Business development, Podcast

Ep 26: How to run a business in a highly regulated industry with Travis Steffen

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Ep 26: How to run a business in a highly regulated industry with Travis Steffen

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Problem: Running or owning a business in a highly regulated industry

Travis is no stranger to running a business while under the scrutinizing eye of others. Having come from a business in gambling, he hopped over to the world of legalized cannabis by becoming the CEO of GrowFlow, a software suite designed specifically to help cannabis operators run their business smoothly. 

The pace of legislation but also the pace and magnitude of  enforcement of that legislation are different from state to state.

GrowFlow is such a specialized product, one can wonder if they are limiting themselves by not expanding their product to other markets as well. Their numbers, combined with their business plan, and marketing techniques have built a solid foundation of customers.

At the end of the day, it’s a bit of a moat, you know what we do and what our customers do. It’s not the easiest way to make money.

How the GrowFlow software solves this problem

We have a direct sales team that does a lot of prospecting. We do a lot of cold calling. We do some digital marketing.

GrowFlow uses a number of different techniques In order to get to their customers. It also helps that their customers are well-defined: they have to be licensed operators. Most of their marketing and product development is based on customer feedback as well. In addition to these techniques, Travis incorporates a few of the concepts he writes about in his book, Viral Hero.

There are a couple small ways that we have virality built into [GrowFlow].

Viral Hero

Viral Hero: How To Build Viral Products, Turn Customers Into Marketers, And Achieve Superhuman Growth is a guidebook and road map, written by Travis, for anyone who needs to be both innovative and architect a product for their career. Travis breaks down the term viral to its core definition. While we are using viral as a term for social media content when we should be using it in the marketing world more often.

As an example, Travis suggests looking at Dropbox. Here is a service with inherent product value. As consumers, we use that tool with other people that would not be able to reap the benefits of the program without having been invited to use it in the first place. This is what viral marketing should be. 

Based off of Travis’ book, Viral Hero, he suggests that people, “[adopt] a different way of building products by building the viral hooks first and then finding the product details that kind of fit in those structures.

Virality in the B2B space

If you look at most tools in the B2B space, you’ll see that most have an inherent virality to them. Except that in B2B, you won’t hear the term viral marketing. Instead, you will hear the term network effects. 

The magic behind it is that it doesn’t feel like it. It feels like you’re just reaping the core product value and that’s really where the value is had.

Tools like Slack encourage you to collaborate with others in order to use the product effectively and to get the most out of it. Because of that, new customers and team members will be exposed to their product, thus encouraging the chain of “infection”.

This interview is part of the How We Solve podcast. To hear more from industry experts who are solving everyday business problems, check us out on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and on our website.

About the guest

Travis Steffen

Travis Steffen

Travis is a bestselling author of Viral Hero, is a serial entrepreneur with 7 successful exits (and a few crash-and-burn failures) to his name. Travis serves as CEO of GrowFlow, a cloud-based software suite for cannabis businesses. Travis is also the founder of FlashCourse (, which has been described as "Duolingo for personal finance". Travis is a life-long athlete with a Masters in exercise physiology from the University of Northern Iowa.

How people can people reach Travis 

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