In a sign of Florida’s booming cannabis economy, Kush.com, a Seattle-based cannabis B2B online marketplace, has relocated its headquarters from the industry hotbed of the Pacific Northwest to Tampa’s Embarc Collective.
The move comes as the company acquired and merged with Tampa-based cannabis brand business development firm TradeCraft Origin and received backing from Tampa-based entrepreneur and tech investor Steve MacDonald’s MacDonald’s Ventures. Over the first weekend in August, Kush.com further established its presence in Tampa Bay by organizing a large trade conference, Kush Con, at the Tampa Convention Center. Speakers included industry leaders and Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried.
“Where can we have the biggest impact?” Kush.com co-founder Chase Nobles says in an interview days before the conference. “Tampa made the most sense. Even before we decided to move the headquarters, we decided to put on a trade show down there. Then we decided to make it the headquarters. It was just a perfect fit.”
Under its medical marijuana system, Florida is the third largest cannabis market in the U.S., outpacing several states that allow retail sale for recreational use. Nobles and TradeCraft Origin founder John Lynch say the state’s large hemp industry, $370 million a year and growing according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, is another significant reason Kush.com moved to the state while maintaining remote staff and clients in the Pacific Northwest and other areas.
“Florida, even though it is only a medical state, it will be one of the global players in cannabis,” Lynch says. “It’s a huge medical industry, along with the hemp and industrial hemp business in Florida. So we’re right in the middle of where a lot of the growth is going to happen.”
Following the merger of Kush.com and TradeCraft Origin and the backing from Tampa-based MacDonald Ventures, Lynch is now CEO, Nobles is company president and MacDonald is chairman. Lynch says the merger will offer cannabis brands the strengths and expertise of both companies.
“I met Chase in the fall of ‘19 and we stayed in contact,” Lynch says. “He was really focused on the CBD/hemp side, we were more focused on the THC medical and recreational side. And we realized there is an opportunity here. The best analogy we could come up with is, right now, the cannabis industry is a number of independent small bumpy local and regional dirt roads. We’re going to build a highway for the cannabis industry where we can move products into
retailers in a safe, predictable, consistent manner so it’s a better consumer experience.”
Lynch, who worked in business development for large commercial enterprises and startups for decades before entering the cannabis industry with Pax Labs several years back, will focus on business development and expansion efforts, including getting the brands with which Kush.com works into more mainstream retailers. Nobles, who was part of a team that launched Kush.com seven years ago, will focus on the product side and quality assurance. For now, Kush.com is going to put a significant focus on the CBD market and hemp industry, Lynch says.
Lynch and Nobles say with the move to Florida and Tampa Bay, it made perfect sense to set up shop at the Embarc Collective, the thriving tech startup hub at Water Street Tampa’s Sparkman Wharf.
“The combination of a cannabis company on a tech platform, Embarc seemed to be a perfect location for that to get into both ecosystems at one of the hottest cities in the state,” Lynch says.
Nobles says since Kush.com is primarily a technology company, Embarc Collective is an excellent fit.
“Tampa made sense and it’s got a very good tech scene,” he says. “Having been down there more recently, it’s incredible. It’s alive and well. I was very impressed.”
For more information go to Kush.com