Matt Frost of anna on Data Trends and Retail Automation in Cannabis

Plus, finding inspiration in the work of Massachusetts' Cannabis Control Commission

Matt Frost is founder and CEO of anna, which offers retail automation with the first A.I.-powered self-checkout solution for the cannabis industry.

Prior to founding anna, Matt spent nearly a decade in healthcare analytics. The genesis of the project came when Matt dropped out of his last semester in business school—writing the business's first patent and programming anna's first prototype software.

We spoke with Matt for our Higher Calling series, where we chat with leaders in the cannabis space.


Matt, tell us...

Where you grew up, and where you live now.

I'm a born-and-bred Bostonian—but since launching anna, I've been about 40 percent Boston, 40 percent Denver, and 20 percent traveling to new client locations.

Your current role in the cannabis industry, and where you're based.

I am the CEO and founder of anna, an A.I.-powered, automated self-checkout solution for dispensaries. I split my time between Boston and Denver.

Your earliest cannabis memory.

I believe it was late 2003. But other than that, I think I need to plead the Fifth! 

A story about the positive impact cannabis has had on your life.

I lost my dad to a heart attack when I was 13 years old. As the years went on, the anxiety of growing up without a father started to mount. Once cannabis and I found each other, it gave me an outlet when life felt unmanageable. To this day, cannabis has provided a natural way to ease my anxieties without prescription meds.

A favorite flower, edible, product or brand.

100 percent has to be East Coast Sour Diesel flower.

The biggest challenge cannabis marketers face today.

Finding effective mediums to reach customers, especially with the absence of sponsored posts on social media marketing platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

One thing you're excited about right now in cannabis branding, partnerships or marketing.

I love the data aspect. As cannabis sales mature and technology enters the equation, marketers will have more access to consumer data to make smarter decisions for their target customers. Data about regional purchasing trends can tell companies what a 31-year-old man from Boston is likely to buy, whether he's at a dispensary in his home state, or another state's market.

A cannabis trade/social justice organization that you support.

Any of the programs handling expungement related to cannabis violations.

A project you worked on recently that you're proud of.

anna's launch in the late summer of 2020. Our team's hard work and combined effort to achieve a common goal was truly remarkable.

Someone else's project you admired recently.

I think the strides that the state of Massachusetts and its Cannabis Control Commission are making in social equity are, and continue to be, an inspiring effort.

Someone you admire in cannabis who's doing great things.

Every single person on the anna team! While you can teach someone about cannabis, you can never teach the hard work and dedication these individuals put out daily.

A movie, TV show, music or food you most enjoy pairing with cannabis.

All of the above!

What you'd be doing if you weren't in the cannabis industry.

The entrepreneurial bug caught me again about four or five years ago, so even if I weren't in cannabis, I'd like to think I'd have started a similar software/automation-related business.

Higher Calling is a weekly series, publishing on Thursdays, where we chat with folks in the cannabis industry about their personal history and taste in cannabis and the future of cannabis marketing. For more about Higher Calling, and our Clio Cannabis program, please get in touch.

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Tim Nudd
Tim Nudd is editor in chief of the Clio Awards and editor of Muse by Clio. Previously, he was creative editor at Adweek.

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