Trevor Fencott never really intended to get into the cannabis business. He had several entrepreneurial ventures under his belt, primarily in the tech sphere, and was intrigued at the idea of applying a data-driven approach to a low-tech industry. “There was just a tremendous amount of data that was being accumulated and no one was doing anything about it. We started to build an analytics platform and that kind of data science got us interested in taking what we know from the tech industry and finding the lowest tech space possible, applying what we know and seeing if we could generate something new and unique,” says Fencott. “And we couldn’t find a space that was lower tech than cannabis.”
Fencott co-founded — and became CEO of — Fire and Flower, a data-driven licensed cannabis retailer. Fire and Flower uses data to help build better, more relevant products for customers and curates the world of cannabis for consumers.
Though based in Toronto, the company expanded to the Edmonton market, finding local talent and training them prior to legalization so they were ready to fill the market’s needs. The customer experience was always the biggest priority, and the company has taken painstaking measures to ensure the store is a specific kind of place for cannabis consumers to buy their products. “Cannabis is a very democratic substance, and our job is to deconstruct some of those cannabis tropes,” says Fencott. “It’s not that we’re trying to elevate the cannabis experience — we’re just trying to make it align with who we believe the consumers really are.”
One of the main features is an experience centre in the middle of the store, with “cannistas” — a play on the word barista that Fire and Flower created to reflect just how much training and knowledge its staff has.
“I absolutely think there will be a shift [in societal attitudes towards cannabis] , and I think it will be faster than people are imagining because, for many people, this is simply daylighting what they’re already doing,” says Fencott. “We’re at the beginning of a new part of Canadian history.”
This article appears in the January 2019 issue of Avenue Edmonton.