The cannabis industry is growing by leaps and bounds.

And as more and more state move toward legalization or marijuana for both medicinal and recreational use, there will be a growing demand for well-developed companies that can lead the way in the industry. Aeron Sullivan is a co-founder of - the largest cannabis distributor in the United States. In this conversation,I chat with Sullivan about his company’s rise, how he and his co-founder got the idea to build an Amazon-like distribution hub for the cannabis industry, and the particular challenges they’ve faced and overcome to become a leader in the market.

There are still many problems in the cannabis industry.

It’s still very common for cannabis growers and cannabis retailers to deal with independent brokers to exchange product. The brokers typically build relationships with a handful of suppliers or growers and then seek out retail outlets through which they can supply the goods of those growers. But the problem is that the retailers can only choose from a limited selection and also may not have any certainty as to the quality level of the products they are receiving. That’s where Sullivan’s company, Tradiv has filled  the gap. On this episode of Be The Change you can hear Sullivan as he tells me the story of how he recognized the needs of the cannabis industry and stepped into the gap quickly to build an amazing company and feel a specific need.

Imagine Amazon for the cannabis industry.

I love Amazon. It’s such a convenient and easy place to find almost any product online. It’s a brilliant business model because it allows consumers and wholesalers to come together in one place, with a wide variety of products to choose from. That is a win-win for everyone involved. Sullivan and his team at Tradiv have done a very similar thing between cannabis suppliers and cannabis retailers. In this conversation, I ask him how his company is both the same as, and different than Amazon, and how his business model benefits both sides of the supply chain. I think you’ll get lots of insight from what he’s got to share.

As more states legalize cannabis, what does Sullivan see ahead?

Clearly, nobody can predict the future but when a trend as strong and obvious as the legalization of marijuana is happening right before your eyes, you can be pretty sure that the industry as a whole is going to grow. Sullivan believes that there is some rapid growth ahead for his company and for the cannabis industry as a whole. In this episode, he tells me some of the reasons he feels that way and what he sees happening in his industry that are good signs for future success.

Advice for would-be entrepreneurs: Look at your vertical markets.

When I asked Sullivan what advice he would give to college students or young would-be entrepreneurs he was quick to say that though it’s important to be a student of the niche or market you want to serve, it’s also important to pay attention to those industries and markets that run alongside the one you’re considering. He gives a great example on this episode that illustrates why his advice is so vital to the long-term success of any startup. I hope you’ll take the time to listen.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:57] Sullivan’s description of and how it works.
  • [3:07] Where is marijuana legal recreationally?
  • [4:39] The types of things that require capital for a business model of this type.
  • [6:33] What made Sullivan want to start his business and how did it begin?
  • [8:59] The most significant hurdles the team has faced and how they’ve overcome.
  • [11:20] The possibility of legal issues for companies in the industry.
  • [13:18] How many dispensaries got their inventory before Sullivan’s service started.
  • [16:29] How Sullivan’s team guarantees quality products.
  • [19:42] The competition Sullivan’s team is facing in the cannabis industry.
  • [23:19] Is Tradiv going to stay only in the cannabis market?
  • [25:01] Advice for want-to-be entrepreneurs.

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