East Aurora-native Karson Humiston has made a name for herself as the founder and CEO of Vangst. If you haven’t heard of it, Vangst is a cannabis industry recruiting platform that links employers with job candidates, from executives to entry-level positions (think Indeed for the cannabis industry).
After taking a major hit during the pandemic and having to lay off half of its 70 employees, Vangst has rebounded and recently closed $19 million in series B funding. With other industry-specific recruitment platforms performing well, investors are optimistic towards the long-term outlook. The company is now back to over 50 employees.
While an undergraduate at St. Lawrence University, Humiston attended a cannabis trade show where she quickly learned of a major problem that needed solving—companies struggled to hire candidates with the right skill sets in such a highly regulated, niche market. She decided to build a crude website herself, and the rest is history.
Now, the company is headquartered in Denver, with employees located across the country in cities like New York, Los Angeles, and even Buffalo. In fact, when speaking to Biz Journals earlier this year, Humiston was careful to point out that some of the Buffalo-based employees were outperforming their colleagues in the bigger cities. She hopes to hire more people from her hometown in the future.
As more and more states continue to roll out recreational marijuana legislation, Vangst is looking to capitalize on these emerging markets. States like New York will soon need to employ thousands of cannabis workers, and that’s precisely where Vangst seeks to make itself useful.
Humiston’s ambitions don’t end there, though. She’s also looking to take Vangst international. In January, Tech Crunch reported that Vangst is in talks with Barcelona-based investor Casa Verde Capital in hopes of one day tapping into the European market.
While the company is still just 6 years old, its future ahead is bright. Humiston—who made Forbe’s 2018 “30 under 30” list—was forced to create a new business strategy when profits began to slip during the pandemic. She shifted Vangst’s focus towards full-time salaried positions, which opened pathways for new business. Now, like many industries, the problem isn’t demand, but supply.
If you’re an aspiring cannabis worker living in New York State, consider checking out Vangst for upcoming opportunities as the emerging legal market rolls out.