The Race for Cannabis Home Delivery Heats Up with an App Called Meadow, Interview with David Hua CEO of Meadow

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David Hua, the CEO of Meadow walks us through his cannabis home delivery app called Meadow.

David tells us how his app is different then competitors such as Eaze and NestDrop. Recently Meadow was accepted to the famous accelerator called Y Combinator.

*Guess What? You could be listening to this interview on your commute. Get the FREE iPhone app or Android App*

Key Takeaways:

[1:09] – David gives his background and how he started in the cannabis industry.
[3:40] – What is Meadow and what is it used for?
[6:20] – Native apps versus non-native apps
[7:33] – David explains his feelings on Nestdrop
[10:05] – How Meadow compares and contrasts with its competitor Ease
[12:14] – David explains how to find a doctor and become part of a collective
[14:45] – How do dispensaries benefit from working with Meadow?
[16:32] – David explains how money is handled with a delivery service
[17:47] – What is Y Combinator?
[21:55] – Contact information for Meadow

Read Full Transcript

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Matthew: Hi, I’m Matthew Kind. Every Monday and Wednesday look for a fresh episode where I’ll take you behind the scenes and interview the leaders of the rapidly evolving cannabis industry. Learn more at www.cannainsider.com. That’s www.cannainsider.com. Do you know that feeling when you sense opportunity, when you see something before most people and you just know it will be successful, then you're ready. Ready for CannaInsider Consulting. Learn more at www.canninsider.com/consulting. Now here's your program.

Meadow is a mobile app that allows cannabis patients to receive delivery of cannabis from a local dispensary or collective. I am pleased to welcome David Hua, CEO of Meadow, to CannaInsider today. Welcome David.

David: Thanks Matt, really great to be here. Thank you for having me.

Matthew: David to give listeners a sense of geography, can you tell us where you are in the world?

David: Yeah, we’re in San Francisco, California. I’m in the Bay area.

Matthew: What’s your background and how did you get started in the cannabis industry?

David: Yeah, I’m really passionate about technology and the startup world. I moved out here about eight years ago from New York where I was in sales and trading, not surprising, in the finance world, and decided I wanted to start a company. So came out here and have been working at startups for the last eight years and decided to jump in and start Meadow. It’s been interesting because the first startup I had was we made every mistake in the book.

We were in the gaming space. We launched a product called Got Game, got some traction, but ran into a lot of problems in 2008 with fundraising, and we had to shut that thing down. But, you know, one thing I learned was okay I didn’t do everything right. Can I learn from the people around me, and I went to a health startup for a while, Health Central and (2.04 Wells Fear?), and learned about a lot in the health space. Health is about, what 17% of GDP and there’s a lot of pain there. And then from there jumped in the mobile space with a startup called Sincerely, and learned a lot about how to execute with a great team and focus on mobile.

Then what ended up happening was we got sold to Provide Commerce, and I was trying to figure out what to do and what the next thing is. And most people in the entrepreneurial world tell you like find something that you can stick with for seven, eight, ten years. And I’ve always been passionate about cannabis and decided to enroll in Oaksterdam University and learned a ton. You know, I had a lot of great teachers there. Debbie Goldsbury was one that really inspired me to think about how dispensaries operate and how to build the tools for them to scale and leverage the technology that I’ve had exposure to for a long time and bring that to this space. So, yeah, that’s how we… how this all got started, Oaksterdam and then Debbie and then talked with this lawyer Robert Reich [ph] and really figuring out our model. Yeah, then started building with a few co-founders that I worked with previously at Sincerely.

Matthew: Now let’s dig into what Meadow does. Can you describe for both a patient or adult user and for a dispensary? Why do people want to use Meadow?

David: Sure, yeah. You know Meadow is a website where medical cannabis patients view menus and order on demand from local dispensaries. And that’s what we started with. You know, one great thing about it is we’re creating this whole backend platform for dispensaries. For them to manage patients, to look over inventory, to make sure their orders are right, and most importantly to be compliant. Everyone that uploads their documentation as far as ID and doctor’s rec or card is put into a HIPPA compliant server. Everyone that signs up signs a collective agreement. So everyone’s compliant with SB420 and Prop 215 and not have to really worry about where they’re storing everything.

Matthew: What about platforms? Is it going to be specifically an app or will it be a mobile version of a website to get around iTunes and DIOS platform having difficulty with the cannabis industry? Can you tell us how people can use Meadow?

David: Sure. Anyone can go to www.getmeadow.com and start looking at the menus of the different dispensaries that we’re partnered with. As far as iTunes and the Google Play store, our expertise is mobile. Like we built great apps for Meadow on these platforms, but unfortunately their policies aren’t really friendly toward cannabis, and they were basically denied to get on there unless we sort of made a bunch of concessions for the product. So we started making those concessions and started removing features and functionality. And by the time that we were done it was just the shell of what it was, and it wasn’t what the experience that we wanted to bring. So we ended up abandoning the app store and just focusing on the website www.getmeadow.com.

Matthew: If I was over at Apple, I would be thinking holy cow people are choosing not to use our platform because it’s so restrictive. I mean they’re really shooting themselves in the foot. I hope they come around on this in a big way and change their policy.

David: Yeah I think it’s just going to take time. And when you look at the app store, you know, most of their revenue is coming from gaming. They’re not really focused on cannabis. And you know, I think as this industry grows and the more smart and great people that we bring into this world, I think they’ll start changing. I hope so because we’re ready. I’d love to start building again on IOS and Android.

Matthew: So can you help us understand what a native app is versus a non-native app?

David: Yeah sure. It’s just, you know, a native app is an app you can get in the app store. So whether you’re going to iTunes or Google Play and you download that into your phone. Non-native means you’re going to, you know, a website. In my mind what’s really fascinating about what’s happening with technology, the languages that are being created for browser based web apps makes it almost seem like it’s not… it is native. And so we spend a lot of time really thinking about that user experience and choosing the right languages and the right, you know, platform so that we can scale. So, you know, hopefully if you check out www.getmeadow.com you’ll see an experience that feels native and just add that button to your home screen, and it will feel like an app.

Matthew: Now I’m sure you’ve heard of what’s going on in Southern California with the injunction that the city of Los Angeles put on Nestdrop which is also kind of an Uber for cannabis delivery. How do you feel about that? Is that a threat? How are you digesting that information and how does that affect your go to market?

David: Yeah, you know, I actually met the Nestdrop team in Vegas at the ArcView event, and they’re great. They’re solid people. You know, one’s a director. Another guy’s a lawyer, and they really set out to revolutionize the alcohol deliver space, and they jumped into cannabis. And it’s unfortunate that the city of L.A. took, you know, basically put an injunction on them. You know for us, you know, the way we’re thinking about it is, you know, how can we build tools for the dispensaries that aren’t doing delivery. And one such service that we launched about a week ago is a pick-up service. So if you check out Bloom Room in San Francisco, they’re an awesome awesome shop in Mint Plaza, and you can order in advance. You can look at their menu, you can see what’s going on. You can put that order in, and then go and pick it up in this express checkout lane. So for the people that know exactly what they want. They still want to visit the dispensary, we have that functionality that we’ve built. And you know, continue to figure out what the best way and what the best tools that we need to build to accommodate the dispensaries in L.A., but yeah I do think that delivery is really important for people that can’t get out of their home. And I mean driving around in L.A. is crazy, but I don’t know. It’s still far away for us. So we’re just going to focus in the Bay area and see how that all works itself out.

Matthew: And for people that have a hard time visualizing this there is kind of a rush hour dispensaries or cultivation, I’m sorry, dispensaries or collectives. And like on a Friday starting at maybe three or four in the afternoon, you know, you may have to wait a while to get, you know, served. And that’s where, when David’s talking about like an express pick-up, that’s where that can be really handy if you know what you want.

David: Absolutely. And what’s really interesting is a lot of these dispensaries don’t have great parking, and so, you know, they want faster turnover so that they can satisfy more customers especially if it’s a five-ten minute parking space outside their dispensary. So this pick-up option I think is, you know, I think a good solution, but we’ll continue to expand it as we get feedback.

Matthew: Now you have another competitor called Ease that’s there right in your backyard in San Francisco. How would you say Meadow compares and contrasts with Ease?

David: Yeah, so Ease launched a few months before us, and they’re really focusing on the logistics side. So their value proposition is really about speed, and I think they can get stuff to you in about 10-15 minutes. For us, I think we differentiate ourselves with selection. We have a variety of dispensaries with a ton of different products anywhere from flowers to edibles, to tinctures to topicals, to different concentrates whether it’s shatter or wax, you know, concentrate syringes, anything. And our delivery takes about an hour. And the delivery that’s conducted is with partners that have been doing delivery for a long time. And so these are experienced drivers that know what they’re doing and have a lot of knowledge about cannabis.

And I think another important distinction is that we view dispensaries as partners and not just in the sense of hey like here’s an order coming through, please fulfill it. It’s more around hey, here’s an order and here’s a platform in the backend that will help you manage your business in a compliance but also you know, scalable model. And so far the tools that we’ve built have been pretty great, well received and we’ll continue to build out more of that. And, you know, I think that’s how we’ve sort of differentiate ourselves so far. And you know, we’re just trying to remove friction from the experience of getting your medicine. We keep looking at the feedback that we get to keep improving the product.

Matthew: Now for a lot of people in California, you know, they’re part of a collective. So this is something you can use right now, but what about, you know, prospective patients that want to connect with a doctor or they don’t know where to begin? How do I find a doctor that, you know, I can describe my symptoms to and be, you know, get a card and become part of a collective? How can that problem be solved?

David: Yeah sure. Well there’s a ton of doctors offices that exist today where you go and you can get evaluated for a cannabis recommendation. The experiences though that I have seen are pretty wide and varied. You know, some operate as a, I don’t know, I guess turnstile type of an operation where you go in, you see someone for five minutes and then you’re out and then you get your recommendation. There are others that actually spend more time and help the patient realize what their problems are and actually how to medicate with it.

And you know the problem was, that I’ve seen, is some people don’t want to go to these offices. And so what we ended up doing, actually today we announced Cannabis MD. And so Cannabis MD is an on demand doctor service where a doctor will come and make a house call. They’ll come to you and evaluate you for medical cannabis and really sort of be there to help guide you and educate you on the best ways to medicate and best ways to alleviate the pain that you’re feeling. We found that people don’t get that much education, and there’s so much going on now that it’s important that the patient knows. Right, it’s not just smoking a joint or a bong or anything like that. I mean look at the innovation that’s happened. We have edibles, low dose and stronger dose. Edibles come in chocolates or sublinguals, tinctures. You have concentrates for people that are dabbing or using vape pens and vaporizing. You have topicals for people that want to, you know, calm some of the pain that they’re feeling. For me, like my shoulders and neck. It’s just there’s so much, and really kind of educating the patient is super important, and that’s kind of what we did. We started working with the doctor network through an introduction from Oaksterdam, and we’re going to find doctors that are passionate about cannabis and are educated about it so that they can, you know, provide that information to the patient.

Matthew: Now you mentioned that the dispensaries and collectives, they are more of a partner for Meadow. What’s their benefit from working with Meadow? What do they get out of it?

David: Yeah, you know, I think it’s a combination of the tools that we’re building. You know, especially for managing orders, inventory and patient information in a HIPPA compliant environment. It’s access to a whole new group of patients that are, you know, that have found us and really like the brand and what we’re about. You know, we’re really big into privacy. We treat everyone’s emails and phone numbers like as a first class citizen. You know we really want to provide a seamless experience for them that they feel comfortable in and especially if they’re, you know, in the privacy of their own home. You know, most people they’re getting delivery or either, you know, can’t make it out appreciate the convenience or just don’t want to be seen in a dispensary yet. So that’s kind of what we’re providing.

Matthew: So David, I know you’re a fresh, new startup or Meadow is a fresh, new startup, but is there a sense of how many dispensaries or patients you’re working with in California or it’s still too early?

David: Yeah, I mean we have six dispensaries that we’re working with now and serving the entire Bay area. And as far as patients, you know, we’re serving the entire Bay area and the specific numbers we’re not revealing yet, but we will be when we start fundraising.

Matthew: Okay. And a lot of people are curious and obviously people that object to cannabis delivery services are, you know, want to know in detail how does money change hands when the cannabis is delivered to a qualified patient?

David: Yeah, so the dispensaries have their own drivers, and those drivers when they deliver the cannabis takes usually cash on delivery or they have a debit card system or some even take credit. And it just depends on the dispensary and the relationship that they have with their banking partners. You know, I’d love to offer like a stripe integration, but unfortunately there isn’t… there aren’t really banks out there that are for cannabis yet. So right now it’s still pretty archaic.

Matthew: Yes and for people who don’t know what Stripe is, that’s an easy way to integrate, fast and easy and cheap way to integrate credit card services into a web app which leads me to the next question. I just saw a press release that you were accepted into Y Combinator, is that true?

David: Yeah it is.

Matthew: Holy cow, well congratulations. That’s big news.

David: Yeah.

Matthew: Is Stripe part of Y Combinator?

David: Yes.

Matthew: Okay. We’ve got to back up a little bit here. What is an accelerator first of all, like Y Combinator and tell us a little bit about Y Combinator.

David: Yeah Y Combinator has been in the Bay area for a long time now. They’re pretty much an institution and really finding some of the best startups in the country and helping them with advice, guidance, over a three month period. And it culminates into what they call Demo Day, and Demo Day is a day where you pitch to investors and angels and reporters and you show off what you’ve done. And you know, after which you usually raise a round of cash to take your vision, to realize your vision I guess. Because most of us are still building that, and it’s you know, brick by brick.

Yeah and so we got into the winter batch this year, and we’re so far a month into it and have been really fortunate to have such great people advising us and pushing us and making us think about the cannabis industry in a little bit different way than from their experience that they have.

Matthew: Now can you name some of the more well known alumni companies of Y Combinator?

David: Oh yeah absolutely. I mean you have anything from DropBox, Reddit, HitMunk, AirBNB, Scribd, JustinTV which is on Twitch, which sold to Amazon for almost a billion dollars. Parce, Codecdemy, Mixed Panel, Optimizely, Teespring, Homejoy, Loopt, Wufoo.

Matthew: God that’s amazing.

David: It’s an incredible pedigree of companies and founders.

Matthew: That’s remarkable. And I also, I want to mention that here in Boulder, Canopy Boulder has created a cannabis accelerator run by Patrick Rea that is focused just on cannabis businesses for people that are interested.

David: Yeah Canopy right?

Matthew: Canopy Boulder, yes I’m a mentor there. So I just wanted to throw that out there. Shameless plug.

David: No, no worries. I think it’s great. I saw the presentation at ArcView, and you know I think it’s needed. There’s a lot of talent that’s coming in that want to build businesses, and they need the proper guidance and counsel especially to navigate the cannabis industry. And I think what they’re doing is great, and you know, we’ll see what happens.

Matthew: So what about other markets. I mean I know you’re still young and maybe you’re not sure but you’re in San Francisco now. That kind of seems like it’s a testing grounds for a lot of new technologies that emerge, but is there any plans on the horizon for expansion?

David: Yeah, yeah. I think we’re going to focus in the Bay area for a while and then really see where that goes and takes us. I think there’s still a lot to build. There’s still a lot of feedback to get and, you know, what we’ll try to do is look at the map of dispensaries and potential partners and really figure out who to partner with and what’s the best way to give them the tools that they need to scale their business and be compliant. You know, I think California is definitely going to be a big focus still for us for a while, but we’ll see. I think Colorado looks interesting, Oregon looks interesting, as far as legal markets. But you know, we still believe pretty heavily in medical, so you know, there’s Vegas, there’s Arizona that look really interesting too. So you know, it’s just really being knowledgeable about the state laws, but also local laws in making sure we’re working with the right people.

Matthew: Absolutely, and they’re all so different right now.

David: Yeah so different.

Matthew: So David as we close how can listeners learn more about Meadow and try it out?

David: Sure. Just go to www.getmeadow.com. That’s www.getmeadow.com.

Matthew: Great. David thanks so much for being on CannaInsider today. We really appreciate it.

David: Oh no, thank you it was a real pleasure. I really appreciate the time.

Matthew: If you enjoyed the show today, please consider leaving us a review on iTunes. Every five star review helps us to bring the best guests to you. Learn more at www.cannainsider.com/itunes. What are the five disruptive trends that will shape the cannabis industry in the next five years? Find out with your free report at www.cannainsider.com/trends. That's www.cannainsider.com/trends. Have a suggestion for an awesome guest on www.cannainsider.com, email us feedback at cannainsider.com. We would love to hear from you.

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