Jontae James: Offering Free-to-Use Cannabis Compliance Software

Jontae James is the founder of NatureTrak, a free track-and-trace software designed to help cannabis industry operators maintain compliance.

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In this episode of the podcast, Jontae joins our host TG Branfalt for an interview that covers the origins of NatureTrak, his transition into the cannabis space from a more mainstream tech background, and NatureTrak’s decision to release its software free-of-charge. Jontae also shares his thoughts about social-equity programs that level the playing field for disadvantaged communities most affected by the war on drugs, offers advice for tech entrepreneurs hoping to make it in cannabis, and more!

You can listen to the interview using the media player below or scroll further down to read a full transcript of this podcast episode.

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TG Branfalt: Hey there. I’m your host, TG Branfalt, and thank you for listening to the podcast where we try to bring you actionable information and normalize cannabis through the stories of ganjapreneurs, activists, and industry stakeholders. Today I’m joined by Jontae James. He’s a serial entrepreneur. He’s the founder of NatureTrak, which is a free track and trace software for the cannabis space. How’re you doing today, Jontae?

Jontae James: TG, I’m doing great. How about yourself?

TG Branfalt: It’s good to have you, man. We’re coming down on the beginning of summer, so the weather’s going well, and then it’s great to have you today. Before we sort of get into what’s going on with NatureTrak, let’s hear about you. What’s your background? How’d you get involved in the space, man?

Jontae James: Yeah. It was an interesting journey into the cannabis space. Like you said in the beginning, I’m a serial entrepreneur. So, I started my first tech company at 25, sold it at 28, and then now I’ve kind of been on this path. Coming into the cannabis space, I actually had a really good friend, and actually my business partner in NatureTrak, he was a operator cultivator for about 15, maybe 16 years, and he was like, “Hey. It’s going to be legal in California.”

I’m like, “Really? You really think it’s going to pass in California?” What people don’t know about California, California’s a red state covered in blue, and I was like “Well, let’s see what you got going on.” And so, at that time, he’s teaching me about the cultivation operation, and he was showing me the loopholes that he was going through under the collective model, the Prop 215.

And so it was at that point in time I was like, “Hey man. If this is really going legal, then these holes need to be filled.” And that’s where NatureTrak was formed. I gathered other tech-minded individuals that I’ve worked with in the past from Apple, and Google, and Facebook, and we started to create our first MVP. Our first MVP was a company by the name of Bluntli, and it was a patient license and business license verification platform, and we caught the eye of KPMG.

KPMG is obviously one of the government big four, and they were looking to actually build the cannabis activity tracking system for the state of California, and I got the subcontract due to the domain knowledge that we had. But, in that RFP process, they found out how much the award was going to be, anywhere from four to five million dollars a year, that’s a rounding error to them, and they jumped out.

But the special thing about that is they left me with all the functional requirements, system requirements, the architecture that they were looking for. It was literally the system that the state wanted, and so I was like, “Hey. Let’s build this.” So, we put our money together, and we built the entire system, and that became NatureTrak.

TG Branfalt: So, before we talk about NatureTrak, you said that you had worked with people from some massive tech companies. Facebook, Google, Apple. Was there any hesitation on their part, getting involved even in the ancillary side of the cannabis industry?

Jontae James: Not these individuals, but yes. I mean, those companies, one of my good friends that was working at Apple actually runs the worldwide supply chain of the Apple Watch, and they were like, “Hey, really want to help with this, can’t have my name on anything,” just because of Apple’s terms and conditions and stuff, you can’t be building programs and all these other things, otherwise Apple will try to look to kind of be a part of it, or they’ll try to claim it as theirself.

So, they were really on the peripheral version, giving updates, finding people for me at that point in time. So, there was some hesitancy, but they’re also looking for the new biggest greatest thing. I mean, that’s the one thing about some of these large tech companies, or just being in Silicon Valley in general, everybody wants to be part of the next thing.

TG Branfalt: Well, and there’s been a lot of parallels drawn between the early days of the tech boom and these days of the cannabis industry.

Jontae James: Oh, yes. The parallels are all there. I mean, the opportunity is vast, right? And we’re not even really scratching the surface of what tech can be in cannabis. So, people, they’re watching, and if they’re not watching, they’re in it, you just don’t know they’re in it.

TG Branfalt: So, tell me about NatureTrak, man. How is it different from the other tracking systems that are in this space?

Jontae James: Yeah, good question. I mean, we get this all the time, and it’s been a whirlwind of a ride, right? I mean, I told you how we kind of got the platform and was able to build it there, but it was at that time I streamlined it mobile and I built on an enterprise level API on top of that. With that main, NatureTrak is … NatureTrak is literally track and trace for banks or financial institutions, right?

We’re able to aggregate the data. There’s so … In the tech space, in cannabis, you have big players, you have seed-to-sale softwares, you have POS’s, and transportation management, and warehouse management, you name it. There’s a lot of systems that are coming in. None of them talk to each other, right? Everybody’s trying to build Oracle.

Oracle was not built in a couple years. Oracle’s been around for a very long time, so there’s this rush to become Oracle, and NatureTrak is just that simple, full compliance system that can aggregate the data. And the reason why we’re track and trace for banks is that the state credit union, or the state charter banks, or the credit unions that do want to be in this space, that do want to help bake the industry behind the Cole memo, they need a way to prove that everything’s transparent and legal, right?

And our bank, our normal banking every day, I send you a wire, or a Zelle payment, and it says, “What is this service for? Oh, it’s an invoice for consulting. Oh, thumbs up,” right? But in the cannabis space, you have a transaction of ten thousand, or fifteen, twenty, a million dollars that comes through. They’re like, “Oh. Let’s do our normal audits and check our your website. There’s cannabis. Oh, this is money laundering. Shut it down,” right?

And so, what NatureTrak does is, because we’re that track and trace platform, we could aggregate that data from MJ Freeway, or a Trellis, or a BioTrack, or Metrc, or even our full suite of products with our inventory management, our logistics, our marketplace, so that when that transaction goes through and they do that audit, they call NatureTrak, and we pull all that track and trace data for them, no matter what system they’re using.

So, they’ll know when that batch was put into the ground, how it moved through the lifecycle, every employee that touched it-

TG Branfalt: Wow.

Jontae James: … at that point in time, the COA’s and the RND’s that’s on there, the logistics route it took to distribution, the sales order that it came from, the dispensary, and even that purchase from the consumer. We provide them all that data in realtime, and then it’s like, “This is a legally tracked product, or transaction. Keep this going.”

TG Branfalt: It’s really an ingenious sort of hole that you filled in the industry. What were the challenges for you developing this tech?

Jontae James: Yeah, there was definitely some challenges that we went through, but being in the Silicon Valley space, I kind of knew how to build enterprise SAAS solutions. After I sold my company, I was with a Boutique VC, and I was working with early-stage SAAS companies for the next 10 years, so I kind of already knew some of the pitfalls that people run into, and just hindsight is always 20/20, but I just had foresight in this case that, when I was looking at the competition coming in, I’m like, “Nobody wants to connect to everybody.”

And just think about the technology that we use every day, right? Everybody connects to people. You can log in through your Facebook, or you could log in through your Google account, or you can use this here, and you can use that there. Everything is all pulling data and working together, and in the cannabis industry, we weren’t doing that, so I was like, “There’s no way, coming so late into the game, am I going to be able to build a platform that can rival some of the solutions that have been around for the last five, six years?”

You know, they got a lot of runway. So, how do we become that conduit, or that aggregator, of the data? And, in those challenges, it’s just time, right? I didn’t think we would be able to get to the banks that took calls from PayPal coming out of nowhere, other payment processors, other credit unions that started contacting me. I really didn’t even think that was the way that we were going, but other than that, the normal iterative cycles, right?

We went through our beta testing really hardening the product, just trying to understand what the operators were going through, but from a compliance perspective. Because we had the specifications from the state of California, I had the strong baseline, so we were bulletproof. I demoed to the FBI, we had…

TG Branfalt: No way.

Jontae James: …to run it by the OCC, we’ve been approved by the FDIC, I have a 104 page BSA AML report that shows how we line up with the Cole memo, how we meet all the specifications, but that’s all great if it doesn’t work for the client, and then how do we be flexible and just meet that compliance angle so these people can run their businesses? And that was probably the biggest challenge because they didn’t want to share information.

There was problems, but they didn’t want to tell us what the problems were. They’d just rather keep it to themselves, and some of these individuals and operators, these are third, fourth, fifth generation farmers, and I wouldn’t say that they’re not tech savvy, but tech doesn’t play that major role in their everyday life. They’re using cell phones, they’re doing Amazon, they’re doing GrubHubs, and Ubers, and Lyfts, and that’s about it.

They’re every day, in the garden. This is their mind, they breathe it, they live this, and they’re not using technology to kind of manage it, and so it was really just trying to get time with the operators to fill those gaps, already having that basis of compliance.

TG Branfalt: It was banking … When you went out and you started talking to all these farmers, you’re a tech guy, I’m sure you probably haven’t dealt with a whole lot of farmers, was that their most common problem, that they said to you, was the banking issue?

Jontae James: Well, the most common problem they actually told me was getting paid, right? So, you’ve always got to follow the money, and yes, it was a challenge at first, coming to them, and I mean definitely not my wheelhouse, I was very clean cut, had the suit jacket on. My business partner’s like, “Hey man. You can’t be coming like that. You got to dress like you’re going out to the club or to the basketball games and stuff.”

So, I had to change my wear, grew a little beard, and then some of those walls started to come down. But yeah, the biggest thing that they were always dealing with, especially from the farmer’s perspective, was getting paid, and I’m just like, “Wow.” I’m like, “This doesn’t happen in any other industry. How are you sitting on 45, 60, 90 day receivables. I mean-

TG Branfalt: Oh, wow.

Jontae James: … there’s got to be a faster way to do this. I mean, obviously because it’s cash, you’re relying on other people. They’re doing a lot of COD’s and stuff, so it’s just like, “Well, how can we get you, 1: compliant so that you can run your business, be proud to speak at your kids’ schools, be able to purchase homes, everything that everybody else does.” How do we solve that? And then, “how do we shorten this gap on this wait time?” And that’s just being able to go cashless. People need bank accounts, and how can we provide that?

TG Branfalt: So, this is a free software, right?

Jontae James: Yes. This is completely free.

TG Branfalt: So, tell me about the impetus behind that and how you can offer this for free.

Jontae James: Yeah. I mean, as I said, we’re like a SAAS platform, but we’ve really flipped to a fintech business model. So, we make money on the money moving through our system. So, we have the partnerships with the payment processors, and the banks, and then we’re just eating crumbs off the transactions, so it’s many of the merchant services that are happening every day, right? MasterCard, Visa, every time somebody swipes a card, there’s a fraction of cost that’s getting siphoned off at each point.

In the cannabis industry, it’s a little bit more. You’re looking at anywhere from 1% to 3%. Some people are doing 5%, but we do a rev share on that. So, we do all the compliance. Because we do all the compliance and we have that system to give financial institutions confidence to be in there, we’re able to lower the prices. So, we’re typically at 1% on cash pickups, so we’re only charging them 1% on that, and then we only charge them a half of a percent, or 50 basis points, on any ACH or electronic transfers.

And it’s always important to know there that the seller pays. But yeah, it’s volume for us. So, we need to get lots of people on, we need people to get accounts, and we need to be able to move the money in a closed loop compliant ecosystem.

TG Branfalt: So, you mentioned that there’s a rev share going on. That’s revenue share, I’m assuming?

Jontae James: Yes.

TG Branfalt: How does that work?

Jontae James: So, that’s just basically the merchant service costs. So, if you were to open up, let’s just call it a 7-11 or any kind of boutique store or clothing store, when you have your terminals there to accept debit and/or credit cards, there’s always a fee that they’re charging. If you use Square, Square charges … I think it’s $2.95 plus 25¢, or 2.95% plus 25¢ on every transaction. So, there’s always a transaction cost that you’re paying. So, that fraction that we’re charging on the transaction cost is what the payment processors, or the financial institutions, are sharing in their net revenue on them.

TG Branfalt: Cool. You recently spoke at the State of Cannabis conference about all of this, and I want to ask you, what was sort of the overall sort of feeling there when it came to how operators … the mood of operators, I guess, and are those events more important for startups like yours?

Jontae James: Yes. So, talking about the operators, it’s great. I love going to those types of events. You really get a vibe of the community, of the collaboration that’s needed out there, and just people looking for resources, right? They want to have a successful business, and they’re looking for these resources, and how do you meet them there? So, we do very well at the trade shows such like State of Cannabis.

Great resources for us. It’s paramount for a startup to be in that because it also gives you a landscape of what your competition’s doing. There’s only so much research you can do on the web, or calling operators and asking them what they’re using. You’re going to get a lot of different perspectives, right? But then, when you’re at those shows, you can really see what maybe the competition is doing, but not only just the competition, but you can find partners where you guys can share, and collaborate, and now have value adds that we bring to the operators at the end of the day.

I mean, at the end of the day, you need to have a product that works that helps them, and if that means you have to partner with company X, Y, Z, then you should partner with them, because that makes both of your companies valuable. But in terms of the State of Cannabis, they did a really great job. I mean, they had a social equity, or a diversity angle to it, which was great, really providing resources and knowledge on that side.

I was thankful to be able … Oops. I was thankful to be able to speak at that time and just share some of my insights on raising money, and being an early-stage startup, and just some of the pitfalls that I’ve ran into, being a serial entrepreneur and knowing, “Hey. I have this product,” and banging on a thousand doors with my hat out, looking for money to keep the business going.

So, I think it was very receptive. I look forward to doing more of those. We will always try to have some form of presence at the trade shows. Obviously, there’s a cost to those, so you’ve got to be strategic in the ones that they use, but definitely valuable.

TG Branfalt: So, you mentioned that the State of Cannabis conference had a diversity and social equity angle. Could you tell me about your experience being a black entrepreneur in the space? There really aren’t that many that work in the cannabis industry, for a variety of reasons. I also know that, when you were sort of doing the cold calls and the early stages of building the business, you would often use a nickname. So, tell me about your experience. Why you used that nickname? Just sort of give me some insight here, man.

Jontae James: Yeah, definitely. So, the nickname was basically JJ. I just started out just using my initials. I mean, that goes to your way earlier question when I had friends from the Facebooks and the Apples and stuff. We were just trying to find a way, but like, “Uh, let’s not use our names. Let’s just do the initials for now until we really see where that’s going.”

But I mean it played a great part in me being a black entrepreneur in the space, or just in the tech space in general, because then there’s no preconceived notions on who I am, right? And taking me at face value for the information that I’m providing, my articulation of what we’re doing, the experience and the schooling that I’ve had so I’m not meeting a barrier right out the gate. It’s just like, “Oh. This is great.”

But, I’ve always seen the a-ha moments when it’s that time we finally meet in person and then it’s like, “Oh. You’re JJ.” So, I do get that a lot, but it’s just part … This is the world we live in, to a certain extent. It’s challenging, being a black entrepreneur, not just in the cannabis space, but just in this tech space in general, and I don’t think it’s to anybody’s fault of their own.

I don’t think that there’s any racism or anything that’s going on, I just think that we do have certain stereotypes that we see all the time. The images that we see on TV and everything perpetuates what people respond to us. We’re always the entertainers, or the athletes, or we’re portrayed as the gangbangers or the drug dealers in this case. So, you see us being portrayed in those all the time, so then when you see somebody who’s doing tech, or is a doctor, or who is a lawyer, sometimes it just catches people off-guard at times.

And so, what I do to try to overcome that is I just try to be prepared. At the end of the day, I’m doing a great job. I’m well versed. I’m prepared. I have the information available. I have a great advisory team. My mentor was this Jewish guy from Lindenbaum who taught me all the ropes of what to see and how to do things, and so I can only put my best self out there and allow everything to take place.

But, it’s definitely … It is a challenge. I mean, it’s something that I know I’m going up against each time. I’ll always … at this point in time, I’ve raised 1.6 million dollars. We’re looking at closing another two and a half million here in the next 30 to 45 days. We’re in the final due diligence with a couple of groups right now, but I will always say, if I was being completely candid, if it wasn’t for the color of my skin, I would’ve raised 10 million dollars on this company already.

There’s nobody really doing what we’re doing. We have the client base. There’s over 150 clients using our system. I have contracts with banks. We are bringing in money. I have testimonials from customers, and if it was somebody else doing this, we would be on the front page of Forbes. So, we just keep chugging along, and then we’ll get there. I mean, do a good job, help the industry, push the industry forward, and everything else will take care of itself.

TG Branfalt: You’re such a positive guy, man, and congratulations on the money and just your success thus far. Do you think … Before I ask you this question, do you ever come across a minority farmer? Someone that owns a farm?

Jontae James: Yeah. I do. I’ve come across actually quite a few, especially here in California. It surprises me as well. I probably have the … they were like, “Hey! It’s good to see you here.” But yeah, I mean, California’s just a great place of diversity. You see a lot of different groups that are involved. I mean, you got the black, browns, the purples, the greens.

Everybody has touched this plant in some way, right? And it’s had a profound effect on a lot of people, and I think just being around my business partner and how he kind of became an operator … You know, once a consumer, then became an operator because people really care about what they’re putting in their body, and really understanding that. And then, the farmers and stuff, I really look at them as creatives in a way.

The way they interact with the plant, the way how they understand the process of the plant lifecycle, I mean, they’re connected, and so there’s an art to what they’re doing, and a lot of the individuals, regardless of their skin color, or their ethnicity, or anything, I think there’s a common thread of that creative nature that they have within themselves as well as a propensity to want to help people, and make an impact, and provide alternative uses for individuals out there.

TG Branfalt: Sounds like your next gig’s going to be on a farm, man.

Jontae James: Well, they get up a little bit too early. We work until 3:00, 4:00AM and then we get up at 9:00.

TG Branfalt: So, you mentioned California’s got some social equity, San Diego specifically has a pretty strong social equity program. Other municipalities are rolling out their own. What’s sort of your opinion, as a black person in this space, on these social equity programs that, essentially, are designed to give communities that were affected by the war on drugs more of a leg up, to give them tax breaks and other sort of just … help, I guess.

Jontae James: Right, right. I mean I think, the social equity programs, they come from a good place, right? They want to do the right thing, and they are trying to give these disadvantaged groups, or people who were wrongly incarcerated on the war on drugs, an opportunity to participate in this industry. I think there could be a lot more done. I think there’s kind of … there’s a lack of information in some of the social equity spaces.

Some of the people that I’m running into in terms of applications are … they’re just not prepared or well informed. I mean, there’s more than just being a disadvantaged person and running a business, right? I think there still needs to be education on, hey, preparing the right business plan, getting P&L’s and balance sheets ready, just stuff …

Because as you’re coming to this space and you’re starting a business, you’re going to need money. You’re going to need finances, and there still needs to be a baseline, and so how can these social equity programs not only give the opportunity, but also set them up for success? I think there … Again, they come from a good place, and the opportunity is there, but the tools are not there for everybody to be successful, so we’re just putting a bandaid on it.

So, what we’re trying to do with NatureTrak, I’m trying to work with social equity applicants and programs here in the city of Sacramento. I’m working with their social equity side, with their chief of cannabis enforcement, Joe Devlin, and being able to, 1, provide them the free track and trace, but 2, on the merchant services and stuff, we’re looking to give back.

So, our typical percentage is 1%. Hey, well on social equity applicants, we’re going to start at 75 basis points, or three quarters of a percent. How do we help jumpstart, right? We’re going to do training and seminars. We’re able … There’s a lot of other ancillary services that are plugged into NatureTrak such as your security, and your insurance. All that can kind of be a nice package so that you can have a turnkey solution, as a social equity applicant, to be like, “Hey.”

“You can come here. We got your track and trace. You got your logistics. You got your insurance set up. Here’s your security plan. Here’s your buildout.” Okay, how do we get started? Where’s your location? What’s your brand about? What’s your mission statement? And then, we can really put some legs to the social equity program. I think one of the things that they mentioned at the State of Cannabis, I forgot the gentleman’s name, he was one of the, I want to say, either a senator or a mayor, some public figure in the LA area, talked about how, on the social equity side, it’s not just for black people. It’s not just for brown people. This is for everybody who’s been affected on the war on drugs.

And one of our missions here at NatureTrak is: keep California, cannabis California, and that starts with the war on drugs. People up in the hill, people that were in Mendocino, and Humboldt County, and Trinidad or Emerald Triangle. People were getting locked up for 10 years for 100 plants, and being ripped away from their families. So, there’s a lot more people than just the black and brown that had been affected on the war on drugs, and the social equity is here to help everybody. But again, like I said just a few moments ago, the program comes from a good place at heart, but we still need to be able to make it be successful.

TG Branfalt: So, is another sort of step in this direction the expungement? Which has actually been … it’s been done in a couple of cities using algorithms, using tech. What’s the future for tech in this space? You sort of mentioned, at the top, there’s a lot that can be done with tech in this space. What do you see tech could be used for aside from sort of software and algorithms?

Jontae James: Well I mean, tech’s useful in our everyday lives. We’re behind. If you look at tech in cannabis, we’re probably 2000 tech right now. Definitely not 2019 tech. So, I just think, where tech’s going to help, it’s the transparency. It’s the transference of data. It’s visibility, right? As this slowly starts to come out, the black, the gray, to the clear white area where everything’s out there, we’re still peeling back layers.

I’m generation X. We grew up in D.A.R.E., right? Do not smoke. Drugs are bad. That was drilled into us, and yes, I’m more accepting, but for a lot of my high school and even early college, I looked at friends and family or other people who used the product and I was like, “Man. You just don’t care about yourself.” I had that “Oh” mentality.

And I think there’s still that stigma across, and where tech is really going to help is to eradicate that stigma so that you can really see the uses of this plant, and how it’s helping people, and how it helps with seizures, and tumors, and the whole opioid crisis. Tech’s going to be able to carry that message and be able to carry it a vast way and provide other avenues and arenas for people to consume the information to know that this is something that helps society.

This is not just a moneymaking avenue in this industry. We’re in prohibition right now. This is the fastest growing industry. All that’s great and of course money moves everything, but this is also a part where we’re taking back and claiming something that can help people, that can help with a lot of the illnesses, and the mental illnesses, and the dependencies that we’re coming on, the pharmaceuticals and things, and tech’s going to play a huge role in just uncovering all of those layers to make that transparent, visible, and consumable.

TG Branfalt: So, you’re obviously super successful in the tech space, probably going to be really successful in the cannabis space. What advice do you have for other people who are interested in entering this space from the tech side? Or, what advice do you have for other potential operators that are black or brown in this space? What advice do you have for them?

Jontae James: Yeah. I tell them, “Come on in. There’s plenty of room.” There’s a huge opportunity, and you need all the great thinkers and entrepreneurial spirits and stuff to come in. But what I would do is … You got to do your due diligence. Just because you once smoked a blunt or something doesn’t mean all of the sudden you become the connoisseur in this industry.

Talk to the people who are in this industry who were the caretakers, and the chieftains, and stuff that were carrying this through the black market times. You got to understand where this came from before you just try to make money from it. I think cannabis is more than just making money, and if you can come at it from that perspective that you want to provide a good product, or you see that there’s a product out there that’s not providing the complete service, and you want to polish the cannonball on that and add a new tweak or twist to it to get that message out or to provide a better product, then I’m all for that. Get in there.

But, what I did tell people, and I’m very blunt, no pun intended, to individuals, but I look at some and … a lot of people miss the boat. People who are coming as cultivators, or let’s say some manufacturers and stuff, the cost to get in, the barrier of entry, is high now. You went from, “Hey. You could’ve probably started out with maybe 50 to 100 grand”, to where you’re coming in with some capital that needs to be there. It’s probably going to cost you half a million just to get the license and go through all the approvals. You haven’t even started anything yet.

So, you got to come into that, and one of the biggest things, I think, as an entrepreneur that we run into and that’s always … It’s a barrier, but that we fail at, is that you can’t create a business and expect people to fund it, right? It can’t be, “Oh, I have this idea, and I’m going to raise money to do it.”

TG Branfalt: Just based on an idea.

Jontae James: Yeah. Nobody’s funding an idea no more. That was the tech boom in the middle 90s and stuff when everything took off. Nobody’s funding an idea anymore. There has to be something concrete, so you got to be able to bootstrap and get in there, and really provide traction, and show traction for people to get behind you because a lot of the investment that is still coming in is minute compared to any other industry, and people are watching.

We’re still in very much a highly regulated, probably the most regulated, industry by far that’s at this stage of its maturity or its infancy, and so people are watching. Not everybody’s just throwing the money in there, because they don’t know where it’s going to go. The government still doesn’t know where it’s gonna go, so people are sitting and waiting, and you got to be able to ride that storm.

That’s one of the reasons why we wanted to have a free software. I mean, at least be able to get up and running, compliant, and start making money during this time. We’re not going to charge you $700 to use or pay ten, fifteen grand a year just on software to be compliant let alone the taxes that they have to deal with and everything. So, just be mindful.

Whether it’s the cannabis industry, or any industry, you got to have a plan. You got to have a product, it can’t just be an idea. And, you got to be ready to ride the down times. This is a marathon, it’s not a sprint, and I think people get very discouraged that, “Yeah, you could have a great product and people are going to like, “Oh, this is great”, and it’s high-fives, you have your own business. But I tell people all the time, I would gladly work for somebody.

I have about 20 employees right now, and part of my stress is not the tech. We’re doing good, we got really good traction. I’m here with TG, talking to … I honestly think they’re going in the right direction, but my biggest fear is waking up every day and being able to provide for my employees, because they’re giving me their faith and their dedication to work hard and long hours, and for under their pay for us to make this work, and they have wives, and girlfriends, and boyfriends, and grandmas, and kids that they need to support, so that’s the stress that I wake up every day and deal with, so I don’t think people kind of look at that side.

Yeah, it’s cool to have the CEO title when you want to throw out your business card or you’re at an event, but behind the scenes, I’m a caretaker. I’m providing opportunity. People are believing in me, and I have to do everything to give them that respect back, that they made the right decision in investing in me and investing in my company and dreams.

TG Branfalt: Man, it’s really great to have you on the show. Like I said earlier, you’re so positive you could just feel your passion for what you do, and growing yourself and your business. Congratulations man. Where can people find out more about NatureTrak and maybe more about you?

Jontae James: Yeah. I mean, you can check out We have our Instagram and our Facebook. Everything’s @NatureTrak, and Trak is T-R-A-K. As far as myself, I’m not really a big social media guy, but you can find me on LinkedIn. It’s LinkedIn … I think it’s /Jontae.James on there. On our website, we have our info email that says TrakTeam, T-R-A-K Team,, and so if you’re ever looking to reach me, you can reach me via those channels.

TG Branfalt: Jontae James is the founder and CEO of NatureTrak. Thanks again, man, for taking the time to be on the show.

Jontae James: TG, thank you so much, man. I appreciate you.

TG Branfalt: You can find more episodes of the podcast in the podcast section of and in the Apple iTunes store. On the website, you’ll find the latest cannabis news and cannabis jobs updated daily along with transcripts of this podcast. You can also download the app in the iTunes and Google Play. This episode was engineered by Trim Media House. I’ve been your host, TG Branfalt.