CFN Media Interviews IHeartJane.com


Rachelle Gordon

November 3rd, 2017

News


The emergence of intuitive online shopping has grown to insurmountable heights in our tech-obsessed culture. With the rise of companies like Amazon and Jet, people are now able to find items they want without having to set foot in a traditional brick and mortar shop. Currently operating in California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada, and Massachusetts, Jane aims to become the leading way to shop online for quality cannabis products in a simple and convenient manner. CFN Media sat down with Socrates Rosenfeld, Co-Founder and CEO of IHeartJane.com to learn about their cutting-edge technology that brings together both consumers and retailers in a fluid and mutually-beneficial manner.

Rachelle Gordon:  What is Jane and what is the company’s place in the cannabis industry?

Socrates Rosenfeld:  Jane is the cannabis industry’s first end-to-end online marketplace. We help end users find the products that they want and then order from dispensaries local to them – all in real time. When we were developing this company at MIT, we were watching the way people shop for just about everything else online. So if you think about the last thing you purchased on Amazon or how you found a documentary on Netflix or how you found your latest dinner on Grubhub, there’s a very particular way you search.

What we wanted to do was create a shopping experience that allowed customers to explore cannabis at a level that was what they were comfortable with. Meaning if someone really wanted that top shelf, high potency concentrate, they can find it. If someone wants to simply search for a strain for sleep or back pain or even something like gluten-free muffins, they can find it, because there’s so many different products. We have over 13,000 products on our marketplace right now. In order to navigate that, we really wanted to simplify and make it easy for the end user.

RG:  How was the company formed?

SR:  I was in the military. I graduated from West Point 2004. I was an Apache helicopter pilot for a while. And then I got out of the Army when I was 29-years-old and it was a pretty significant transition in my life. Anybody who’s been through a transition can respect that. So, here I was, a 29-year-old, and I had never consumed cannabis a day in my life. I actually was kind of feeding into that stigma about it and believing it. It wasn’t until my wife said, “Hey, maybe you want to try this.” And I did and it really did change my life. It allowed me to settle down the stuff that one might accumulate in the army and in combat and proceed forward with that transition.

I was then fortunate enough to go to MIT, where I linked up with the rest of the team. At the time,  we were thinking, “Man, we believe in this industry, we love it. How can we use our skills as tech-passionate people to improve this industry and move forward and create a win-win situation?” After graduation, I came out to Silicon Valley, where I was able to study at another job, a consulting job, in fast growth tech. I noticed that the transportation industry has Uber and the flower industry has 1-800-Flowers, yet the cannabis industry didn’t have really an aggregated marketplace where people could shop with simplicity, with security, and have confidence in what they were looking at.

So we set out to do it and we’ve been off and running ever since. We launched publicly on 4/20 this year, and we’ve now rapidly grown to over 120 dispensaries across five states and we intend not to stop.

RG:  What are your relationships with the dispensaries you are in and how does your software benefit them?

SR:  This is a thriving industry, we all know it. And it’s largely on the shoulders of retailers. These are small business owners and operators that carry local products, hire locally, and have a footprint in the local community. So when we were building this technology we really wanted to transform brick and mortars into what we have coined “click and mortars.” We let them focus on what retailers do best: carry quality products and  provide the best service to customers. We know technology, we know e-commerce, and we see ourselves as a true partner to these dispensaries.

How we do it, at no extra work to them, is integrate directly into the point of sale system at these brick and mortar retailers or for these delivery operators, and then we create a turnkey digital storefront that allows customers to find the products in real time sitting on a store shelf, and allows dispensaries to then attract those customers into the store. They don’t have to do any work.

All the content is provided for, and really we put our money where our mouth is. We don’t charge a monthly subscription or startup fee or anything like that. We’re able to execute our technology at a very low cost and we reward our partners with that, so we simply charge strictly a flat gratuity fee when we earn their business, meaning when an order is placed. Everything else is completely free.

RG:  Why should potential investors consider Jane?

SR:  I think any investor in this space or outside of this space is looking for a few things when they make the investment in the cannabis industry. Obviously, the market opportunity is sought for. This is going to be a multi-billion dollar industry, it already is, and it’s growing something like 30% a year, every year, making it the fastest industry on the market today.

I think when you’re looking to get into this industry, you want to look at a few things. You want to look at the business model. What we do is we’re an ancillary play. We are technologists, so we don’t touch the product or deliver the product or move the product, so from a flexibility and a scalability standpoint, we can operate in any state, on any platform, and we can do so almost instantaneously.

And then lastly, in my opinion, it’s the team. We are military veterans, we are business professionals, and most of us met while studying at MIT. And what’s unique to that is yes, do we have the skill, of course, but we come to this industry not from a corporate kind of perspective, but one where we can really pinpoint problems and inefficiencies in this industry and execute very well. That’s what we do and that’s what we’ve proven that we can do, month in and month out. It’s exciting to see where we’re going to end up.

RG:  What are the company’s goals for growth within the next few years as the market continues to develop?

SR:  By the end of 2018, we hope that any consumer (not everywhere, but in the right places), when they want to order cannabis online, they go to iheartjane.com. And we hope any dispensary that wants a simple turnkey and a very fairly priced e-commerce solution powered by some strong technology, they’re going to use us. That’s our intention, that’s our objective, and that’s what we intend to do.

There are some key markets that we’re not in yet. We’re very excited to enter the LA market quite soon. And then really we’re looking at some key cities where that are doing some great things. We like Oregon for the fact that now they allow delivery and potentially online payments, which is interesting to us. We like Washington, obviously Vegas is interesting to us. And some other ancillary states, like Michigan and Ohio and Massachusetts. We really have prided ourselves in our ability to operate in any state market and do so really quickly and within compliance of state law.

RG:  What sets Jane apart?

SR:  I think what’s unique for the cannabis industry, especially in the technology sector of the cannabis industry, is that there are so many different rules that we have to play by that other technologies in other spaces don’t. And is it a challenge? Yes, but what comes out of that is truly special because that’s real innovation.

If you look at how we’re taking a small business and really transforming that into a live digital storefront that’s very easy for them to use,  you look at other small businesses in other industries, like local lifestyle goods or where you get your shampoo and things like that. Now you don’t have to be maybe locked into an Amazon. Maybe you have the ability as a consumer, one day, to support a local business and do so with the same amount of convenience as you would on Amazon.

Our position and our business model puts us in a unique position where we touch both the consumer as well as the retailer. And so we are always looking to partner with other ancillary players who also overlap potentially either with the end user or the dispensary. So fleet management systems, online payments (a lot of online payment solutions are coming on board), accounting solutions, CRM solutions – we’re always open to having these conversations and it sounds like the rest of the industry is looking to potentially partner with us as well.

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Rachelle Gordon

About Rachelle Gordon

Rachelle Gordon is a Minneapolis-based writer. She was the president of her college's chapter of Students for Sensible Drug Policy and worked in Amsterdam for a brief time. Find her online at www.rachellegordon.net.


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