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Matt Mayberry of Trym.io: “Effort isn’t progress”

“Effort isn’t progress” A colleague of mine at SunPower had this posted on his wall and it really stuck with me. It’s easy to confuse working hard for making progress, but in reality it doesn’t matter how hard you work on something, just what outcome you achieved. We use this mentality at Trym and we’re […]

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“Effort isn’t progress” A colleague of mine at SunPower had this posted on his wall and it really stuck with me. It’s easy to confuse working hard for making progress, but in reality it doesn’t matter how hard you work on something, just what outcome you achieved. We use this mentality at Trym and we’re focused on hitting our weekly, monthly or quarterly goals in all of our operational calls.


As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Matt Mayberry, co-founder and CEO, Trym.io.

Matt Mayberry is the CEO and co-founder of Trym, farm management software that helps cannabis cultivators run more efficient and profitable businesses. Prior to founding Trym, he was Director of Product Management at SunPower (NASDAQ: SPWR), a leading U.S. solar manufacturer. Throughout his career, Matt has repeatedly conceptualized, designed, and launched market disrupting products that have set world records and exceeded 700M dollars in sales. Matt earned his B.S. degree in computer science from Oregon State University and has focused his career on his passion for technology, sustainability, and cannabis.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

I grew up in North Carolina in a conservative town where cannabis legalization felt like the furthest thing from reality. I couldn’t have been more out of place. I was the skater kid with dyed hair, and I wrote a punk ‘zine. In high school I started using cannabis recreationally and, out of curiosity to see how hard it was, when I was about 17 I planted my first seeds.Of course, I had no idea how to grow good weed and I’m pretty sure I fed my first plants Miracle Grow.

In college, I connected with other growers and learned how to actually grow quality cannabis. That’s where I met my wife, Karen, who’s also a Trym co-founder. After studying engineering, we moved to California in 2007 and I started working in the Solar Industry. We also started the first of many home grows together and we’ve been growing ever since.

A lot of my friends worked in the cannabis industry and when Prop 64 passed, the timing felt right for me to make the move. In 2017, I started going to tradeshows to check out the scene. I wanted to work with growers, and with my engineering and product development background, it seemed like I could build software to help them succeed in the regulated industry.

That’s when we decided to start Trym. At first, we had more passion than direction but we spent as much time as possible meeting with growers and learning about their challenges. Eventually we started building the product, launched a super rough beta with a great California brand in July of 2018, and everything grew from there.

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

Trym is pioneering farm management software built for the cannabis cultivator.

Running a cultivation business in the regulated cannabis industry isn’t easy, and many companies are trying to scale and establish themselves. Up until recently, growers have relied on manual methods or outdated technology to manage operations.

We designed a comprehensive software platform that supports large-scale commercial cultivators in optimizing and managing daily operations to scale faster and increase profitability. Trym provides one trusted source for all the information needed to run a business, Trym boosts production efficiency, empowers team members, and turns insights into strategic decisions.

We’re passionate about helping growers succeed because we love cannabis and want this industry to thrive. One key differentiator, versus many of the other cannabis software providers, is that we’re entirely focused on cultivation. We dive deep into the specific needs of cultivators and pride ourselves on building software that brings them significant value. We give growers full transparency into everything happening in their facility, from what their team is doing and the conditions their plants are exposed to, all the way to automating the compliance review process and reducing errors.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I think the funniest mistake I made in the beginning was my complete misconception of turning our idea into a business. While working as director of product management in tech I was responsible for product lines worth over 200M dollars in annual revenue and had product managers from all over the world reporting to me. In this context, getting funding for new ideas was relatively straightforward. We’d develop a business case and present to the leadership team, requesting the necessary team and capital to deliver the product on a particular schedule. I guess I expected something similar when conveying our idea for Trym to investors. We had a great idea, as well as an incredible team, and I thought everyone would see that immediately and throw money at us. I learned the hard way that raising capital in cannabis was much different than raising capital in the broader tech ecosystem, and as a result we needed to be much further along with development of the business before investors would be willing to take a bet on us. In the end, this was a good thing. We learned a lot of really critical things about our product and the market by bootstrapping and being forced to spend every dollar like it was our own (because it was for the first year).

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

Vikas Desai — one of our lead investors (Welcan Capital) who’s gone above and beyond to offer time, advice, and honest feedback from day 1.

Ben Curren — Founder of Greenbits, cannabis retail software, who stepped up to help advise me on investor relations while I was raising our seed round. He’s now an advisor to Trym and continues to help us progress in a meaningful way.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

Ultimately, I think that a person’s or a company’s intentions come through in their actions. If you care about those that use your product then you’ll likely make decisions with their best interests in mind. At Trym we care deeply about the healing power of the cannabis plant and we want to see the pioneers that built this industry, scale their businesses and prosper in the regulated market.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

“Effort isn’t progress” A colleague of mine at SunPower had this posted on his wall and it really stuck with me. It’s easy to confuse working hard for making progress, but in reality it doesn’t matter how hard you work on something, just what outcome you achieved. We use this mentality at Trym and we’re focused on hitting our weekly, monthly or quarterly goals in all of our operational calls.

“Focus on your business, not your competition” probably the best advice I ever got was to stay focused on your business. If you start sweating what your competitors are doing you’re taking your eye off the ball and your business will ultimately suffer. We have conviction in what we’re building, we listen intently to our users to ensure our vision and execution are meeting their needs, and we tune out everything else. In a lot of ways we take pride in having less features than our competitors. An example of this is how we’ve decided to focus exclusively on cultivation. Most of our competitors are building vertical solutions that span from cultivation to manufacturing and distribution. If we started following their lead it would distract us from our mission of building the absolute best cannabis cultivation software in the world, so instead we let them go their own way and we stay laser focused. For every feature they build for a manufacturer or a distributor, we’re building new and innovative features that help cultivators.

“To build the right product, you have to build the wrong one first” I first read “The Lean Startup” by Eric Ries when it was initially published in 2011. I’ve spent the majority of my career in product development but it wasn’t until I read this book that I really formulated an opinion about the proper way to conceptualize and deliver products to customers. Successful product launches are just like any other successful venture… they’re not an overnight victory but instead they’re built on a series of failures. The failures can be slow and expensive, which can be devastating to a business, or they can be fast and cheap, and built into the fabric of the product development cycle. The latter is the core tenant of agile development and customer led development. We use both of these concepts at Trym and it’s allowed us to shape our product offering to the specific needs of the market on an exceptionally lean budget.

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

Since we’re based in California, we’ve focused on expanding our presence here but we’re also quickly growing beyond the 16 states where we currently operate.

In the next six months, we’re focusing on several strategic partnerships with hardware and software companies that will enable us to build a smart and impactful ecosystem for the cultivation space.

In the next 12 months, we’re planning to launch more advanced analytics reporting that will help growers really dig into the factors that matter. To scale up to our industry’s potential, growers need to be able to optimize yields and quality, while decreasing their costs. And then, ultimately replicate their successes. Our roadmap supports these goals, so stay tuned!

Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?

“Rework” by Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson is one of the books I find myself referring to frequently. It’s one of the few business books I’ve read more than once. There aren’t many published opinions that offer a dissenting view of the conventional “blitzscaling” approach to scaling a technology startup. Fried and DHH provide a practical approach to building a tech company that is a great juxtaposition to the conventional startup growth mentality. I read this just before starting Trym and have used many of the concepts outlined in Rework while growing the team and out platform.

“What You Do is Who You Are” by Ben Horowitz really helped me reframe the way I think about building and maintaining company culture. Many aspects of starting and growing a tech business are challenging and in order to survive you have to build a company culture that can allow your business to thrive through good times and bad. Horowitz uses historical examples to demonstrate how to craft and maintain powerful cultures that reinforce your mission.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“Nothing worth doing is ever easy”

I’ve been a distance runner since I graduated from college and as part of that I’ve had some exceptionally tough mental and physical experiences. It’s hard to convince yourself to keep running when you’re at mile 21, with many miles left to go, and all you want to do is quit. You have to dig deep mentally to find the strength to persevere.

When you start a company you face similar kinds of existential crisis. Creating a product that solves your customers problems and is truly differentiated isn’t easy. And as soon as you think you’ve nailed it the customer problem moves and competitors catch up. This is the plight of the tech entrepreneur, and it’s easy to get frustrated with the situation and this can lead to serious stress issues. In reality, in any market worth being in, things change quickly and there is no shortage of competition but that doesn’t mean coping with challenges any easier when you’re in the moment. You have to dig deep and find your motivation to keep going when times are tough. If starting a successful tech business were easy, everyone would do it.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I’ve been an environmentalist for as long as I can remember and more now than ever climate change is something that needs immediate and meaningful attention. Climate disasters are so common now that they’re already becoming familiar aspects of people’s lives around the globe. Despite the obvious and devastating effects climate change has had on our planet, very few people are doing anything about it. Bringing attention to the science of climate change and rallying the world around the cause of saving our planet is the most important thing that we all need to do at this point in history.

How can our readers follow you online?

https://www.linkedin.com/in/matt-mayberry-trym/

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

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