Y Combinator Makes First Marijuana Bet In Delivery Service Meadow
By Chris Roberts |
Last week, Y Cominbator partner Justin Kan — he of the livestreamed life Justin.TV — told a group of investors that now is the time to bet on “crazy ideas” in the California cannabis industry. And Kan and his crew at the famed accelerator are putting their money where marijuana is, making Web-based marijuana delivery startup Meadow one of their winter investments.
And the idea is not all that crazy. For starters, there are at least two other competitors — all of which have been described as “the Uber of marijuana” — who also use mobile Web to connect dispensaries with cannabis patients (there’s no cannabis delivery app yet; Meadow had an app but both Google and Apple banned it from their app stores).
Meadow has an additional service, though — they’re also offering “on-demand,” mobile-hailed consultations and recommendations from medical marijuana physicians, founder David Hua said Tuesday.
Then keep in mind that the legal cannabis market in America grew to $2.7 billion last year, a 74 percent jump year-over-year, according to data from Arcview Group (in front of whom Kan made his pitch). The famed accelerator invests $120,000 early-stage companies in exchange for 7% of that company’s equity — which, if the cannabis industry continues on its exponential growth, could be a very good bet indeed.
Along with Meadow, San Francisco-based Eaze and Los Angeles-based Nestdrop also provide Web-based links between dispensaries and patients. All three went live late last year, and all three describe themselves as “software companies” who merely facilitate a connection between weed and weed users.
That may seem like a minor distinction, but it significantly reduces risk — thereby making the companies a much more attractive investment vehicle.
Meadow offering doctors’ consultations on demand via Web is definitely a new thing. And this is not going to be a doctors’ visit via Skype or instant message, Hua told us Tuesday. “The experience you get at [cannabis] doctors’ offices varies greatly,” said Hua, being diplomatic. “If someone out there is smoking and getting paranoid, the doctor can tell them, ‘Ok, maybe you’re smoking too much.’ Or the wrong strain. The doctor can help them titrate their dose.”
Via Meadow, in addition to a bag of OG Kush, users will be able to set up an appointment with a physician, who will then be able to make a house call within 15 to 45 minutes, Hua said. New recommendations are $100, with renewals $50 — a little more expensive than the pop-up pot doc shops with vinyl signs, but the convenience!
So what’s next for Meadow? Maybe getting into the App store for one, but that could be after legalization, or beyond. But if the Y Combinator’s betting history is any indication — the San Francisco accelerator has made some very good picks in its nearly 10 years in existence —
Peter Thiel may have some competition the next time he makes a $75 million investment in the marijuana industry.