Some people say that business is all about numbers, but Veriheal’s Samuel Adetunji and Joshua Green left their corporate finance jobs because they knew they could disrupt an industry by connecting people. They took a chance and started Veriheal, a cannabis technology platform, and by design, built a uniquely diverse team to run it. 

Veriheal focuses on an innovative approach to connecting patients to doctors. Getting a medical marijuana card can be hard to navigate, and they wanted to increase access for those suffering from conditions like chronic pain and anxiety. Adetunji and Green gave patients access to quality doctors two years before face masks and virtual doctor visits became a norm. 

Building a Revolutionary Team 

If you ask, Adetunji and Green will tell you that their secret sauce had nothing to do with good timing and all to do with connection and diversity. 

“We seek out people from a vast variety of cultures and backgrounds, because it's good to be able to communicate in many different ways. Subconsciously, everyone has their own style and way of receiving information or connecting with a certain brand. And if you're able to do that in a multicultural way and know that that's important before a business is starting, you're able to get further and attract more people,” said Adetunji.

Veriheal’s employees have their own diverse stories and backgrounds, and they have taken advantage of this social diversity to connect with their patients. Amber Uffelman is a graphic designer at Veriheal and is half-Taiwanese; she never felt like she fit in and always felt like the “weird kid,” but she doesn’t feel that way anymore.

“For starters, we only have one white male in the whole company. That is extremely rare. Our CEO's are two black men, which is also another rarity. My team is extremely diverse, and I've never felt so comfortable around my coworkers before. Your name and looks won't be a deterrent in the hiring process…and you won't be shamed for wearing your hair a certain way to the office,” said Uffelman.

Samantha Velez, Veriheal’s Outreach Coordinator, has had similar work experiences to Uffelman. “At some jobs I’ve had in the past, the higher ups and decision makers were always white men. When issues arose in which gender or race were clearly playing a role, I felt they were always downplayed or shrugged off,” said Velez, “At Veriheal, that is never the case, because we are such a diverse group of people, and diversity is at the forefront of everything we do.”

Breaking Social Barriers for Minorities in Cannabis 

Many companies boast about their diversity practices, but for Veriheal, it just makes sense because of the website’s focus on innovative technology. The platform and customer service team connect a wide variety of patients to doctors registered with medical cannabis programs in their respective states across the nation. Tech and medical marijuana are still areas in which social stigmas and stereotypes against black start-up entrepreneurs exist, but Adetunji is trying to change that. 

“So diversity is great for tech startups. Because, basically, you're able to tap into new markets as a startup. You're able to tap into new ideas, new ways of thinking and attract different types of people,” said Adetunji.

When it comes to diversity in cannabis, Veriheal has successfully fought and conquered an uphill battle. The fight hasn't gone unnoticed by Veriheal’s Marketing Director, Anthony Dutcher. When asked about Veriheal’s struggles with racial injustice, Dutcher didn’t skip a beat. 

“I don’t think we face any racial discrimination at this point in time, but starting out it definitely was strong. Getting the business access to credit and bank accounts, getting meetings with executives from other big companies in the industry and trying to raise investments was hard, which was good because Veriheal ended up not needing it after bootstrapping our way to success,” said Dutcher. 

The racial descrimination that Veriheal deals with goes way back, entangled in the history of plant medicine and the beginnings of the medical cannabis industry. Despite the racial stereotypes, Adetunji and his employees know that the ashes left behind from the fire is the perfect soil for new growth.

“Diversity is important in the cannabis industry because of the simple fact that a lot of minorities were locked-up, thrown in jail, and lost their livelihoods because of possession,” said Adetunji, “So I think it's a great time, a great chance for minorities to be involved in an industry that is ever growing and make-up for the hardships those same people have had to go through in the past.”

Shifting Perspectives with a Female Lens 

Veriheal also knows that women are unfairly marginalized in cannabis and tech, which explains why a majority of their employees are female. “I feel like coming across an Asian in the cannabis industry is pretty rare. Most Asian countries look down upon it, and you're deemed a criminal if your Asian parents catch you smoking. I believe having the perspective as an Asian woman in the space is extremely useful and helps give you another angle on how to reach customers,” said Uffelman.

The team’s Content Manager, Lauren Dragoo, agrees with Uffelman and believes that Verheal’s female employees each have experiences that can relate to their customers, ranging from their knowledge on women’s health conditions to encouraging women to utilize cannabis to solve vaginal pain and everything in between.

“As a woman, I feel like there is still so much to discover about cannabis and what it can do for us. Women's health is just now becoming a mainstream topic of discussion and I'm so eager to contribute my experiences with cannabis and how much it's helped me,” said Dragoo.

Adetunji adds that hiring female talent “has given us the opportunity to expand our reach and genuinely improve our brand. You know, the majority of online purchases are made by women, so having a primarily female staff has been great for us to see outside of the traditional male perspective,” said Adetunji.

The diverse collection of voices at Veriheal not only helps them connect with patients; their connection to each other goes beyond the medicine they increase accessibility to. It’s also in the core values of the company. Here, you won’t see employees criticizing each other's clothing or political views, but you might get tips on how to craft the perfect cannabutter or learn about the newest topical products for chronic pain.

Veriheal’s Production Manager, Noel Obusan, sums up the sentiment of the company perfectly: “I fit in very well because I’m grounded. I’m pretty much like the middle child of the family. Everyone feels like they’re equal to each other and it's nice to have people know the struggles and hardships that not everything is handed to you. It keeps the company balanced.”