OKO: Gig Work For The Cannabis Industry

Pitch Please: Episode #003

Pitch Please powered by Draper Startup House is the podcast that gives listeners a look inside meetings between venture capitalists and entrepreneurs. Take a seat at the table as startup founders pitch their businesses to seasoned VCs in the hope of receiving investment. Follow along and choose which startups you would fund, then get the chance to support them yourself. Learn what questions are asked, how investors choose founders to back, and what it takes to get to YES!

In our 3rd episode, we are joined by Farhaj Mayan the Founder and CEO of OKO.Co (Formerly known as Kanna) & Courtney Real, Corporate Venture Associate at Capital Factory.

Farhaj explains the need for gig economy workers in the cannabis industry and how OKO.CO helps source qualified & trained gig workers for Cannabis companies. OKO.CO educates & upskill gig workers and helps fill the demand that Cannabis for these skilled workers.

“My CEO Brad gets a call from one of his really good buddies from college. He goes, Hey, Brad, I got two surprises for you. One I’m quitting my full-time job and moving to Austin to have a legal cannabis farm here. I just fired my grandma for being a really bad worker. So if you could wrangle up some buddies & come up here to Oklahoma and help me out, I would really appreciate that.

And that is, unfortunately, and fortunately, the best conception story for our company called OKO Now. Essentially, what we found out when we went to visit his farm. (It was a little farm in a town called Catto). About 400 people live there is that, turnover is a problem that the cannabis industry really struggles with, and after it is one of the fastest-growing job creation machines in the US, employing almost 400,000 people today and with federal legalization mandates right around the corner. It just has no standardization in terms of training, in terms of credentialing, or building a reliable pipeline of educated workers who can actually go and perform really well.

And that’s the first problem he struggled with too, seeing six out of 10 workers turned over every two months. So while we were there trimming and helping him out. He kind of pitched this idea to launch a managed marketplace where we can match him with talented workers who have been trained for jobs within this enterprise. And that’s how we initially started off.

But quickly we went through a couple of iterations, and I think now where we’re at is where we found a lot of, you know, good grounding, and what we do is we built this vertically integrated platform, where on one side, we have a direct to consumer cannabis trade school where we create trade-specific courses where people can hop on, go through these courses and get certified. And on the other side, we have OKO HR, which is the system where our clients, Customers who have legal cannabis businesses can post jobs, and our matching system connects them with independent contractors who have been pre-skilled, better trained, and insured.”

Capital Factory’s mission is to be the center of gravity for entrepreneurs in Texas, the number one startup state in the U.S. Thousands of entrepreneurs, programmers, and designers gather day and night, in-person and online for meetups, classes, and coworking. With boots on the ground in Austin, Dallas, and Houston, Capital Factory meets the best entrepreneurs in Texas and introduces them to their first investors, employees, mentors, and customers. Learn more at capitalfactory.com

Follow Courteney on social on Instagram & LinkedIn or email her at courteney@capitalfactory.com. She also has her own podcast The Real Capitalist that you can find on Spotify, Google & Apple Music.

If you are an entrepreneur or VC who would like to be on our show, email us at austin@draperstartuphouse.com

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