What does Greenlight Analytical do?
The company’s Cannabis Analyzer provides detailed information about the chemical compounds in cannabis plants, giving licenced producers more control over the potency, taste and quality of their products. “As with most consumer goods, the producers are relying on consistency. You need to sell customers the same product every time,” explained Wylde. The technology helps producers do that by giving them “the tools they can use day-by-day directly in the greenhouse to constantly monitor the health, safety and quality of their crops in real time.”
It all started with lunch and a napkin
The company had a classic start with a few sketches on a napkin. It was 2018 and cannabis was about to be legalized in Canada. Over a few lunches, Wylde and co-founder Simon Benwell fleshed out ideas for a new product that would make it easy for licensed cannabis producers to measure and test their crops. “We took the plunge and formed a company,” he said. “There was an opportunity to provide some value in a new and emerging industry. It’s always exciting blazing the trail.”
What has it taken to get this far?
Wylde described the initial funding strategy as “attacking our own savings and digging into our own retirement.” After that, outside support started rolling in from early-stage funding organizations, accelerator programs and investors. In 2020, the company was chosen to be part of Innovacorp’s Accelerator Program and it received a $375,000 loan from the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA).
Preparing for take off
“We’re still in product development. We have developed a prototype. We do have some customers that we’re very well engaged with.” The company plans to launch its Cannabis Analyzer in 2021 and is now in a seed funding round it hopes will raise $750,000 to $1,000,000. “That will really accelerate this down the runway.”
How has your startup journey been so far?
“It’s been probably the most rewarding and scariest thing I’ve done,” said Wylde. “Watching something we have started and nurtured is incredibly satisfying and rewarding. What’s scary is that all of those people who took a chance on supporting us, they’re depending on us succeeding, too. So, if it doesn’t work, it’s not just me disappointed anymore, it’s a lot of other people that took a chance on us.”
Biggest risk you took with this venture
“The date that I can retire,” he joked. “It might be a lot sooner or a lot later than I anticipated, depending on how things go. The biggest risk has definitely been financial.”
A late start means less time for second chances
“As you get older, you start to get a more established life. You accumulate a lot more around you, not just things, but you accumulate a life around yourself. It’s certainly daunting, in the sense that I don’t have as many opportunities for a second chance.” But, he said, that feeling is mitigated by knowing he can draw on his years of experience and lessons learned.
Do you have an exit strategy in mind?
“Absolutely. I really do anticipate as cannabis becomes more and more accepted around the world and the market gets bigger and bigger, I think we’ll be a very attractive target for some of the Tier 1 enterprise vendors out there. I think our biggest hope is to really grow this organically to the point where it’s a powerful acquisition target in say five years.”
Best advice as a startup founder
“One of the best pieces of advice that I’ve gotten was, ‘When talking to customers, don’t ask them what they want, ask them what they do.’ Really try to find out what’s keeping them up at night and what really is the problem they have to solve or the job that they have to do.”
You moved your company from Eastern Ontario to Halifax. Why?
“The nature of the startup ecosystem here was that everybody here helps everybody else—that Maritime hospitality carries over to business as well.”
Finding fertile ground to grow
Wylde thinks Atlantic Canada is a nurturing place for tech startups like his to take root. “There’s no better place to do business. The combination of business and lifestyle can’t be beat.”
“Especially because of COVID, people are realizing you don’t have to be physically sitting in Silicon Valley or you don’t have to be physically sitting in the Ottawa tech corridor to do what we’re doing anymore.” •