WASHINGTON: Brian Yauger has a game plan for bringing better business intelligence to the legal cannabis industry. A Texan with Republican political leanings, the former NCAA football coach at first blush seems an unlikely figure to be heading one of Seattle’s hottest canna-tech firms, TetraTrak LLC, but Yauger believes his career as a big time college football coach was ideal preparation.
“Coaching turned out to be the perfect training for running a technology business,” Yauger tells MJNewsNetwork. “You scout the field and competition, and you hire smart people to coach the positions that are not your strength. Then you work tirelessly to put together a game plan. Once you are comfortable with your plan you put it into action and then make adjustments on the fly as the game progresses. You don’t get too high when things go right and you don’t get too down when things go wrong. You just keep pushing towards the goal line. I think if you were to replace the words ‘game plan’ with ‘business plan’ and the word ‘adjustments’ with ‘pivots’, it is the exact description of how to run a business.”
Yauger relocated to Seattle in mid-June, 2014, looking to be a part of the Green Rush. By February 2015 had founded TetraTrak, by opening a business checking account with $4600. Within 6 months, Front Runner Data dashboard and searchable database Front Runner Data was cash positive. Growing the company by establishing key strategic relationships with the Marijuana Business Association (MJBA), where he presents the monthly MJ Research Report, and several of its member technology companies, TraceWeed, and PayQwick.
TetraTrak takes advantage of the incredible amount of public data available from Washington’s Liquor and Cannabis Board. Through its online portal, the LCB makes regularly publishes detailed market and company data, but in hard to consume spreadsheet format. The Front Runner Data service parses all the cumbersome Washington data into an easy to read dashboard and searchable database, so market participants can see who is selling what to whom and for how much. To add even more value, Yauger and his team of analysts compile the data, add analysis, and publish it out to subscribers for $99 a month. TetraTrak is currently building out a free service, with near real-time streaming data called MJTicker.com, which is expected to debut in the next few months as an advertising supported offering.
Hundreds of companies have already subscribed to his service in Washington, and the company is now raising money, and will use the proceeds of its raise to expand its service to include the legal markets of Oregon, Colorado and Alaska.
Bringing the dashboard to life, Front Runner and MJBA host quarterly professional education seminars called The Front Runner series, targeted panel discussions for licensees. These half-day workshops drill down into the official LCB numbers, parsing the wholesale and retail marijuana sales data into salient consumable chunks. MJBA’s David Rheins then leads panel discussions with the industry’s leading authorities – licensees, subject matter experts, and government regulators – and facilitates audience Q&A. Highlights of these panels are currently made available on YouTube via MJBA’s Marijuana Channel One, with full-length downloads of the seminars, in addition to live webinars, in the works.
“Relationships in the industry are everything,” Yauger explained. Through organizations like the MJBA we have been able to network with other companies in the industry and grow very quickly.”
On the print front, Front Runner has teamed with Seattle-based Marijuana Venture Magazine to publish a monthly snapshot of Washington’s cannabis marketplace, and is in development with several other syndicated media programs.
Last week, as MJNewsNetwork was preparing this profile, Fox Sports was in town to profile Yauger. The story of how an all-American jock went from college coaching to cannabis is topical. Sports and cannabis is making national headlines, and trending up the twitersphere these days, with a number of high profile athletes from the NFL, NBA, NHL and UFC calling for the removal of the ban on medical cannabis. Just last month, Yauger was a featured panelist at MJBA’s “Game On: The Business of Sports and Cannabis,” alongside NBA All-Star Cliff Robinson, and in other ways sees a convergence of his old sports and new cannabis careers.
Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan’s son Payton Ryan will be coming to work for TetraTrak after he graduates from college in May. “Every football fan is familiar with the Ryan family,” Yauger said. “The Ryan family is to NFL football what the Kennedy’s, Clinton’s, and Bushes are to politics. Rob Ryan gave me my start in coaching and was my mentor. We want to do the same thing with his nephew Payton.”
The cannabis technology field is super competitive, and the business intelligence segment of the marketplace is filled with first rate players. Denver-based BDS, Washington, DC-based Frontier and Seattle-based Headset only the most prominent of the canna-tech firms seeking to build go-to metrics and analysis for this dynamic new marketplace. All the competition motivates Yauger to push that much harder, “I work 70-90 hours most weeks, and not one minute of it has felt like work. Building Front Runner and MJTicker and watching my little company that started out of necessity grow and become relevant in the industry has been so much fun. I can’t wait to take it to the next level.”