Erven Founders Solve Cannabis Industry Problems with Tech and Tenacity

United by a vision of growth through transparency and trust these founders - Angela Bacon & Solonje Burnett - brought their innovative platform, Erven, to life.
Erven's Solonje Burnett & Angela Bacon
Erven's Solonje Burnett & Angela Bacon / Photo: Cindy Trinh 2024 | Erven

"I remember when I realized how broken communication was in cannabis," recalls Solonje Burnett, Erven co-founder. "A California-based edible brand founder shared how dispensary managers across the state were overwhelmed and consistently not responding to her emails."

This pivotal insight via a chance meeting at NCIA conference in San Francisco in December 2021 marked the genesis of Erven, a startup revolutionizing communication and data-sharing in the evolving cannabis industry.

For Solonje Burnett, a well-connected entrepreneur and influencer in the cannabis and wellness sectors, the problem was clear. For Angela Bacon, a brilliant technologist skilled in revenue operations, the solution was within reach. Despite seeming an unlikely pair, their chemistry and complementary expertise fueled's swift launch.

"We bonded over fixing cannabis communication gaps," Angela explains. "Together we knew we could build something transformative."

United by a vision of growth through transparency and trust, these founders brought their innovative platform to life.

The Genesis of Erven: A Quest for Deeper Analysis

The cannabis industry hinges on understanding consumer preferences, needs, and desires, making insightful data analysis indispensable for survival.

Recognizing this need, Burnett and Bacon embarked on a mission to launch a platform that would address the industry's demand for deeper analysis, data transparency and meaningful insights.

Bacon, an expert in revenue operations and information architecture, was already working on a consumer-facing product in December 2021, focused on helping people access discounted medicinal cannabis. 

Burnett recognized Angela's brilliance and their shared vision. Their collaboration began with discovery calls that revealed a common pain point in the industry: communication barriers. 

The cannabis industry, though, is not without its challenges. Regulatory hurdles, stigma, a lack of standardized practices silos, bottlenecks, unanswered emails, and overwhelmed inventory managers, have hindered its growth and ability to make data-driven decisions. 

This pivotal insight led Angela and Solonje to the birth of Erven, a platform uniquely designed to tackle these challenges head-on.

The Evolution of Erven's Mission

Initially conceived as a solution to enhance cannabis advertising by facilitating direct promotions to verified users, Erven underwent a significant transformation. Angela and Solonje realized that the industry's communication gaps extended beyond marketing and advertising, affecting the entire supply chain. 

This deeper understanding led to the development of a platform that facilitates secure communication of product and performance data between retailers and brands and vice versa.

Erven aims to close this communication gap, starting with product data, to reduce operational overhead, minimize missed revenue opportunities, and ensure that the right products reach the right customers.

"The end result was that customers were losing out on products and opportunities because they weren't on the shelf, or they were selling out, or they weren't being refilled, or maybe the orders weren't being replaced,” according to Bacon. 

She highlights this as a significant problem in the industry that Erven aims to address, showcasing the timely importance of their solution, particularly in emerging markets such as New York.

Filling the Void

Erven is seeking to unify stakeholders, combat systemic communication gaps, and build trust in an industry marked by secrecy and insecurity. A remnant of the industry’s legacy roots that has been hard to shake. 

For Angela and Solonje, the focus with Erven is set on collaboration over competition to enable growth and address problems like brand turnover, supply chain issues, and burnout. 

By serving as a unifying agent, Erven recognizes that collaboration is the key to growth in a still federally illegal and relatively nascent industry.

Data Management and Security

In the cannabis industry, stringent regulations, complex compliance requirements, customer privacy concerns, and inventory tracking all rely on secure data management. 

Erven, understanding the critical role data plays in ensuring compliance, managing business risks, and safeguarding customer privacy offers a seamless integration process for cannabis retailers and brands. The platform directly integrates with a retailer's Point of Sale (POS) system and securely communicates product & performance data with brands through a customer portal ensuring a transparent supply chain for all parties involved. 

"We won't stop innovating until full transparency and trust exist across the cannabis supply chain," asserts Angela. 

With Erven's remarkable growth to date, that future looks both bright and within reach.

Diversity & Entrepreneurship meets Cannabis & Tech 

Statistics show the immense need for diverse cannabis tech leadership, with over 80% of founders being both white and male. As women of color in the male, white-dominated cannabis sector, Angela and Solonje are also breaking new ground. 

Angela and Solonje's representation demonstrates what's possible and their journey should inspire more diverse entrepreneurship. And, while systemic barriers and unconscious biases have challenged them, they persist.

"We've definitely encountered bias and had to work harder to be taken seriously," Bacon reveals. "But we don't let it stop us from pursuing our vision."

Erven's Angela Bacon
Erven's Angela Bacon / Photo: Cindy Trinh 2024 | Erven

"I just want to encourage people that are in the cannabis industry to think outside of just playing on the plant-touching side of things and find a way to plug in and support the ecosystem. When applying the skills you have it doesn't necessarily mean you have to hock the plant physically," added Burnett, underscoring the idea of finding alternative ways to contribute to the sector, which aligns with Erven's mission.

Erven's Solonje Burnett
Erven's Solonje Burnett / Photo: Cindy Trinh 2024 | Erven

Angela and Solonje’s journey in the cannabis industry, exemplified by Erven, demonstrates their dedication to addressing industry challenges through technology, trust, transparency, and community building. 

Their mission to create a more integrated and collaborative cannabis ecosystem holds the promise of sustainable growth and innovation for all stakeholders. As Erven continues to thrive and expand, Angela and Solonje serve as inspirational figures, leading the way in shaping the future of both the cannabis and technology industries.

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