I had the pleasure of interviewing Corey Koffler, Co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of Green Tank Technologies, a leading manufacturer of high-performance vaporization hardware built exclusively for the cannabis industry. Green Tank’s mission: to help brands deliver the ultimate vape experience to its customers.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! What is your “backstory”?
I come from a big Toronto-based family with entrepreneurship deeply rooted in my blood. In 2009, I graduated McGill University with a Bachelor of Commerce degree. Within days, I jumped right into the tech start-up world, working alongside my brother Brandon on a venture called FanXchange, the Canadian equivalent of StubHub. Fast forward to 2015. My other brother Dustin was attending his best friend’s wedding in Colorado and saw a unique opportunity to enter the cannabis industry. He had spent the past four years working in the electronic cigarette industry, and recognized that many guests at the wedding were using e-cigarette hardware to vaporize cannabis oils. But Dustin also knew the pitfalls of existing technology. Unlike e-juice, cannabis oils are very viscous and are not meant to be vaporized in e-cigarette hardware. Appreciating the immense amount of time and money that cultivators and extractors spend producing their oils, Dustin and I set out on a mission to re-engineer and innovate vaporization hardware specifically for cannabis and forever change the way consumers vape (and enjoy) high-viscosity cannabis oils. With that, Green Tank Technologies was born.
Can you share the funniest or most interesting story that happened to you since you started your company?
When we launched Green Tank, our initial concept was to introduce innovative vape hardware alongside our very own infused, cannabis lifestyle brand. We spent several months designing this brand with the idea that we would be able to get producers in each state to license the brand from us. However, when the time came to finally pitch the brand, we quickly realized that the producers had no interest in launching someone else’s brand. They were however, thoroughly impressed with our vape hardware and they wanted to use it for their own brands. We realized we had something special with our vape hardware and from that point forward, we adapted to the market demand and shifted our business model to focus on the B2B market of licensed producers and growers.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
I think what separates Green Tank from some of our competitors is the relationships we form with our clients. In this business, there is no such thing as a turnkey solution for vape hardware. The viscosity of cannabis oil varies based on each client’s formulations and extraction methods. It requires a significant amount of research and development to ensure that our hardware matches their oil, not the other way around. Before we manufacture any product, our hardware goes through rigorous testing and multiple layers of quality control and quality assurance. We’re proud to say the end result is the highest quality and most consistent vaporization hardware. Our clients will say the same and it is a claim we proudly stand behind.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are?
My parents. They have always supported my entrepreneurial spirit and have encouraged Dustin and I to take risks and to challenge the status quo.
Are you working on any exciting projects now?
Yes, of course! As a leading vape manufacturer in our industry, we are always pushing the envelope — working to develop the latest and greatest technology. Without getting into too much detail, we have some very exciting projects in the works that we strongly believe will revolutionize the way consumers vape. We expect to launch a few of these new projects by the end of the year.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
We are currently working on recycling programs to help address the environmental impact associated with vape hardware. Sustainability is of the utmost importance to us and we are developing new initiatives with our clients to encourage users to take part in recycling programs.
Do you have a favorite book that made a deep impact on your life? Can you share a story?
“The Art of the Start” by Guy Kawasaki. It has had the most profound impact on my professional career. It’s a must-read for anyone looking to start their own business. The book provides entrepreneurs with advice on issues such as creating a business plan, raising capital, recruiting talent, branding, and ultimately turning an idea into action. When launching Green Tank, I often referred to this book for inspiration.
You likely have heard of the famous cliche that in a gold rush the one selling the shovels makes much more than the one who finds gold. This is the modern day “green rush”. Can you recommend to our readers 5 technologies or services that can potentially be lucrative “shovels” for the cannabis industry? Can you give an example for each?
1. Vaporizers. These delivery devices, whether for dry herb or cannabis oil, provide consumers an easy, discrete way to enjoy cannabis. Vapes are the fastest growing product category for cannabis consumption, growing at 400% CAGR. We fully expect this trend to continue as new users regard vapes as the easiest entry point.
2. Packaging. There is a huge opportunity for packaging companies to create custom packaging solutions that are child resistant and appeal to end users. Customized packaging will provide brands the opportunity to stand out from their competitors.
3. Testing Labs. Potency, contaminants, CBD levels, terpene profiles, genetic identification. These are some of the services testing labs can provide. As the industry grows and moves more into the mainstream, demand for those services is going to significantly increase and legislation may ultimately require it.
4. Software. Whether it’s inventory management or point-of-sale software, there is a huge demand and necessity for software integration at the producer and dispensary levels.
5. Delivery Services. Like a pizza guy but for cannabis! Enough said :)
What 3 things would you advise to someone who wanted to emulate your career? Can you share an example for each idea?
1. If you are looking to raise capital, look for strategic investors who can help grow your business. When we did our seed round, we raised capital from two of the largest funds in the cannabis industry, Casa Verde Capital and Green Acre Capital, along with our manufacturing partner and several other industry-related investors. This means we are now surrounded by industry leaders and experts with extensive networks and they have been instrumental in allowing us to grow at a rapid pace. We believe the connections they have provided are actually more valuable than the capital itself.
2. Understand the competitive landscape and identify your differentiated opportunity. Don’t just rush into the cannabis industry, find your niche, commit to it, then stay focused and make your mark.
3. Don’t be afraid to fail. Success is the result of hard work and learning from your failures. We often fail many times during our product development stage before we are 100% satisfied with a new product launch. It’s all part of the process.
What advice would you give to other CEOs or founders to help their employees to thrive?
Create a workplace culture that employees can identify with and are proud to be a part of. Empower them to grow within the organization and most importantly, provide them with the resources and tools required to succeed.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)
I would love to have breakfast with Tim Cook. Apple has cemented itself as a world leader in consumer electronics thanks to its inspired product innovation and world-class design. These are two fundamental values that form the core of Green Tank Technologies, so it would be fascinating to get Tim’s view of the world.