After the legalization of retail marijuana earlier this year, entrepreneurs have been coming onto the scene in Denver and surrounding areas to capitalize on the event. Everything from new and improved dispensaries to travel tours designed around the cannabis experience. A lot of emphasis has been placed on the dispensaries and the growers, but the legalization of marijuana is leading to new business opportunities in other industries as well.
One such example is Surna, a local company that also happens to have Tom Bollich, the cofounder of Zynga, the online gaming company probably best known for Farmville, standing at the helm as its CEO. Surna is a company dedicated to bringing technology to the cannabis industry—and has moved to Colorado to do just that.
Who is Surna?
Surna produces water-chilled cooling systems specifically targeted to benefit cannabis growers. Surna recently signed a purchase agreement with Hydro Innovations, a company already well established in the commercial gardening industry with a range of products, including the desired cooling systems. Hydro Innovations had its start with entrepreneurial husband and wife team, Brandy and Stephen Keen in 2006 in response to finding “a better way” for gardeners to care for their gardens in hard-to-control climate conditions. Long time friends of Tom Bollich, the two companies have decided to join forces and move their headquarters to Boulder, Colorado with the intention of catering to the cannabis industry.
“The industry has outpaced the technology available,” said Brandy Keen, cofounder of Hydro Innovations. “And Tom sees an opportunity to bring technology to the field.”
Surna’s climate control system offers many benefits beyond that of its competitors, such as HVAC systems and other cooling systems. With energy saving benefits and more, they aim to catch the market early to help new growers and growers who are just starting to expand current operations to meet the new demand for legal marijuana. In addition, they plan to help those who are starting to discover a need for more cost-efficient climate control systems as the cannabis growing market becomes flooded with new growers.
Surna’s products are transferable to multiple industries and Hydro Innovations already offers a variety of products quite popular among private and commercial gardeners. So why the focus on cannabis? For the only reason necessary: it’s the next big thing.
“When you've seen the birth of an industry before, you see it coming again,” said Tom Bollich, CEO of Surna.
Tom Bollich and the Keens had been making plans for these business moves about a year ahead of the legalization, in anticipation of it, rather than reacting to it after the fact. By focusing their technology specifically on the cannabis industry, Surna plans to ride the legal weed wave to success and then ultimately spread into other private and commercial industries for cooling systems.
As Tom Bollich said in another article, “This is the next gold rush.”
Their own entrepreneurial success is not the only thing driving them, though. Brandy Keen stressed the fact that with the legalization of marijuana here in Colorado, the benefits will trickle down into other areas and is a positive thing. For example, it is bringing more jobs to the area. According to her, Surna has already brought six new positions to Boulder in staffing their new facilities. And in the next year, they expect to hire on at least ten more. In addition, they find value in being able to help the small time grower be able to affordably expand his or her operations.
Colorado, being the first to legalize retail marijuana, has become the epicenter of the industry. “It’s the home base for the commercial grower,” said Tae Darnell, Chief Counsel for Surna. “Existing here has substantially impacted business.”
They plan to capitalize on the fact that they are local and right where it’s all happening. Just as Colorado is being seen as the model for the regulated cannabis industry, Surna wants to be seen as the number one technology resource for it. As Tom said, “we want to be the GE of cannabis.” So they came to Colorado.
Their current expansion has been happening at such a rate that their current headquarters is still under reconstruction. They now have 20,000 square feet at the current facilities and further growth is anticipated.
When asked if they foresaw an influx of other competition and other likeminded folks relocating to the state to capitalize on the industry as well, they came back with a resounding YES.
“It’s happening now. Colorado is setting the standard for all these other states. Colorado is the safe place for these people,” said Tom Bollich. Visitors to Denver and its surrounding areas have come from all over just to see how it’s working.
According to him, this is just like what happened with the advent of the internet and Silicon Valley—in fact, Surna believes Colorado is to become the “Silicon Valley of Weed.” As Tom Bollich explained, what we are seeing is an event that enables entrepreneurs to make wealth off something new, but their work then triggers other entrepreneurs to go and make their own wealth and more jobs, which again triggers others to start and so forth.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. New dispensaries, growing facilities, the tourism business, and so much more are all areas that can trigger more business opportunities, bring more jobs to the area, and overall be hugely beneficial to the state. Colorado is becoming the entrepreneurial epicenter of the legal retail marijuana world and Surna serves as an example of the opportunity to be found within Colorado’s borders, deep in the cannabis industry.
Surna went public March 26, 2014, with an opening share price of $2.15, which has since gone up. To check current share prices and information on OTC Markets.com (Ticker symbol: SRNA).
For more information, find them at www.SURNA.com.