Cannabis Corner: Today’s (and Tomorrow’s) CannaTech Partnering Best Practices

Because the RSPA is North America’s largest community of VARs, software developers, vendors, and distributors in the retail, restaurant, and grocery verticals, the association is strongly positioned to meet the needs of IT solution providers who serve cannabis dispensaries. The RSPA Cannabis Community, created in late 2020, helps members meet and network with others interested in the cannabis vertical and fosters business development opportunities for RSPA members, all in a vendor-neutral atmosphere.

By: RSPA Cannabis Community

With so many new players, new products, new markets, and ever-changing regulations, a go-it-alone approach in the cannabis vertical is impossible for an IT solution provider. On the other hand, partnering with other VARs and ISVs isn’t exactly easy. The RSPA Cannabis Community discussed partnering challenges and best practices during a recent online meeting. Among the key insights: 

  • We’ve found our partners a few different ways: at a show or through a contact of ours that knows a person, and we’re a member of EMC (Emerging Markets Coalition) and participate in their programs. There isn’t just one partnering strategy that works. 
  • Before you go to a show, you should do lots of preliminary work to build alliances. Get them to understand who you are and what you’re promoting. 
  • Boutique events attract key players and big hitters – that’s creating momentum for us. 
  • You have to step into the market and get engaged, like participating in panels. Engage people where they are, not just at a big show like MJBizCon. Go to smaller events seeking responsible cannabis business partners who want to run their business right. You don’t want just any yahoo; you want to work with people who want to stay compliant. 
  • We’ve found great partners by attending these RSPA Cannabis Community meetings. I met someone on this forum, sent them a message, exchanged contact information, and now have some momentum. 
  • We saw strong growth through resellers in our early years, then that shut down, and now we’re building back up. We found over the years one quality partner is better than 20 – every day. 
  • Because cannabis isn’t fully legalized, people in the space don’t know who to trust. They’re skeptical. It feels like the mob: “Are you a friend of mine? Are you a friend of ours?” Meeting them at events and reaching out after will help you gain their trust. 
  • We have to establish we are where the good guys are. Other businesses understanding you’re one of the good guys is super important in the cannabis space. 
  • If you are serious about the cannabis space, tell the world you are. Have a dedicated cannabis web page that shows testimonials from dispensary owners. 

Did You Know … 
The RSPA Cannabis Community has grown to over 220 members ranging from Fortune 500 organizations to SMB VARs and software developers.  

To join or sponsor the RSPA Cannabis Community, email