샌프란시스코에 위치한 Eaze (이즈)라는 회사가 대마초를 배달해주는 서비스를 제공하는 아이디어로 벤처캐피탈 회사인 DCM Ventures와 500 Startups, Casa Verde Ventures (미국 래퍼 스눕독의 투자회사) 및 엔젤 투자자들로부터 시리즈 A 펀딩을 받았다는 소식이다. EAZE는 현재 운영중인 샌프란시스코 지역을 넘어선 시장을 타겟하기 위해 자금을 조달했고 사업을 키우는데 돈을 쓸 것이라고 밝혔다.
작년 여름에 시작된 Eaze는 이번 1,000만 달러 펀딩을 중심으로 추가적인 투자유치와 사업확장 및 운영을 할 것이라고 한다. Eaze의 창업자/CEO인 키스 맥카티 (Keith McCarthy)는 Eaze의 핵심은 간결함이라고 한다. 다른 배달서비스는 구입가능한 품목들을 늘어놓는 반면에 Eaze는 심플하고 직관적인 UI는 물론 판매하는 품목 (캐너비스 – 대마초)의 최소화역시 간결함을 더한다고 했다.
물론, Eaze의 대마초 배달 사업은 “의료용” (불면증이나 불안장애, 스트레스등의 치료에도 “의료용” 목적으로 대마초 구입이 가능하다)에 한 해있고 미국내에서도 합법화된 지역은 몇 곳 되지 않는다. IT/SW 전문 매체인 테크크런치는 대마초 합법화가 Eaze의 사업에 큰 영향을 미칠 것이라고 말했다 (당연…). 테크크런치 기자는 직접 *의료용* 목적으로 대마초를 Eaze를 통해 구입해봤는데, 실제로 15분만에 집 앞으로 대마초가 배달됬다고 했다.
이번 1000만 달러 투자 유치 소식이 보도되면서 언론들은 일제히 “UBER for Weed”라는 제목 (Weed = 대마초)으로 기사를 다루기 시작했다. Eaze의 성패는 두고 지켜봐야할듯 싶다.
There’s an Uber for everything nowadays, so why not an Uber for weed?
Eaze, a startup that enables medical marijuana patients to order cannabis products online and have those goodies delivered to their homes, today is announcing $10 million in Series A round funding led by DCM Ventures with participation from Fresh VC, 500 Startups, Snoop Dogg’s Casa Verde Ventures, and other strategic investors.
The new funds come on top of $1.5 million in seed funding the company had raised last year. The cash will be used to help the company expand availability of its platform into new markets beyond just the San Francisco Bay Area, where it was founded.
Launched last summer, Eaze is looking to take advantage of a few different trends. The first is just an acceptance that marijuana use — whether for recreational of medicinal purposes — is here to stay, and is likely to become more pervasive as more states legalize and/or decriminalize cannabis use.
The second trend is the move to make everything on demand — i.e. to make any product available to be ordered via web or mobile app, and to have it delivered within a short period of time, usually an hour or less.
Of course, weed delivery is nothing new. In fact, it’s probably one of the least novel segments of the cannabis industry, since marijuana users have been able to call a local
dealerdistributor and have an eighth brought straight to their home for decades.
What’s different and interesting about this new generation of weed delivery services is that they’re helping to facilitate the legal purchase of cannabis products. In Eaze’s case today, that means connecting medical marijuana patients in California with local dispensaries that offer delivery in as little as 10 minutes.
According to Eaze founder and CEO Keith McCarty, the company works with “only the best” dispensaries to highlight the top products for customers to purchase. Rather than provide an exhaustive list of available products, Eaze works to narrow things down to the flowers, edibles, and concentrates users are most likely to actually buy.
I tried Eaze over the weekend, hoping to find medicinal marijuana products to treat my insomnia and anxiety*. And while I was impressed at the speed of delivery (15 minutes from order being placed to drop-off), I was a little disappointed at a few other features of the service.
For one thing, I actually like a wider variety of products to choose from, so I was a little disappointed by the selection available on Eaze. For another thing, I was bummed that I would have to pay in cash — especially in today’s world of digital and mobile payments.
Eaze acts as a facilitating platform between buyer and seller, but it also helps to more efficiently make deliveries. It provides a driver-side app to help route deliveries based on proximity of the driver and inventory on hand. It also automatically updates routes in the case of a driver being waylaid or a customer canceling an order.
While it’s mostly providing a new way for patients and cannabis providers to find each other, Eaze’s funding signals a shift in the way cannabis-focused startups operate. Slowly but surely, investors are showing they’re no longer afraid to back startups looking to make it easier for customers to gain access to marijuana.
Due to legalization of medical and recreational use of marijuana in a growing number of states around the country, betting on businesses that serve cannabis users is not as risky a bet as it once was. In addition to Eaze’s funding, you can see that in the recent $75 million funding round raked in by Privateer Holdings, which hopes to build a series of brands in the cannabis industry.
We’ll likely see more of these deals pop up, particularly as more states legalize the product. After all, in the marijuana segment, it seems like there’s nowhere to go but up.
UPDATE: An earlier version of this story said Eaze didn’t provide logistics infrastructure. While drivers are paid by dispensaries Eaze works with, it does help route deliveries.