I'm a sole non-technical founder of a rapidly scaling canna-tech startup. Ask me anything

Mar 21, 2018

I'm the CEO and sole founder of Stemless, one of the first online ordering platforms for dispensaries.  I started a canna-tech company by myself without a technical co-founder. 

After standing in my first dispensary line for 45 minutes, I realized how many people weren't in a position to do that - parents, patients, people who work long hours, and the elderly.  And due to the strict regulations of the industry, dispensaries aren't able to compliantly access best in class e-commerce tools and online payment options avaible to retailers in every other industry.  So I set out to clear the friction between buyers and sellers in the industry.  

Today, Stemless has a staff of 8 team members, tens of thousands of customers, and we're in dozens of stores across Oregon.  We just raised our first institutional round of funding and we're ready to make our entrance into the rest of the country.  

Check us out at:

@stemless.co (Instagram)

facebook.com/stemless.co (facebook)

@stemlessco (Twitter)

stemless.co (website)

Ksunder says:

This AMA will end Mar 21, 2018 1PM EDT

Stemless Lifestyle pic.PNG

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What type of cannabis products do you offer through your site?
Mar 21, 9:54AM EDT0
What do you think is the economic argument for legalizing marijuana in the United States?
Mar 21, 9:26AM EDT0
Would it be considered too risky to use a fake ID at a cannabis dispensary in Oregon?
Mar 21, 5:26AM EDT0

It's equally as risky as trying to do it in a bar.  We've had customers attempt to use fake IDs in the past and every budtender goes through the same OLCC training that someone serving alcohol would undergo.  I'd check with a lawyer to see what the legal ramifications can be but it's not worth it.  If you have a medical condition, you don't need a fake ID and if you don't, just wait until your 21.

Mar 21, 8:03AM EDT0
Do you promote or support legalization of marijuana, why or why not?
Mar 21, 4:42AM EDT0

I support the legalization of recreational cannabis for adults completely.  This is a substance that's become highly politicized for no logical scientific reason - like this movement against vaccinations or climate change.  People who are anti legalization can't even tell you why it's provably detrimental because there are no academic studies on its chemical effect throughout your mind/body.  There are scores of patients using cannabis daily to find relief and because it's a schedule 1 substance no government lab will test it.  No government agency will provide a grant for a reputable university or lab to test it.  

Legalize it, study it, tax it, control its distribution like alcohol, save public funds going towards prison, and make the world a better place

Mar 21, 8:06AM EDT0
Is cannabis legal in Israel?
Mar 21, 3:51AM EDT0

I think this is a question best answered by Google :)

Last edited @ Mar 21, 7:57AM EDT.
Mar 21, 7:43AM EDT0
What is the Endocannabinoid System & what does it do?
Mar 20, 9:48PM EDT0
Which countries, do you believe, should attempt to review their policies on cannabis and what are some of the policies that should be removed altogether?
Mar 20, 7:38PM EDT0

Any country where is illegal should review it's stance and why it's in place.  More specifically, the policies they should definitely remove are any involving the criminalization of possession or use.  

Mar 21, 7:42AM EDT0
What are some of the things entrepreneurs should attempt to avoid in the cannabis industry?
Mar 20, 3:14PM EDT0

The same things they'd avoid doing in any vertical- selling into a market they don't know, scaling too quickly without the underlying technology in place to support growth, making bad hiring decisions, avoiding product testing, lying, stealing, not investing in marketing, customer support, etc.  

At the end of the day, our market can be more restrictive but it's unique in the way every industry is unique.  There are a unique set of circumstances/laws/players that play in this environment but that's true of every business environment.  

Mar 20, 7:44PM EDT0
How should a person broach the cannabis topic when talking to a doctor?
Mar 20, 3:00PM EDT0

I think honesty is the best policy here.  If they're going to treat you they need to know everything about you from a health standpoint.  If they disapprove and that disapproval is rooted in nothing more than unfounded bias then they're not as good of a doctor as they think they are.

Gay men had a similar struggle in the 1970s and 1980s, and their doctor's disapproval and/or refusal to acknowledge their patients' sexuality caused life saving warnings and information to be withheld during the AIDS crisis.  Women today sometimes run into similar issues during conversations about family planning with their doctors. 

Your doctor needs to accept you and provide unbiased medical information. That's their job - if they can't do it, there are plenty of other doctors who can.

Mar 21, 8:25AM EDT0
Have you done a SWOT analysis, if so what was the outcome, if not, why?
Mar 20, 7:32AM EDT0
What are some of the options for medical cannabis consumption other than smoking?
Mar 20, 5:32AM EDT0

You can ingest THC/CBD orally eihter as a solid or liquid.  It's a very different experience in both strength and length of effect than inhaling it.  You can also apply it as a topical across aching muscles/joints.  

Mar 20, 9:40AM EDT0
Why do you believe that now is the time for your company to exist?
Mar 18, 9:33PM EDT0
Did you develop the site for Stemless? Was it a challenge to get it right the way you wanted?
Mar 15, 7:37PM EDT0

I didn't develop it myself but our developer was my first hire and we worked closely together to launch Stemless.  I learned a lot about wireframes and MVPs (minimal viable products) and for someone that's never done either of those things OR managed a developer it was a crazy big challenge. 

The site still isn't perfect, but it will never be.  Anytime we add an amazing feature or redesign it, we move our expectations forward too.

Mar 19, 7:13PM EDT0
If the ordering is happening online how do you check that the buyers have the age to purchase?
Mar 15, 2:18PM EDT0

We ask guests for their name, and ID and based on the information they give us we can do some high level KYC on their account.  That said, it's still up to the dispensary to verify their IDs when the cannabis is transacted at the point of sale, whether that be in the dispensary or at the guest's house (for delivery orders).

Mar 19, 7:16PM EDT0
If you were not involved your startup Stemless, what would you be doing?
Mar 15, 1:45PM EDT0

I'm sure that I would either have started a different company or be working for a startup.  It's an incredible space filled with ambitious, hard-working people that want to change the world.  I would probably have opted to do something in fintech because that's a space I understand from prior career experience and I've seen a lot of areas for innovation there.  

Last edited @ Mar 19, 7:18PM EDT.
Mar 19, 7:18PM EDT0
What are some other uses of cannabis that are underestimated/not widely popular? Are you thinking of expanding into more cannabis related businesses?
Mar 15, 9:37AM EDT0

I think the financial side is very interesting and could use more eyeballs/hands working on it. 

It's not my specialty, but there's a lot of avenues for the medical community to get on board - a significant portion of our customers are medical patients and they've selected their strains based on trial and error - it shouldn't have to be that way.  They're our most vulnerable customer base and they need concrete answers to increase their quality of life.  It's disgusting to me that they can't have that because of the prohibitive laws surrounding a plant.  

That said, I will probably not expand into another cannabis related business.  I feel like we've got our hands full with this one and it's doing really well so we're likely going to continue seeing where that goes before trying our hand at anything new.

Mar 19, 7:23PM EDT0
In what ways does being goal driven to make decisions that are unbiased by emotions benefit your particular startup?
Mar 14, 7:49PM EDT0

There are a myriad of ways being goal-driven helps.  With feature set roll-outs, marketing campaigns, hiring/firing, forward looking strategy, etc.  We try to be data-driven when making decisions whenever possible.  Setting up data collection early on is important to us, and we're constantly looking at how we can increase the amount of data we pull in so we can make better decisions.  We look at everything from output, A/B tests, clicks, opens, conversions, sign-ups, average ticket sizes, SEO, and re-order rates.  

Mar 19, 7:37PM EDT0
What are the specific benefits of your idea and in what ways is Stemless unique when compared to its competitors?
Mar 14, 5:00PM EDT0

Our site is focused on making sure that anyone near one of our dispensary partners can order cannabis as quickly and efficiently as possible with all the information they need to make a good purchase decision for them.  We're not just an online site to buy weed, we're here to be your personal budtender that you can access from the comfort of your home.

Mar 19, 7:39PM EDT0
What are some of the security risk involved with running a company like Stemless?
Mar 14, 10:02AM EDT0

There's always the legal risk of Jeff Sessions/the president/congress/senate/DOJ enacting rules that further restrict cannabis and it's rollout throughout new states, or punish current states for operating in conflict with federal laws.  Even if they don't rule against cannabis directly, they can insinuate they will which causes a chain reaction with banks and other institutions no longer willing to support the industry.

Ultimately I am confident that cannabis will be federally legal in the next five years, but a lot can happen between then and now and that's something we all bake into our expecations.

Mar 19, 7:42PM EDT0
Have you reached out to potential customers for feedback, if so what was the result, if not when do you plan to establish the statistics regarding your potential market?
Mar 13, 2:29PM EDT0

Absolutely yes we have.  We need to know how they found the purchase experience and what they liked/hated/felt meh about.  If we start to hear repeating issues standout, we address them - it helps us gain product/market fit and it's a fantastic way for our customers to know that we care about their opinions and we want to make their lives easier.

Mar 19, 7:43PM EDT0
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