Thomas Gavin of CannaTrac: “Don’t give up on what you set out to do”

Focus — Don’t give up on what you set out to do. Things are not always easy and they don’t always go as planned. Sometimes, they don’t even give you the end result you initially set out for. However, there is always something positive to take from every experience. As a part of our series about business […]

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres on our open platform. We publish pieces as written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team and must meet our guidelines prior to being published.

Focus — Don’t give up on what you set out to do. Things are not always easy and they don’t always go as planned. Sometimes, they don’t even give you the end result you initially set out for. However, there is always something positive to take from every experience.

As a part of our series about business leaders who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Thomas Gavin, CEO of CannaTrac.

Gavin came to CannaTrac® with a long list of attributes. His professional marketing and advertising experience started in 2005, where he assisted with the development of an improved marketing campaign for 14 publications. Gavin started as a marketing consultant for CannaTrac Technology in 2015. In 2019, as a result of his impressive achievements in previous company roles, he was appointed as CEO. Since then, CannaTrac has exploded and become first to market in multiple industries. Through innovative marketing strategies and the network he has established, Gavin has brought CannaTrac into the limelight and is moving closer to making it the go-to cashless payment solution.

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 spent most of my professional career, 18 plus years, in the banking industry specializing in commercial and residential finance. I also have a background in advertising and marketing consulting. Luckily, with a collaboration of the industries I had worked in and a bit of good fortune, I was able to land a position within CannaTrac. I started as a consultant and over a few years worked my way up the ladder to CEO.

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

CannaTrac has developed several cashless payment solutions that revolutionize the way we look at payments.

First, our CannaCard payment/rewards platform is an all-encompassing solution for the cannabis industry. We have developed a card and mobile app that cater to a consumer’s lifestyle. It’s personal, affordable, and convenient. The CannaCard is not only consumer-friendly according to beta test reviews, but it’s also a profit center for our dispensary clients.

Along with the massive savings of taking cash out of the equation, the CannaCard can potentially increase sales by nearly 20% as it is more than just a mobile wallet. As a reloadable gift card, it carries a balance. Who leaves money on a gift card? Consumers are almost guaranteed to come back in to spend that money. In addition to assisting with customer retention from a purely economic level, CannaCard also produces real-time analytics for the dispensaries on the platform. The best way to cut your marketing and advertising costs is to know your demographics and truly understand your consumers or patients. We can provide the level of detail our clients are looking for while staying both PCI and HIPAA compliant. On top of all that, banks love our upfront and ongoing due-diligence. We are truly bringing together all walks of life in the industry.

CannaTrac’s wholly-owned merchant processing subsidiary, CTI Processing, was specifically created to provide solutions for companies struggling to find payment processing options. We watched companies of all kinds struggle with high fees and instability and went to the drawing board to create something that would give these business owners peace of mind. During the pandemic, e-commerce sales have sky-rocketed and having a reliable online payment processor can make or break these companies. That is where CTI steps in for both high and low-risk companies.

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?

So… The funniest mistake I made when I first started in business was taking a Skype call without understanding how it worked. It was an early morning call, about 4 a.m., with some potential investors overseas, so I took the call in my pajamas. At the time, my pajamas were made up of boxer briefs and an undershirt. Unbeknownst to me, I apparently had a camera on my laptop. So, when I got on the Skype call, there was a great deal of laughter. I thought I was late for a joke, so I continued to sit there and ask what was so funny. Then, one man asked me if I always wore this outfit to meetings and laughed again. He followed that up with, it looks like a very comfortable shirt. Being thoroughly confused and still partly asleep, I got up to look out my window to see if one of them was at my house. Yep, you guessed it. I walked right by the camera again in my underwear. At this point, the group is dying laughing and finally lets me in on the joke. I was mortified but tried to laugh it off too. As I looked at the top of the screen, I saw the camera looking right at me.

Needless to say, that camera wore a duct tape bandage for the rest of its life and I really became much more aware of my surroundings.

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?

I have been very lucky to have had many mentors starting with my father. I grew up watching my dad work tirelessly to give us the best life he could. To this day, I still associate the opening theme from “Hill Street Blues” with Dad should be home soon. I know I’m dating myself there, but it’s true. I grew up wanting to do what my dad did for his family and, as does every generation after, I wanted to give more. His drive and the importance he placed on us is a major portion of what made me the man I am today.

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?

In my opinion, every product and/or industry has room for improvement. But disrupting an industry doesn’t mean just fixing a few things here and there. It means looking at the ways things are currently done and thinking about how it can be completely turned on its head.

Of course, there are positive ways to disrupt an industry, through innovation for example, and negative ways. A simple example of this would be looking at the way the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted many industries. We’ll look at the restaurant industry as a case study. It was completely flipped on its head — but not in a positive way. Businesses were forced to shut their doors for months while employees nervously waited to go back to work.

But, if we look at how the industry innovated in response then we have a prime example of disruption. Restaurants have moved outdoors and put the necessary protocols in place. They’ve opened up delivery and pick-up options and reminded their customer that no matter what — they’re there for them. I don’t think things will ever fully go back to how they were pre-pandemic.

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

Organize — Staying organized has led to a much easier experience with my clients, customers, and employees.

Adapt — Things don’t always go as planned. Give yourself multiple options to achieve your goal or milestone. Setting limitations on yourself or your company will most likely lead to failure.

Focus — Don’t give up on what you set out to do. Things are not always easy and they don’t always go as planned. Sometimes, they don’t even give you the end result you initially set out for. However, there is always something positive to take from every experience.

Lead generation is one of the most important aspects of any business. Can you share some of the strategies you use to generate good, qualified leads?

We generate leads through multiple avenues. We prefer to work with merchant processing ISO’s that are already out on the street and simply give them another tool to add to their bag. This is actually one of the things that led CannaTrac to open its wholly-owned merchant processing subsidiary, CTI Processing. We also advertise in online and print publications, use social media, and obviously our amazing PR team at CMW Media has been a huge help in getting our message out.

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

We can’t wait to launch our new platform in the coming months, but the additional technology we plan to launch following this will change the way people pay everywhere. No cards and no phones will be necessary.

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?

There really isn’t a book, podcast or talk that has had a deep impact on my thinking. I have been primarily influenced by my family and the people around me.

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

“The only real mistake is the one from which we learn nothing.” Obviously, we all make mistakes and I am no different. What separates me from many others though is I not only learn from my own, but I have tried to learn from others’ mistakes as well. I have always figured many lessons in life have to be experienced in order to understand, but if I just sit back and pay attention to the reactions and emotions of others after seeing or hearing about a problem, can’t I learn a little something from them all? The answer for me has been a resounding yes.

In my previous career, I saw changes to policy being made in my state that had been made in other states prior and failed. I immediately reached out to my Congressman and Representatives but, due to what I assume was age, there wasn’t a real acknowledgment of my fears or the ream of data I supplied them from previous states’ failing policies. I knew at this point I had to create a backup plan, so I did. I started doing business in a completely different industry. I didn’t stop writing business in the lending industry. However, I insulated myself by giving myself another revenue stream. Within 2 days of Illinois HB 4050 passing, I went from a lender list (people I could sell residential loans to) of 83 banks down to 2. My income in the banking industry dipped that year by nearly 80%. If I hadn’t taken the time and effort to learn from those other peoples’ mistakes, I would have had to give up everything. Instead, I fell back on what started as a secondary income stream and built a business over the next few years. Thank God I did this because 3 years later we had the 2008 crash and I wasn’t as exposed financially since more of my income was being generated from the new business.

How can our readers follow you online?

They can go to our website, to learn about CannaTrac and join us social media to follow our updates.




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

Thank you for having me. It was my pleasure.

Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...


“Helping others” With Len Giancola & Thomas Gavin IV

by Len Giancola

A Conversation with Gavin McConnon About Lifestyle Habits & Finding Your Own Path

by Joey Claudio

Rob Girling: “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.”

by Ben Ari
We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.