abound. But, you know, it's all about execution. And so what I look for is at least the leadership team. Have they been there, done that? You know, whether it's in cannabis or even in another vertical, have they been involved in a startup? Have they executed well and have they had the chance to get an exit? Those are all kind of vital pieces that I'd personally look for. And then end of the day, it's also about personality.

[00:12:30] And I try and be a very open minded. Usually I'm the one laughing around the office, cracking jokes, and I don't take myself very seriously. And this is probably about as serious as you'll ever hear me, I guess.

[00:12:43] So I'd just like, you know, smart people, but also fund people that, you know, we can just talk about anything and everything that's that's, you know, loosely my thesis, I suppose, when it comes to investments.

[00:12:53] Yeah. Have you seen any particular challenges that other companies you've invested in or companies you've thought about amassing in, you know, challenges that they've had in terms of being able to get their business, you know, either through attraction or through, you know, getting to market or growing or what do you see as being the common challenges out there?

[00:13:11] Well, I think I think one of the most vital pieces, obviously, is funding right now. And I think that the landscape changed, in my opinion, quite a bit from two years ago to even end of last year and this year. So a lot of the early startups that are pre-revenue are having a real tough time finding capital.

[00:13:29] And that's changed versus like even, I guess, in two thousand seventeen. You know, if you had an idea for like you can get capitalized pretty quickly now towards in the last year, that's changed. And this year, I think it's got even tougher. I think a lot of the funds in the more sophisticated investors are willing to take pretty massive bets on companies with revenue or with some growth potential or that has grown somewhat and so completely. Startups are struggling. And and, you know, there's a lot of noise out there, right. Because as more and more people fled into the space, there's more ideas and more concepts. And, you know, I think investors are having a really tough time, as well as ancillary and plan touching in this space, trying to decide from for which companies are legit in the sense of are they going to be Iran. One of the first things that we think one of the challenges we face at Simplify early on was, oh, you're a compliance company, that's great. You're going to solve all my compliance issues. But they're like, are you guys gonna be around in two years? Three years, right. We make all this commitment to switch over to you. And if you don't make it, then, you know, we're starting from scratch again. And so those have been, I think, some real issues that people have faced and continue to face.

[00:14:34] As an investor, you do kind of categorize or look at plant touching companies versus non plant touching companies differently or do you evaluate them or what's how do you organize the market for yourself?

[00:14:44] So early on, I didn't want to do any plant touching. It was all ancillary and tech. This because that's where my knowledge base was and what I'm more comfortable with. But as time has gone on, I guess that I've done a few that now tests the plant and that's just this over time.

[00:14:59] Having been in this space, I've gotten more comfortable and understand the lingo and I understand kind of what, you know, these plant ageing businesses have to go through. And so, you know, I think I think a lot of investors are still at least are still focused more on the ancillary side. Yeah, but then you certainly have a lot of investors that are only doing plant hedging side. I tend to straddle both. I know where the wind blows me if it seems like a good group of people and a good concept. You know, the referral doesn't take a look now.

[00:15:27] And in terms of the plant. I mean, what you tell me about from an investor point of view. What are the complexities or what do you have to kind of be aware of when you get involved in investing in and plant touching businesses?

[00:15:38] Mean at this point, how does that impact how you organize things and what considerations do you really need to keep in mind?

[00:15:44] A funny question, but is this big, as big as we're on the compliance side? Now, the first thing I'm always checking is that you have a valid. Do you have a complaint business? Right. I mean, because as investors, because it's still federally illegal, obviously, you know, you you run a lot of risk when you're, you know, investing in plant hedging and especially if they're not complying. So that's my number one piece that I look for. And then secondarily to that, it's you know, I'm looking for people that really have some sort of agricultural background that really know, especially if you're on the growing side or call doing things out or whatever it may be that you know, no way more than me or anyone else in terms of what it is that they're what their business is going to do.

[00:16:25] And then when it comes to the dispensary side of things, I think it just say at the end of the day, it's a small business.

[00:16:30] Right. Obviously, a lot of these multi-state operators and it's changing quite a bit. But, you know, do you know how to run a business?

[00:16:36] That's a it seems like such a basic question that it's such a vital question. Yeah.

[00:16:43] Yeah, you can you can love you can love the product, but you need to know. You need to know. I actually run a business, too.

[00:16:49] Exactly. It's going to serve together. And that's that when you have an idea. Yeah.

[00:16:55] In terms of where you see the industry going or, you know, or segments of this industry, we will, as you know, in terms of the new ideas or what do you think is going to drive some of these areas? I mean, you know, certainly, you know, the benefit here is, you know, although the regulatory side is out there, there's all these kind of pending or looming potential regulatory changes, which mean. Yeah. My point of view, you know, could have a huge tectonic shifts in terms of the industry and how the market is made up and how companies compete or don't compete.

[00:17:23] I mean, where I guess how do you map this out or how do you look at this and see what might happen and what companies need to do or need to look at in terms of being successful?

[00:17:32] So I think from or the ancillary or tech companies, I think, you know, we're going to start seeing you in more Roll-Ups than we have seen. And I think part of that is just positioning. Right. I mean, you know, well, we all kind of wait for the big guys to come in after federal deregulation lot. These smaller companies are trying to combine forces. But also, I think it's I think it's important to note, you know, a license holder right now has like four or five, six, seven, eight different vendors that they're dealing with right now. And as we were joking about earlier, they have a business to run. So when they have so many different applications and software and all these different vendors that a deal it now all of a sudden, if you have like one type of vendor to deal with that solves all your needs, that becomes extremely timesaving. And, you know, from a knowledge perspective, it's much easier. So I think we're going to start seeing more. There's my opinion, of course. But I think we're going to start seeing, you know, many more kind of roll ups and acquisitions that are happening in this space, you know. And then on the on the plant aging side, I mean, we've all seen this happen, right, with the harvest in the Crystal Labs. And now they're gobbling up all the, you know, smaller operations.

[00:18:39] And they want to be you know, they want to kind of, you know, make it into a corporate type of effort.

[00:18:44] And I think that's going to continue for the foreseeable future. And so I think for, you know, the the companies that are like, you know, kind of mid-stage or early startup or late startup, I think it's all about trying to establish your presence and your thought leadership and kind of waiting to see what happens. They simplify. You know, we've back, I think, five offers to sell already. Yeah, I'm sure. And, you know, we just didn't feel like the timing was right. But we also are looking for the right partners.

[00:19:15] I mean, we've looked at a few companies that acquire ourselves. And even though it didn't pan out, we're constantly looking.

[00:19:20] And it's you know, this is what makes cannabis so exciting. Yes, exactly. I guess it's you know, it's more dynamic than any other vertical I've been in. And maybe. And obviously, a lot of that has to do with the fact it's so new. But yeah, it's. Who knows? It's it's I don't think anyone has a crystal ball. But, you know, you can make some predictions and there. That's mine.

[00:19:40] Yeah. Well, certainly I mean, when, you know, we sat down to do our strategic planning with the companies I worked with and yeah, it is it is the most dynamic set of strategic possibilities that we need to kind of map out and plan for and know if this happens, then we do this. If this happens and we do it, it's fine. I mean, I and I agree. I think that's what makes cannabis such a kind of a compelling space from, you know, a business entrepreneurial point of view. I mean, with great uncertainty comes great opportunity. So you just need to figure out how to how to map it and how to position yourselves. Right. Because how do you see the international stuff playing into this? Because I think it's the other thing that keeps coming up for me is, you know, we've got all these kind of state by state, micro industries, micro economies and yes, federal regulation or federal federal reclassification will change that. But you've got this international market. That's starting to play out. How do you see that impacting things?

[00:20:32] So I think there's a lot of excitement, at least from investors perspective, that I've been hearing in terms of new emerging international markets.

[00:20:42] Right. So I myself personally made an investment in a company out in Macedonia about five months ago. And then even out of the U.K. and then obviously Latin America.

[00:20:52] What's interesting here is, is Sri Lanka being a very conservative Buddhist country now is now, you know, playing around with how do we, you know, make or break out of us and do it to our GDP. And so, I mean, I can't think of maybe I can't think of any country.

[00:21:08] That's if they're not playing with it already, that they're considering it on a very serious basis. And I think it's very quickly. You know, when I think when federal deregulation comes Syria, it's going to it's going to change the global landscape very, very quickly. And, you know, that's that much more exciting.

[00:21:25] But also, I don't even know. I can't even picture a global market cannabis. But I can suspect that there's going to be a lot of value creation that's going to come out of it.

[00:21:36] But yeah, that seems a you know, you alluded to that that you were you've been involved in on the alcohol side and tequila. Any any was there any kind of similarities, connections, transference that you could make or is is how alcohol license and managing regulate just so different than cannabis that there's really no connection? I mean, what was what's the similarities and differences that you've seen?

[00:22:00] Well, you know, part of the reason that, you know, simplified was of interest for me is. So you look at alcohol, right? I mean, after prohibition and then. Right. We've got we've got an industry that's multi billion dollars, but it's still highly regulated. People don't realize it. But now, because you can go to a liquor store and you buy the booze and whatever. But when the tequila business because tequila has to come from the Guadalajara region or particular region in Mexico, you know, for that product to even move into the US, I mean, if you were to see the amount of paperwork we had to we had to deal with, you know, from not just CBP, but like all these different government agencies, it was a great reminder that, you know, that alcohol is still a nicely regulated. And so, you know, that was a very, I guess, transferable piece of information for me coming into cannabis, because even, you know, when we kind of it does go federally legal and it even becomes a global entity or product. It's still going to deal with the types of regulations that we see now and if not even more. Right.

[00:23:03] When we have federal deregulation, that just means you gonna have local means by regulation state and then you have federal and then you have international on top of that. Right. When you're moving product across borders. So, yeah, it's never going to go away. It's kind of like gaming alcohol, you know. Yeah.

[00:23:19] The the farmers of the drug industry, all these are very regulated and they're just never going to go away. So, yeah.

[00:23:25] And I think that's the you know, the question is not if it's how you know, how they end up kind of doing the regulation, who does the regulation, what the process is, who you know, is it. Is it federal? Is it more federal or is it more state? Yeah. You know, and that's really going to change the dynamic. I mean, I just keep thinking of these, you know, the people who are growing growing cannabis in Vermont and, you know, this stuff happens often are gonna get crushed by northern California. Right. I mean, it's yeah, the state by state regulation has created this somewhat contorted market and and supply chain and and stuff. So I just I'm very curious how this is going to play out as these.

[00:23:58] Yes. And I think you're absolutely spot on with that, Bruce. I mean, you know, when we when we talk about a globalized market, at least on the planet, touching side, right.

[00:24:06] I mean, you have places like Colombia that, you know, wants to be a bigger supplier of cannabis to the world. And even on a sea island nation like Sri Lanka. Right.

[00:24:16] Or like any these places where cannabis can grow very easily because, you know, the climate you're you have signed oil, you know, just like you can't compete anywhere and. GREENHOUSE.

[00:24:28] Yeah. And so it's going to be extremely interesting to see what happens at that point when it becomes a globalized market. So but time will tell, I suppose.

[00:24:38] How do you see any other sort of interesting choke points in terms of, you know, as this continues to grow in scale, you know, where where the industry has seen kind of these bottlenecks that has prevented or stymie growth? I mean, in anything from talent to, you know, product to land materials. I mean, what's where do you see the big gaining factors in the market, us as things grow?

[00:25:02] So, you know, for anything to grow and especially in a new industry like cannabis, I think you're going to need funding. That's going to be I think, you know, number one, vital piece of it or the key component to keeping this moving ahead. And secondarily to that, I was going to say it is going to be talent and resources.

[00:25:21] And I think one of the philosophies that we've now embraced, at least that's simplifying I can speak to that, Bruce, is that initially when we were hiring, we. Wanted people with cannabis experience, right, because they understood German industry. They understood the people, the you know, the terminology.

[00:25:37] But it just got to the point where we just ran outside. We ran out.

[00:25:42] So now we're just looking for smart, tech, passionate people that also like cannabis. Right. Like like Canada is in the sense of like they're not opposed to it becoming regular. They're running around. Even though it's 2019. They're saying kind of that's OK.

[00:25:58] I don't know where that came from. But so I think I think money is definitely number one.

[00:26:03] We've got to.

[00:26:04] Even though there's so much money now coming into this phase, I think it's like I said, I alluded to earlier, a lot of it's going to the more mature companies. And so, you know, some of these new innovative ideas that are coming up, whether it's tech or even on the planet aging side, are now left kind of scrambling around, scratching their head, going like, where do we how do we finance this thing?

[00:26:25] Yeah. Now, you know, I think that's kind of the allocation of capital to the right folks in the right format, the right size and even the right structure.

[00:26:33] I mean, I guess the other problem is that it you know, it's coming in and in particular ways through typically vehicles that make it more or less difficult for certain types of companies to again. Yes. Who cares about the talent side?

[00:26:42] I mean, I I do a fair amount of work in the cannabis space in these kind of tech and sort of scientific companies.

[00:26:49] And I find that, yeah, we you know, we run out of talent. So we're trying to pull talent or pull talent from these other industries in particular, like pharmaceutics. I mean, tech isn't so bad. Pharmaceuticals some extent. You know, we get these, you know, fairly experienced, you know, highly knowledgeable folks. We get them into cannabis. And and that doesn't always work. And it's a combination of I mean, some of it is cultural, you know, and some you know, they're used to an industry that's, you know, 30, 40, 50 years old, highly developed, lots of processing standards. Yeah. But also, it just kind of a way of doing business that either is expected or has been developed in that area. That just is not the case in cannabis at this point either, because it's an early company or it's just it's a different industry, different model, different culture. I'm curious what you've seen in terms of, you know, being able to pull people from other industries where it's work, where it hasn't. How do you, I guess, any good criteria or ways of determining who is going to be a good fit and who is not? Other than just sort of skillsets?

[00:27:45] Yes, that's a great question. Brewskies, here's what I've noticed. Right? If startups were it cannabis. So if you if you take the cannabis industry, you can call it a startup because completely new, there's no structure, there's evidence and figured out no kind of order as they go. And then if you talk to a farmer or like getting these kind of industries that's been around for so long, that's a corporate America. Right. They've got it figured out. They've been kind of, you know, chugging along and everyone kind of does their thing. And so I think it's it's a really tough transition when you go from corporate to a startup. Yeah, right. You can go and it's the same thing when you go from startup to corporate. Oh, yeah. And so that's what we've noticed, too. And that's one of the things that I particularly look for. But also our entire team and we're doing interviews is they.

[00:28:32] Have you been in a startup before? Right. If they're they if they're coming into cannabis, that's one of the things we asked. Have you been in kind of a startup?

[00:28:39] Because it's let alone even though it's three years, we're more structured now. It's the industry itself is so, so different. Yeah. And people if you're not able to adapt quickly and really be nimble, you're going to you're going to kind of burn. And and then as you know very well, it's the people and the culture. This industry is so different than anything else as well. They're super passionate people. We are super smart people.

[00:29:05] And, you know, and you put that together with like, you know, I always joke about MJ based on you go to that.

[00:29:10] Oh, my gosh. At first I was totally like, oh, my gosh, I've never seen anything like this.

[00:29:17] I mean, you have the suits with the ties and then you have, you know, the stereotypical cannabis thing.

[00:29:23] Exactly. Exactly. Yeah.

[00:29:26] So it's. And everything in between. And I think I think that's that's what we look for. Just like can you straddle both ends of the spectrum? Can you be professional? You know, because we are a compliance company. It's not like it's a sexy thing. But can you be professional?

[00:29:40] But can you also understand and appreciate what this industry stands for and what this movement stands for? And if they can't, then it's it's a tough one.

[00:29:49] Yeah. And I think yeah, I think I like that idea that it's really it's the people that can straddle both worlds. I think that's. Yeah, that's really what we need right now in the cannabis spaces. Yes. You need to be able to function where the cannabis space is right now. But we also need to be, you know, at some level in and certain key parts we need to be moving towards, you know, a more structured, more sophisticated, more in a well-defined ways of doing business and.

[00:30:11] Absolutely. And well, it will happen, you know, and will happen in its way that cannabis wants to do it. But no, you know, you both can be born as they have.

[00:30:18] Funny. So I had a an old friend of mine from the alcohol industry that, you know, visited our office.

[00:30:25] And he was a hey, this is cool is they can say a tech company is like. City runs loads easier, as they say.

[00:30:32] And I just say like, hey, there's everyone in your.

[00:30:36] I'll call, you know. Drink booze all day like that.

[00:30:40] It's so funny because I think some people that's never been in this space. They've got this some crazy picture that they've conjured up that we're just like the Madmen days, you know, that that show madmen where they see us drinking and smoking and cigarettes and alcohol.

[00:30:55] We're just sitting around smoking weed all day like, no, that's not what happens here. We're a professional company. It happens it like the plant. Yeah.

[00:31:03] Yeah, that's very true. This has been great. Thank you so much for taking the time. If people want to find out more about you, about simple fire, about the other entities, organizations, companies that you're involved in. What's the best way to get that information?

[00:31:18] Yeah. So, you know, you can find me on LinkedIn. Marion Mariathasan, The software company is Ceylon Solutions by the way, was the former name for Sri Lanka.

[00:31:37] Yeah. and then Leafwire is we call it The Linked-In for Cannabist and that's and then

[00:31:49] Why I create I will make sure that all of those are in the show notes that people can click through and not madeleines trying to scribble those down every time.

[00:31:58] I appreciate your time Bruce. Isn't it great. I really enjoyed this.

[00:32:01] Thank you. This was one that I always enjoy talking to entrepreneurs, investors in this space. It's always a fine conversation.

[00:32:08] Thanks for your time. Appreciate it.

[00:32:11] You've been listening to Thinking Outside the Bud with Business Coach Bruce Eckfeldt to find a full list of podcast episodes. Download the tools and worksheets and access other great content. Visit the Web site at And don't forget to sign up for the free newsletter at