Employers face numerous challenges as new small business owners. It can be hard to find a financial institution willing to lend or even handle money from an industry that’s still federally illegal, leaving most transactions cash-based. Verifying an applicant’s resume is another challenge, because previous employment might be with an off-grid grower operating before Oklahoma adopted medical marijuana laws.
“For a lot of these new business owners that are coming to market, it’s very hard for them to vet without a lot of context and an experienced consultant to say whether this candidate is the right fit for their enterprise,” said Mayan. “It’s an interesting niche, but I love the fact that Oklahoma is so supportive in giving a chance for a lot of people who traditionally wouldn’t have had a chance to enter the industry.”
Mayan and the Kanna team moved to Oklahoma from Austin this spring, and participated in the Thunder Launchpad accelerator program. He’s worked closely with Launchpad partner and StitchCrew founder Erika Lucas, who he said helped lure him to the Sooner State.
In the latest round of Thunder Launchpad companies, Kanna joined dozens of other technology-focused startups helped by the program since 2018. AgBoost, for example, offers data analytics for the agriculture industry and recently partnered with Oklahoma’s beef producers to connect ranchers directly with meat-buying families. Another veteran of the program that launched in February, Suma, matches moms with careers that are flexible enough to accommodate their life at home.
Kanna stands in rare company as a Launchpad alum who left the Austin, already a solid mid-tier tech hub, for Oklahoma City’s emerging tech startup ecosystem.
Mayan plans to focus on this state, specifically Oklahoma City and southern Oklahoma, for the next two years. He’s already eyeing places like Missouri, Florida, Michigan and Illinois as possible locations to scale the business.
“Primarily nascent states, and not the mature markets like Colorado and California, because I think the supply side of labor is a lot more fragmented there. And from a legislative perspective, I think they’d be willing to listen to the growing pains and build infrastructure that really supports business owners,” he said.