Story by Warren Bobrow // appeared in FORBES July 3, 2020:
I love learning about entrepreneurs who are confident in their educational agility and self-made talents. None are more impressive than Rob Tankson, the studious and pragmatic co/founder of PrestoDoctor. Rob is concise, crisp and well-spoken. He has established a platform that helps people within the strata of cannabis healing. I respect that deeply because I’m in the medical cannabis program in New Jersey. We need more people like Rob to pave the way against stigmas and the challenges that cannabis passes through. Now, with my best wishes, please eMeet Rob Tankson.
Warren Bobrow = WB: Please tell me about yourself?
Rob Tankson = RT: I grew up just outside of Chicago and moved to San Francisco for college on a basketball and academic scholarship. I’ve always been a risk taker, and taking the leap to move west helped me discover my love of finance. My background is a mixture between finance, tech, and marketing. I spent three years on Wall Street as an equity analyst and a few years in tech at Google and ClearSlide. In my 20s, I knew I wanted to chart my own path and to be honest, Silicon Valley’s environment made it easier for me to quit my job. I was ready for a new challenge in 2015. That’s the year my colleague and friend Kyle Powers and I co-founded PrestoDoctor, leading the way as the first company to use telemedicine to connect patients seeking medical cannabis evaluations from a knowledgeable doctor. To date we’ve helped over 100K patients.
Being a co-founder of a telemedicine platform for cannabis licenses, I have had to overcome the social stigma of the industry. I was actually nervous about telling my mom that I had started a medical cannabis business. But, she surprised me with her knowledge! She had already researched the plant and knew that cannabis could help relieve pain, stress, anxiety, and a myriad of other conditions.
It was important for us to prove the concept before choosing an investment partner. In our third year, after having expanded services to two additional markets, we agreed to a 51% acquisition of PrestoDoctor by publicly traded Cannabis Sativa, Inc. This helped us scale the business. We are currently in seven states and with many more in our pipeline.
WB: Where do you run your business from?
RT: We launched in San Francisco, and PrestoDoctor is now headquartered in New York City, where I live with my wife and newborn son. My co-founder Kyle is based out west and the rest of our team is spread remotely across the U.S.
WB: What is PrestoDoctor? How is it different from any other platform?
RT: PrestoDoctor is recognized as the number one rated online medical marijuana doctor for a fully qualified medical marijuana recommendation. Our telemedicine software is built to create an ideal doctor-patient experience which makes it easy for patients to communicate with our team directly. Most have told us they really like the platform. I’m proud that PrestoDoctor has earned over 13,000 patient reviews from happy patients. These reviews are heavily skewed to how much they’ve enjoyed the online experience and consulting with our doctors.
What sets us apart from other providers is that we are the only online service to offer a custom treatment plan for each patient. After each confidential evaluation our licensed physicians, who specialize in the use of cannabis, suggest treatment methods, dosing levels, and cannabis products. Our customer service team responds quickly to all inbound inquiries. Our doctors like to keep appointments on schedule. They are compassionate and well trained to respond to varying patient needs. Finally, we help people register their medical cards in different states, which is a complicated process, and make it easy guiding patients as to how to register to get the recommendation approved.
WB: What is your six and twelve-month goal? How do you anticipate achieving this? What do you do that is different from your competition, therefore better?
RT: The world was already moving toward virtual everything and the COVID-19 pandemic has made the need for reliable, trusted telemedicine more critical than ever. Numerous states have passed emergency legislation to allow virtual doctor visits, and our business plan has evolved to support this change. Our goal is to reach 150,000 patients by early 2021. We are staffing up, adding more doctors, and expanding into additional states where medical cannabis is legal. We believe access to medical cannabis evaluations is an essential service across the U.S. and we’re here to fulfill that important need.
WB: Please walk me through the process of using your service? What should a prospective client know before engaging your services?
RT: It’s very easy and not intimidating at all. It’s just like having a regular appointment with a doctor except you are meeting on your computer. First, you sign up for an account and complete your profile. After that, you schedule an appointment and then video chat with one of our licensed physicians. He or she will do a full intake of your medical history and concerns.
After your appointment you will receive a digital recommendation immediately, and your official copy will arrive in the mail.Through our treatment plans, patients reported having a better quality of life with our eldest patient gracing this planet for 103 years and counting.
WB Do you cook? Do you have a favorite food memory from childhood? What is your favorite restaurant? (Pre-Covid-19) What does a typical meal look like to you?
RT: Normally, yes, but I’m crazy busy these days. My wife and I just had a baby—so we try to keep things simple and low key! When we feel up to preparing meals at home we use services like Purple Carrot a lot along with the occasional take-out. And of course, we miss dining in at restaurants but that’s just not safe for us right now. These (quarantine) days, I’m all about comfort food, especially dessert, one of my all-time favorites is banana pudding. My favorite food memory is probably getting Chicken McNuggets from McDonalds delivered before lunch time by my dad in 5th grade. I was the cool kid that day and besides chowing down, I could make some prime food trades. My parents were my heroes and role models. My dad was an entrepreneur who took great pride in helping people. My step-dad taught me discipline and how to love others. Lastly, my mom has a huge heart, taking in family members in times of need. Their passion for helping others definitely influenced who I am today.
WB: What is your passion?
RT: Helping as many people as possible, and especially BIPOC, get access to medical cannabis in a safe and convenient way is my passion. As a Black cannabis entrepreneur, I feel the gravity of this moment in time and so my focus on helping and educating the community on the healing properties of cannabis is more important than ever. One of my family members has terminal cancer and I want to help her get some relief. Like many Black Americans who have witnessed first-hand the horrific inequities of the war on weed, she has previously said ‘No’ to the idea of trying cannabis as a medicine. I hope through my love and experience with the plant, that I will help change her mind so that she can get the relief she so desperately needs.
I’m also very passionate about helping my community. When I was attending San Francisco University, I volunteered as a tutor at a public school for at-risk youth and helped kids work through personal and educational challenges. Throughout my career, I’ve consulted with numerous people about their financial health and how to build a business from the ground up; especially in cannabis.
Now that I am a father, I’m laser focused on building a sustainable, ethical, and diverse business, making a positive, constructive impact on the world, and being a role model for young men and women looking to enter the cannabis business.
Rob Tankson is multi-faceted entrepreneur, angel investor, and the Co-Founder and COO of PrestoDoctor, a leading telemedicine company that connects patients seeking medical cannabis cards with compassionate, licensed doctors across the U.S. With his leadership and vision, PrestoDoctor was acquired by Cannabis Sativa Inc. (OTCQB: CBDS) in August 2017 at a $11M valuation. Rob currently serves on the board of Cannabis Sativa and the Co-Chair for the Medical Committee for the Minority Business Cannabis Association.
Prior to co-founding PrestoDoctor in 2015, Rob worked extensively in the finance and tech industries, including at Google, ClearSlide and Pacific Wealth Group. While at Google, he managed expense planning, reporting, and analysis for emerging products including Google Chromebook. After Google, Rob went to work on Wall Street as an equity research analyst where he developed a unique forward-looking database to quickly identify changes in industry trends, successfully outperforming the S&P 500 annually.
PrestoDoctor is rated the #1 online medical marijuana doctor by tens of thousands of medical cannabis patients who have received fully qualified medical marijuana recommendations. PrestoDoctor is the only service to offer patients a custom treatment plan after they have a confidential evaluation with a licensed, highly knowledgeable physician who is an expert in treatment methods, dosing levels, and cannabis products. Founded in 2015, PrestoDoctor services are available in legal medical marijuana states: California, Missouri, New York, Nevada, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania & Illinois. A HIPAA and HITECH compliant telemedicine company, PrestoDoctor is a member of the American Telemedicine Association (ATA). www.prestodoctor.com