(Photo by Adam Bender)
Two startups in the growing marijuana space pitched ideas to investors on Saturday that they said would ease the buying process of cannabis and its accessories.
The startups, GreenSeven and TokerWare, are members of Greenhouse Ventures, a Philadelphia-based business accelerator for startups serving the cannabis industry. For legal reasons, the firm does not support growers, but rather companies that provide ancillary products or services like software, growing equipment and paraphernalia.
The cannabis startups pitched at CoPhilly’s #PHLMade Demo Day, alongside five other small businesses seeking to raise capital to seed or scale their early-stage ventures. The event was co-sponsored by CoFund 360 and Greenhouse Ventures, and held at the Benjamin’s Desk coworking space in Rittenhouse. Before the demo day, the startup founders participated in a 10-week accelerator program with coPhilly staff, industry mentors and consumer beta testers.
Legal cannabis is a $2.4 billion industry, but there is limited knowledge of the industry and more education is needed in the market, said Tyler Dautrich, founder of the one-year-old Greenhouse Ventures.
Kevin Provost, founder of CoFund 360, said a funding gap remains in Philadelphia for all kinds of startups. Early-stage startups in Philly need help from investors to raise between $250,000 and $2.5 million, he said.
The weed startups pitched in a decidedly sober setting, with an audience dressed in business attire and music before the event including “Sing” by Travis and “Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol.
Here’s a recap of the pitches:
With no banking options available to the cannabis industry, CEO Courtney Rudolph of GreenSeven said she wants to make it easier to make cashless exchanges of money for sales. To this end, GreenSeven has set up its own virtual currency, the G7.
Users can buy 1 G7 for $1 USD and use the GreenSeven digital wallet to pay for goods. The retailer accepting G7 can sell the points back to GreenSeven at a 3 percent commission.
The small business, which “ironically” seeks $420,000 investment, is starting out in California and then plans to move to the Colorado and Washington state markets, said Rudolph.
CEO Bart Mowrey said he’s building a “Mary Kay” selling model for Mary Jane paraphernalia. The goal is to create a positive environment that’s more comfortable for buyers, he said. Many people feel weird buying cannabis accessories in public locations, and the fact that many head stores are in bad locations and filled with sketchy customers makes things worse, he said.
Mowrey’s pitch is a direct-sales business that hires affiliates to sell equipment at “TokerWare parties” with friends and families, not unlike the Tupperware parties of yore.
Other pitches at #PHLMade Demo Day
- This startup by former lobbyist Shari Shapiro aims to create a one-stop website to help social welfare organizations and trade associations find allies and learn how to affectively lobby government.
- Like GrubHub for college campuses, Habitat aims to provide an alternative to student’s boring meal plans. Parents can deposit cash into a meal plan that students can use to pay for food at nearby delivery restaurants, said CEO Andrew Nakkache. Students are hired as runners to do the actual delivery in a model similar to Uber.
- This “temporal search engine” by Dave Nevins allows users to zoom in on a specific location in time. For example, in a cycling race, it’s possible to find the statistics of a specific rider using data from sensors they’re wearing.
Hot Roc Kidz
- This animated web series by the Emmy-nominated Flemuel Brown incorporates music, dancing and games to empower children to better handle real-life dilemmas.
Frames and Fortune
- This bilingual TV series about the world travels of self-proclaimed “art diva” Alice McLaughlin is looking for investment to expand nationally as it enters its third season. McLaughlin said her goal is to become “Oprah Latina.”