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Interview: A Revolution in Data-Driven Digital Shopping in the Cannabis Industry, with Socrates Rosenfeld, CEO at Jane Technologies

The US legal cannabis industry is on track to be a 43 billion dollar business by 2025, from $17.5 billion in march of this year. The digital shopping experience is in its infancy, and can be the fuel for success for all constituencies - the  brands, the retailers, the shoppers. And, to the tech platform that creates the best experience for all of them. That’s the mission of Jane Technologies, and CEO Socrates Rosenfeld. Soc joined Rob and Peter to talk about the Why, What, and Wow of a platform that today powers more than 2,000 local retailers and more than 700,000 products. They’re transforming cannabis commerce.


Peter (00:00):

Welcome to Unpacking the Digital Shelf, where we explore brand manufacturing in the digital age.

Peter (00:17):

Hey everyone, Peter Crosby here from the Digital Shelf Institute. The U S legal cannabis industry is on track to be a $43 billion business by 2025. Up from 17.5 billion in March of this year, the digital shopping experience is in its infancy, and it can be the fuel for success for all constituencies involved, the brands, the retailers, the shoppers, and to the tech platform that creates the best experience for all of them. That's the mission of Jane technologies and CEO, Socrates Rosenfeld sock joined Rob and I to talk about the why, what, and wow of a platform that today powers more than 2000 local retailers and more than 700,000 products. They are transforming cannabis commerce. So Socrates, thank you so much for joining us on the podcast, Rob and I are super excited to talk about this new and seriously rapidly changing area of digital commerce.

Socrates (01:17):

Well, it's it's great to be on Peter with you and Rob, and thank you so much for having me on.

Peter (01:23):

You know, I mean, we have to start with your story because I think your background led to the idea and really the whole mission of Jane technology. So just tell us a bit about that.

Socrates (01:34):

Sure. yeah, to think, you know, 10 years ago, if someone told me I'd be where I'm at, I I called them a liar. Actually 10 years ago, I was out of the, just got out of the army. I was in the army for about seven years active duty. I got out of the service. I came back home to Boston and long story, short cannabis helped me very much transitioned back home is what I say. And I use the term home to be as broad as I intended to be. And that is, you know, back home to Boston, with my family. But really finding myself again was very, very, very important. We've all changed jobs. We've all moved from locations to another location that in and of itself is very stressful. And I underestimated how stressful that transition would be because on top of all that, I was also coming back from making life and death decisions and not just being a student.

Socrates (02:37):

So I actually never consumed cannabis before I left the army. I was 29 years old and after consuming cannabis, it really helped me connect with my loved ones and myself again. And at the time I was going to school at MIT, which is, you know, known for its technology expertise and, and it was so blessed to be in the classrooms there. And so all the while I was experiencing and uncovering a, a really deep rooted passion for cannabis, I was also experiencing an uncovering, a deep rooted passion for technology and those worlds collided in Silicon valley where after I graduated, I was working as a consultant, studying e-commerce businesses and saw really kind of two real hypothesis emerged for myself. Number one I knew that cannabis was, you know, in a, in a few years that the consumer in cannabis would expect the same level of convenience and simplicity and purchasing power when shopping for cannabis as they would shopping for just about everything else in this world.

Socrates (03:55):

And number two saw the cannabis industry the years, about 2015. At the time we had no digital payments. You had no ability to go direct to consumer. Would you add exist in existing demand size to about a hundred billion dollars? You had an offline retailers trying to service this demand. And we thought, my God, this would be just an unbelievable incubator to go and create what we believe to be the new age of retail or part of the new age of retail whereby it is not looking like an Amazon style, but instead is able to take existing what we call analog retail infrastructure, right products actually sitting on a physical store shelf and, and, and really digitizing that experience. We see that in restaurants, but we S we thought back in 2015 that we're going to see this everywhere else in the world. And we got very, very excited about creating chain and solving a problem and protecting the, the, the integrity of this plan, because it helps so many people. And in parallel to that got very, very excited about creating very innovative technology that we believe will set the stage for what the future of, of e-commerce will look like. 

Peter (05:16):

Yeah, sorry. I was just going to ask, cause you, you raised the restaurant analogy. Can you talk a little bit about that? Like sort of where, where the inspiration is?

Socrates (05:25):

Yeah. So I, and to be clear, I do not think the, the restaurant industry is you know, a kind of pace of the, of the cannabis industry, right? Because the way you shop for restaurants is actually very different than the way you shop for retail items. If you come and visit me in Santa Cruz and you say, you know, I'm looking for a place to eat well, Peter, I'm going to show you restaurants first. And then you're going to decide on the menu item you want, if I say, Hey, these are really cool running shoes. Well, guess what, you're going to search for the running shoe first and then decide what the seller you want. Right? So that's the nuance. The similarity though, is I can't ship a burrito in the mail from Santa Cruz to Boston. I can't ship an eighth of flour from Santa Cruz to Boston.

Socrates (06:16):

And so what this now creates is, is this Odo online to offline experience or omni-channel whatever the buzzword is. These days of being able to just like on door dash or grub hub or Uber eats, being able to start my search, my shopping online, but have that access offline services local to me. And if you think about what you know, and I use Amazon as an example, not to call out, Amazon is an extremely powerful company. That's changed the world. But every time I order something on Amazon, I'm not ordering something from a local retailer to me. And fortunately in cannabis, the ability to go direct to consumer fortunately, or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it is not available. So now it's forced people to expect a level of purchasing power and convenience and simplicity, as you would find on Amazon, I can go on Jane, you could type a search term in broad specific, you can get verified reviews, you can get recommendations.

Socrates (07:20):

You can compare by price, the exact same experience you would have on an aggregator like Amazon, except unlike Amazon due to regulations. All this value is forced to be pushed back into the local retailers. And that's what was the aha moment for us to say, wow, could we do this one day, perhaps in other retail verticals or inspire companies to go in and follow a very similar model whereby now that the consumer is not losing out on the convenience and purchasing power, but instead, now taking his or her dollars and pushing that back into the local ecosystem. That's what got us very, very excited here in cannabis.

Rob (07:58):

And this is a thread that goes all over. E-Commerce almost from the beginning. And actually even before we commerce Walmart in the nineties was getting a lot of flack for taking main street USA out of the picture by, by competing with low, low, low prices. And so you've got Walmart when you've got Amazon and both have the impact on different, different parts of the economy of making hard for local businesses. Amazon originally was bookstores. And so many bookstores are gone because of that. What's so interesting about this is you're, you're a pure play e-commerce, but you exist to make the local businesses more successful, not less successful. And you're doing someone away that isn't crushing their margin. Could you, could you go into a little bit of the business model genius there? Cause I think it's, it's pretty unique in, in any commerce business that I've seen.

Socrates (08:52):

Yes. I S I was very on, I was, I was very fortunate to sit down with a gentleman by the name of Dave brew. He started silver lake brilliant guy. It does some very, very generous work in various communities, particularly with, with the veteran community. And I sat down with him and I said, Dave, you know, you've been an investor in all these innovative businesses. You know, you've, you've, you've saw apple emerge, you saw Facebook emergence, et cetera. What is the one consistent theme across all these businesses? And immediately he said something, he said, pricing courage. And that really stuck with me to have that not like, oh, low prices are very high prices, pricing, courage. He used the word courage. And you know, I, I live here in Santa Cruz, which is a small surfing town in central coast, California.

Socrates (09:51):

There's a lot of small businesses here. It, it serves the community. It, it it hires locals to work at those businesses. They know my name. I I walked down the street. It's, it's a wonderful it's a wonderful vibe to use the California terms. Good vibes out here. When the pandemic hit and people start to order from restaurants a lot through door dash, et cetera. You know, what we started to hear was, you know, we're, we're losing money on every sale. And that kind of brought me back to five or six years ago when I was a consultant studying these aggregators. And again, I'm not calling out the door dashes and Uber's of the world. They had an unbelievable model, but I think it can be improved upon because if you ask a restaurant, Hey, you know, do you like these aggregators?

Socrates (10:47):

They will say yes. In the form of this gets me a lot of orders. It extends my digital reach, but they take a lot out of the margin and they don't really share in the data. So it's almost exploitative in my opinion, where the technology company is exploiting the businesses for their own value, right? Amazon does very similar things. They won't share data back to the brands. And so you're kind of just beholding to Amazon to list. And that's it, you're not learning or improving perhaps one day Amazon, you know, puts out a, a white label product that competes with you that just slightly under priced from where you are. We've, we've heard that right. Many times I'm a big believer in, and I think what Salsify's doing Rob is, is in line with that, where technology should be a tool, a service that works for the people and not the other way around.

Socrates (11:42):

And so largely back in 2017, when we're starting this, this, this business, we saw a parallel with the restaurants being local, locally owned, servicing locals, not really tech savvy folks, just trying to run their retail business as best as they can. And we said, instead of you know, ourselves putting Jane in the middle of the consumer and the store, let's just push Jane into the background and promote these stores. So we do that in the form of the way we price. As you called out, we price on a SAS. We don't take a 20, 30% cut. And it's has forced us to be disciplined and number one, being resourceful and efficient, but number two, creating other diversified past the monetization, which will allow us to subsidize the cost of our e-commerce. Right. And I think you're starting to see that with Instacart. It's very interesting what they're doing now, that Instacart is growing and people are starting to shop from their groceries, not walking down the aisle, but through these aggregators, now Instacart's realizing that they can monetize on digital advertising data.

Socrates (12:52):

And hopefully that subsidizes their ability to keep costs low for these groceries. Number two, we, we give our data back to these retailers and these brands why, because it's only when they're successful when they're carrying the right products that we're successful. And so we, we want to align not only our business model, but our service offering with really servicing these businesses and keeping Jane in the background. This is why you go on and on, you know, we, we service about 2200 dispensaries across the country. Now in north America, you won't see a Jane logo on any of these menus because it's not about us. And I think that's something that as, as the tech community, you know, we're responsible for that. W what is the purpose of tech? Is it to make the tech company, the end all be all, or is it to service the people who use the technology and to make their lives easier, better, more valuable, et cetera, that that's, that's what we believe in.

Socrates (13:55):

And we put our money where our mouth is, and we have the pricing courage to say, okay, Hey, let's not go down that road of taking a 20, 30% take rate. Let's create an ecosystem where we can create different paths to monetization, and no one's really getting jammed up or making no money by using our service. That doesn't seem right. You've seen this with the emergence in, in restaurants with companies like, oh, low watermark Chown now, right? That are going in the opposite direction of saying, Hey, let us create the software as a service and enable you guys to build your own business on top, rather than, Hey, let us do everything for you. And you guys are kind of just cooks in the kitchen, servicing these orders, but you don't know your customers. You don't have rights to that information. And, oh, by the way, you know, we're going to take a pretty sizable chunk out of your margin. We just didn't think that was the precedent that we want to set for this industry, quite frankly, because if we, if we didn't make the retailer successful and then make the brand successful, there was no way this industry was going to be successful. And to bring it all the way back, we're doing this to create safe, accountable access to a plant that helps a lot of people. And so we had to take that into account as we were building our model four or five years ago.

Rob (15:08):

And it's very much a mission based approach where, you know, there's a term that's been thrown around in business the last two years, stakeholder capitalism, where you're, you're, you've got a bigger calling in a way for Jane than simply being a techie commerce company. You're, you're servicing a customer and you're you're customer centric, but you're also servicing a community and an ecosystem and your community and ecosystem centric. And there are very few companies that balanced that. Well the big one that comes to mind for me is Stripe which is, has the mission of trying to raise the GDP of the internet. And it's really does a lot of things to fight for small businesses and whatnot. I think it's a really, really admirable approach. Now, the other thing that is, I find really interesting about your business from the ecosystem enablement perspective is cannabis was not something that you could legally sell until until quite recently, like I have family members that, you know, sold cannabis in the nineties, but it was, you know, we

Socrates (16:13):

Won't mention their name.

Rob (16:17):

They're in the witness protection program. We'll name names here, but, but you know, it was, it was, you couldn't have a storefront back then. And so w what's interesting about this is the entire category didn't exist and now it exists and there, and therefore there was zero infrastructure for it, and you're creating a tech company in a near total vacuum. And so if you're, if you're Kroger and your Procter and gamble, or your Coca-Cola or whatnot, there's a whole suite of technologies to manage supply chain to, to, to manage your, your data and your, you know, for paneling and for sales, 10 managed one P sales were three P marketplace selling to, to manage every aspect of the both in-store and online selling process in Jane in the, the world that Jane exists, there's nothing. So you've got a technology company that to serve the ecosystem is building effectively every single thing in the commerce stack from scratch, but you're doing so in a way that's remarkably community oriented. And, and I want to, I want to get back to the data, because I think that the data is an interesting moat for Jane, but it's also like a brilliant gift back to the community. So the, the the data is effectively pooled. Can you, can you describe exactly how the data is pooled and then how it gets shared back for the betterment of these local businesses?

Socrates (17:45):

Absolutely. you know, and before I go into that, think you bring up a great point. And I'm going to talk about Amazon again. You know, Jeff Bezos from day one, everything is for the customer, right? And, and look at, look at the manifestation of that commitment in that, that vision. And it's wonderful, right? Like as a consumer, there is no better place to shop in my opinion than amazon.com. And I will say this as someone who's trying to figure out you know a business to run alongside Amazon because Amazon does everything with the consumer in mind in retail and in commerce that I think that's half the equation the consumers have, but there's also a seller ecosystem that you need to take care of. And if you jam up the seller ecosystem or you isolate them or exploit them, or you withhold information from them, don't make them successful, or you undercut them.

Socrates (18:53):

Then what ends up happening is you have the consumer, and then you have Amazon, you have the consumer, you have door dash, you're the consumer, you have fill in the blank. And that's a really, I'm not going to use the word dangerous, but it is a scenario that we don't want to create. We want to create the connective tissue, that digital infrastructure is you would alluding to Rob. And I promise, I'll get to your, your, your question about the data, but I'm going to give you some credit cause you, I think you summed it up in a previous conversation. So, well, you said, you know, soccer, Jane is like a utility company that is able to lay the utility before the buildings have ever been built. I think you said that. And I, and I have I've stolen that and have used that in my pitches.

Socrates (19:41):

So thanks for helping me close the series C man, cause it's, it is true, right? Like where, if I'm a utility company today and I have to put cabling in, well, it's not going to be perfectly efficient. It's going to be perfectly integrated. It's going to be kind of ho know Hackney together, but here we are, where there is no digital payments. There's no real digital advertising. There's no data established skew catalog, et cetera. So man, we get to build this and do it in a way where we can take care of the entire ecosystem and build a Jason sees where everything works really efficient with one another and maybe a good segue into our data. And so when we ran into this issue, back in 2017, we realized that, you know, let's say Peter, you have a dispensary and Rob, you have a dispensary, right?

Socrates (20:34):

You guys carry the exact same product in your stores, separate store, same product. Well, Peter, when you go into your backend system and say, okay, let's log this product into our point of sale or inventory system. You might abbreviate a certain way, right? Maybe your, your staff has an SOP. Maybe you're using a different point of sale. Maybe your night shift spit misspell something. Cause it's so late at night or something like that. Rob you and your staff on your store, we'll go through the exact same scenario. So what ends up happening is that one product, even though it's the exact same skew gets represented very differently. And so this is why if you've ever peeled through like Nielsen data sets or IRI data, I was a former consultant. So that was a miserable experience. I will say, I'm trying to cleanse data and it's not a hundred percent accurate.

Socrates (21:26):

What we do is actually we cleanse all that information in real time at the point of sale. So what ends up happening now is we're able, no matter Peter, if you misspell it and Rob you abbreviate a different way, we have some some patented capabilities to cleanse that information. And so now what we're able to do is share that information in, in kind of to three stakeholders. Number one, we share that information back to the customer, right? Because we're able now to follow that one digital skew across multiple sellers across multiple states. Well guess what? Now we can put verified reviews against that one individual skew. We can start recommending based on that one individual skew, what you're putting in your cart, others like you, right. Amazon has done it so well. That's what we're able to do. You're not able to do that with really dirty data.

Socrates (22:16):

So when we provide value back to the consumer to we tell brands, Hey, these are how your skews are performing, not historical. Hey, this is your brand or your category, but individual, how your skews perform? What are compliments? What are substitutes to your skew? What's the price sensitivity of your skew in Northern California versus Southern California? What is this demographic and psychographic information on consumers who purchase your skews? That's all information that if you called up a brand today and it's crazy, but if you call it a brand today and just any cannabis brand, you said, who are your customers? They wouldn't be able to tell you without gene information. And then lastly, the little, the kind of last group of stakeholders that we support are the retailers, right? These are again, small businesses. I was shocked to find out that restaurants from their aggregators don't get any information, which is crazy to me, what we provide.

Socrates (23:17):

Number one, the stores own this information. We don't own it. They own it. So they have all this data either in raw or dashboard format to understand how their performance at their store performs. They'll be able to understand, okay, you know, these are the most popular skews. These are the times a day. So on and so forth. We call those table stakes. That's basic information that you should know as a retailer. And now, as things are becoming more and more digital, these smaller retailers are starting to realize there's a lot of value in this data. The big guys already knew this, but where we differentiate now is now you're able to understand how you perform relative to your geography. Right now, you're, we're able to tell stores. These are the exact skews you need to be carrying in central coast, California versus bay area versus your store down in Southern California.

Socrates (24:11):

This is the price sensitivity against that skew. These are compliments and substitutes. So we're not only sharing information about how they perform within the confines of their four walls. But now if they, if they want, obviously this is anonymized and we're not saying, Hey, the store down the street, it's carrying this. You should too. We're saying, Hey, the most popular skews in Northern California are X, Y, and Z. These are the products you aren't carrying. You should maybe look, look at this. Or did you realize that people who buy, you know, CBD tea also ends up buying a gluten-free baked goods alongside their CBD T you should think about running a special that combines these two products and, and you'll be able to create more value for yourself and your customers. That's what we're able to do. You're not able to do this though, Rob, by scraping information, that's dirty.

Socrates (25:03):

You're not able to do this by taking historical information and trying to predict the future. What we do now is all of this is happening in real time. It's constantly changing and think of us almost kind of like, like the NASDAQ of cannabis products now where we know if you were to give us a zip code, what products are being consumed right now, and how is that stacking up, you know, to future or, or historical. And we're again, packaging that up and giving that back to the, to the retailers and brands, because we want to enable their success because that's ultimately how we grow our success.

Rob (25:38):

And what's the you used a statistic when we were doing the prep on how many skews we're talking about here, because it's a very artisinal product at this time. How many what's, what's the catalog size?

Socrates (25:51):

So our, our catalog it's about 750,000 skews and against, yeah, it's crazy. And against each individual skew, our algorithms have run through on average, about 500 permutations of how that skew is represented. Every misspelling, every abbreviation, it blows people's minds because a lot of people think, oh, cannabis is like alcohol, right? Like it's a recreational product. People consume it. Not every day. You know, it's it's social. Well, actually it's actually nothing like alcohol. In my opinion, I, I predict cannabis will be bigger than alcohol globally. Why? Because this is a wellness product. You feel well, it's like taking vitamins for, I'm not saying for everyone, but for, for most people, but number two, and perhaps the most important thing is you can't, you can only drink alcohol. You can drink cannabis, you can smoke it. You can smoke it in flower form, concentrate form.

Socrates (26:51):

You can put it in topical creams, you can put it on makeup. You can give it to your dog. So on. And so, and then you talk edibles. Now they're salty snacks, sweet snacks, gluten-free mints. The permutations are almost endless. And what we've done is early, early on, we said, someone's got to tie this whole thing together. Someone has to establish the foundation of this information. And so let's go and do this. We had to do it because it made our e-commerce automated. We had to have machine learning algorithms that could cleanse raw data information, and so on and so forth. So we had to build a catalog. But now what this allows us to do is we're enabling B2B businesses. We're enabling payment companies, CRM companies, because we're able to almost become this nexus, this hub, where we can send out data, not only to brands and dispensaries, but other third-party software and kind of be that connective tissue to tie it all together. It's been really exciting. And I think we only get there because cannabis is coming in all these crazy cool, fun, effective form factors.

Peter (28:01):

And so w whenever you've been talking about the data and I'm sure it's a, and you tell me, well, I guess ultimately I'm trying to figure out where you make money. And so and, and they particularly, cause I hear you say, and we can give the data back. I'm guessing you don't just give the data backup that, you know, when you have that much sort of meaningful data. So anyway, tell me how you make money.

Socrates (28:30):

We actually we do give the data back, Peter, you know, we, we say, this is your information habit. Now, if you want the market information, how do I stack up relative to, you know, Illinois or all of the us, or, you know Colorado east, Colorado versus west Colorado, then yes, we, we put a premium on that information because quite frankly, you know, we have a service that connects all these different disparate data points, and we're able to cleanly tell you exactly how you stack up again, being, being anonymizing that and being good governors of that, of that information. Sure. We make money. You know, I, I think if I was a consultant side, I, you say I was the best armchair quarterback for business. And I saw, you know, and now as an operator, I realized it ain't that easy.

Socrates (29:25):

Right. but w what I saw as a limitation to some of these aggregators was that they built a very linear business model, meaning they made a lot of money, but they only did it from one source. I read somewhere too, you know, Facebook, for instance, 98% of their revenue comes from ads. So they got to make sure that they keep those ads going or else their business goes away. Right? you're taking an Uber eats or door dash, for example, you know, they take a sizable chunk out of that sale. They got to make sure that they keep generating those sales, which is, which is exactly what they shouldn't be doing. But what we wanted to do was create different paths. The monetization part of that was a forcing function of our inability to take, or our unwillingness to take a 20% take rate.

Socrates (30:15):

So what we do now is we monetize on e-commerce by essentially giving this away at cost is a very low SAS business. We monetize on the market basket data. And we're also in a position now where we can do some very interesting things by brokering digital advertising, from the brands who want to promote their products on local menus, to consumers that have a high propensity to purchase their products. Right. I'm going to go down a two-minute rabbit hole for people. I think this is important. You know, you walk down the grocery store aisle, and Rob's heard this analogy 10 times, so apologies, but you, you know, you go down the snack aisle and you see Frito-Lay potato chips at eye level center aisle, no matter where you are, no matter what grocery store you go into. Well, Frito lay in their distributors have gone to these grocery stores and negotiated what's known as the slotting fee or shelving fee.

Socrates (31:13):

Right? Walter Rob is a, the former CEO of whole foods is an advisor to our business. He talked to us about this of, of, you know, that shelf space is fixed and you make one deal with Frito-Lay. Now, all you're going to see is Frito lay there. But guess what? If I, if I walked down that aisle and I don't like potato chips, which is a lie I do, right. I consume cannabis just like the rest of them. Let's just say, I talk about pairing things together. Yeah, there you go. Let's let's say I like pretzels, or I want peanuts or something like that. And I can't find that it's not the best experience for me as a consumer. And it's really not the best experience for Frito-Lay because they're wasting advertising dollars, trying to advertise to consumer that has no propensity to purchase their product.

Socrates (32:00):

And it's a waste of space for whole foods, for instance, because now they're wasting their valuable shelving space, what we're able to do. And this goes all the way back to our ability to cleanse data is now we can start shifting products up and down. So Peter, when you go to a dispensary's menu and we know you're gluten-free, and we know you like, you know, sweet edibles, well, guess what? We're going to show a sponsored product if the store allows for it. And if the brand pays us to do this, to go and put that sponsored product, that's already sitting at the store in front of you. So it's as if we can move the shelves up and down, and these shelves are infinite. And then when Rob comes to the menu and he likes consuming flour, well, guess what, we're going to, we're going to push flour to the top of the menu.

Socrates (32:45):

What we've seen come back from that is if a brand gives us a dollar, what we give for them in the form of a sale as an ROI is $20 in return. And that's within 11 days, which is pretty crazy, right? It's an investment now. Yeah. It's nuts. And so, and I can data who knows why we can create that level of ROI, but to your point, Rob it's because we control the infrastructure so we can see everything. And now we know, Hey, let's put this product in front of Peter at this time, and we're not going to miss.

Peter (33:22):

And were you also tied into inventory as well? So, you know, you're only promoting things that they actually have. Exactly.

Socrates (33:30):

Wow, that's the worst thing you do. And again, that's why we don't, we hesitate to call it advertising. It's really more digital merchandising because it's not like we're throwing a banner ad and you click on it and you, you know, you, oh. Why did I click on this are for swearing. I go to an external website, this is disruptive, right? What we're creating is an immersive experience. Cool. We know a little bit about you guess what? Let's change the menu items around and position them accordingly. Some will be sponsored some won't, but that creates a very personal experience for you on behalf of this local retailer. And again, that's the win-win win model that we're always trying to create. And so to kind of bring it back to your question, Peter, that's how we monetize. So if we can monetize on data, if we can monetize on ads, that allows us to continue to keep costs low for our retailers and not gouge them, which allows us to complete this flywheel. And that's what we've set. And it's really exciting. And you know, I think this, this model is going to emerge in other retail verticals. And I'm, I hope people copy us on this because ultimately this is going to create a winning ecosystem for all

Peter (34:38):

Two things on that one. Thank you for finally making us an explicit podcast. No, we've been, no, we've been trying for, for two, three years now. So we flattened Duncan. I'm sure. I'm sure Barbara, I have cursed on a number of occasions. So no worries. Secondly what I love about that when I, when I shift my focus around and think about the experience for a consumer in a market like this, it's like, I think back to prohibition, right? Like coming out of prohibition and at least then you had the federal government say, you know, saying blanket, alright, all bars, you know, all bars are open. Literally all bars are down. I think in this case, there is such a big potential market for these products, but so much uncertainty and, and, and ignorance around the whole industry and also individual products that the, I would imagine in some ways, the ability for someone to go online and search and sort of in privacy and in the comfort of their own home or, or their drivers seat in their car while they're not driving. I would think that that would be such an easier entry point than showing my ID and walking into that store without knowing if I even want to be in there. Is that, is that right? Am I making,

Socrates (36:01):

Yeah, you're, you're, you're spot on. I mean, let's, let's remove cannabis altogether. If I'm looking for a flat screen TV, right. I'm probably going to start doing my research online because I don't want to drive to the store. And I see only a very limited set of TVs. And maybe this staff member is trying to push something that I don't want. Maybe I'm afraid to ask a dumb question. I don't get reviews. I can't ask other people, Hey, you bought this TV, you live in a one-bedroom apartment. Does this work for you? You know, I, I don't get to do any of that. That's why everything is gravitated more and more online. But now you, you, you layer on top as you, as you alluded to Peter. Now, a substance that perhaps you want an annuity, you want privacy, you want to be able to research certain things to say, Hey, I have a stomach issue. What's a good edible for my stomach. And you don't want to ask a budtender for that information, but

Peter (37:04):

Tender. Oh, really?

Socrates (37:08):

It's a bud tender. Yeah. And it's it's actually, you know, they, they, they serve a very important purpose. It is not like an, a, no offense to any liquor store attendants, but it's not like the guy behind the liquor store. That's just like, yeah, buy whatever you want, man. This vodka that comes in a plastic bottle, that one that comes to class, I don't care. And I quite frankly, I perhaps don't know, but you talk to bud tenders, at least in this point in time, people are in this industry for a reason they care. And you know, as good as they are though, as good as they are, they still aren't perfect. And that's why someone like my mother, for instance, who does not want to wait in line, does not want to, you know, meet her colleagues at a dispensary, does not want to ask a dumb question or get pressured into buying something that makes her uncomfortable.

Socrates (37:59):

She gravitates to a site like Jane, where she can type in any keyword. She can read, verify reviews from people just like her. She can compare by price and make sure she's getting a good deal. And then she can go in with confidence as an educated consumer and then engage with the budtender if she so chooses. So I think regardless, right, future generations of shoppers are not going to be those that are comfortable, you know, just randomly driving, walking into a store they've been trained since the day when they were born to use a digital tool and have that purchasing power, very well-informed consumers before they ever hit order, or go in and talk to someone at a physical retail store. That is certainly the case here in cannabis. And I don't see that changing anytime soon. Yeah.

Rob (38:46):

That's such a benefit of you building that business today is the consumer is in charge of when, where, and how they shop. And you can do the business thoughtfully understanding that there's a bunch of different types of people that like to shop a bunch of different types of ways. I mean, just honestly thinking about just straight cannabis. And for me, I don't, I don't like talking to people. So I, I would definitely do the online thing, but you know, my, my dad's got a medical condition for which he uses and deeply appreciates cannabis and he loves to talk to people and like just the experience of going to the store and ask to talk to like, that's it, that's a good day for him. You know, and for me, the idea of just going in there and talking to somebody for 20 minutes is not a good day. So it depends depending on what type of consumer you're looking at to serve, you can help, you can help both. And that's, I mean, that's, so this moment in time, it's just a great way to be.

Peter (39:45):

The hope is what I hope is going to come out of. This is a whole new generation of like Frank Sinatra saloon songs that are for bud tenders. You know, just letting me pour out my problems at the dispensary. There's some good, there's some good music. It's good.

Socrates (40:03):

I think there's been a lot of music created either about candidates or, or, or while consuming cannabis. So we have at least that plant to thank for that, but yeah,

Peter (40:12):

We'll be right sock before we go. I do want to talk a bit about the competitive mode. Cause one of the things you said when we prepped is that chain is the only place where people can do price comparisons anywhere in the world. Why is that true? And why is that?

Socrates (40:28):

That is true. So you can go on iHeart, jane.com, share your, your location and start comparing a product on various factors, reviews, price proximity ratings. I already said that, no, not dissimilar to any other aggregator, right? If you go to other competitive sites, you can't do that. They force you to pick a seller first and then go into the menu and then see, okay, does this seller have my product that I'm looking for? But what we were talking about first, Peter was, you know, way back to the beginning. That's not how anybody shops for retail period, maybe luxury. I haven't, I don't shop luxury goods. But let's say I, I wanted to shop, you know at, at Louis Vuitton, maybe I don't know what I want. Okay. That's what I'm going to go into a store and kind randomly peruse and, you know, pick the cheapest wallet or pair of socks or a belt or something, and then buy that.

Socrates (41:39):

But think about the last item you purchased online, did you randomly go to a seller, find that you go on Amazon and you pick a seller first, and then you say, okay, does this seller have my, my flat screen TV? No, you just simply type in what you want. And you can compare by the sellers. The reason why our competitors can't replicate this quite frankly, is because they haven't done the hard yards of investing in data cleansing upfront. And now it's a function. If you know stuff about machine learning, it's now it becomes a function of time. And so they can try to close the gap, but it's going to be very, very difficult for them to get to where we are. And by the time they do, you know, the high positives is that we've continued on. And so to do the data cleansing upfront is really, really difficult.

Socrates (42:30):

And we committed ourselves to do it. It took us two and a half years to build this product, to launch, which is insane. And it Rob you, you know, like, it's just, it's crazy. You want to launch, you want to get it out there. But we always said, we need to protect the integrity of this data, because if we can do that, now we can build other experiences and things on top of this, that's what we've done. I think our competitors chose a different route. And that's why if you go to any other competitor website, you'll, you won't be able to compare by price. And fortunately for us, we put ourselves in a position where we can, we can offer this to our consumers.

Rob (43:05):

The interesting thing with a lot of these businesses is understanding where the highest hill is in the landscape that, you know, from which you can attack the general problem. And not, not just skipping to the one that happens to be the shortest and closest and finding that balance on development. I mean, that's, it's a, it's a hard thing to do two and a half years is a, is a long time to be building that out. So I mean, congrats for getting through it

Socrates (43:34):

The whole time I was it was a, it was a crazy time, you know, we were sleeping on couches being like, you know, a you here. And we went against really what all the books are telling you. Like, go fast, go, go, go, go, go, go. And fortunately my brother, his CTO co-founder who had experience in data cleansing upfront said, no, we need to protect the integrity of this. And I'm telling you it will be worth it. And he thinks, you know, he's he's right. So shout out to Abe on that one. But you know, Rob speaking to a fellow entrepreneurs, we have the saying at the company is a go go where it's hard. Don't go where it's easy, go where it's really, really scary and difficult. And like, no, one's touched it before, because if we can not recklessly looking for every kind of dark corner in, in the, in the industry, but where we can go, it's hard that tells us that there's value there. And that was certainly very hard for us. And, and it was tempting for us to turn around multiple times and we didn't. And now, now, now we're able to sit on top of 750,000 skews and have algorithms that had been running now for five years to cleanse that information. And now we're able to build ancillary businesses pretty aggressively on the foundation of, of cleanse market basket data. And we would not be here today, if that's not the commitment we made, you know, five years ago.

Peter (45:03):

Well, I mean, just, and part of that, just reading the, you know, the mission on your website about creating a model where everyone can, when you started out thinking about the communities you wanted to serve, and when you do that, then you have to go where it's hard, because if you're going to achieve that, you've got to, you've got to go for the hard problems. So congratulations. It's super exciting. And thank you for joining us. I do have probably the most important question of the day. Do you have a favorite product or product line? And I'm just asking for a friend

Socrates (45:42):


Socrates (45:43):

Peter, hypothetically speaking, if you were to come visit me out here in Santa Cruz and you Rob and the rest of the team are welcome any time, you know, we talked about local, so I'm going to, I'm going to get some shine to some local products. I think first and foremost, the Santa Cruz veterans Alliance growers they're veterans you know, in, in, in the military, you, you, you, you learn attention to detail. You learn the margin of excellence. These guys put it into their garden and their, their products are phenomenal. And it not only does it help veterans, it helps a lot of people, things like anxiety, sleep pain, et cetera, but they also give their medicine away for any veteran who needs it is not able to purchase that. So, so that's one, I, I love a caring kind is there's a local grower here. I'm all about putting good ingredients back into the plant. Some national brands can, if you like beverages, they're growing significantly. I mean, hats off to their team for mainstreaming cannabis beverages. There, there are so many out there, but, you know, I, I tend to flock to the local growers, just like I, I tend to buy local from my grocery store, et cetera. So if your friend ever comes out speaking theater and wants to come in and imbibe, I'm always here and can show them

Peter (47:07):

Well, I'll talk to treat her prospie and see if that's possible. So thank you so much for joining us. We're really grateful that you came on the podcast and I can't wait to watch where, where Jane technologies is going to go. Thank you.

Socrates (47:22):

Thanks so much for having me on it was a pleasure. Thanks guys.

Peter (47:26):

Thanks again to Rosenfeld for joining us on the podcast, we provided the links to the recommendations he shared in the show notes, share this with any colleague or friend you think might be inspired, either commerce wise or tech wise or shopping wise. Thanks for being part of our community.