Interview with Cy Scott co-founder of Leafly. Leafly is an application that allows you to learn and explore the universe of available cannabis strains to optimize your medicinal or recreational experience. Once you have dialed in on the strain of cannabis you want, Leafly helps you find the best local dispensary to fit your needs based on reviews from residents of your community. The Leafly App is very easy and fun to use to explore strains near you. Learn more at Leafly.com
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Leafly is an application that allows you to learn and explore the universe of available cannabis strains to optimize your medicinal recreational experience. Once you have dialed in on the strain of cannabis you want, Leafly helps you find the best local dispensary to fit your needs based on reviews from residents of your community. I'm pleased to have Cy Scott, co-founder of Leafly on CannaInsider today. Welcome, Cy.
Cy: Hi, Matt. Thanks for having me.
Matthew: So listeners can get a sense of your geography, can you tell us a little bit about where you're located?
Cy: Sure thing. Leafly is located in Seattle, Washington. We're actually pretty recent transplants here by way of California about a year ago now.
Matthew: How do you like Seattle compared to California apart from no state income tax.
Cy: Yeah. That's really nice. Miss the sun a little bit here and there, especially in the winter, but the rain is not as bad as they claim.
Matthew: Especially in the summertime it's not that bad.
Cy: It's beautiful.
Matthew: Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and why you co-founded Leafly?
Cy: Sure. So I'm basically a serial entrepreneur. I've got a real tech background doing app and web development. I co-founded Leafly with Scott Vicerks and Brian Wonslegdge. So the three of us put it together. We were actually working together at the time at Kelly Blue Book, and it so it was kind of a nights and weekends bootstrap project.
Scott was the one with the original idea. He thought it would be great to have some sort of location where people could track the different strains and their effects and what they like and didn't like. The market - this is about four and a half years ago now. So in California the market was growing. A lot of dispensaries were popping up in strictly medical. It made a lot of sense that there was a real need for a service like Leafly. And at the time, everybody really targeted pretty much the common stereotype for cannabis consumers, so we really wanted to go with something a little more mainstream, better design, something that medical patients could look to for information and feel safe and welcome there.
Matthew: Now you mentioned strains. Can you just give us an idea of how diverse the spectrum is of available strains for cannabis?
Cy: Yeah. There's quite a number of strains. Right now we track well over 1,000 strains. Of those strains, we have over 100,000 different individual reviews. So Leafly is all user contributed content, so people use it to journal what they like and don't like and tag strains on the different effects or what conditions or symptoms they might be using it for. Then we take that data, we aggregate it, give people kind of a general idea. The number is pretty large though with 1,000 strains. And that's across three primary categories: the Sativa, Indica, and hybrid.
Matthew: And what's your favorite strain?
Cy: Yeah. That's a tough one. There's just too many to choose from. I enjoy cannabis in the evenings to help with sleep, so I like the Indicas a lot. Some good Indicas, L.A. Confidential and Northern Lights, are my go to. For the daytime, when I get a chance, a good Sativa like Sour Diesel, I enjoy as well.
Matthew: What are some emerging strains that are popular on Leafly?
Cy: Yeah. We're noticing a lot with the recreational up here in Washington, a lot of the producer/processors coming up with some strains that are interesting crosses and gaining a lot of popularity, and that's due a lot to the retail stores opening up. And we're getting more and more here in Washington. So we see a lot of that like strains like Copper Cush that kind of came out of nowhere. Historically, a real good one was Girl Scout Cookies, whcih everyone is probably very aware of now, but we really saw that on Leafy kind of go from nothing to in our top ten most popular strains in the matter of six months.
Matthew: In fact that is the strain that I - I went into Leafly. I put in what I wanted. I didn't want to be paranoid and then all the other things I did want, and that's what came up for me. Thin Mint Girl Scout Cookies, I think it's called.
Cy: Yeah. There's a couple of variations, but it's absolutely a popular strain.
Matthew: Can you explain a little bit of what body high and mind high mean for people that aren't familiar?
Matthew: How those interact - those two ideas.
Cy: Right. So at Leafly when you review a strain, you can tag it with different effects. We have the kind of head high effects like euphoric and uplifted. So that's more of a mental effect. And then the body would be things like relaxed, tingly, just what you would actually feel in your body. And then kind of both mixed together, that's what you're really getting. So you'll see a lot of strains tagged with things like euphoria and relaxed. So that's kind of the head high/body high, and they definitely play off of each other.
Matthew: So let's get into a practical example here. Let's say I just got off of work on a Friday afternoon, and I pull out Leafly and kind of want to dial in how I feel and get a strain for that. How would I do that?
Cy: Yeah. A particular strain - we have an explorer. A strain infused product explorer where you can go in and actually filter the exact type of effect that you're looking for. So in your scenario, if you're looking for something that would leave you feeling upbeat, you just would dial that in. Include effects, uplifted, and then you can actually exclude things like making you hungry. So you can look for strains that include certain attributes and exclude others to really dial in that perfect strain. And then once you find it, Girl Scout Cookies you mentioned earlier, we also have an availability section so you can find out right where to get that. So it uses your geo-location, knows right the best area, or you can enter a city so if you're in Seattle, you can type in Seattle and find the top locations that would carry that particular strain.
We also have a dispensary finder, so if you're just looking to find locations right around your area, you can go directly there, and then start browing the different dispensary menus. And on the menus, when they're linked to strains in our inventory, you can actually get a good idea of the strains different effects and really find the one that's perfect for you.
Matthew: So how many people are currently using the app? I'm sure it fluctuates, but could you give us a rough idea?
Cy: We do about four million sessions a day - a month. We do about four million sessions a month. Four million a day would be nice, but it's still a pretty sizeable number. And that's between the web and the app. So it's pretty good. We've really seen the site and the app grow in adoption as different states come online. So new states adopting medical laws or your recreational states like Oregon, Alaska, and even D.C. We're seeing a lot of interest in Leafly when those laws passed. So as the United States continues to adopt cannabis - and the world, for that matter, we see increased interest. So that's really great for us.
Also, some of the trends, one of the most interesting things starting four years ago and where we are now, a lot of the branding is starting to happen. You're actually able to see different products and consistent brands across the industry where previously it was just dried flour in a jar at a dispensary. So that's a pretty interesting trend, and with that comes a lot of the rise of the concentrates in popularity there, whether it's the waxes or the little clearomizer cartridges for vape pens. We're seeing a lot of growth in that sector as well.
Matthew: Yes, the liquid in the vap pens. That's very interesting. Is that what kind of jumped out at you and surprized you the most about about the data, because I imagine you have just a ton of data if you have four sessions a month. Is there any data that is jumping out at you and saying wow, we did not expect to see this like - one thing that I thought of when I was using the mobile app for Leafly was why would anybody want dry mouuth? But then there are some reasons why someone would want dry mouth; isn't there?
Cy: Sure. I mean, we actually add that as negative so you could tag negatives from strain. Things like dry mouth or dry eyes, and you can actually exclude that, but you never know. There could be a reason why someone would want to include that. So we have that option as well.
Matthew: Well, I did find out why some people want the cotton mouth effect, and I had heard that ALS patients have a drooling problem, and the dry mouth can help them quite a bit. So I thought that was interesting.
Cy: That makes a lot of sense, definitely.
Matthew: Did you scratch your own itch with creating Leafly or saying okay, I want to see what the community is saying, and I'm going to let them steer maybe to my next decision on a strain for myself?
Cy: Definitely. When we first started, I really didn't have a good sense of the scope of the variety of strains and the different effects, and lot of that has to do with your access to cannabis. But after we started Leafly and getting more involved in it, learning more about the different strains, I definitely started scratching my own itch. If you go into any dispensary, and they could have any where between 20 and 30 different strains at a given time. And it's really tough to choose, and you rely on the bud tender at the counter. But if you're looking for a particular condition or what have you, it's great to have Leafly as a resource. Just having the app in your phone and you can check it real quick and compare to the menu that the dispensary lists and look at all of these rating. It's really been helpful for myself, and that helps drive new feathers that we put together because we all use the app as well.
Matthew: So you have all this data from your users. If you could only make one strain, I mean, I know people are picking out all these diverse strains, but you see that most people want something similar, the 80/20 rule. If you were aggrageate all that Leafly data - if you had to make one strain, what would be the characteristics of that strain?
Cy: Yeah. That's a great question. We see people searching for top conditions anxiety and migraines or ADD. Some of the top sypmtoms are depression, fatigue, and insomnia. So if somehow you could kind of bring those together in the perfect genetic cross. Also, you'd want to include some effects. You see a lot of people searching for creative, euphoric, or uplifted in the filters. So somehow if you could find the perfect combination, that would be the strain that I would try and put together definitely.
Matthew: How do Leafly users interact with each other? Is there social element?
Cy: We have a really light social layer within Leafly. Currently, you can tag different reviews. You mark them as helpful, not helpful, so both our strain reviews as well as our location reviews, that's about the best way right now. You can also dig into a user's profile for the non-anonymous users and see their review history. But it's actually something that we're working on right now and will have with our next release is more of a platform for peoople to connect and follow different individuals. We see a lot great reviews coming out of some of our visitors and, of course, and we want the ability to be able to follow those individuals and stay up todate with what they are viewing. So we're building that feature as we speak.
Matthew: So you mentioned you can be anonymous if you want to share information, but you just don't want people to know who you are?
Cy: Yeah, that's right. So there's a few ways right now within Leafly. You can actually journal your own usage and keep it completely private so no one would ever see. There's no anonymous listings. It's just a personalized journal. You can also share your review publicly, but you can choose whether or not to share your user name right now. So you can publish those anonymous or with a user name.
Matthew: Now switching gears a little bit and looking a Leafly from a merchant or dispensary's point of view, why do they want to be involved with Leafly?
Cy: Yeah. So dispensaries or recreational shops are primary customer and it's a great platform for them to be part of because it really does drive a lot of new patients to their location. Leafly's pretty special in the sense if you're in a new market - say you're in New York or a state where medical is just coming online or the dispensary system is just getting established, Leafly has been there for quiet a while. We have coverage and visitors coming from all over the world, and a lot of that has to do with strains being pretty widely available. So people are just looking for the information no matter where they are. So as soon as there's room for dispensaries or recreational shops, it's great for the dispensaries to sign up with us because we already have that user base using it search strains, and then you're location gets right in front of a potential new customer or patient.
Matthew: Can you give us an example of a merchant that is really leveraging Leafly properly to get new business?
Cy: Definitely. So with I502, which is the Washington recreational law up here, the recreational shops are continuing to open up. We still have a small amount, but we're seeing a lot of those new guys coming on, and they are really doing it right. The best way to get exposure on Leafly is to keep an updated menu. Our visits love to see the latest menu. If the menu gets too outdated, they might look at someone that has something more updated. Also having a menu and updated menu, it really helps with visibility because you're linked to those strains and edible products reviews. So if I'm buying Girl Scout Cookies, I can find the exact spot and you would show up if you're menu is linked. Also, we have ways for dispensaries to connect with their patients and recreational shops with their customers through a following system. So you can actually follow a dispensary and just stay tuned to their updates and dispensary and shop updates are basically like Twitter updates where they can post 140 characters at a time. And that's a grerat way to connect with your patients and stay up to date. Also, responding to reviews is really important. So provide that ability as well so whether it's a positive review or less than positive review, it's really good for the shops to get in front of that and start a conversation with their customers. So we're finding some of the new recreational shops here are really doing it right and getting a lot of traffic coming from Leafly.
Matthew: Now if there's a dispensary owner that says, you know, I just don't have a budget for this. I'm just getting startted. I've got a million other things to do, can you give them a sense of how easy or difficult it and how much money it takes to get started with Leafly?
Cy: Sure. It's quite easy. We have a services section in the footer so if you do have a story you could go there and sign up, and we'll - someone on our team will get in touch with and get your account created. We do have different service levels. The pricing ranging from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand dollars depending on how many ad placements you'd like or what kind of exposure you're looking at. So it's pretty flexible, so from the small shop that doesn't really have much of a budget, they can get some advantage out of Leafly to the bigger places that want to spend more, get more exposur. We have solutions for everybody.
Matthew: Other than legalization, are there any big trends you see growing in the cannabis technology sector that you're excited about?
Cy: Sure. Probably one of the best trends lately has been the increased professionalism and mainstream accessibility we're seeing in cannabis products. So the branding that doesn't just cater to the common stereotype of cannabis. We're seeing a lot of that happening now in Washington. Across the the U.S., we're seeing some really good branding happening, and that's exciting to see. It's a little more welcoming to a larger audience than what I think a lot of people associate cannabis with. And it's good for the whole movement as well. It kind of puts a nice face on cannabis when the branding looks nice and the packaging looks great, looks professional, and that's something we wanted to do with Leafly and we feel like we've really helped push this conversation forward by giving people something that looks nice, and is well designed, and feels comfortable when you use it. So we're seeing a lot of of that happening more and more through out the U.S., and I think that's just the nature of the industry kind of maturing. So that's a pretty exciting trend definitely.
Matthew: Now, Cy, how can people try Leafly for the first time? What's the easiest way?
Cy: Sure. We have a lot of ways to access Leafly. So you can find us on the web at Leafly.com. We also have an app for both ios and android, so just search Leafly in the app store or Google Play, and you can find us there.
Matthew: Great. Thanks so much, Cy. We really appreciate your time for the interview today.
Cy: Absolutely, Matt.