From left are Dalilah Cann CTO Ariana Waller, CEO Annie Young and CMO Emily Lynn. Courtesy Dalilah Cann
Dalilah Cann, a women-owned tech startup, is cutting through the legal and administrative hurdles of connecting cannabis businesses to consumers.
The group launched the Dalilah Cann website and mobile application for the Android Store in August. The platform offers not only products but cannabis news and education material, as well.
The idea took off after the team participated in, and subsequently won, the Start Garden 2019 Techstars weekend pitch in May. CEO Annie Young worked with CMO Emily Lynn and two other people who are no longer with Dalilah Cann to develop their 30-second pitch.
“My 30-second pitch was, ‘I just want to deliver your weed,’” Young said. “From there, we grew it into Dalilah Cann.”
Young said online sales and online marketing is huge, but the challenge of selling cannabis or any other restricted product online comes down to terms, not laws. Businesses that try to advertise and sell cannabis products on all-ages platforms like Facebook are quickly dismantled.
“The only way around that is to create your own,” Young said. “It’s not illegal to put it on a website, as long as you can guarantee that less than 30% of your clients are 21 or younger.”
Young is a former IT administrator who also started KBoose, a personal assistant platform designed to help families and caregivers fill in the gaps when their elderly, disabled or dependent loved one has a need they cannot meet.
Young said some of her seniors have issues with pain and struggle to afford the proper medication, which inspired her to pursue a tech solution to the problem.
“I have one client, in particular, that struggles to buy weed, so how do we make that easier for them?” she said. “Currently, they have to go through a medical process to get it, and it’s hard. How do we make it so she can go get it without needing to jump through all the hoops?”
About a month after winning Techstars, Young and Lynn joined forces with Ariana Waller, who was a judge on the Techstars panel. Waller also has a background in technology and a passion for criminal justice, which inspired her to join the Dalilah Cann team.
“For me personally, I am passionate about the cannabis industry because I think it directly connects to one of my other passions, which is criminal justice and ensuring that people of color … have access to this industry in a way that in the past has negatively affected us,” Waller said.
Beyond servicing medical patients and empowering minority communities, the Dalilah Cann marketplace allows for discreet purchase of cannabis products for people who may not want their business known, Young said.
“West Michigan, while we have this overlay of progressiveness — we’ve got all this beer stuff going on — we’re an incredibly conservative community, and people don’t want everybody knowing they’re going out and buying weed,” Young said. “So, how do we help them with a level of discretion?”
Young said the legal cannabis industry is struggling because of continuing black-market sales.
“It’s because of convenience,” Young said. “Now, I got to go to the dispensary. I’ve got to do all these things. I used to be able to just call my friend and deliver it. That’s easier.”
Dalilah Cann aims to be the easier, legal alternative to off-market cannabis dealing. The platform the group is launching is not intended to sell cannabis products but rather serves to connect customers with sellers.
The team, however, is developing an instructional kit, dubbed Doobies by Dalilah, which Waller said includes “everything you need to roll a joint.”
A percentage of Dalilah Cann’s sales will go to benefit the Black and Brown Cannabis Guild, a local nonprofit advocating social equity in the cannabis industry.
Dalilah Cann’s main goal is to tap into microbusinesses in the cannabis industry, whereas similar platforms are focusing on bigger dispensaries, Waller said.
Dalilah Cann has a funding goal of about $500,000, which will allow the group to take on new talent and technology. The team recently was invited to exhibit and pitch at the Forbes Under 30 Summit competition in Detroit, where it also could win a $250,000 marketing package.