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3 Tips for Harnessing Innovation

Futurola evolved from a coffee shop in Amsterdam into an international cannabis lifestyle company. Here's how constant innovation made it happen.
3 Tips for Harnessing Innovation
Image credit: Courtesy of Futurola

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There’s no entrepreneurship without innovation. New ideas, solutions and products are key for any upstart business to prosper, particularly in the fast-growing and constantly changing cannabis industry.

As Futurola Partner Toby Skard puts it, “Every entrepreneur knows that if you make something that everybody needs, you achieve the greatest success.”

An international producer of rolling papers and smoking accessories based in Amsterdam and Los Angeles, Futurola’s modest beginnings in 1996 feel like a lifetime ago. Their most revolutionary product—a joint-filling system called the Futurola Knockbox—was a game changer, and is now utilized by dispensaries everywhere.

“It’s the top-selling machine for this use in the world right now,” Skard says.

It’s clear that innovation is at the center of the brand’s incredible growth, so we asked Skard to explain how entrepreneurs can cultivate their own creative inspiration.

1. See what’s missing and fill the need.

Futurola’s founders had several coffee shops in Amsterdam—places where buying and smoking marijuana is legal. Over the years, they learned what was missing in the marketplace and started making their own products.

“There was a massive response from customers, who were sick and tired of low-quality goods,” Skard says. “It started with rolling papers, shredders and grinders and grew from there. The coffee shop culture in Amsterdam goes back many years; Europe was actually at the forefront of all this. Now the U.S. has taken over.”

2. Utilize the latest technology.

Once Futurola launched in the U.S., people started asking what improvements they could make, especially in regard to the pre-rolling process. The existing machines were too slow for the American market, so they developed the Futurola Knockbox, which rolls 100 joints in two minutes using sound technology.

“That’s what changed everything,” Skard says. “Speakers tuned to a certain frequency enable the paper cones to be filled in an efficient and consistent way that simply wasn’t doable before. It made it very easy for the dispensaries and producers to make thousands of pre-rolls … and the joints smoke much better.”

3. Keep on creating.

Futurola came up with a new packaging machine. Once the producers fill their pre-rolled joints, they need child-resistant packaging, and their device provides the seal.

“All our products tie together in a big circle: It starts with the rolling paper, then the machines that shred the flower and fill the cones, and then the devices for packaging,” Skard explains.

Futurola is constantly focused on coming up with new products that will make their clients’ lives easier. “I’ve learned that while you do need to listen to your customers, ultimately you have to show them what they need,” Skard says. “If you do something, and you show people the way, they respect you for that.

“We don’t jump on trends to make a quick buck,” he adds. “Rather, we try to do what we’re good at, and build around that. And, I’ve found, that’s what’s best for business.”

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