March 2018: Alvarez Technology Group
Luis and Ronni Alvarez Founders; President & CEO/COO, Alvarez Technology Group, Inc. (ATG)
Tell us about your company(s) and your role? "ATG was founded in 2001 with the central purpose of helping small and mid-sized companies maximize the value of their investment in information technology. We work with organizations throughout California to create strategic technology plans that improve their operations and their bottom line. Leading a dedicated team of 35 professionals that serve hundreds of clients, Luis and Ronni believe the success of their clients is the only way to measure the success of the company."
What was your very first introduction to the cannabis industry? "We started working with a couple of medical operations in 2015, helping with small IT projects: new computers, setting up networks, the typical things any small business needs to set up in order to operate. Since then, we’ve continued to support them and also expand to other cannabis companies."
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned since you’ve been in the industry? "We’ve learned that this is an industry that truly believes in the value they bring to their customers and the community in general. They are very generous and giving."
What has been your biggest risk you’ve taken in your career? "Starting ATG was the biggest risk we’ve taken, rejecting traditional jobs and instead forging our own path with a singular purpose. Now we are responsible for the care and welfare of 35 families every day."
What is your proudest moment since you’ve started down the path as a cannabis entrepreneur? "Not necessarily as a cannabis entrepreneur, but as a supporter of the industry, I’m proud to speak out when given the opportunity. Last year at the Western Growers Association annual meeting, the impending legalization of cannabis was a hot topic and many of the folks attending the event were not really in support of the industry but I made it a point out the benefits of the cannabis industry as a whole every chance I could."
How would you describe the cannabis industry in Monterey County? "In many ways, it’s overheated, with expectations far exceeding what I think the reality is going to be, especially when it comes to the tax revenue. Unfortunately, I can see that there will be winners and losers in a few years but the folks who are investing in doing things the right way, legally and with technology, will emerge successfully on the other side."
How do you think people in the cannabis industry should think about the value of marketing and where should they focus their marketing budget? "The cannabis industry, like any industry, will have to learn that all things being equal, investing in marketing to differentiate yourself and your product is the only way you’ll succeed. One marketing tactic that we use is education, that is, educating prospects on how technology can help their business. We don’t sell ourselves and instead focus on the particular topic. Cannabis operators can do the same thing: educate the public about the value of the product and you’ll create fans."
What is your advice for hopeful cannabis entrepreneurs?
"Like any industry, do your homework and understand what you are getting into. Like I said, some will win and some will lose, so stack the odds in your favor by being smart about what you do and leverage technology as much as you can."