Think of all the apps you open on a daily basis. There are apps that have become second nature to you in how you go about your day, get information, communicate with friends and co-workers, and, most importantly, get things done. Businesses work the same way and startups, in particular, often adopt and integrate new apps and services to improve the way they work. Baker, a startup that styles itself "the Salesforce of cannabis," does this as well.
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Baker is a customer relationship management (CRM) and marketing automation platform for cannabis dispensaries. It provides a suite of tools to help "ganjapreneuers" manage sales and customers, discounts and promotions, marketing campaigns, and more. The startup's in-store iPad Checkin tablets and software have expanded to more than 250 dispensaries across 10 states and Canada over the past few years. Baker also recently closed out a $3.5 million funding round.
Baker co-founder and CEO Joel Milton talked to PCMag about the apps and services his staff of 27 employees and growing uses on a daily basis to work and communicate, while helping dispensaries engage and retain a booming customer base and an ever-growing catalog of cannabis products. Milton also mentioned a few of his personal favorite tools, dishing on Baker's preferred apps for everything from collaboration to payroll.
6 App Ingredients to Baker's Success
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HubSpot is an Editors' Choice marketing automation product that combines CRM, social media management, and sales functionality into one easy-to-use package. Baker leverages the versatile platform for both internal and external communications.
"We use HubSpot not only for our website in funneling and tracking leads, but you can use it to build outward-facing blogs and content management as well," said Milton. "We also use it for internal-facing product updates. So, every week or two, when our dev team pushes a new build with new features, our Head of Product will publish release notes on HubSpot. You know, an 'In case anyone missed it, here's the full list of all the newest features and how they work.' So we use HubSpot to manage that process and content as well."
It's no surprise that the "Salesforce of cannabis" is a regular Salesforce user in its own right. Milton explained how the tool is embedded into the company's sales culture.
"I would be remiss if I didn't say Salesforce is a tool we rely heavily on," said Milton. "It's a fantastic way for us to track our clients. Not just our pipeline but the status of existing accounts. Like many other companies, we live by the mantra of 'If it's not in Salesforce, it didn't happen.' So, if you want to get paid and you want to get credit for the close, you've got to do it in Salesforce."
Slack is far from a surprising choice as a go-to collaboration tool for startups. Milton admitted how reliant his company has become on the app, while acknowledging the potential downside of a business communication app that can sometimes be a little too much fun.
"We live in Slack as many companies do these days," said Milton. "Thousands of Slack messages get sent a day…probably too many. I've had several conversations with the team about it becoming a distraction, but it's a great way for us to communicate with channels for different sales reps and teams. It's a good tool but, like all good tools, it can lead to a lot of lost time."
Online payroll platform Justworks offers human resources (HR), tax filing, payroll, and benefits administration (BA) features all in one. Milton said he finds the tool particularly useful for managing and paying part-time workers.
"JustWorks is our payroll company, and it's a really easy tool for adding new vendors, contractors, and one-off workers," said Milton. "I had someone come in to do our financial modeling the other day and, in 10 seconds, you add them as a vendor and compensate them for their time. It's a nice tool."
Milton isn't the first CEO to tell us that Wunderlist serves as their personal to-do list. For managing everything from meetings and tasks to your personal shopping list, Wunderlist is a versatile tool to keep your mind on track.
"I forget things if I don't write them down. So I usually carry a notebook with me and I use Wunderlist," said Milton. "I love it because I can have different shared lists. So, I have one that's private, with just all the things I need to do and remember. Then I have a list with my Head of Product, which is all HR, hiring, admin; we can track all that stuff there. And then I have one with my fiancée: the grocery list, the movies we want to watch on Netflix, restaurants to eat at, etc."
6. Apple Pages
In the background of everything Milton does, the CEO uses Apple Pages as a running, searchable stream of consciousness. Milton's an Apple guy, so he can open his Pages doc from anywhere, accessible from his desktop, laptop, or iPhone through iCloud Drive to jot down a thought or quickly search for the information he needs.
"My guilty secret app that I use is a Pages doc," said Militon. "A word doc on my desktop that, every day, I write notes on every call, I write to-do items, and I'm constantly saving it to my iCloud Drive so I can access it from any device. It's a running verbal stream of consciousness of my life. I CTRL-F anything I need to find. It's not the most sophisticated tool but it works. I've been doing it for several years. This latest document I started when we started Baker [in 2014] and it's probably about 300 pages."