Socrates Rosenfeld 0:00
I would argue there is no better incubator in the world. That is a leading indicator to what the future of retail will look like in five years. Then what cannabis is doing today, we have consumers now that are able, you know where I’m at in Santa Cruz, I’m looking for a product, I can go on iheart Jean. And I can see exactly where that skew sits not from a warehouse 2000 miles away to get on an airplane to come to my doorstep in two days. It’s right down the street. And I’m really happy as a consumer because I can decide when I want to pick it up how much I want to pay, I can read reviews, I can get recommendations, but it’s also wonderful because I’m putting my dollars back into the communities I live in. And that’s ultimately what business is for. Right? This is what America was founded on. Was all these small towns with businesses growing those communities.
You’re listening to two B one B podcast for cannabis marketers, where 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 1:22
Hello, and welcome back to another episode of The to be blonde podcast. I’m your host Shayda Torabi, and today’s discussion is all about cannabis and technology. But before I dive into who our guest is, I wanted to provide a quick update on some of the things that are happening in our industry that may or may not affect you, but are good just to be aware of. So kind of the first thing at a federal level a couple of weeks ago, it kind of came out that there was going to be some precautions around shipping vape in the mail. And ultimately what was decided was that the USPS and now UPS and FedEx have joined that they are not going to allow you to send vape products in the mail. What that also has disrupted is not only from like, you know, business to consumer sales, but also business to business. So we’ve personally had a few hiccups in terms of purchasing vape batteries and things like that from our suppliers. So I know that this has impacted the industry in more ways than one. And so just kind of a heads up that if you’re dealing in that space, you’re not alone. And I’m confident that solutions will, you know, come to be resolved in some way shape or form. But that’s kind of the the shtick right now. Now from a Texas perspective, we recently had the review on smokable hemp in Texas. And unfortunately, there’s not really a consensus and a conclusion on what the outcome is. So we’re still kind of hanging tight and waiting. But essentially, what could potentially happen is the ban would take effect. And we would no longer be allowed to sell smokeable in Texas, but because the judge presiding over the case, put a pause on the ban. That’s why we’ve been able to sell for the past couple of months. And so we’re kind of waiting to see what happens with that. But most importantly, Texas is in its current legislative session, which means Yay, we’re gonna potentially have some updates to cannabis law. Now, this week, we are going to see a lot of movement. By the time this episode airs, we had just had the cannabis bills and discussions kind of happening at the Capitol. But I’m hopeful that you know, we’re going to continue to see more discussions and nothing is really kind of set in stone just quite yet things are you know, it’s government, it takes some time. So with that said, just know that as a state, Texas is discussing cannabis on behalf of how the state rolls it out right now presently, and we will have more to come as that unfolds. But there are some, you know, concerning things and some of these bills some that will hopefully help us and some that could potentially hurt us if they get put into law. So if you have questions about anything that’s happening in the state of Texas in regards to the current legislative session, or you have thoughts and want to contribute, please reach out I would love to answer questions and have those conversations with you. Back to today’s episode, so I’m super grateful to be joined by Socrates Rosenfeld. He is the CEO of Jain technologies. You might also know the brand by heart Jane specifically I heart Jane calm. It is a platform that enables both the consumer to search for products and dispensaries, as well as the dispensary to leverage the Jain technologies to empower them to connect their products to the right consumer. The platform also enables e commerce which is a hot subject in cannabis. And so I’m not going to take away too much of the thunder of the discussion but it was a great one. Especially if you are curious about how cannabis and technology work together, Socrates shared a wealth of information. And I’m just really ready to share that episode with y’all. So without further ado, let’s welcome Socrates to the show.
Socrates Rosenfeld 5:13
My name is Socrates Rosenfeld. I’m the co founder and CEO at Jain technologies. We are the largest e commerce platform in the legal cannabis industry here in the US, providing ecommerce advertising and analytics services to about 2000 dispensaries across 34. State markets, how I got involved in the space came from a personal need. Personally, I never consumed cannabis until I was about 30 years old. And the reason behind that was, number one, I was a product of the dare program. So I was scared to try cannabis believing in all the misinformation out there that made you lazy or dumb or criminal. But ultimately, in my 20s, I was in the army. And I left the service when I was 29 years old to go back home to Boston, thinking that I could take the uniform off and or easily transition into the civilian world. And that, for me wasn’t the case. And I think for a lot of other military veterans, they experienced something similar, where the intensity of training for or being in or recovering from life and death decisions takes a toll on your physical and your emotional well being. We call it in the veteran community hyper vigilance, where around every turn, you know, you’re trained to find bad. And here I was as a civilian in business school. And I thought, every test I took was a life and death decision, or every interview I went on for a job was a life and death decision. And that certainly wasn’t the case. But my body didn’t know that. My emotional somatic system didn’t know that. And so I tried cannabis reluctantly, because I was at my wit’s end, I couldn’t relax anymore. And I consumed for the first time, and it changed my life. It brought me a real sense of presence again. And ultimately, what it did was it made me question every other thing that I assumed to be true on face value without having conviction for myself. And so I decided to commit my life to it, I was so blessed to have a founding team that also was committed to moving this mission forward. And we are still on that mission. You know, we’re coming up on our four year anniversary of launching. And ultimately, what we want to do is provide safe, trusted access to a plant that helps a lot of people. And in doing so help the businesses that grow this plant, manufacture it and sell it. And we couldn’t be more fortunate to be in the position that we’re in to, to shape an industry that I think is helping a lot of people. So that’s how we got involved in this space. We launched at UC Santa Cruz, California four years ago, and now 34 state markets about to open up Canada, and it’s been a real dream come true so far.
Shayda Torabi 8:09
That’s such an incredible story. One, obviously, thank you for your service. I think the veteran market demographic is obviously a very strong one. And they have a lot of historical challenges that they go through when they are being reintroduced back into civilian life. And obviously, your own personal experience with cannabis has proven of value with the plant. But there are so many people who still I’m sure relate to what you introduce your story through, which is the dare program with this stigmatization around the plant. And so I think from my perspective, I, I just I love learning people’s stories, because it’s reminding us that we’re all influencers in our own regard, whether we’re the CEO of a company, or we are, you know, the older sibling of a family or, or just, you know, anybody out there, whoever your circle of influence is, like you have the power to help influence someone’s perspective on this plant. And it’s not something that I take very lightly. And so obviously, you’re doing a lot in that regard of that category of just being a representative of where you come from, and being this kind of voice for this plant. So with that said, You do a lot I mean, I want to get into the scale of the business, but specifically I want to highlight e commerce because that to me, is it’s an easy word. Most people are familiar with e commerce, you know, doing business online and in 2021, especially after COVID more and more people are having to look at doing business online. And before we were recording and my listeners know, you know kind of a little bit of my journey, of course, just through my episodes, but I operate an e commerce store and I shared with you I have a background in e commerce and I think, despite even my background in e commerce coming into cannabis to do e commerce is a whole other realm and so you get into just a platform that will allow you to exist on it. Not Even taking people’s money. So payment Merchant Services is obviously another challenge. And I think there’s even further difficulties when you’re doing integrations into POS systems or into other aspects of integrating through different CMS and things like that. So how do you navigate e commerce? From your perspective? I mean, you shared, you’re just a four year old brand. We’re about a three year old brand. And it’s been very hard three to four years ago, when it’s still hard today. So how do you attack that? How did you even come up with the idea to think I’m gonna start an e commerce business for cannabis? What is that like?
Socrates Rosenfeld 10:41
Yeah, well, it’s a great question where I’d like to start is just, we we define e commerce very differently than a lot of others. I think when people think of e commerce, they think, ah, when I order something online, it’s going to ship to me in the mail. And that’s, that’s a, I would argue, a very large part of e commerce. And quite frankly, since the.com era, we’ve been anchored to that kind of ecosystem where I go on Amazon, I look for a product. And in two days, it shows up on my doorstep, it’s extremely convenient. When we were looking at this space, we knew that we are probably very far away from if not completely, never going to happen. The ability to ship you know, an eighth of cannabis from Santa Cruz, California to Boston, as much as my friends in Boston might want that. CBD is a little bit different story, which which is which is great. But when we were looking at this, now, we had to adjust the depth how we define e commerce, we define it as e commerce is the complete digitization of all commerce. And that might include direct to consumer direct to consumer businesses, but it also includes the brick and mortar dispensary, who’s looking to digitize their operations. And so when we were studying this, man, I everything I used to be this
was gonna say like, you know, high powered consultant, but I was just miserable, to be honest with you, if any consultants out there just traveling around hotel to hotel, you know, trying to get a meal in an airport or in my hotel, or I just like really kind of lonely, lonely life thinking about it, in retrospect, but my entire life was online, oh, I have to have a car to pick me up to driving to the airport, cool, I can do that very easily online, I got to find a place to stay a hotel or Airbnb, you got to find a flight from San Francisco to Dallas, I have to order a meal, right. And it all those things, ordering a meal, buying a flight, getting a pair of headphones, you know, place to stay, I had what’s known as purchasing power. I could decide when I want to get picked up, I could decide how much I want to pay. I could read reviews, all these different things. Well, in the offline environment, it’s very fragmented. And you know, you go to one store, you look for products, then you go to another store. And that’s why Amazon has one. And because I order products on Amazon that I know are somewhere close to me. But man, I don’t have time anymore in my day. Unfortunately, this is just the way the world is working currently, to not waste my time but spend my time driving to a store only to realize they don’t have my size, or the color that I want or the best price that I want. And so the way we looked at this was could we use cannabis number one? For us, it’s a mission to go and protect the integrity of this plant. But beyond that now is can we go and reinvent what ecommerce is, can we go take that brick and mortar local more times than not a small business and provide for them very powerful technology that requires no work for them. But we’ll go and take all their inventory and push that into online. Order origination points is what we call can we power their menu on their website? Can we power other marketplaces and take their inventory and power that? So for us, that’s really where we’re focused. I would argue there is no better incubator in the world. That is a leading indicator to what the future of retail will look like in five years. Then what cannabis is doing today. We have consumers now that are able, you know where I’m at in Santa Cruz. I’m looking for a product I can go on IR gene and I can see exactly where that skew sits not from warehouse 2000 miles away to get on an airplane to come to my doorstep in two days, it’s right down the street. And I’m really happy as a consumer because I can decide when I want to pick it up how much I want to pay, I can read reviews, I can get recommendations. But it’s also wonderful because I’m putting my dollars back into the communities I live in. And that’s ultimately what business is for, right? This is what America was founded on, was all these small towns with businesses growing those communities. And here we are in an environment where we’re putting all of our dollars to one company, and that’s Amazon. And it’s nothing against Amazon, they’re really, really good. They’re almost too good at what they do. And and what I’m saying is, can we make the experience as convenient, as curated as personal as you would on Amazon, except now you can take your dollars, and you have an option to put it back into your community. And cannabis regulations shaped that environment. So we’re taking advantage of that. But why couldn’t we do that in other retail verticals one day, I think if we can create that and create a win win situation, not only for the seller, but also for the consumer, and you have a very healthy market, and then healthy ecosystem that is kind of pushing value back into the local communities rather than siphoning value, and bringing it to one big entity that’s online. So that’s our philosophy and always has been in quite frankly, always will be that our our guiding light is what is the future of e commerce look like? And we think that it looks like the complete digitization of all commerce to include brick and mortar retail dispensers.
Shayda Torabi 16:37
No, I love that thorough discussion of it. Because I think that it is evolving, right? The traditional sense of what ecommerce is, is evolving. And obviously Amazon is disrupting our expectations when it comes to how online shopping is going to continue to be. But I love the highlight of kind of, for better or worse, because of the regulations it’s forcing businesses to are really forcing consumers to focus with their local businesses and your platform is helping empower those local businesses to have the best chance of meeting the consumer when they’re in need.
Socrates Rosenfeld 17:11
You’re exactly right. The only other environment that is out here today that does this. Similarly, he’s in the restaurant world. Right? Okay, I have an all they call Oh is the new, like, snazzy Silicon Valley term online to offline. I’m using an online tool to access offline products or services. But again, I’m not trying to pick on these these restaurant marketplaces. But they’re not helping the restaurants out there. They’re eating into their margin, right? I’m sure. in Austin, where you’re currently at. The best restaurants are, you know, also, I love it. And I long for the time, I can go and travel back to Austin. But you know, go call up a restaurant that’s on doordash or UberEATS. And ask them, Hey, do you love this? are they helping you? are they helping you grow your business teaching you about your consumers, teaching you what to make when when Shayda comes to your store? Can you upsell her on? The fact that she’s gluten free? None of that, right? It’s like, Hey, we’re this aggregated marketplace. It’s our information. It’s our consumer restaurants. All you do is cook the food. That’s all you do. Well, that’s not what we believe in a chain, we want to enable our dispensary partners, we want to grow GTI, a very large MSO and help them enable and grow their business for the future. And they’re doing a great job. We also want to help that small mom and pop do that too. And the only way we can do that is by by giving more than we take giving information back down to the small business by giving them the power of technology without taking the margin away, that that’s what we’re trying to create. And and I think it’s not until tech companies dig in a little bit and say, Okay, let’s not call it a template, as lucrative as that might be. Is there a better way to do this? And I would argue it will be more lucrative if we grow the pie and take care of our supply side. So that’s that, again, that’s a big principle for us. And somebody we’re not going to, we’re not going to walk back on because quite frankly, we have the opportunity to shape an industry the right way, we’re not going to squander that opportunity.
Shayda Torabi 19:23
No, you made such a valid point that I think most people don’t realize, especially I think COVID highlighted a lot of those insecurities, especially in the food space. Because obviously you have these small businesses that are now being forced essentially to have online ordering and being on these apps that allow them to deliver food across you know town and things like that. But the price that it costs these restaurants to be on these platforms is sometimes astronomical compared to them operating it themselves, but there’s no good solution that really exists. And, you know, I think I take it for granted being a marketer. Oh It’s easy for me, you know, I should be on social media. This is like how you create content. But I realized that most people, and I’m sure most people even listening sometimes listen to what I say like, That woman is crazy. She’s doing so many things I’m like, that’s just unfortunately, or fortunately, how my brain works. But the regular small business owner, I think, doesn’t have that innate skill set. And so it’s a little bit like you’re at the mercy of the technology and the tools that are in front of you. And so it’s an interesting position to be in. And now on the flip side, something that I was acknowledging about your platform that I thought was really interesting to call out is the inventory management side of things. So really being able to, I mean, I guess I’ll paint the picture right, you know, you’re looking for products, you want to make sure you’re especially me when I’m visiting, like I visit Denver a lot. The moment I land, like the moment I land, I’m like pulling up my phone. Here, we’re going straight to the dispensary. And I’ve had some experiences where you anticipate going in with a certain product in mind, you get to the dispensary, and the product isn’t in stock. And I think unfortunately, a lot of the industry attitude is just like hands in the air, like that’s kind of how it is like, Oh, we can’t take credit card. That’s how it is like, Oh, we don’t have proper inventory management. That’s how it is. And I really was excited to see the amount of integrations that your platform supports. And specifically being able to tie into because I loved the highlight to have the auto online to offline, I’m going to use I think that’s a good little nugget, you’re seeing a lot of traditional brick and mortar businesses, because that’s what cannabis has had to be because they cannot really truly play online. Now, obviously, with COVID, it is allowing us to push into more the digitization. So obviously, with your platform, being able to I mean, you can make transactions on your website, at the dispensary, I was just kind of mocking myself through one was pretending I was in Denver and gonna go buy some wild gummies. But it would literally let me transact right there. And it shows me if the product is in stock or not, which is such a benefit, obviously, not only the consumer who wants to shop and make sure they’re getting the product, but really essentially to the end brand. I especially being a brand myself managing my inventory and the customer experience effect of that as well. I hate when customers accidentally buy something because my inventory hasn’t synced up properly. And then I have to go have a whole dialogue with them about why it was sold out. Or this, that and the other. And obviously people are mostly reasonable. But at the same time, it’s just like, when you want to scale your brand, these little components are so integral that I think, again, most small businesses don’t realize how helpful having all these things connected, really can empower them to grow. And to your point, there really aren’t solutions like yours out there, which is I’m sure why you’ve risen to be such a leader that you are aside from your you know, passion for helping the industry. But it’s a big undertaking to like lean into the technology side, because I think there are so much red tape around everything. But it seems like you’re pushing through the red tape regardless just to try to forge ahead and really help create a path for these small businesses to succeed in this marketplace.
Socrates Rosenfeld 23:12
That’s it, you know, the most frustrating thing, at least for me is you adopt a new technology, it makes more work for you. You know, like, oh, man, it’s I think, you know, by no means are we comparing ourselves to Apple, we have a ways to go. Like there’s a reason why Steve Jobs is adamant about not having instructions and instruction manual for his products is because it should be a real tool. And you don’t have to learn how to use a hammer or a wheel. It just works that way. And, you know, for us, what we saw before we got involved in the space was these quote unquote, technology platforms, that would actually require more work for the dispensaries to actually use this technology. So now what you done before Jane is, as a retailer, you have to input your inventory into your point of sale. You have to do that anyways, because you have to track the ins and outs of of all inventory. But now if you wanted to build an online business, you’d have to take all that information and now manually put that online. And there would be you know, two or three folks there working eight hours a day manually reconciling what’s in store what’s online. And that is not scalable, as you identified, and quite frankly, I don’t think that’s really fair. And so what we’ve done now is we have the ability we call it an ETL integration where we can extract information in real time. We transform or cleanse that information meaning we put the right serving size, taxonomy, content, photo description, etc. And then we’re able to take that cleansed data point that skew that digital merchandise, and push that across all places of the internet, where someone might order that skew, and that dispensers don’t have to lift the finger for that. And that’s really important for us. Are we? Perfect? No. But we’re we are pretty close to fully automating this experience. And imagine, you know, I’m going to call out some some bankrupted brick and mortar retailers, who got bankrupted because they didn’t have the digital experience, right, J crew, Macy’s, Sears, etc. These are wonderful retail businesses that were extremely successful. And the reason why they couldn’t turn the corner in the digital world was they couldn’t have the connectivity between what’s in store with what’s online. And ultimately, the online business cannibalize their in store business. What we’re doing is we’re growing that pie, we’re saying, hey, just operate one source of truth your in store merchandise, and leave it to Jane to go and make sure that that merchandise is spread across the internet with the looking the best representation, the right taxonomy, etc. And you guys don’t have to do any work to that. That’s what real In my opinion, technology said serve. As and so far now we’re seeing that come to fruition where, you know, the biggest enterprises in the world in this industry are leveraging our software, because now they can roll this out across 100 stores very easily. And they don’t have to, you know, crack the whip on their staff to make sure there’s no misspellings or abbreviations, they can just say, hey, fill this in however you want and Jane’s gonna cleanse that information. Then also for the Small Business operator, who doesn’t have a staff of people, maybe they just have one person working in the store. Now they can take everything that’s in their inventory system and automatically that will show up on their website and everywhere else they want to sell cannabis so and that’s a big one for us and something that we are dedicated to perfecting and I don’t think will ever stop. The more automation the more friction we can remove from from this omni channel retail environment, the better and I think the better for not only Jane and the consumers, but ultimately for our retailers selling cannabis products.
Shayda Torabi 27:30
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. Now that you’re seeing retailers on the platform, obviously there’s limited products and all like open that up a little bit more. There’s only so many companies making edibles. There’s only so many, you know strains in a particular state. And so I’m curious, talking about kind of like competition and cannibalizing the consumer experience. Now you have an inundation of choices. I can see that dispensary a you know, maybe around the corner to dispensary B, they’re selling the same product are you observing. And I’m kind of playing this out in my mind, you know, on one end, yes, maybe you have. They’re selling at the same price. So it’s competitive for the consumer and the consumer is going to maybe pick the one that’s closest to them. Maybe you have a brand who doesn’t care they’re going to charge the higher price anyways, because it’s the experience of the dispensary. Maybe they have more ratings and reviews, or do you see it as like, you know, we bought it at x price and this is the margin we’re able to sell it out to make profit and we’re gonna lower our GMI price so it’s the best price everybody shops with my dispensary. Like, what are you observing in terms of trends for these dispensaries on your platform in that regard?
Socrates Rosenfeld 29:09
Yeah, I will share the observations. Ultimately what we’re doing is we’re trying to create a very flexible shopping experience. And what I mean by that is when we have a saying at the company, we need to meet the customer wherever he or she wants to be met. That means many different things. One is if you want to go shop at your favorite dispensary’s website let’s go power that if you love you know a marketplace like I heart Jane or leafly we let’s go power that if you love a certain brand and just want to shop from that brands website, we power that. So that’s kind of the first place of meeting the customer wherever he or she wants to be. The second piece though, is customers have very different purchasing decision levers that they pull right and you hit them so eloquently like Do I care about who can get this to me the soonest do I care about who has the best price? Do I care about who has the best reviews? Now we’ve unlocked bipoc owned women owned veteran owned LGBTQ plus owned, if there is any variable that’s really important to the consumer, in his or her shopping decision, we need to present that for them. And so you know, Amazon does a wonderful job of that my wife is laughing because I would never do this, but I’m looking for a vacuum cleaner on Amazon, let’s say, you know, I care about reviews, or I care about getting the best price, I need this tomorrow, you know, because my, my dog had an accident or something like that, I want to be able to pull those different levers. And Amazon makes that very easy for me, we should treat cannabis no differently. So for our consumers, now, when they go on the marketplace, they have the ability to decide, hey, I’m looking for the top rated gluten free edible in my, in my area, or I’m looking for the cheapest CBD gummy in my area, we should be able to make that very easy, we have a we have an obligation to the consumer to make that available to them. And again, if we don’t, we’re limiting the plant. We’re limiting the consumer and we’re limiting the businesses that are involved in this space. And so for us, it’s not it’s not let’s play one variable over the other. We’re not trying to be a Groupon and be like, hey, deals, deals, deals, that’s important to you that you can pull that lever but you know, however you want to shop, let’s go digitize that you really care about where you put your dollars, I want to make sure it goes to a veteran owned business, that should be very easy for you. And so some of this trends we’re seeing obviously price is a big one. Reviews is the biggest one, though, verified reviews now. So you go on some other marketplaces and maybe you see some reviews about products. But you can’t verify whether that person was actually consuming the product that you’re looking at. Right? Blue Gene is very different. Oh, gee, Cush is very different, depending on who’s selling it who’s growing it. I want to go and review that, you know, oh, gee Cush, or kosher Kush grown by the Santa Cruz veterans Alliance? That’s what I really want to know. All right, what are people reviewing that one individual skew. And I want verified consumers who have been confirmed to purchase that product, right. That’s why I love about Amazon, back to the vacuum cleaner example, I get to read reviews, not from the brand itself. Although that’s one thing I can read. But it’s all consumers. So I am in a small one bedroom apartment, this vacuum is too big, or it’s way too loud, or it’s tough to clean. I want to know that. We have that now in the in the form of over a million verified product reviews on our marketplace. We’re now this is coming from the community. And you know, you’re building that here in Austin, a community of people who want to learn more about CBD. Hey, what helps me Well, I have arthritis, what should I use? Ben, let’s go digitize that as well.
Shayda Torabi 33:07
I’m glad you brought up reviews. It’s important. It’s it’s like so valuable, I think to just signal a quick dot for the small business, I get asked a lot of times to you know, how do you have so many reviews? And one I think it’s obviously having a quality products but to it’s how do you curate those reviews? How do you create the pathway for a consumer to not only purchase your product, but to follow up with them? So my my follow up kind of question to you is how does your platform encourage reviews? Is it the dispensary who’s saying hey, go to my profile and the app on the website is that if they’re using the POS system, it’s something that gets emailed out to the customer. Hey, you’re in our system you just shopped with us through, you know, I heart Jane, here’s a chance for you to leave a review on this product like how do you actually drive that particular quote unquote, verified consumer who just purchased from dispensary X, Y or Z back to leaving a very specific product review?
Socrates Rosenfeld 34:03
Yeah, great question. So when we speak of reviews, we actually have verified reviews, both for the dispensary, as well as the individual products that you’re consuming. And so the way we track that is we understand every stages of fulfillment process from building a cart to placing your order to actually picking up to completing the transaction. And it’s only after you’ve completed that transaction, where the dispensary has said yes, Shayda came into my store in Denver, she did order these products, I’m going to hit complete on the transaction or I’m going to bring this up on the point of sale and that will automatically complete and we recognize that so only after that transaction is completed, do we prompt the user? Hey Shayda thank thanks for ordering from this store. Please review this store. And in addition, you know a couple days later after we understand what products should a purchase. We’re We’re gonna prompt her with a text message to say, Hey, can you review these products, not for another dollar or money off, maybe that’s down the road. But just to give back to the community, just to provide some semblance of real information to others who are also looking for gluten free edibles that helps them with arthritis or sleep. And the wonderful part is we don’t incentivize anyone on payments. And this is why cannabis has specialists because people want to give back and they want to say, hey, this really helped me or this was really good or bad, this terpene really actually didn’t react well with me. That’s how we all learn and grow. And quite frankly, the brands love it too, because now they’re getting free user generated content. They don’t have to pay for r&d, they know exactly in real time how customers are responding to their, their products. So not dissimilar to how you review stuff on Amazon not dissimilar to how you review your stay on Airbnb. Right? It’s only after you completed that transaction and had been verified in the system. Will they prompt you to give back in generate some content to give back to the community? It’s so far, it’s been working very, very well,
Shayda Torabi 36:15
on the subject kind of deviating from, let’s say, a positive review. I’m curious how you that some of these dispensary’s considering, again, what I know is very murky out there state to state regulation varies. Even if you get your products tested to I’m using air quotes qualify as a legitimate business. You have your license. I’ve heard of testing facilities doctoring, their CIA. So how do you prove or qualify your legitimate dispensary, you’re selling legitimate products. I even remember, I interviewed Ricardo Baka who is the former editor of Denver Post back when Denver went fully legal in 2014. And I remember him telling me a story. Actually, tip for everybody go listen to my episode with Ricardo because he gives this story from his mouth. But he was talking about an edible company that he went to a dispensary and bought. And then the particular edible was like not actually effective. And then it came up to be a case that this company was obviously lying about their CEOs and lying about their test results and selling these products in dispensaries all across Denver. And and my point for this question is really because the consumer gets hurt at the end of it. Right? So there’s multiple facts, points. It’s like, how do you vet the dispensary? But then how do you vet the brands that you’re featuring to? Is there some sort of like, you got to be obviously a good, credible, legitimate brand. But you and I both know that? That’s not always the case?
Socrates Rosenfeld 37:47
It’s a great question. So first and foremost, I want to go on record to say that you have to be a licensed operator to get on our news, our service. It’s cleaning up across the country. But you know, they’re there in California in our home state, it’s, you know, we’re still transitioning from the gray market to the to the you know, the legal market, you
Unknown Speaker 38:07
call it gray. So,
Socrates Rosenfeld 38:10
yeah, that’s, uh, because it is it’s like, you know, I came from the medical market, it’s like, yeah, we’re certified under this is like, no, I need your state license number. And we’re going to go validate that against the database. And that was more of a an issue, maybe 2018. But now it’s really cleaned up in every new state market like Illinois, you know, New Jersey goes adult use it, it’ll it’ll, you know, it’s not built like California was built. So I think there’s some, there’s some stuff that we have to continue to clean up in this state. And we are and it’s great. But you bring up a great point, who is the authority to decide what is good, and what is bad? Now, if I said James, the authority, we are going to decide who’s good and who’s bad. I don’t necessarily think that’s right or fair. Because at the end of the day, we’re just one entity. Right? I could have a staff of editors and they can go visit the store. And maybe I don’t know that that reviewer is having a bad day. And she writes like, Oh, this store is really crappy and they have crappy products. That’s not really fair for the for the store. So what we did was, you know, if one review comes in that it’s a really bad experience. Okay, if 100 reviews out of 150 say this is a really bad experience. That’s probably more true than just Jane saying and write for brands in products that was very important for us to roll out because we had that we questioned that too. Is this just a popular product because it’s low cost and the dispensaries are pushing it? Well, let’s let the people decide and tell other people tell the community is this a really good product That’s ultimately how we decide what’s good and bad. We let the people decide. It’s like the you know, music charts. Really, I think in some respect, this disruption of music has been pretty cool. Where back in the day the music industry was you had to know the DJ at the radio station to play your head. And they would be the hitmakers, if you weren’t on, that’s that that station, you were irrelevant. But now the likes of Spotify, Pandora, etc, this distributed systems, we’re letting the people decide what they like and what they don’t like. And now we’re seeing all these wonderful artists emerge, right, who would otherwise maybe not be, you know, like, Chance the Rapper was able to emerge without a record label, Mac Miller, etc. Like, these are pretty cool things that are emerging. We, we want to democratize that on our platform for brands. If you’re a small brand, and you’re killer, and you have kick ass products, and people love you, and even a great following, you’re going to be successful launching, because we’re going to showcase that if you’re a brand that you know, to ricardos story, that’s no doesn’t even put cannabis in their products and selling it as a THC product. Pretty soon you’re going to hear that from the chain community. And we’re not doing it to call anybody out. But we’re doing it to bring real trusted verified information to this plant. Because for too long, the misinformation has been rampant. And it’s allowed. Programs like the dare program to convince children candidates is really bad. Well, let’s put facts to that. Or there are some brands, believe it or not, in California that sell Ace for $80. high end, you know, like, okay, let the people decide whether or not that’s worth it. Because some might be some might be like, wow, this is the greatest fire I’ve ever smoked. Others might be like, Hey, this is this is a gimmick. You know, let’s let the people decide that Because ultimately, that’s going to the truth is going to surface. And that’s the only way we can continue to protect the integrity of this plant, is by letting the consumers and the real consumers who have purchased these products, tell the community what their experience is. And again, you know, is it unfair sometimes that someone is having a bad day, and they’re gonna leave a one star rating, of course, of course, and we have mechanisms in place where they’re if they’re abusive, you know, or unverified reviews or not helpful that goes through our review committee. And we take that very, very seriously. And people can flag those, and we’ll review and we’ll either take them down or we’ll keep them up. That’s a really important piece. And so we thought about that a lot. Shayda should we be the authority? Or should we actually make the consumers the authority in aggregate when we decided to go for the ladder, and I think that’s the fairest way. And quite frankly, the most honest way to do business.
Shayda Torabi 42:50
I couldn’t agree more. I think it’s just empowering the consumer and arming them with the different points for them to consider during their review during their purchasing decision and their purchasing journey, I think we are only becoming more conscious consumers. And so it’s just again, allowing the end person to make a decision for themselves and my purchasing, because this is a highly rated dispensary, or product and my purchasing because it’s the best price. What are the reviews say? And for better or worse, I know that there’s a lot of work to be done in the regulatory side of things. And there are for sure, some bad actors out there that, you know, I think I like to resonate with the rising tide lifts all boats and kind of the adverse of that too, right. I think the community will quickly let us know if a product or business is not a good player. And from that point, you can take measures to deal with it and address it. But I appreciate the approach of kind of like, Look, we’re trying to create a platform for everyone who wants to be successful succeed and have access to a plethora of Canna curious consumers. So game on, let’s have that conversation.
Socrates Rosenfeld 43:59
Exactly. And ultimately, we are believers that if a brand is really bad, and quite frankly, there hasn’t been any of these instances yet, at some point there will be a bad is really, really bad. And they have really bad ingredients or they’re misrepresenting themselves, whatever. If you’re stuck with that reputation online, it’s gonna be tough for you to recover, no one’s going to buy your product anymore. And again, I think that’s the fairest way rather than Jane coming in and being like, okay, we’re gonna be the cops and we’re going to tell you what’s good and what’s bad. Let’s just be the honest brokers of that. And you know, create technology to surface the truth. It’s a really important point so thank you for bringing that up.
Shayda Torabi 44:45
Yeah, I just being a consumer myself and especially transitioning from a consumer to a business owner in this space. You know, I used to just be Oh, I love this dispenser. I love this brand. How do I explore new brands or new dispensaries but now Again, being in the business side of it, I’m just confronted with how much variation there is, for better or worse in the industry. And really just trying to highlight really that, that intersection of like the truth and like the partial truth, because it’s just such a crazy world out there that we’re trying to navigate and it blows my mind that I mean, you said 34 states. So that means 34 states are operating medical and recreation. My Texans you know how I feel. We’re not quite there yet. But it’s exciting to see the impact. Yes, fingers crossed. For Texas, I think it’s going to be my my guestimation is five to seven years, we’re not
Socrates Rosenfeld 45:40
really, I’m gonna take the under all that one shader, but you know, your native austinite. So
Shayda Torabi 45:45
we’re in every two years state for legislative session. We’re currently in session, they’re not doing anything right now that moves the medicinal market forward. In my opinion, I heard maybe I think even federally, we’re going to get up to 1% THC. But still, right now our medical program is point 5% compared to point 3%, legally what I sell, it’s like, why do you go through the hoops of getting medical. So again, to me, I observe in my journey in the industry, states don’t just go rec, they have to go medical first. So until I see a medical program that is more robust in Texas, which is not happening this year. So we got another two years on top of that, that I think maybe medical will see three to five years and maybe recreation after that. So just my two cents, but I want to kind of wrap up the conversation by just highlighting because I know that it was a little bit of I don’t wanna say a shock to me, but everything is just, you know, I think it’s just I rather hear from you what that looks like. To me, your platform can be very similarly observed to like a leafly, right? It’s I know, on leafly, they’re not necessarily transacting, they’re more or less just highlighting reviews, and it’s more the searchability of all these different types of strains and products, but they also highlight dispensaries. They also have a, you know, kind of platform for dispensaries to get on and be discovered and have a menu. And then I just read that y’all have a partnership with leafly. So what are some of the differences that allow you to have that partnership that ultimately like allows you both to build off of each other?
Socrates Rosenfeld 47:27
Yeah, we are more complimentary than substitutes. And what I mean by that is, the things that we are very good at, we can be very helpful with leafly. And the things that leafly is very good at they can be very helpful for us. We are, I would say obsessed with integrations, data cleansing, structuring information and pushing, cleansed skews to different order origination points. And I’ve said order origination points before but that’s anywhere where a consumer can buy cannabis. dispensaries website, a brand’s website, I heart change, calm. And now leafly. And what leafly does, I would argue better than any other platform in the industry is that they have developed real trust with the consumer on very relevant, helpful information about this plan. They have a very robust, trained database, I don’t think you can, you can type in a strain on Google and not see leafly on the front page, extremely powerful position to be where I think they need our help. And it’s a great partnership is now let us take all that merchandise that in our from our supply side, that cleanse structured information. And now let’s put it to your 100 million in front of your 100 million consumers. So not only can they learn about cannabis and educate themselves in a really trusted way, but after you’ve read about oh gee Cush, maybe you want to go and find Oh gee Cush in your area and purchase it from a local dispensary to you. And I think that’s where that handoff goes Shayda is we don’t do really any kind of editorial content or anything like that Seo leafly is the clear winner on that. But some of the things that we think we do best, you know, e commerce integrations, data cleansing, personalized digital merchandising, digital advertising, structured data, we feed that into the leafly ecosystem and not only help leafly out only help Jane out, but help our mutual clients out. So as a dispensary now if you’re using Jane if you’re using leafly now not only is all your merchandise showing up on your own website, but now it’s showing up on leafly.com as well and the most important pieces requiring no extra work to you, there’s no more manual update of two different different systems. It’s all completely integrated with one another. And I think, you know, talking to Yoko, their, their CEO, we are so aligned, our two companies are so aligned on why we’re doing what we’re doing. And that is to really be good stewards of this industry, you know, to the largest tech platforms in the space, to take care of the dispensaries to take care of the brands and ultimately provide for the consumer, a safe and trusted place to purchase their cannabis, whether that’s on leafly.com, or all other origination points that the chain is powering. And, you know, that’s where this partnership started was on the values and the ethos, everything else come secondary. And we’ve had a lot of fun really working with them. And I think you’re going to, you’re going to see and hear more exciting things coming out of this partnership that will continue to help this industry and move it forward in the right direction, or at least we believe in the right direction. So thank you for bringing that up. And we think that’s a watershed moment for the industry is now again, coming back to partnership. But let’s partner together. And together, let’s grow the size of the pie. Let’s take care of our small, big medium businesses. Let’s inform our brands, let’s inform the consumers. And if we do that, right, I think we will have a healthy industry for generations to come. And so I think, you know, it’s it started individually, we’re coming closer and closer together with this integration and partnership and where this goes, I think Only time will tell but ultimately, it’s it’s with the focus and the intention of taking care of our consumers taking care of our our brands and taking care of our retail partners. No, thank
Shayda Torabi 51:41
you for sharing that. I think it was something that I again, being familiar with both of your brands, and then just kind of being a consumer myself, I’m like, wait, I go to both these websites, how do they work together? And and you highlighted it very well. When you said you know when you’re going to the I heart Jane website, it is very, I want to search because I want to make a purchase more or less. And I find that leafly is more my Okay, I heard about this crazy strain was telling me about it. And you’re right. It’s remarkable the depth that their database goes to really encompass the the breadth of this industry. And what’s crazy to me and plugging my episode over there with leafly as well, we talked about the opportunity that leafly kind of observes too, because the market is like we have all these things kind of established. But there’s so much more to come like there’s so many new strains hitting the market. There’s so many new dispensary so many new brands like we’re really just at the forefront of the industry. And so it is really cool to see two leading technology platforms really kind of coming together to help, like you highlighted, I love that it’s really helping every aspect of the industry succeed that again, when you’re just a consumer, I don’t think you really realize the impact or the challenges that the business is having. And I think when you’re a business, you’re obviously just trying to stay in business and not really able to lean into the marketing and the data so much. And so your platform really seems to be the nice, middle ground for everybody to really find some value in to succeed. So my final question to you because you obviously get to work with a lot of different brands in the space. This can be a dispensary. This can be a certain product. I’m curious who you think is doing a great job of marketing, maybe it can be a way that they’re leveraging the I heart game platform to market their brand. But I’m always curious, you know, you’re an industry professional industry leader yourself who’s catching your attention as someone who’s being a good steward of this plant and really communicating the value of cannabis to the consumer.
Socrates Rosenfeld 53:46
I’m gonna plug our local brands here in Santa Cruz, the Santa Cruz veterans Alliance are cultivators of I would argue the highest quality flower that I’ve come across or one of the highest quality flowers there. It’s grown by veterans initially for veterans they have a nonprofit arm that that gives free medicine to any any veteran who needs it. And and they also grow some some wonderful, wonderful flower. I love Wham final therapies w A Mmm. If you Google their story, they were the first medical dispensary in California licensed here in Santa Cruz, California. Val, who’s the founder and operator of the business gives her medicine away for anybody who needs it terminally ill patients, homeless veterans, you know, and they and again, it’s real medicine. I love Jade nectar here locally. Another local grower that has a mass of very interesting landrace strains is really staying very true to the essence of this plant and keeping it a plant And it has these olive oil based tinctures that wonderfully effective for more than national brands, you know, I would love to highlight Papa and Barkley, I think Adams story of founding that business and helping Papa out. I see that across every new product that they launch. And he’s no longer this the CEO now, but his team is carried that legacy forward. And they are utilizing the digital platform better than then most. They are bringing now of consumers to their site. Now that they have this ecommerce platform, and converting customers and getting customers to purchase their products off their site, not just off a marketplace or dispensary’s website. And that’s wonderful. They are being able to advertise very smartly by utilizing the information that we’re providing for them. And not only informing them to build new business lines, right, they rolled out their their gummy line or their chocolates now, but also where to put those skews and where to promote those skews depending on who’s perusing those menus. So and there are dozens and dozens and dozens of examples of wonderful, wonderful branded businesses out there that are utilizing this digital platform as its intended. And they’re pushing us for because they’re coming up with ideas that are really innovative. And we’re well that’s gold to us. And we’re going back to the lab and in building them with them. So the partnership is it’s been so wonderful with really all all the brands out there, but those are the ones I would highlight.
Shayda Torabi 56:33
No, I appreciate you sharing that because it’s just there’s so many things that are happening in this industry. Obviously, you highlighted a brand like Papa and Barkley, they are more well known to people, especially if they’re paying attention to national cannabis movements. But I love learning about the brand’s new holiday from Santa Cruz, I just think that the more information that we can share and observe, like I’m going to do show notes, these are going to be included, I hope people will go check out and engage with them, whether they’re in Santa Cruz or not. And just be more familiar with the players who are participating and being voices again, kind of going back to my original statement and kind of thought, we’re all influencers, we’re all representing this plant. So devout are who our community is no matter who our audiences, it’s just, you know, kind of trying to shine a light on those efforts. And so obviously, you’re doing that very much so through your business. And I just appreciate you sharing all your insights today on the podcast. Awesome. Thanks for tuning into that episode. Thank you again to Socrates for being a guest on the show you shared invaluable information. And it was so helpful, at least for me, I learned so much I think the biggest takeaway is just being able to understand as technology advances in the industry, how can we as businesses and brands start to take advantage of it. Of course, his platform is really geared towards the full legal marijuana industry. And so if you are CBD brand, it might not be something that we can play with directly, right just yet. But I think I loved learning more about the integration aspect because that is a challenge that I personally am facing when it comes to integrating my e commerce with my retail and so definitely a lot of good takeaways and nuggets for me to help take back into my business. And of course, my hope is always the same for y’all. I hope these episodes are beneficial. You’re they’re providing value you’re learning from them, you’re enjoying the caliber, and information that the guests are sharing. And so thank you, thank you for being a listener. Thanks for tuning in. Thanks for contributing to the conversation. If you’ve reached out on social media, I really appreciate it. I love having these discussions with y’all. So keep it up and know that we’re gonna have another new episode next Monday. And if you haven’t checked out any of my previous episodes, I have a great library of fantastic guests who want to help educate and inform you so take advantage of it. Thanks again and talk to you guys later. Bye. Love this
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