Torontonians who are shaking up the tech sector

Torontonians who are shaking up the tech sector

John Prentice founded Ample Organics, software that helps marijuana suppliers track and sell their product

Company HQ: Eastern and Carlaw
Founded: 2014
Employees: 90

How it works: “We’re basically the plumbers of the cannabis industry. We plug things together by giving growers a way to track everything from plant harvests to inventory. A big part of regulating the industry is making sure weed doesn’t end up on the black market, and this software helps producers follow all of Health Canada’s requirements.”

Eureka moment: “Six years ago I was helping a grower with a licensing application, trying to find a way to meet all of the government tracking requirements. The software I tried was useless. That’s when I realized the industry needed something unique to them.”

How much you spent initially: “My partners and I bootstrapped the business from my dining room table with a few thousand dollars I’d saved up. Our first real money—$10,000—actually came from a customer.”

Your turning point: “After that initial investment, we wanted to raise money to put gas on the fire and prove we were sustainable before we brought in new clients. Our goal was to raise $1 million, and we ended up raising $2.2 million. There were 12 licensed producers in Canada at that time, and, as soon as things got moving, we had four of them on our platform.”

Your big-time backers: “The family office of David Thomson, Green Acre Capital, Matco Financial and individual investors.”

Tech Jargon you hate: “Blockchains. It’s cryptocurrency speak, and people get way too hyped about it.”

If you weren’t running a start-up: “I’d sell ice cream out of a cart on a beach.”

The best advice you’ve received: “Understand what you’re good at, keep your head down and focus on that without getting distracted.”

The worst advice you’ve received: “ ‘Go public.’ Being a private company lends us the ability to do things our way.”

Coolest thing in your office: “A Segway and an abundance of Stormtrooper helmets.”

Your go-to office attire: “Jeans and a T-shirt.”

Your tech role model: “American hacker Kevin Mitnick. He was one of the earliest people to highlight the importance of tech security.”

App you can’t live without: “iBaby Care. I use it to listen to and talk to my six-month-old son when I’m not home.”