LA’s cannabis tech startups are growing strong in discovery, operations, and delivery, navigating the frequently-changing legal and marketing restrictions, said speakers at our Digital LA – High Tech panel at Phase Two coworking space in Culver City.
LA startups have rapidly developed in delivery, operations, and delivery in this industry where software and tools are often custom-made.
Weedmaps is one of the early cannabis tech startups, that has grown to be a category leader. It started as a simple maps of dispensaries, like its namesake. It has since grown rapidly adding rankings and reviews, enhanced search tools for specific brands and products, and discovery tools including personalization and recommendations. When considering new products, it’s important to look at what customers are asking for, enhancing existing products or building new ones, and your engineers pipeline, said Tim Schultz, Weedmap VP of Product, who focuses on commerce, logistics, discovery, user growth and engagement.
WebJoint started out making websites for dispensaries, and realized that many didn’t have POS systems to track inventory, said founder Chris Dell’Olio. Webjoint developed custom website-building software including POS, inventory management and online ordering. WebJoint currently powers more than 200 cannabis retail operations in the US and Canada.
Baker helps dispensaries with customer relations and can increase sales frequency and order size. Since cannabis customers have utmost concern about data privacy, and because broad cannabis marketing has legal limitations, marketing to existing customers who’ve opted in becomes increasingly important. Roger Obando co-founed Baker in 2014 to help dispensaries with Customer Relationship Management.
Baker helps dispensaries increase revenue and build relationships with their customers through a variety of products including: online ordering, customer loyalty, messaging, and analytics. Baker graduated from 500 Startups and is one of the most funded cannabis companies with $11.5 million in total capital raised. Investors include Michael Lazerow, Base Ventures, XG Ventures, Poseidon Asset Management, and Photo Partners. Baker has since grown to become the leading CRM for the cannabis industry, servicing more than 800 dispensaries across the US and Canada. Thanks to its smart CRM tools, the average Baker dispensary sees a 40 percent boost in average order size and a full ROI in just ten weeks.
White Buffalo supports the cannabis industry in consulting, event production, and eCommerce marketing. CEO Courtney Freeman helps cannabis companies bring compliant products to market and navigate the fluctuating legal and marketing regulations in cannabis. The cannabis market is ever-changing and somewhat unstable as new regulations can be released that affect important aspects of your business.
Marketing cannabis products has restrictions similar to marketing alcohol, Courtney said.
- Age Gate: Cannabis company sites and social media accounts need to be age-gated to 21+ for both adult-use and medicinal supply chains.
- All marketing channels need to have adult audiences (71.6%).
- Instagram and Facebook prohibit cannabis sales, so cannabis brands and services must use CRM, influencers and events. Advertisements are often restricted. Posts should focus on cannabis lifestyle, education, or news, rather than blatantly selling product, which is prohibited by Instagram.
- Influencers and event marketing are great tools to promote cannabis brands, since sales outside of licensed retailers is mostly prohibited and retailers cannot promote sales on IG or Facebook. ConsciousCityGuide.com or Eventhi.io are excellent ticketing platforms for cannabis events.
- Public events with sales or consumption of cannabis must be held on DAA fairgrounds, which are limited in number and location. Event producers must be licensed and permitted.
- California has strict guidelines for advertising, product packaging, and labels. Courtney references her experience as former Director of Product and Compliance for a global medicinal cannabis manufacturer, part of the first wave of businesses to bring lab-tested, compliant product to market in 2018.
Polar Extracts uses technical processing using cryogenic ethanol machinery adopted from more developed industries, providing cannabis extraction with higher reliabilty and purity than traditional used CO2, said co-founder Zach Sekar. Zach was excited to announce his company Polar Extracts at this panel, the first time he’s spoken about it publicly.
Cannabis Cryptocurrency and Blockchain. Speakers were skeptical of cannabis related cryptocurrency and ICOs, but were in general supportive of blockchain and cannabis technology and innovation.
Thanks to our host Phase Two coworking space in Culver City. Phase Two creates a community among startups in VR/AR, tech, and more. After our event, attendees played Hologate VR game Zombyte.
Thanks to our amazing speakers!
– Tim Schulz, Weedmaps, VP of Product. Tim leads product initiatives at Weedmaps, one of the fastest-growing technology company & media brands in the cannabis industry. He focuses on Commerce, Logistics, Discovery (Search, Personalization, Recommendations, etc.), User Growth & Engagement, Platform, Point of Sale( POS), B2B, Catalog and Inventory. Tim formerly worked at Google in San Francisco.
– Roger Obando, Baker, Co-Founder. Baker is the leading CRM for the cannabis industry, servicing more than 800 dispensaries across the US and Canada. Baker helps dispensaries generate more revenue and build relationships with their customers through a variety of products featuring online ordering, customer loyalty, messaging, and analytics. On average Baker clients see a 40 percent boost in average order size and a full ROI in just ten weeks. Founded in 2014, the company graduated from notable startup accelerator 500 Startups and is already one of the most funded companies in the cannabis space with $11.5 million in total capital raised. Investors include Michael Lazerow, Base Ventures, XG Ventures, Poseidon Asset Management, Phyto Partners, The founders of Outside Lands, and others
– Chris Dell’Olio, WebJoint, Co-Founder. WebJoint is a cannabis software platform for marijuana retailers and distributors. The software includes POS, inventory management and online ordering with a powerful website building platform. WebJoint currently powers more than 200 cannabis retail operations in the US & Canada.
– Courtney Aura Freeman, White Buffalo, CEO. White Buffalo is a cannabis industry consulting and marketing firm known for its forty year old rolling paper and brand topical entitled PEACE CBD Massage Primer, which is sold along with ancillary products through our eCommerce site WhiteBuffaloSpirit.org. White Buffalo produces B2B and B2C events and activations. Courtney Aura Freeman is a cannabis industry entrepreneur and product development expert. While attending Columbia University, Courtney studied computer science and later applied her knowledge to a career in technology.
– Zach Sekar, Polar Extracts, Founder. Polar Extracts does cannabis extraction with higher reliabilty and purity using cryogenic ethanol machinery of its own design, adopted from more developed industries.