Hey Andrew! Yeah, the people at Meadow definitely seem like some good folks. We were actually going to apply to that YC batch, but didn’t feel like we were ready by the time apps were due, then when we saw that Meadow got in, we were like “Aw darn! We should found a way to push forward harder!”. All is well though, we applied to the next YC and 500 batches, although I know it’s unlikely that YC would fund two companies in a row that are so similar. However, our business models are different at their core (we view partnering with dispensaries are more of a short-term patient acquisition strategy rather than a distribution strategy).
Yeah, not being able to at least get your name out there through paid acq. Is definitely a challenge…I think our adwords campaign lasted for a full 2 days before it was pulled (Google was very kind in explaining why though). Ultimately, I think it’s for the better. I remember hearing something along the lines of “Paid is good if you already have traction…kind of like pouring gasoline on a fire, but pouring gasoline on nothing won’t do much”. So this has forced us to try and experiment with different guerrilla marketing tactics (such as driving around for Uber in cars filled with marketing for CleverTree, cross-promoting with doctors offices and standing outside giving promos to all the new patients who come out, setting up an illegal booth at Sac State during the first week of school…haha). We actually found something that worked really well, and we were almost getting too many patients signing up over a two-day period that we had to end it. Both of us cofounders were driving and fulfilling orders non-stop for 12 hours each day, and we still couldn’t keep up…delivery times lagged and customer experience suffered so we had to take a step back. Plus since we are completely bootstrapped, it’s better not to pour money into paid acq., because this will make us work harder to achieve a better product-market fit and customer service levels.
The biggest thing I’ve learned so far that the important thing here is the marijuana and not the tech. That’s why we haven’t even attempted to get into something like Techcrunch or Pando like our competitors, because our audience aren’t techies at the core - they are marijuana users and they are local. We’ve really tried to dig in deep to the marijuana industry/communities and made several really strong connections that I think will benefit us far more than anything else. Right before we launched I was able to go on a “ride-a-long” with a driver for a local marijuana delivery service here in Sacramento, and I learned so much from that experience about what it’s like to be a driver in this industry, and what the customers are like, and how they operate (they have three years of experience under their belt servicing deliveries here). We learn what customers look for and what they are loyal to (with hundreds of different dispensaries in any given city, this is huge for us to understand!)
But yes, we definitely believe this market is going to explode, especially with impending recreational legalization here in California in 2016. Hopefully there are exciting times ahead!