By Brad Weissberg/Oct. 17, 2017
“When I went into a dispensary I was overwhelmed with the amount of products available,” said Mike Weiss, founder and president, Nature’s Dream, the company behind Cannacopia. “The budtenders tried to explain what effects each strain would have but I found even they didn’t seem to have a good handle on it.” Weiss’ last start-up was the super successful peer-to-peer file-sharing software Morpheus.
Mike Weiss, Cannacopia, CEO and founder.
“The next time I went in, I brought my phone and started typing in the different names to get guidance and useful information from the web,” he said. “After typing in a bunch of names, the friendly budtenders weren’t so friendly anymore, and wanted me to hurry up so they could move on to the next customer. It struck me that there’s got to be a better way to obtain information about which strain would make me feel the way I want to feel.”
Weiss smelled an opportunity. He spent a year researching strain after strain and built a database. “I got connected with some seed capital and built a prototype of an app that would easily show a user what the different strains do,” he explained.
Weiss worked on the premise that the strain names were derived from not from research, but rather from long-established nomenclatures that didn’t necessarily convey much about the actual product or its effects. “Blue Dream and White Widow are classic names but what do they actually tell the user about the product? Not much,” said Weiss.
The app works like this: a user types registers and then selects the attributes they are looking for; broken down into four categories.
The first category is ‘Taste’ and options include sweet, citrus, flowery, earthy, spicy and bitter.
The second category is ‘Mood,’ with choices including ecstatic, happy, creative, alert, emotional, calm, lazy and sad.
The third category is ‘RX’ meaning medicinal effects. Combating fatigue, relieving stress, reducing anxiety, curing nausea, remedying stomach pains, easing other pains, increasing appetite and insomnia relief are on that list.
The fourth category, ‘EFX,’ effect, includes aroused, energetic, tingly, giggly, rejuvenated, focused, relaxed and sleepy.
After the user selects the attributes they are interested in the app further breaks down their selection into minimum, low, moderate, high and extreme for each category selected. Once all the options have been chosen the app pushes the strains that meet your criteria to the user.
To further enhance the customer experience there is then an option to find a local dispensary that stocks the strain.
Weiss said that the app has been downloaded 12,000 times.
Cannacopia has bigger plans than just advising users about which strain will meet their mood. “We’ve listened to our customers and ordering through the app is something we’ve heard the users want, so we’re going to build an ordering app in,” he said. “While others are fighting for marketshare, I want to be the conduit that connects the buyer with the seller.” Weiss pointed to Uber and Expedia as examples of his vision. “Neither of them own cars or airline tickets or hotels. They just expedite the process. We’re taking the same approach.”
“Our job is to bring the strain to the buyers and the buyers to the sellers,” he said. “I believe we have the best database in the country. We focus only on legitimate, licensed dispensaries.”
Weiss said the business model for the digital marketplace will entail a convenience fee for the connection.
The app went live in late 2016 with a soft launch, and made its big push to market the middle of this year. He also described some of the challenges associated with marketing cannabis-related products and services. “Facebook has turned down my ad three times,” said Weiss, clearly frustrated. “Whether it’s Facebook or Instagram or other platforms there are policies surrounding the keywords ‘cannabis’ and ‘marijuana’ that often block the ads from running. It’s ridiculous that in California and other states that cannabis is 100 percent legal, and in all the states that it’s available for medical purposes, that we’re not able to advertise without restrictions.”
To combat the problem, Weiss is part of National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA) and joined their marketing and advertising committee. This year he is the co-chair. “We’re in talks with the big media platforms and are lobbying to get them to open up and set out guidelines that meet the modern marijuana industry.”
“Cannacopia is a product for the for the emerging mass-market,” he added. “It’s time to move past the often meaningless names and let people know what to expect from the different strains.”