Today we’d like to introduce you to Stephen Stearman.
Hi Stephen, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today. So, before we get into specifics, maybe you can briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today?
I grew up in Kentucky in a religiously conservative family. Church was a weekend thing and unless I was sick, I was in that building. I start here because this had a profound influence on my desire to rebel and do my own thing as I got older. I was a good student in high school and got in a lot of trouble partying, not listening, and scoffing at authority figures.
After high school, I went to the University of Kentucky where I went just to have the big college experience because I wanted to be a pilot my whole life. After my freshman year, I left for the summer to go sell educational materials door to door in Minnesota. This was a RUDE awakening for me because not only did I not prepare for the summer but it was the first time in my life that I was genuinely challenged and had no help. I found myself crying on the curb in a random neighborhood in St. Paul multiple times because I was so lonely and frustrated.
My grandparents & parents always believed in me and told me that as a kid constantly. I didn’t believe a thing they said those first few weeks on the “book field”. After three weeks of wanting to go home, I got moved to the country and started to find success. This was the first time I realized that by putting my head down, I could figure anything out. I went on to do that job for four years, recruited classmates, and found a lot of success for a college-aged person.
After college, I turned my back on the pilot career path for entrepreneurship. I got into a school in Austin called Acton School of Business right after undergrad and moved to Austin. I’ve been here seven years now and won’t be leaving. In that program, I met Trey Marler who is now my business partner and best friend. Fast forward from 2015 to 2019 and I get a call from Trey asking me to start a company with him in cannabis. I gladly hopped on board and we started to formulate the business. Our first customer was June 2019 and now we’re served 15000 patients between several states.
Prior to running Elevate, I didn’t have any passion in my career. It was miserable doing technology sales. Non-profit work was the only way I found passion between 2015-2019. I’ve been fired from 25% of the jobs I’ve ever had because I was hard-headed and undisciplined. Elevate has shown me that nothing is wrong with me, I just didn’t have the wear with all to stick with something I didn’t enjoy. That’s the Steve of old. I know see my calling and what I must do moving forward.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way. Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
Absolutely not. We were eight months old when Covid happened so that was nuts. My operations leader turned in her resignation effective immediately.
We almost went under when we built our own e-signature platform and then sales dipped 30%. I had to cut the team’s pay + my doctor’s pay. I cried on the phone with my team because I felt so bad.
We chose a TERRIBLE development partner to build the first iteration of our technology and that almost cost us the business too. Never again will I start a tech company without a clear vision for the product and where we want to go. We have to take the blame here. It was brutal though.
Three months into the company, our payments processor canceled us out of nowhere and we couldn’t collect payment right in the middle of our biggest event yet. That was rough.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your business?
Elevate is an online cannabis clinic helping connect patients and doctors so people can gain access to medical cannabis programs in their state. We serve eight states now, soon to be 12 by the end of the year.
We’re known for being affordable and extremely helpful. We firmly believe the better you take care of people the more it comes back around.
Differentiators – we have some of the best technology on the market for cannabis clinics. We integrate with dispensary software and provide a clean way for dispensaries to grow their reward programs with new patients. Another big one is how we treat people + the support we provide. We bend over backward to get medicare recipients their medical card. Lastly, we’re a one-stop-shop for your cannabis consultation needs…we are a complete cannabis care platform with doctors, nurses, and a pharmacist.
What makes me most proud is to the percentage of our business that is word of mouth. We get 35% of our customers from friends telling friends. This speaks volumes of the way my team can execute and how they treat people.
We offer medicare & veteran discounts, pharmacist availability, cheap renewals. Patients can do everything right on their phone too.
The crisis has affected us all in different ways. How has it affected you and any important lessons or epiphanies you can share with us?
Frugality and taking care of people are my biggest lessons. We were loose with our pocketbook and we almost lost it when things hit the fan.
Also, when everyone is in a state of panic, taking a minute to slow down, give people their space, promote mental health, and make sure everyone is in a good state gets the organization through it.
Making sure that we have runway to last a few months with no revenue is a big lesson and something we’ve done since then.
- 125 for new appointments
- 100 for medicare/veterans
- 75 renewals
- Email: email@example.com
- Website: elevate-holistics.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/elevate.holistics/
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elevateholistics1