It is common for the marijuana industry to be portrayed as one dimensional. To many individuals, the marijuana market simply consists of a grower, a store owner, and a smoker; however, nothing can be further from the truth. For every legal gram of marijuana sold, there is most assuredly a pipe being crafted to smoke it, a paper being made to roll it, and a cellphone app to tell you what strand you just smoked.
Indeed, one of the beautiful things developing in the cannabis industry is the strength and number of ancillary businesses. One could drone on for hours, like Bubba from Forrest Gump, about the different kinds of cannabis-related businesses and products: cannabis clothing, cannabis journalism, cannabis restaurants, cannabis venture capital conventions and beyond. The market’s diversity presents exciting opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs looking to join the “green rush.”
There’s an App for That
CannaBuild, a startup company, is thinking “outside the bud,” and recently received $225,000 in funding through The ArcView Group. Like many developers, CannaBuild’s goal is to take a personal experience and turn it into a convenient and easy to use app; in this case, the experience is a dispensary visit.
CannaBuild’s app gives you up-to-date information about the dispensary locations, marijuana prices, availability of strains, and it allows you to arrange for in-store pickup. CannaBuild even has a feature that allows you to talk to a digital budtender and receive information on strains and their effects. CannaBuild’s app has the potential of stream-lining the cannabis purchasing process and of attracting individuals who are otherwise unsure or uncomfortable about the marijuana purchasing process.
Zach Marburger, co-founder and CEO of CannaBuild, stated in a press release that CannaBuild aims to take the marijuana experience to the next level and to “provide a secure environment where users can get answers to their symptom and usage questions.” By connecting people with a digital budtender, individuals will not only be able to have their questions asked anonymously, but also feel more confident in their eventual decision.
Tip-Toeing Around the Law
Cannabis may be legal in Washington and Colorado, but recreational cannabis is still as illegal as ever in the other 48 states. Despite continued prohibition, many companies see the money to be made in marijuana and find inventive ways to stay in business. Many of these adventurous startups rely on a tongue-in-cheek wink and nod approach to marketing in order to circumvent the law.
Magic Flight, a company selling pocket vaporizers, is one such company. If you browse their website, the San Diego based company never explicitly mentions what you smoke out of their products; although when the company closes down to visit Burning Man every year, it isn’t that hard to guess their product’s purpose.
In an interview with KPBS, Forrest Landry, CEO of Magic Flight, opened up about why he can’t directly market his company’s pocket vaporizers to its actual target market. “There’s so many reasons that’s not a good idea,” Landry said. He cited legal concerns and fears of DEA raids should Magic Flight market their vaporizers as marijuana devices.
“I feel that there’s a need to be able to talk about these kinds of things,” Landry said. “Obviously we can’t make very many claims. We’re trying to promote a sense of awareness without necessarily entangling ourselves.” It may be risky working in this legal gray area, but once cannabis is legal nationwide, Magic Flight will be uniquely situated to make a seamless transition into the cannabis market.
Companies like CannaBuild challenge notions of the marijuana market. Some people imagine the cannabis industry as being littered with bongs and bowls, but rarely do they picture it as high tech.
In a crowded market, don’t go where the money is (growing, dispensaries, edibles, etc.); go where the money is going to be (ancillary businesses). With such innovation, CannaBuild is situated right where the money is going to land next.
While it is a shame companies like Magic Flight cannot market directly to users of marijuana; it also stands as a testament to the strength of the marijuana market. When companies outside of Colorado and Washington are able to enter the industry and survive without target marketing, they show that some informed risks are worth pursuing.
If you are concerned that you have missed your chance in the marijuana market, don’t worry. There is still time to establish a business before the market overcrowds. You may not be able to set up in downtown Denver, but with 48 states left to legalize cannabis, you will find your place. The beauty of this industry is the field of available investment opportunities; they have created a diversified market that encompasses much more than simply buying and selling weed.