David Goldstein is the co-founder of Potbotics. Potbotics flagship product is Potbot. PotBot is a unique medical marijuana recommendation engine that uses cutting edge neural-net algorithms to recommend cannabinoid levels and custom strains to medical marijuana patients. By combining scientific data and crowdsourced reviews, PotBot’s desktop and mobile app will guide patients toward the appropriate strain and consumption method for their specific ailments, eliminating the need for patients to experiment with different strains themselves.
[1:09] – What is Potbotics
[1:31] – David’s background
[2:39] – Epilepsy and cannabis
[3:26] – David explains what Pot Bot is
[5:48] – David talks about his robotics team
[6:39] – Decision making process around purchasing the Pot Bot
[7:56] – David talks about Brain Bot
[11:50] – David talks about the restrictions on the medical cannabis law in NY
[13:31] – David explains the changes that cannabis has on the brain
[14:38] – What is Potbotics Nano
[16:45] – Contact details for Potbotics
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.
As more first time patients and customers arrive at dispensaries, they have questions. Those questions center around how the cannabis plant can help them with their specific needs. David Goldstein of Potbotics aims to introduce technology that will help patients get their questions answered. Welcome to CannaInsider David.
David: Hey, pleasure to be here today Matt.
Matthew: To give us a sense of geography can you tell us where you are in the world today?
David: I’m currently at our New York Office. We’re bi-coastal. We have offices in Silicon Valley and New York.
Matthew: Okay great. And what is Potbotics exactly?
David: So Potbotics is a software and technology company, and they’re really aimed at elevating the education and the overall cannabis industry to higher standards to really add some more transparency to the cannabis buying process.
Matthew: Okay. And what’s your background? How did you come to start Potbotics?
David: Actually I’m an integrated marking communications background, and I was actually looking at my father’s work. He’s a cofounder here at the company. And he was working with pre-Alzheimer’s patients doing diagnostics with them, see the cognitive abilities and then following up with them with pharmaceuticals to see if their cognitive abilities improved and whether they were actually fighting off dementia. And I became very interested in quantifying neuro responses to pharmaceuticals and general cognitive testing. And I kind of came to him with the ambitious goal of can we quantify the effects of cannabis? Can we start basing some of our recommendations in a more quantified format versus subjective patients coming back and saying, you know, I feel better. From a one through ten model this is how this benefitted me. I wanted to see if we could actually break it down into a little bit more of a stronger, scientific foundation.
Matthew: Any general anecdotal evidence so far that you can talk about in terms of pre-Alzheimer’s or just dementia patients benefitting from cannabis at all or is it still too early?
David: Well we actually haven’t dived into Alzheimer’s patients and cannabis, but we did start looking at epileptic patients. One of the reasons that epilepsy was a great first target for us was that epilepsy is very strongly grounded in the EEG spectrum. In fact it’s right now used to diagnose epilepsy and to help treat epilepsy. And epileptic spikes on an EEG spectrum is very clearly defined. So that helped us really move forward with giving different cannabinoid dosages. Can we see relief from those epileptic spikes and really start building ground work for different bio markers and indicators that there is relief thanks to different cannabinoids.
Matthew: Now tell us a little bit about Pot Bot. What is that and who uses it?
David: Absolutely. So Pot Bot is a cannabis recommendation engine, but it is very different than what’s currently out and available in the market. Rather than recommending patients strain names, that we have found in our research really are only marketing level, branding level indicators of what the medical benefits of cannabis really are, we wanted to add a little bit more transparency. So rather than recommending the strain outright, we ask a patient to fill out a brief for about their age, their weight, what ailment they’re currently suffering from, what they’re looking to get relief from. And then rather than recommending the strain outright, we recommend a cannabinoid level and a cannabinoid ratio.
And only then do we say these strains tend to fall into this category of having these cannabinoids. So that when a patient goes to a dispensary they know what they’re looking for. Either some level of CBN or level of CBD and an education as to what science is behind recommending that cannabinoid so that they have a better understanding oh I understand where my medicinal benefit is coming from. It’s not coming from something called White Widow. It’s coming from the ratio of cannabinoids within the actual plant. And that’s a mobile phone, a desktop app and also a robotic kiosk that can be placed inside dispensaries to give some third party validation to actual cannabis recommendation.
Matthew: And since we’re only on audio here, how would you describe what the Pot Bot looks like? Because when you say and engine it’s actually something like a moving kiosk or like a robot looking device isn’t it?
David: Yeah it’s a robotic kiosk. That’s the one that goes into dispensaries, also a smart phone app and website a patient can visit. But the actual robotic kiosk is about a 4 foot high lime green… it’s really a robot with a monitor on it. The first model that we have is mobile, but as we actually roll these out to dispensaries and find that they want them to be a little bit more customized. So the Pot Bot green one is kind of our signature model. I definitely spent a lot of time working on it so we actually found it almost has a personality for me. When you see them rolled out that they’ll be in different colors and really customized to different dispensaries’ needs.
Matthew: Now do you have a skill set in robotics or do you have someone on your team that has a skill set with that? I mean how does that work?
David: Yeah we have a robotics team with us. We were originally working on security features for the cannabis industry, and out of that really came the necessity to have a medium that patients interacted with, something that had inventory, something that helps the dispensaries meet state regulations and compliance issues by making sure that prevalent information was presented in an easy way. And that was really where Pot Bot orginially came about, but as we dive further into that robotics we saw that an actual engine was of much need because of again, the kind of lack of transparency on the medical side of where those medical benefits come from.
Matthew: So if I’m a dispensary owner and I’m considering a Pot Bot, what’s my decision making process? What’s the cost? Can this replace a human being? What are some of the considerations there?
David: Well the way that we see is that the Pot Bot wouldn’t replace necessarily a bud tender completely, but it would help expedite orders from the waiting room, and it also helped dispensaries meet those state compliancy issues. So the conversation that we usually have with dispensary owners when they come in is that we talk about okay what solution are you looking for? Are you looking for this to have security capabilities? Are you looking for this to integrate with your POS? And are you looking for more of like an information portal? And depending on really what the dispensary’s needs are we create a customized Pot Bot for them or a customize several stationary kiosks that really fit the model of what their dispensary is trying to achieve. So maybe a recreational dispensary would be more interested in a different type of interface than a more medical one that would really want to focus on the medical process, the different consumption methods and educating patients in that way.
Matthew: And what do these retail for, Pot Bot?
David: Yeah so we’re doing a leasing model right now. Usually the bot runs around $2,000 to $2,500 and then we work out a leasing model with the actual store to make an affordable plan for them.
Matthew: Okay. Now you have another product that measures brain waves. Can you tell us about that?
David: Absolutely. So what Brain Bot is is that it utilizes EEG technology to better understand and quantify the neuro response to cannabis. This is something that hasn’t launched yet. We’re looking at about a Quarter 3, Quarter 4 launch in 2015. But what we envision is that it will enable general practitioners and doctors that are already recommending cannabis to better personalize the cannabis recommendation based on a patient’s actual neuro response to cannabinoids. The way that works is that we ask patients to come into general physicians office that have Brain Bot, and to run a baseline EEG to understand base brain activity. And then after a few visits of getting post cannabinoid dosages, we could start creating a model of relief and specific to that patient to better recommend the cannabinoid levels and really make the cannabis recommendation process that’s very personal for them so that they understand when they go to the dispensary that this is the cannabinoid level that we’re looking for for my actual ailment. And it’s been shown to have relief and have followed up with those doctors and in quantified format to see oh wow these different strains actually have been benefitting this patient in these great ways.
Matthew: So can you give us an example of how you see this being ideally used, perhaps a symptom or disorder that you could dial in with the Brain Bot?
David: Absolutely. So we started our research with more neurological disorders because those were much more clearly based on EEG spectrum foundations. And I would like to use again, I think the case of epilepsy is just very clear. So on an EEG on an EEG spectrum that is epileptic spikes are very clearly defined. It’s really what any emergency room or a neurologist, what they would be looking for. So what we would do is that we’d actually give different dosages of cannabinoids. We’ve been working with inhalers and we’ve been working with actually pills. No one’s actually smoking in a doctor’s office.
But we have different variations of those ratios that are very clearly controlled, and by giving patients different ratios we could start understanding oh wow, this patient reacted really well to this ratio of cannabinoid. We saw that his epileptic spike went down by this percentage. Let’s have him come in one more time. Let’s have him have a different percentage and see was there more relief, was there less relief. And then slowly a model starts to come together that’s much clearer on the actual cannabinoid levels that are benefitting that patient. It’s a very different approach than what the current industry is taking with kind of a general cannabis recommendation and then it’s really up to the dispensary to fill out the other side of that agree to actually give the patient something that will benefit them. Just to add some more transparency to actually create a protocol for a doctor to actually examine medical history and run a test to actually start understanding what is best for this patient as an individual rather than sending them to a dispensary or even just talking to a bud tender.
Matthew: Right so even though New York the outline of how the laws will work there for cannabis seem harsh to those of us in Colorado or perhaps California. Since the cannabis will be in oil form, I believe, it might lend itself more to being prescribed by doctors in the way you’re describing. Then a doctor’s not going to say, like you mentioned, like hey here’s a gram of White Widow. They want something a lot more technical and objective that has some sort of science behind it, and this might be kind of the first step in that direction. So that’s a silver lining with New York being somewhat repressive. And then it depends on your perspective. Maybe you don’t think it’s repressive, but compared to Colorado or Washington, it certainly would be for sure.
David: Definitely compared to Colorado and Washington, it’s a very different approach to medical cannabis. It’s one that New York has been dubbed “vape state” when they really only want people vaporizing instead of smoking. How does the logistics work behind that? How is that enacted? Those are still questions up in the air, but one of the main reasons that we really wanted to have representatives and offices on both coasts is kind of that different mentality. The West Coast in our opinion is a little bit more relaxed with smoking, and general cannabis laws. I know as the East Coast starts adapting more medical cannabis laws, it’s much more strict.
I think there’s a lot of different reasons why the East Coast has chosen a more medical approach, one that is more grounded in other medical practices. But I wouldn’t say that New York is necessarily hindering, and nonetheless it’s very exciting that New York enacted a law that will help medical patients and as Potbotics moves forward on the East and West Coast, we’re excited to see a state take on this type of a law because it really does correlate and really merge well with our vision and with our ability to again based more on medical history with an actual analysis, and make more of a real medical setting. Which I would argue California was missing when they first enacted their medical law.
Matthew: Now just back to Brain Bot for a second. I’m curious and I’m sure other listeners out there are curious as well. When someone hasn’t taken cannabis or they’re not high and then they consume cannabis, what are some of the typical changes to brain function you see when you’re measuring waves and so on and so forth? Is there any generalities you can say what happens to people in general when they consume cannabis in the brain?
David: I can say from a generality. Of course it very much differs on what we’re looking for on the EEG spectrum, what ailment there is. But some of the very basic things that you see is that you see a slowdown of the Alpha brain wave. Alpha brain waves usually represent a deep concentration in something. So that gets a little bit slowed down, but in the meantime Beta starts to actually become more active. There’s a higher frequency of Beta and Beta represents a state of relaxation of Beta meditation. So you definitely do see a calmness. Some neurologists will argue that Alpha, large spikes in Alpha represent stress. So you definitely see a type of stress reduction and then from Beta you see a rise in relaxation. That’s kind of like a general, you see that often when people give… when they’re taking cannabis and wearing an EEG at the time, one of the first baseline things that you see. But again depending on what the person is suffering from on an actual medical standpoint looking at an EEG, it’s a little more complicated than that.
Matthew: Now I know Nano is not ready yet, but can you tell us a little bit about what that might be?
David: Yeah it’s really it’s a future thinking product. It’s something that we really wanted to already start doing research on, but something that isn’t going to launch until next year. What we wanted to do is that we wanted to look at the actual, the genetic fingerprints of cannabis seeds. And specific what we’re looking for is the protein makeup, the enzyme makeup. In order to start actually building a growth model actually from the seed that helps understand how to get that plant to it’s highest natural yield. So things like lighting. Things like irrigation. Things like nutrients. All that could be really understood from the genetic fingerprint of the seed.
Really the next step that we want to take it to is how do you take that information and start understanding, how can you better grow specific cannabinoid levels and how can you add more transparency to replicating successful growth. That’s actually one of the biggest issues in the industry. We can clone plants but still not get the same results of a great grow. What were some of the factors that got us to that amazing grow, and how can we replicate that or how can we produce an environment where we know the seed has potential to be a high CBD, somewhat lower THC content? How can you really grow it to those parameters that will really help it reach its own natural ability.
Matthew: And how is Potbotics funded and are you still looking for investors?
David: Yeah we’re actually, we’re still in our seed round of funding. Our goal was to raise $3.5 million. We’ve raised about $2.2 million, and we are still looking for funding and that has been through friends and family. All of our investors very much share a long term vision, are people that are big advocates of this industry, and like our approach to really basing our recommendations on science, and really like the fact that we’re software and technology, that we’ll constantly scale and adapt itself to this industry to better patients health.
Matthew: And in closing how can listeners find out more about Potbotics online?
David: They’re welcome to visit our website, sign up for our newsletter. We’ve got a bi-weekly newsletter. I think it’s great. It offers tech insights to the industry. Something a little bit different than maybe some other cannabis newsletters do. We really focus on what is going on in the industry, examining trends and giving in general updates on where we are as a company on development. We actually recently opened up user testing for Pot Bot right before we launch it. Or they’re more than welcome to email me directly. My email is firstname.lastname@example.org. And I would be happy to answer any quotations any of the listeners have.
Matthew: Great well David thank you so much fro being on CannaInsider today. We really appreciate it.
David: Okay Matt it was such a pleasure. Thank you very much.
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