27 Nov Our interview with BiotrackTHC CEO Patrick Vo at MJBIZCON
At the recent cannabis industry conference, MJBIZCON Las Vegas, I had the chance to speak with BioTrackTHC CEO Patrick Vo. Software companies like BioTrack help state officials follow every gram of cannabis grown at licensed facilities in their state. They track every gram from “seed to sale”: its growth as a plant, the harvesting, the packaging — every moment until it gets sold to a customer at a dispensary.
Among companies providing cannabis traceability software, BioTrackTHC is one of the most recognizable in the country.
It was also the first traceability provider contracted by the state of Washington. But when BioTrack had to hand off responsibility for the state’s traceability needs to their competitor, MJ Freeway, it didn’t exactly go smoothly, as CEO Patrick Vo is the first to admit.
Well over a year into MJ Freeway’s implementation of Leaf Data Systems, Washington’s new traceability system is still plagued with glitches and bugs. This causes endless headaches for cannabis producers, processors and retailers. After observing this chaos, as well as their own eight years of successes, failures, and often-disgruntled user feedback, BioTrack has designed a second-generation software.
They touted their new version at this year’s MJBIZCON Las Vegas. The second-generation software is informed by experience, CEO Patrick Vo explained.
“Nobody can design a better BioTrack killer than the BioTrack team,” he said.
BioTrackTHC’s second-generation includes the robust functionality and cybersecurity of the previous version.
“If we could create a system to crush our old system, what would that look like?” Vo asked rhetorically.
While BioTrack’s competitors have been attempting to build a traceability system that could eat up their market share, Vo and his team set out to do the exact same thing: to build an improved system that would knock the socks off an old BioTrack user.
To do that, they adopted a clean and modern graphical interface, which streamlined the user experience. A user can now complete a task with two mouse clicks, rather than five clicks, Vo explained.
The final principle that drove second-generation development was modularity and “interrogatability,” which basically means making their system compatible for third-party development. BioTrack’s platform is built to handle point-of-sale and traceability, but there are other types of valuable software for cannabis licensees that BioTrack isn’t familiar with; like rewards programs and bookkeeping software like QuickBooks. Vo wants their platform to be completely compatible with software like that.
When Vo joined BioTrack, he was determined to surrounding himself with people who are smarter and brighter than himself. That’s how the second-generation software was born.
None of these second-generation improvements would matter without the BioTrack’s traceability functionality, which is at the base of everything they do. When licenses get revoked, like what happened in Washington recently, nothing else about the business matters, Vo said.
Washington brand Northcoast Concentrates recently got busted by the Washington State Liquor Control Board (WSLCB) for shirking their traceability requirements. The company has been accused of floating non-black market cannabis (known in Washington as I-502 product) into the black market. The WSLCB is serious about traceability, so there’s no way a business can survive in Washington, if it does not follow traceability requirements to the letter of the law. That’s why BioTrack’s features are so important: someone can look back in time, and see exactly what happened to a certain batch of missing cannabis.
With such success in both traceability and point-of-sale departments, BioTrack won the contract from Planet 13, the world’s largest dispensary. The retail store in Vegas is 110,000 square feet, including a sales floor with 50 cash registers, where they staged their Grand Opening during the bustling MJBIZCON event. The Grand Opening went off without a hitch. Both companies considered the partnership to be a huge success.
“We’re proud to be partnered with Planet 13 for flawless launch,” Vo told reporters on the sales floor.