Meet Francois and Tamar: Husband/Wife + Cannabis Professionals
by Sam Zartoshty
Posted on Aug/29/2017
What did you do before entering the Cannabis industry?
Tamar: I worked as a marketing consultant for a market research firm called The NPD Group, working with some of the biggest tech manufacturers in the world. These market research firms collect point-of- sale data from retailers and help the retailers and manufacturers understand, using this data, what is selling and what is not selling… allowing the retailers to make category and product assortment decisions and allowing the manufacturers to strategize their business around ‘The 4 P’s: Product, Price, Place, Promotion. Before working with The NPD Group, I got my degree in Biochemistry. I did a stint at a lab in Israel doing research on solar paint, waitressed a little, and finally did some B2B sales before getting my MBA and moving on to a career in market research.
Francois: I got my degree in computer science and then went straight into the tech world. Since I didn’t want to code, I decided to get into the customer success side of tech. I worked for a medium-sized government contracting firm, eventually running the technical support team and servicing about 9,000 customers. From there, I moved on to become a business analyst for a startup in Carlsbad before taking our “first retirement” and traveling the world.
How did you get involved in the cannabis industry?
Tamar: After a year and a half long backpacking adventure, we came back to California and began figuring out our next steps. I got reconnected with Liz, BDS Analytics’ President & co-founder, who was an old co-worker of mine from The NPD Group. She was looking for someone to launch BDS Analytics in California, I was looking for my next mission and I just so happened to be passionate about this particular industry, so yeah – here we are!
Francois: I was looking for a position in San Francisco as a customer success manager. I had a profile on AngelList and was looking around for startups. One day, Treez popped up and I looked at Tamar and asked, "Should I apply to this company?" and she said, “Yes! Definitely! Apply” so, I did. Two days later, I got a call from the CTO, had a conversation with him, had an in-office interview two days later, and three days after that I received the offer. It happened very fast and there was an instant connection
between me and the rest of the C-suite. Now I’m the Director of Customer Success and I’m growing the team here at Treez.
Directed towards Francois: Did you have anything relating to cannabis on your resume? How did that happen so quickly?
Francois: No, not at all. I consumed occasionally, but had no idea how big and developed this industry was until I learned from Tamar as she was getting into the industry. What I learned sparked my interest, so I decided to take a risk and just go for it. I applied to a few other cannabis companies, but they were either too small/not hiring/not the right fit, so when I met the folks at Treez, I felt right at home. I think the feeling was mutual.
What have your struggles been in this industry since it is so different from other industries?
Tamar: One of the biggest challenges I found is getting used to the pace of this industry. I’m used to a world where if a client e-mails you at 9 a.m. and you haven’t responded by 11 a.m., they think you’re dead. Also, I’ve had to get used to texting with
clients, which I never did in my NPD days. Now I'm texting all the time and it’s totally normal to get a response at a week’s delay.
Francois: Nothing’s really changed for me – I still work for a software company that
services clients. I just had to quickly learn the lingo of the industry.
Directed towards Tamar: Do you work remote or in an office? Is that different from what you were doing before?
Tamar: I work remote, which is absolutely different. I used to work a ‘9-to- 5’, but realistically it’s never 9-to- 5 if you’re salaried. I traveled a lot, but spent most of my time in a proper office. In my current position, I spend most of my time on the move – either
at events, visiting dispensaries, manufacturers, and cultivators, or traveling down to So-Cal.
Have you felt stigmatized by family or friends for working in the industry?
Tamar: Not at all. My family and friends are all very excited that Francy and I are in this industry.
Francois: Nope, and I come from a pretty conservative family!
What have been some of your favorite things about working in the industry?
Tamar: I have met some of the most incredible people since getting into this industry. I had no idea I would develop so many close friendships – that’s definitely something I had never experienced in the tech industry. Working, hanging out, sharing a mission
with folks of all ages, sexes, races, religions, nationalities… and cannabis is what’s bringing us all together.
Francois: Just gonna piggy-back on what Tamar said, since she said it perfectly.
What have been some of the Challenges?
Francois: Keeping up with the pace that the industry is growing. As a POS service provider, we see new dispensaries opening up and coming on board each day… keeps us on our toes!
Tamar: This industry is very “legacy”. People have been growing weed in Nor-Cal for decades, and I was this new-comer trying to prove that I have a place in this industry, which was tough since I didn’t know anything about this industry! I knew data, I knew
how to work with data, but I was no cannabis expert. Getting to know this industry and figure out how it ticks has been the real challenge, and it’s been awesome.
Do you have any advice for job seekers looking into the industry?
Tamar: Industry events. Go to anything that you can. This industry is still refreshingly welcoming. Check out events by the NCIA, CCIA, CMA (Cannabis Marketing Association) and other local communities, task forces, and organizations. Some events are free! Join Facebook groups and Meetup groups online, ask questions, and network!
Francois: Like Tamar said, get your name out there and meet people. Go to community events, research online, learn as much as you can about the industry.
Do you think that you need to have cannabis knowledge, or be a heavy
consumer to work in the industry?
Tamar: It really depends on the job. If you’re hiring a grower, you definitely want
someone that’s been around the plant. We’re a retail analytics company… we want
people that know how to look at data and turn it into business decisions. Whether or not
they consume doesn’t matter to us, but if they have knowledge of the cannabis industry,
that is definitely a plus!