Weedmaps is a startup what could be defined as Tripadvisor of marijuana dispensaries. Bud and Breakfast is a kind of Airbnb for cannabis lovers. On the other hand, Eaze and Canary are startups what they are dedicated to the delivery of marijuana on demand in the purest style of Deliveroo or Glovo. All of them are niche platforms that have in their essence the business model of large digital brands of recognized trajectory. And, as one might expect, the cannabis industry has been seduced by new technologies.
Approaches to the digital environment, however, are not reduced to the formulas already existing in other sectors. There are also market-based intelligence and business intelligence tools, like Headset, exclusively directed to this industry. Or more focused solutions in the software, such as Optileaf and MJ Freeway, that help in the management of orders and sales and in the processing of payments.
The cannabis electronic commerce company Namaste Technologies bought Findify last year, a startup that helps generate personalized recommendations to its users through machine learning. Meanwhile, other companies resort to artificial intelligence to automate processes in the cultivation of greenhouse plants.
"Given the complexities of high-quality cannabis cultivation, there is an immense opportunity to take advantage of automation and data to improve crop yield and quality"Says Chris Beals, president and legal representative of the Weedmaps platform. "Similarly, the diversity and rigor of the regulations that apply to cannabis operators in different jurisdictions are so complicated that they often demand solutions from software and data to allow companies to maintain compliance profitably. "
In addition, because many jurisdictions have demanded that the legal cannabis market carefully monitor the transfers and the origin of the products, There is the possibility of taking advantage of solutions based on blockchain to create better ways to track the products and ensure that the accounting books are not manipulated. Not to mention the ability of this technology to manage cannabis sales payments how does the Alt36 platform.
The proliferation of startups Technology focused on a market that has a way to go - the list of countries that allow the sale of cannabis is reduced - is accompanied by a notable increase in investment. In 2018, the companies in the sector collected four times more than the previous year, according to the financial advisory firm Viridian Capital Advisors and cases of recently created companies whose growth has led them to list on the stock market.
"In the US there has been a domino effect with medical legalization. More and more states have medical cannabis programs and, with legalization in Canada, there are huge opportunities, "says Elizabeth Ashford, Eaze communication manager. "It's an exciting time, but there's still a long way to go for a more global expansion of the sector."
As the markets that have opened most recently mature, the industry will continue to expand
Chris Beals, president of Weedmaps
A report on the status of legal marijuana markets carried out by the research firms Arcview Group and BDS Analytics estimated that, in 2017, the US industry - which represents 90% of the sector in economic terms - was valued at 7.5 billion euros. The same study predicted that it would surpass 20 billion before 2022, which would mean an annual growth of over 20%.
"This industry represents one of the fastest growing sectors in the US. This is driven by a paradigm shift in the framework of the country's cannabis policy, "Beals explains. "As the markets that have opened more recently mature and the still closed states are enacting comprehensive policy reforms, the industry will continue to expand considerably."
Jessica Billingsley, co-founder and CEO of MJ Freeway, agrees that legalization is essential for the growth of companies in the industry, but warns that it is only the first factor to be taken into account. "Repealing prohibitions increases access, but also influences the generation of greater awareness of their medical benefits and ends up assuming a general change in society's attitudes toward cannabis use," he says.
Spain, on the other hand, presents the characteristic limitations of an unregulated market. "There is an incipient movement that is consolidating, but there are many obstacles in the absence of regulations ", regrets Javier Puig, President of the Confederation of Cannabis Associations. He points out that some companies replicate outside models and others work on innovations within an existing industry, but insists that the increase of initiatives in this line will depend to a large extent on regulation. "Innovation will be possible if we work on regulations that do not promote oligopolies and allow companies to operate beyond the pharmaceutical industry, legislation similar to that which affects low-alcoholic beverages such as wine or beer", concludes.