Zach Lipson 0:01
We saw about 700% growth through the pandemic. And it was something that of course, we never expected that nobody could expect something like this. But with our business in particular, what happened was, the physical stores had to close. But they needed to stay in business and fortunately, virtually every state that has legal cannabis, deemed cannabis and essential business. So the dispensaries were still allowed to operate. However, they couldn’t have people in the store. And when you think about that, that leaves one avenue of opportunity that leaves one way that they can continue to do business. And that was only an order.
You’re listening to To be blunt, be podcasts for cannabis marketers. Were your host Shayda Torabi and her guests are trailblazing the path to marketing educating and professionalizing cannabis light one up and listen up. Here’s your host Shayda Torabi,
Shayda Torabi 1:08
what’s up everybody. Welcome back to another episode of the show. My name is Shayda Torabi, and I’m your host for this magical cannabis journey of a conversation that we’re about to have. But super stoked. Today’s guest is Zach Lipson. He is the co founder of duchy, a three year old bend oregon based software company that specializes in online delivery and pickup of cannabis products. So you might have used their service if you were a consumer shopping in a legal state through online platforms. You might have seen them if you’re working in a dispensary. Maybe you’re using dieci anyways, there’s super hot right now they just raised another series of funding. Snoop Dogg is one of their investors. we dive into that a little bit in the episode. But yeah, I hope you guys are excited. Buckle up. This one was a good conversation. Let’s be honest, they all are. But I love the new episodes. They’re super fun and hope you guys get a kick out of this. So without further ado, let’s welcome Zach to the show.
Zach Lipson 2:02
So my name is Zack Lipson. I am one of the co founders and the Chief Product officer over here at duchy. duchy is a company that has built software for power and e commerce for dispensaries. So we also have a firstname.lastname@example.org where customers can visit a website, enter their address, the dispensary is in their area and then begin shopping. But the bulk of our business is really about providing tools for dispensaries to offer online ordering through their websites. So it’s, you know, kind of an embedded solution, a b2b solution, if you will, where we give them the tools to sell. So we integrate with their point of sale, we pull over their items in real time, you know, so there’s a real time aspect dynamic aspects of the menu. their customers can view products that are currently in stock as they sell out or dig it kind of removed from the menu. And then we give them a host of tools to kind of create a more engaging ecommerce experience things like running their promotions, and their specials, to the platform, measuring reporting and analytics, and a host of other features on
Zach Lipson 3:04
my cannabis journey. My journey through through startups and, and technology companies started about a decade ago, my background is actually in marketing and in business. That’s why I went to school for however, kind of in my personal life, I’d always been very interested in art and design and looking at ways that I could kind of merge those two things together. So I got interested in technology, right as I came out of college, I started a company while I was there, kind of in the social networking space, worked on that for a couple of years. And it was that was kind of my entry into into software, kind of my Crash Course, if you will, that’s kind of the way I like to talk about that period. It was a lot of learning, it was a lot of kind of getting my hands dirty. And I’m a self taught designer as well as product developer. And that’s really been my area of focus throughout my career is is focusing on building products, creating software that solves really interesting problems. So the first experience was kind of in the social networking space. As a founder and CEO there, I left that company, that company was acquired. And then I started doing some work as a consultant. And that gave me a really interesting opportunity to work on a lot of different platforms and kind of hone my skills in design and product development. And then from there moved on to a startup, that startup was in the financial tech space, actually. And we worked on that for about four years. And right as that company was going through an acquisition and acquisition in November of 2017. I had a really kind of fateful call with my brother. The timing was very serendipitous. He was living in Oregon at the time. Again, this is no bout november of 2017. And the Oregon market just went legal for delivery. And that was a really kind of pivotal moment for the cannabis space. Because it was the first state to legalize delivery. My brother had a background in online food ordering. He started the very first online food ordering company in Canada. A while back so you know that was an area that he had a lot of expertise in. And as he was waiting in line, he sort of had this lightbulb moment of What if we were able to bring online ordering to the cannabis space? Why am I waiting in line, essentially, and with delivery being kind of this new hotbed topic, and Oregon kind of paving the way as a pioneer in that space, which happened to be his home state, the opportunity was right there in front of him. So he picked the phone up, he called me kind of explain this idea to me, the timing, again, was very serendipitous, because I was going through an acquisition with my, by my current company at the time, and looking for sort of the next project, the next company that I wanted to move on to. And I was like, this is a no brainer, in the fact that somebody will do this, and that there will be a market opportunity here. And that one, uh, you know, given your background, and he said, Well, do you want to do with me? Do you want to handle the product and design side of it. That was an opportunity that I found really enticing. I had been interested in the cannabis space for a while, you know, and I knew kind of what was happening in space, it was really exciting. It was rapidly emerging, it was growing quick. But Furthermore, there was something really interesting about it, and that it was it was new, great companies had not emerged yet this, there was a lot of opportunity. And it was very, it was very transformative, it still, frankly, is. And that’s one of the best things about working in the space. But at the time, that there was really a big opportunity. So we long story short, we kind of embarked on that journey. And we started to to build out duchy. My particular experience with the plant is maybe something that a lot of people don’t expect. And frankly, I have conversations with friends now that you know, knew me and kind of my younger years and are sometimes surprised them in the cannabis space. And the reason is this. When I was younger, and I first started to experiment with cannabis, my early experiences, were not all that positive, frankly, I remember kind of feeling somewhat uneasy when consuming cannabis. And the interesting thing for me is that as I got older, and cannabis became legal, you know, in certain markets, and I was able to consume in a legal manner, I started to experiment with other types of consumption. And in my younger years, I was smoking flour, and that really didn’t sit that well with me. And I think, when I was introduced to edibles, and when I started to experiment with edibles a little bit, I kind of found my sweet spot. And it was really comforting for me, because if cannabis then turned into something that was a way for me to get, you know, the sort of wine down, the way I talk about my consumption is really is centered around kind of, you know, a process allows me to relax, it allows me to kind of, you know, relieve some of the stress from the day, you know, wind down at night, you know, kind of get have a nice kind of calming period. And, and that’s a been a great relief for me. You know, as a, as an entrepreneur, as a founder of a company, a quickly growing company, the stresses can often be high. And what’s interesting is that I’m almost able to kind of quote unquote, dog food a little bit. And then I can use the plants to actually kind of help me through those periods. And it’s been a great relief.
Shayda Torabi 8:01
I love that story. Because I think, obviously, everybody’s journey to the top is different. And it sounds like you really had a background for kind of a, obviously the product space, but really the software and, and creating something from a technological background and perspective, whereas I think so many people, especially who are listening to the podcast, probably are trying to figure out, you know, how do I make a difference? What is that thing that I can do? And so I love having these conversations and learning people’s stories, because I think that there’s so many different applications. And obviously, y’all were kind of in the right place at the right time. Your brother being in Oregon, having had the background with, you know, trying to operate a previous dispensary business. That sounds like it was pretty successful, to be able to take some of that technology and apply it. But I want to dig a little deeper into kind of give us a pulse of Oregon. I mean, I know you mentioned when you launched it was around the time that Oregon had opened up delivery. And I know that is a touchy subject, because not every legal state does offer delivery at this time. But for Oregon, what was the sentiment? Like I mean, pot was legal people were buying it, were people asking for delivery, Was this something that you were just superseding with kind of the ideas of you know, the doordash or the post mates of the world? Like, why did you end up doing it?
Zach Lipson 9:20
Yeah, so the premise for us early on was based on a number of different things. It was, you know, of course, preconceived notions and sort of proof of concept and other spaces, right. You had online food ordering, grocery delivery, frankly, delivery for pretty much everything. The concept of you know, an on demand experience in technology is very prevalent these days. Whether it be those services or whether it be like even something like ride sharing, right, you know, we can get a ride almost anywhere and no time flat. So when we kind of approached it that way and knowing that cannabis had gone legal in Oregon, we saw it as kind of an early entrant opportunity. And furthermore, like when you look at cannabis And, you know, do you do some of the research to talk to customers in the space, how they prefer to consume, you know, what would be an ideal experience, you start to find that that delivery is a really appealing concept for a lot of folks. What we found early on was really interesting. And this is when I started to get very fascinated with the space because I started talking with customers. And I started to get stories of folks who weren’t comfortable walking into a dispensary, which was a little bit surprising to me to begin with. And as we peel back the layers, we found that it really had to do in part with sort of a, you know, a leftover stigma, if you will, that I think the plant has sort of unfortunately dealt with, and it’s thankfully still dealing with, um, you know, people were, you know, what, potentially had families, they’ve essentially had, you know, jobs where you may not have been kind of a good look for them to be walking into a dispensary or seen it as sponsored. And that was one interesting use case that we found kind of unsuspecting. Another one that was really interesting was on the medicinal side. And again, another point where my sort of position and my my thoughts on cannabis started to change dramatically is that when I started talking to customers, during our MVP period, when we have this product out there, and people were actually using it, and I make it kind of a habit of practice to talk to our customers in somewhat of a regular basis. And they’re very casual conversations. It’s, you know, talk to me about your experience of the plant. Talk to me about your experience with, you know, walking into a dispensary and what it’s like there, what are the things that you enjoy? And then talking about your experience on hdaci? And and what are some things that we can do to make that experience better. But I came to found with something really interesting and that there was such a strong medicinal use. This is a big misconception about space, I’ll say, I think a lot of people do view, cannabis usage is almost entirely recreational. And that don’t have kind of a strong pulse on what is, you know, kind of the inner workings of cannabis. And you know, what, what dispensary operations and customer bases look like? When you get into it, you start to understand that this is not something that people are using just to get high. This is something that has such a strong use case for medicinal benefit, I started talking to people who were, you know, recovering from cancer, who had, you know, I can remember one particular example where I sat down with a woman who had three children, and she, she had had a brain tumor that she was recovering from, and she was using cannabis to help treat the symptoms of her chemotherapy. And it was a powerful conversation, I’ll never forget this. The beautiful thing about it was that delivery gave her a way to receive that medicine that she didn’t have before. She said, I would not be able to get to a dispensary. I have three children. I’m not mobile, and the fact that I now have something that allows me to get my medicine delivered to me, I don’t have to leave my house, I can take care of my kids, I can, you know, I can take care of I can work with my treatment. And my medicine comes to me was a very powerful kind of story. And, you know, when when it comes to the story of Oregon and kind of its relationship with the planet, you know, I would say that Oregon is one of the more mature markets in the country, I think a lot of people who know that market while would agree, it’s progressive, it’s forward thinking delivery is a prime example of that. And there’s there’s other things that the state is currently working on, that are progressive in other areas, not even just cannabis outside of that vertical. So what I think that’s lended itself to is a more mature market, you’ve seen dispensaries that have built really solid brands, he’s seen brands themselves, actual products themselves, whether it be an edibles company, whether it be a farm, you know, that has had a lot of times to sort of mature and build really solid brands and really solid customer bases. So I think that’s the general tenant here in the state. You know, and of course, it’s always kind of interesting to look at how they are, are kind of like leading the charge in sort of more than progressive areas of the space.
Shayda Torabi 13:57
Yeah, I think two things I want to visit again are one I love that you highlighted the subtleness and the simplicity of just talking to your customers. I think not enough brands in our industry actually do that, in fact, not enough brands in general actually put their customer in such a prominent place. I mentioned when we were offline, you know, and my listeners know this, if they’ve heard my story, I used to work in tech too. And I work for a very customer centric technology brand. And so for me, the customer’s always been first. But I think that it’s sometimes is so it’s like it’s too easy. People don’t even think that they could just ask the consumer what their thoughts are. And so I love that that’s something that is so a part of your DNA as a brand that you want to take advantage of. It’s like you have these people using your service, you have these dispensers, you have these, you know, different brands that are maybe using the platform but like actually talking to the consumers talking to those different businesses who are partnering with you, I think is such a treasure trove of information and I think we forget that we have access to that for better Worse most of us do, at least in this space and talking to those people can be so beneficial to how you improve your product, how you improve your service, how you improve your brand. And I think if people really do genuinely care about this industry, they would want to move in that direction and want to have those conversations. The other thing you highlighted that I thought was really interesting, too, is just kind of the state of, I guess, for me, I wasn’t really thinking of delivery as such an application for that medicinal patient, if that makes sense. Like I’m looking at delivery more from technology perspective of just advancing, you know, the convenience of it, like you said, it’s a trend. I’m personally not somebody who uses like, instacart to grocery shop, I think there’s people that and I guess it’s my approach, it’s like, I don’t personally use delivery services, I of course, also live in an illegal cannabis state. And so I don’t have the privilege of even participating with some of these platforms like dutchy. But I see your point where it’s, it’s being able to offer this medicine to new consumers, or just to consumers aren’t even new just to consumers in general. And it is really cool to hear that Oregon was the first to offer that. And it sounds like it really was more for the patient’s benefit than it was to like, open up another marketplace. If that makes sense.
Zach Lipson 16:25
It does. Yeah, I think when it comes to delivery, it’s there’s of course, the convenience factor. It’s a trend that I think makes a lot of sense for this space, in particular. And I think, you know, that’s actually something that is really interesting that I found in working in a space and that I’ve seen as maybe a potential pitfall for folks who have who have entered into the space and started to work in it is that it is extremely important to talk to your customers and for obvious reasons, but for also additional reasons that are specific to cannabis. This space is very unique. And I think that a lot of people come from other industries, and they’re attracted to this space. You know, they’re they’re identifying the growth or identifying the, you know, the power and the benefits that the plant holds. And they they’re rightfully so excited about working in it. I think that one of the things that talking to your customers, whether it be you know, a consumer who’s visiting dutchy.com, and placing an order, whether it be a dispensary who is using our software every day to facilitate their online orders, you need to have those conversations and the one of the greatest benefits, one of the deepest insights that you’re going to get is centered around the fact that this space is unique. It is not traditional e commerce, the concepts that work in traditional e commerce only as an example, will not necessarily work in cannabis. And that goes for brands as well, that goes for, frankly, any type of company in the space. If you try to bring in concepts that are not specific to cannabis that don’t deal with, you know, the nuances of the space, what makes cannabis unique and different and special, you will probably make mistakes. And that’s one of the reasons why we really kept that practice in place. It’s equally important for me to be talking to our dispensaries, the people who are using this software every day, if I just built online ordering software, e commerce software that could be used to sell anything, not cannabis, I wouldn’t really, I don’t think we’d be where we are today. I think that part of the power in the way that we’ve approached, you know, building this company, is that we really tailored it towards the needs of our customers. You know, we’ve taken a very first principles approach to building our software. It’s, it’s not just ecommerce software, it’s built specifically for this space, specifically for the operators and specifically for the customers.
Shayda Torabi 18:45
And as a critical point to especially, you know, the industry obviously is more mature in certain states compared to others. But as a whole, I think that we’ve had some years under our belt to observe what’s happening. And I mean, I I relate to everything you just said, I mean, we have an e commerce business that we’re operating through CBD, of course. So we are, you know, using as much robust, and, I guess, state requirements. I know, there’s probably some things baked into what he does that are specific to reporting with legal states and things like that. But I mean, the pain points of being online, are really difficult for this industry, unfortunately. And online is where everybody’s going. And so it’s like a really hard place to be in when you have a lot of people externally who are like, Oh, just try the solution. It’ll work. But they obviously don’t know the industry. They don’t know the full reality of our industry. And therefore a lot of those generic or basic solutions that exists more agnostically in fact, don’t really work in the cannabis space. And so we’ve had to experience that head on. So I know there’s a need for players to come in and build solutions specifically This industry, I will be the first to say we need more technology supporting the cannabis industry, please. But I am curious on your take of how you do see technology pushing the industry forward. I mean, obviously your business, probably, I mean, I would definitely want to get into the launch, you just have dieci 2.0. And I, you just took some funding, you have Snoop Dogg as as he’s an investor, I believe is what I read is super dope. But like, you know, technology is pushing the industry forward. But then using COVID as an example. Nobody was expecting that. And I think the brands that I’ve talked to, and even myself being a brand in the space, luckily, I was online already. But when COVID hit you saw so many brands, kind of flounder because they didn’t even know how to get online or how to leverage technology. And so I don’t know if there’s external forces like COVID, that you’re seeing more push the technology forward? Or if you really are seeing it from the consumer demand or the state’s decision. I mean, like, really, that’s cool that Oregon was the first to open up delivery, because I know Colorado is currently trying to open that up, but they’re not quite there yet. So it’s not an option for every state.
Zach Lipson 21:12
That’s right. Yeah. And you know, Oregon was the first to do it. They were kind of the pioneer, you know, in that respect. And then we have seen a lot of other states follow suit. So, you know, you mentioned Colorado, which is an ongoing effort, but it looks to be happening relatively soon. But then you have states like Nevada, you have states like California, states like Michigan, Massachusetts is working on this as well, right now. We’ve started to see a push, it’s more, it’s a bit more complicated. There’s more regulatory framework that needs to be built in, you know, delivery opens us up to sort of new challenges in the space. But it’s definitely a move that we’re excited about. We definitely have a much larger part of the business and pickup, which was actually a really interesting thing for us. In the early days, we started to see quickly that that actually just placing an order ahead of time for pickup was somewhat surprisingly, a much bigger need at the time, and was very prevalent in other states, as we’ve started moving in other markets, Washington, California, Colorado, we started to see a huge opportunity for for pickup. And that was kind of interesting. I think a lot of that centered around the kind of real time aspect of cannabis and the inventory turnover. Frankly, the products are being sold at such a rapid clip. And brands are coming out with new product lines or new new, you know, new strains of an existing product that’s at such a quick pace. It’s almost almost unrivaled. I’ve I’ve had and a funny anecdotal conversations where I’ve almost tested people like, try to come up with an analogy to this. And it’s it’s rare. The stat that we’ve identified is roughly around 40% of the shelf will turn over week to week. it’s astounding. So that places a much higher emphasis on sort of this real time nature, and people wanting to place an order for products that are currently in stock that maybe by the time they get to the dispensary might be gone.
Zach Lipson 23:03
You mentioned COVID I do want to talk about that. Because I think that’s something that’s really interesting. And I think our industry has seen a really big shift due to COVID. particularly our business was greatly affected by it in actually a positive way. We saw about 700% growth through the pandemic. And it was something that of course, we never expected nobody could expect something like this. But with our business in particular, what happened was, the physical stores had to close. But they needed to stay in business. And fortunately, virtually every state that has legal cannabis, deemed cannabis and essential business. So dispensaries were still allowed to operate. However, they couldn’t have people in the store. And when you think about that, that leaves one avenue of opportunity that leaves one way that they can continue to do business. And that was only an order. So as soon as the pandemic hit, we saw a dramatic influx of not just new customers, in terms of dispensaries who were like, Hey, we need ecommerce now. But our existing customers they we saw the numbers go from roughly about 30% of sales coming from from ecommerce and online ordering compared to about 70 in store to no exaggeration, close to 100% of sales. Most cases it was 100% sales, they just started pushing all of their customers towards purchasing online. And then we had to adapt very quickly our platform grew and essentially scaled. what some would look at is potentially like a year’s worth of growth in a matter of maybe a month or less frankly, and that was a challenge in and of itself. My team. I can’t say enough about the job that my team did in a very high stress time. You know, and frankly, as somebody who is has been in technology for a while, the best outcome there is that nobody notices it. That’s what in effect happened, you know, our team was able to, to kind of scale our software up to meet the demand. But it was a really, really kind of interesting period, we saw so much growth, we had to adjust very quickly. And we had to look at sort of what the new problems our dispensers were facing where, you know, what are the challenges now in a COVID world that a dispensary is dealing with, that they were never dealing with before. And a prime example of that was curbside. And all of a sudden, there was a new concept of curbside pickup that dispensaries were in a sense being forced to utilize to keep people safe to keep their employees safe, keep their customers safe. And we need a quick quick turn to adapt to that changing, you know, kind of market dynamic where we need to offer them a solution for curbside pickup. And we built what I what I think is, you know, kind of an innovative solution where the customer not only selects that they want curbside pickup. But we also built in a way for the customer to then notify the dispensary when they’ve arrived. And furthermore, gave them a way to identify exactly what vehicle the customer was in, or maybe it was potentially a designated parking space. You know, so it was a really good example of kind of, I think your question, which is how, how we’ve been pushing technology forward in the space, one of the all kind of close, you know, kind of conclude the answer here with something that I think is really interesting, we expected the growth to kind of level out and then potentially decline a little bit, as stores began to reopen, which is something that we have seen over the past, you know, month, month, month and a half, the stores have started to, to, you know, reopen again, of course, with, you know, social distancing guidelines for people are starting to go back into dispensaries, we expected less than an ordering, you know, a slight dip in in our numbers, when that happened. And the the kind of amazing thing, the fascinating things that that didn’t happen, the amount of online ordering that is happening in the space really stayed high. There wasn’t that dip. So I think what that signals to us is that something like the pandemic, that that really pushed us to utilize technology in the space in a much greater, much more impactful way, is going to most likely be a lasting trend. It will have a more permanent effect on consumer behavior in the space. And, you know, being an online over a company. That’s something that we’re, you know, kind of grateful for. And, you know, I think we leapt forward with technology with regards to the pandemic.
Shayda Torabi 27:34
Yeah, hundred percent and everything you just said I I can attest to I think it was a oshit moment, of course, but I think it also was, Oh, cool. Like, this is something that we’ve been thinking about playing around with, you know, contemplating, is it a possibility, of course dealing with the laws. And then you saw COVID hit, and it really forced us to push some of these technologies into being little more robust in supporting the space. And so I think, delivery, obviously being one, but like you said, curbside pickup as an option. I think it opened up a little bit too. On the social media side, I’ve seen some of the banking stuff open up. So I do think for better or worse COVID has pushed us into more of addressing some of these these pain points through solutions is just listening to the consumer to and trying to figure out Where’s the ball going? And how do you follow the ball. And so my follow up question. My next question, I should say, because I’m curious, you know, so you have a platform that serves the consumer so they can go directly to your site. And they can find dispensaries that are using your services and shop through there. So it’s a little bit like customers are coming to duchy because they’re the consumer who’s looking to find a dispensary? Or do you find more of your, I guess, to kind of punctuate or to call it out, it’s like I read somewhere y’all own. You’re like the one of the present market leader with over 10% processing of legal cannabis in the world. Like that’s a lot. And so I’m asking do you rely on the customers who are like, I’m, I need cannabis today, like, where do I go? Or are you really building these relationships and partnerships with the dispensary’s to say, Hey, get on this platform, use our technology, it’s gonna make your life X, Y and Z better. who’s really driving that conversation? And it could be both but I’m curious.
Zach Lipson 29:28
So it is a little bit of both. I would say that the most of the the efforts on our part and most of the time and resources that we’ve invested into building relationships in the business have been with our dispensaries. We’ve been very very intentional about this. It we started the business about three years ago. And from almost from day one we’ve we’ve really honed in on trying to understand our customers being the dispensary in such an intimate way we’ve spent time in dispensaries. That’s a regular practice of ours today. We understand their operational challenges. Again, this is not just ecommerce software, it’s e commerce software, specifically designed for dispensaries and to suit their operations. So we’ve we’ve really focused in on those relationships and really focused in on on the things that they’re looking for the problems that they have that we can potentially solve for them. By listening by identifying those problems by coming up with creative solutions. One of the things that we’ve made a practice of on the product team here at duchy is what I like to call having conversations with the innovators. I refer to these dispensaries as the innovators. And the reason I refer to them that way is that there are certain operations and retailers and individuals, truthfully, that are doing some really progressive things in the space, they’re pushing the space forward. And they have their wealth of incredible insights and ideas. So we’ve developed these relationships, we’ve listened to them, we’ve taped, we take regular calls with them, not just to build the relationships, but to, you know, to do our research, your homework. And the beautiful thing about doing it this way about approaching it this way, is that you can take those conversations and you can understand their problems and the things that they would love to do with our software. And, of course, as a product developer, you don’t want to just simply follow those those you know that that lead blindly. But you know, in salt, you can, you can come up with some really creative ways to solve their problems. And if you can do it with the lens of, I’m not just going to solve their problems, but I can potentially build something that can help other dispensary’s. Maybe they don’t even know that they have this problem yet. And they visit our software, you know, and get an update, then a new feature rolled out and they’re like, Wow, this is amazing. Like, I can do that. Now it’s touchy. And the net effect here is that you push the whole industry forward. You mentioned before that we are we’re processing about 10% of all legal cannabis in the world at this point. We work with 1400 dispensers across North America, the solutions that we roll out, can have that kind of impact. And it’s just something that we’ve we’ve really taken a lot of pride in really excited about.
Shayda Torabi 32:20
That’s so freakin cool. And you have to kind of look at what is happening from a, like you said the dispensary. It’s like they’re the ones like on the floor dealing with these problems, obviously COVID I like it’s like I hate talking about but I think it’s been so crucial for our industry of like, they’re literally wake up one day, and it’s you can’t go to work and you can’t open your store. And it’s for everybody’s safety. But obviously, as a business owner, like you said, like you want to stay in business. And so you have to start thinking of what are other solutions? How do I get that? What does that look like? And I think there’s obviously a lot of brands who maybe were already using the platform or using similar platforms already were like into technology. But I think this caught a lot of people off guard that there was a huge gap of just like, Oh shit, what do I do? And so anytime that you can kind of get in front of those people, which it sounds like that’s been a really big lever for you guys to pull it your company is and again, I I pointed out how simple and easy it is because I think that most people really are not having these conversations with their clients or with their customers. And it’s something that we do everyday to I mean, I feel really fortunate because I think if we were just a digital brand, I think it would be harder. Obviously you do support physical dispensary. So there are people physically who are using your technology that needs to be installed and trained on and so there is some sort of tangible interaction for us to like, I have customers who walk into my store me and you’re sharing the story earlier of the woman with cancer and, and it just it touches on so many levels, because I hear that every day. If customers tell me, Hey, I had a feedback about this product, or Oh, you know, it’d be really cool if you guys offer this. I mean, even just on curbside pickup, we were like you we thought, Oh, this is a temporary thing. I don’t know how long it’s gonna last. I’m grateful we have e commerce, let’s offer curbside pickup. And then when we started opening up retail again, a couple months ago, I was expecting curbside to die down. And it hasn’t. And it’s now been so popular for us as part of our business that we obviously want to maintain it and are trying to advance it and think of more unique ways to educate consumers because they’re obviously not coming into the store and having those interactions with us. So there’s just so many things that you’re saying that I’m like, Yes, like it’s so critical to be having those conversations. But of course, some brands just aren’t so maybe they’re just an online only brand. I was on a panel speaking at some show, and I mentioned this comment, so I’m just going to throw it out there like I told some guy was like, how do you get customer reviews? You know, and I was like, dude, you’re physically sending people product put a like, will you review me or if you enjoyed this video appearance, if you enjoyed your product, you know, here’s a link to our Google page or whatever. Like, I just think there’s obviously creative ways if you’re digital only, but I do think there’s this opportunity or this sweet spot of like, get in front of your customers, like, just get in front of them and talk to them and have conversations and, and obviously, the other shoe is like, do something with that information. Don’t just internalize it and say, fuck it. But um, it sounds like you guys are taking that feedback and evolving, which speaking of you just launched it 2.0. So I don’t know, if you want to walk through kind of what maybe some of those learnings were that you discover that you’ve now incorporated into dieci 2.0. But I think it’s just a testament to like, you’ve got to keep evolving, and it sounds like you’re doing that.
Zach Lipson 35:41
Absolutely. Yeah. duchy 2.0 is, was a really big launch for us. And a project that we’ve been working on for a while, essentially, I mentioned before, you know, in the podcast here that we’ve been focused very, very intently on providing solutions and, you know, advancing our offering to dispensaries, we’ve Of course, you know, kind of innovated and brought new advancements, improvements to our consumer experience. But largely in part, we focused on tooling for dispensaries. And that was that was a very deliberate part of our strategy. And it was also something that we really, you know, felt was important to do, we needed to provide the right set of tools for them. On the other side is the consumer, the customer who’s placing the order with the dispenser, and that experience is very important as well, we’d spent a lot of time talking to dispensary’s as well as customers about the things that they were looking for, on the consumer side, right, what customers are interacting with, whether that be, you know, a new way to shop, whether that be, you know, maybe a more custom experience with hdaci, we started to roll that feedback up into, you know, what became a full redesign of our consumer experience. And that really was dutchie 2.0. And it wasn’t just the design, it was kind of a culmination of all of that feedback. And we built in things like the ability to change, you know, sort of the coloring and the theming of the experience. So that, you know, our dispensary operators can have a more on brand experience we built in a homepage, which is something that is really kind of new and interesting with dutchy 2.0. So that, again, the operators can just have a very, very customized experience, they can, they can kind of control that homepage, however, which way they want, you know, if they have a particular brand that they’re trying to, you know, maybe that’s on sale, they can put that right at the top of the menu. And they just have there’s a lot of flexibility there. So we’ve moved definitely in a manner of becoming a more kind of customized platform for the dispensary’s. One other thing that I think is was was so interesting about 2.0 is that we started to get feedback that that the bud tender to customer relationship was missing. From the from the experience. And this was always so interesting to me. And rather obvious in hindsight, that’s a very important relationship. And when we talked to people, they were saying, Well, one reason I don’t use touchy is that I want to have that I want to know what the budtender recommends. On the other side, dispensers were saying we want ways to connect with our customers, right, and we want ways to recommend products. We took that feedback and we started to think about like what what’s specific to the space you know, again, like this theme that you and I have been talking about how cannabis is different the shopping experience that dispensary is different than the shopping experience at a clothing store or, or any type of traditional retail experience. And what we came to was this feature that we called staff pics, and what that allowed us to do is create a way for the budtender to recommend products to go ahead and say this is our choice, you know, with all the edibles that we carry. This is one that we’re really excited about, you know, and this is our staff pic and now you know we’re starting to build that relationship between the budtender and the customer and doing that doing that through a digital manner because you know that’s something that can sometimes go missing with that experience.
Shayda Torabi 39:15
quick break to say thank you to restart CBD for sponsoring this podcast, restart CBD is a brand my sisters and I founded in our hometown in Austin, Texas. We operate a retail location as well as an e commerce store and you can browse our wide range of CBD products at restart CBD calm. Again, thank you to restart for allowing me the time and resources to put on to be blunt. I hope you’ll check them out for your CBD needs. Let’s go back to the episode.
Shayda Torabi 39:47
No 100% I’m so glad you said that because again, I think in all these conversations I’m having which shout out everybody please go listen to all the other episodes because they all flow together. There’s so much goodness in here. Everything you’re saying. I’m just Like, yes, all these things and I guess to back it up, when we launched our CBD brand, I was e commerce first not knowing the headache that e commerce was. But we went into retail because we, especially when we launched CBD two years ago, there was a much different market and customer sentiment around cannabis. But we saw an opportunity that was missing, and that was connecting consumers to information. And we saw that online was a really difficult place for us to have that conversation. Obviously, a lot of social media platforms, shut down cannabis content. So that was really hard for us at first. But the retail experience connected us to our customers to have those conversations to educate them to give them like this is our pick. And so I love that y’all took that feedback and incorporate it into a digital setting. Because I don’t want to be somebody who’s like, Oh, you know, screw online, it should always be you know, the person who’s like paper, in your hand writing letters, you know, like, obviously, we have to evolve technology is a beautiful blessing. But I do think you have to start getting creative on how you’re going to position those products. And obviously, with your product background, I also had a brief stint as a product marketer. So product is something very, very special to me, because it really is like the functionality, it’s like you can have this really great idea. But it could come down to the user ability of it or how someone’s going to, you know, physically hold the product, or what’s that experience going to be like? And so I think just thinking through, hey, we’re pushing into digital, we don’t want to lose some of that. That sauce, you know, that people were excited about when they came into retail. But you know, how do we blend that together and maybe evolve it. And so I think introducing, that feature of a staff pick is so ingenious, because, again, as a marketer, I always love to highlight this, I think we as people, we don’t like the easy path. Even if the easy path is the smartest path, it’s almost like it needs to be challenging. And so what I mean by that is, I think as a marketer, I’m constantly struggling having to create something new, when if I really buckle down and realize the majority of people who follow my content are not really paying attention. And I could say the same thing over and over and over again. And they would probably not get it until the fourth or fifth attempt is pretty remarkable. It’s really exciting. So it’s like freeing as a marketer. It’s like, Oh, you don’t have to do it so hard, you’d have to think so much. But I think little things like that of just even being able to, these are our staff picks, these are our top strains. These are our top products, here’s you know, commonly asked FAQs and being able to tie that up in a really slick way, which it sounds like you know, especially dutchy 2.0 is like bringing some of those features into that experience. But just like as somebody in the cannabis space, like yeah, how do I evolve and create more conversations for consumers have access to resources and information? So what you’re doing, and I love it, and we’re about to wrap up, but I’m so curious, just because I think everything that we’ve said obviously we’ve already identified being in cannabis is is hard and not consistent with other industries. So it’s like, oh, yeah, okay, like e commerce, weird. Banking, crazy. investment, though, I think investment is a really interesting topic that, you know, obviously, there’s people who want to give other people money, and that is not illegal. And so in theory, investment shouldn’t be this foreign thing for our industry. But I think because everything we said the industry is the way it is. I think that it’s not as accessible or easy. And so I’m just curious, a little bit of the journey of, you know, you founded the company in 2017. We’re now in 2020. You did just get I don’t know if it was this your first round, or is this a second round? And some somehow I read Snoop Dogg and I was like, What the fuck, that’s so cool. And obviously, I know investment can help you go faster, quicker. Sometimes people don’t like investment because it means you’re now responsible to somebody else. I’m personally we’ve bootstrapped our business and the previous tech company, I worked out we were bootstrapped for the first four years and then we did take a couple series rounds. So I again, I know I say this, because I know there’s some good there’s some bad It sounds like it’s been good for you guys. Let’s let’s walk through that one.
Zach Lipson 44:19
Yeah, so we’ve raised three three rounds. Now venture capital, we’ve we’ve been really fortunate, frankly, to have something absolutely incredible investors. I can’t say enough about the people that that have, you know, that are kind of in our corner that have supported us from the beginning, not just not just their capital, but these are investors that have been just actively involved in helping us grow the business and giving us guidance and helping us raise additional rounds. I mean, I can’t it’s it’s like I’m grateful to have you know, a such a positive story and experience with with my my investors. I don’t think venture capitalist for everybody, and I think it can seem glamorous You know, when you read about the headlines when you read about, you know, the investors that have come in, again, we’ve been fortunate to have some some high profile investors. Snoop Dogg is an example, Kevin Durant’s an investor in the company that this last round, we brought on Howard Schultz, who’s the former CEO of Starbucks. And truthfully, the value in that is that is not necessarily the, you know, the headline, that’s, that’s great, you know, and if we can, if we can have a splash because of that added bonus, but it’s the guidance and the strategic advice that you get from these people and their teams. And again, I don’t think venture capital is for everybody, you know, it depends really on what your goals are with the business. Yes, there is a positive side to it, you know, you have capital to work with, you can grow a lot faster, you’ve got quote, unquote, gasoline to throw on the fire, you’re not, you’re not going to be as timid to, to open up a new position that you might need, because you have that capital. So I do think there’s some some great benefits to it. But I don’t think it’s right for every business, you know, and with duchy we’ve had, we have big aspirations. There’s 110 people at duchy today. And we’re growing very quickly. The, you know, when we look at the competitive landscape, when we look at, at not just our competitors, but other technology companies in the space, they don’t have, they haven’t built out necessarily a team that’s that large. And the reason that we done it, is to make sure that the level of customer care that I want to make sure we always provide that our bar never slips, that when my dispensary is having an issue, whether it be you know, in the middle of the day, during working hours, or whether it’s at, you know, midnight, that they can reach somebody, and that’s that their their call won’t fall on deaf ears. And I would say arguably, the most important thing that you can do in building a successful business is making sure that you’re taking care of your customers. And doing that to really, really high degree. It does take people it does take teams, it takes great people, it takes folks who know how to build great customer support organizations, people that deeply care, and, you know, leadership that makes that a priority. And I think that our space, you know, given that we’re new given that, that there are a lot of, you know, operators that just are just coming in and space and that are having to deal with really, really high demands, and high, you know, growth, it’s difficult to maintain that. And that I would say that’s largely the reason that we’ve gone out and raised, you know, this type of money is to maintain that level of care.
Shayda Torabi 47:38
Super well said I couldn’t agree more. I think it’s definitely a I think it has to be a fit for the solution that you’re trying to build. But like you said, I I know, I keep saying Snoop Dogg because I really just curious if you’ve ever gotten to smoke with him. And it is cool. And I think as a marketing function, obviously, you want press, you want publicity, it’s nice to have these people who are backing your brand, but I do also appreciate the sincerity around. We want to do this right. And we admit that we don’t know everything and bringing in people who are smarter than us to help guide us in this industry is just a blessing and an opportunity that you’re able to go lean into. So I’m excited for you guys. I’m happy to hear that. It’s been a positive, you know, moves for your business. But um, yeah, everybody’s trying to do the best that they can by the consumer, I would hope. And so it sounds like you guys are doing that. But I don’t know, if you want to answer. Have you ever smoked with Snoop Dogg? And if not, is that happening?
Zach Lipson 48:38
I, oddly enough, maybe not. Oddly enough, I get this question all the time. Whether it be Have you smoked them, or have you met him? And the truth? The truth is that I have not, that may happen in the future. Again, I’m an edible consumer. So that might look a little bit different than Santa join. I’m popping in, you know, a gummy but celebratory? Yeah, there you go. You know, the, it’s something that is of course, you know, a question that we get all the time. And I always I always, you know, get a little bit of laugh out of it. Yeah, at some point, it’s possible that it happens for now. You know, he’s part of a an investment firm, which is Casa verde capital. You know, and, and we’ve worked with his team so closely. They’ve been amazing. Again, I can’t say enough about them. But we’ll see. Maybe I’ll get back to you one day with a photo or a fun story
Shayda Torabi 49:26
with Snoop or I’ll take an invitation that works.
Zach Lipson 49:30
You Come on Hey, do
Shayda Torabi 49:32
you have like have to bring this girl she’s from Austin. She’s a really, man. Yeah, I love it. Jokes aside? Yeah. I think that somebody like Snoop Dogg or even Kevin Duran, it brings a little bit of a thread in this conversation I love highlighting to is just like the normalization of cannabis. Like Yes, there should be an investment firm that’s interested in cannabis. There’s investment firms that are specific to CPG and specific to oil and name any industry and there’s definitely some niche that has happened. And so it is exciting to see that structure coming to the industry. And that professionalism, if you will, I know it’s a touchy subject because some people obviously would, would love if it was just maybe not even legal, but would love to just be left alone and to grow their cannabis and have their personal stash and whatever. But technology is pushing us forward, the consumer demand is pushing us forward. The industry itself is pushing us forward. And so it’s cool to start seeing these attributes be carved out. And then yeah, obviously being able to talk to a brand like yourself have just such clear thought thoughtfulness around the product that you’re creating, because you really are connecting people, both the consumers and the dispensary’s to a better way of getting their product. I mean, the nightmare of these platforms is very apparent and the confusion around cannabis. And I love that you even highlighted you know, some people don’t even like going into a dispensary. They don’t like the way that feels. And so you have all these kind of stigmatization, and all these external forces that are happening. And obviously, it’s netted us right here having this beautiful blended conversation. But I think it’s really badass to be able to hear from somebody who’s, who’s approaching it from the way that you’re approaching it. So I appreciate that. And I always like to end my interviews asking, and I think this will be a probably a hard one for you, but
Zach Lipson 51:25
Yeah, we’ll see.
Shayda Torabi 51:27
Is there a brand that comes to mind, it can be a dispensary, it can be a product, somebody that you work with, or don’t even work with that is just killing it. Like a brand like that. You’re just like, Oh, I love that brand. I love consuming their products. I love the way it looks or feels? Because I’m always curious.
Zach Lipson 51:46
Yeah, so that question for me is actually not as hard to answer. And maybe part of it is because of where I’m located and where we work out of. I live in Bend, Oregon. So you know, Central Oregon, I’m very familiar with the the brands that are here in the state. Again, I’m an edible consumer, personally, one brand that I have really resonated towards and resonate with and sort of gravitate towards is a brand called Wild if you’re familiar with them.
Shayda Torabi 52:15
I am familiar.
Zach Lipson 52:16
Yes, it’s an edibles company. And they, they’re, you know, predominant product is really gummies. And it’s product that I enjoy, but I also really love what they’ve done with their branding and their packaging. And, you know, it’s extremely unique. They have kind of a, almost an octagonal box, which I’ve never really seen outside of their products. And I just loved how that has become so synonymous with their brands. And it’s been it’s something that is really unique in the space. And that’s one I’ve also been a pretty big fan of dosis and what they’ve done, I love
Shayda Torabi 52:47
to assist. They’re my favorite brands. So
Zach Lipson 52:50
yeah, okay, so so I get a good answer there. Then the doses I you know, doses i think is built, like a really kind of interesting product, their product design is something that of course, I gravitate to being a designer myself, I really appreciated that. And then you know, I’ve been to their stores in, you know, in California in LA, which has also been kind of a great experience. And I think some of the things that they’re doing around, you know, strong effect based shopping and effect based products. I’ve always been kind of impressed by that. And I think that that’s a pretty innovative and progressive move to the space.
Shayda Torabi 53:22
I love that. Yeah, dosis everything you just said I think probably why we resonate with each other is just having that background of product and technology and I love the way that their products are categorized. I think that it is obviously appealing to a different consumer. Somebody was a little bit more caution maybe or curiosity, and just the sleekness of their little vape pens I immediately the moment I’ve had their product probably a couple years ago I’ve just been hooked so haven’t made it to their dispensary yet, but that’s on my list and now even more motivation to figure out how to do that. But thank you. Yeah,
Zach Lipson 53:57
yeah, they’ve got some pop up shops. They did
Shayda Torabi 54:00
a pop up in Vegas, they have one in Planet 13 which I went to, which was super cool. Have you been to Planet 13? yet?
Zach Lipson 54:06
I have I have early on though it’s been? I think it was. I was at mjbizcon not this past year, but the year before and we took a trip on a planet 13 everybody should go to Planet 13 it’s
Shayda Torabi 54:17
Is it the largest dispensary in the United States? I don’t
Zach Lipson 54:20
know if it’s technically largest. Um, but it’s it’s up there. And the experience is pretty incredible. It’s pretty out of this world.
Shayda Torabi 54:28
Yeah, they got some cool technology stuff. You have to go check it out. But um, yeah, I love that. Well, please let us know, what’s the best way to connect with dieci to connect with you social links, URLs, things like that?
Zach Lipson 54:40
Yeah, absolutely. So um, you know, of course, you can find email@example.com. We again have dispensary’s throughout North America that are using duchy to power their online ordering. So you know, you may not realize it at times, but you actually are connecting with dutchy when you place your orders online for cannabis. And then you can reach us through, you know, our LinkedIn page. We’re pretty active on that platform as well as Twitter and Instagram. And then me personally on those platforms as well.
Shayda Torabi 55:03
Man, I really love technology and this episode hit home on so many points pain points to be exact because it’s just the reality of the industry. Obviously consumers want it the market wants it businesses like Zach’s that specialize in this type of technology wanted. And yet here we are playing in this really great area. And so it is cool to just hear somebody else’s story, their perspective and how they’re kind of navigating and handling it. So definitely took some notes for myself. I’m looking forward to implementing them having more conversations, of course. And I encourage you guys to reach out and talk to me too. I love hearing from you. I love hearing what you’re up to. You can ask me questions you can connect with me on LinkedIn, Instagram, pretty much Google Shayda Torabi and you’ll find some way to get ahold of me. But thanks for listening. I always appreciate it. It means so much to me and new episodes come out every Monday so catch you on the next episode. Bye.
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