There’s a story that gets told around the Canopy offices from time to time about one of our alumni’s mothers and her first trip to a dispensary. The story goes that the mom arrived in Denver, had some time to kill and so stopped into a dispensary. Mom was not an experienced cannabis user and so, of course, asked the budtender what she should get. The budtender recommended edibles. Lots of edibles. Too many edibles.
I’m sure you know how the rest of the story goes… needless to say, Mom was unimpressed with the nascent industry.
This happens more often than it should. Budtenders are an experienced bunch. However, dispensaries consistently run into issues of consumers having a bad experience, high turnover and a lack of knowledge about the never-ending new products and applications.
Compounding this issue is the strict advertising regulations around cannabis brands. It is near impossible for brands to get their messages to consumers, making it hard to know what they want and putting even more pressure on the budtender to educate.
Ebony Costain, CEO of BDTNDR, did not set out to tackle this problem. In fact, when she moved from her home in Virginia to Colorado to attend the fall 2017 accelerator class of CanopyBoulder, she was planning to launch a chatbot. However, as is common when starting a company, the more she learned about the industry, the more she recognized a need in connecting brands, dispensaries and budtenders in a sustainable way.
Now, we should mention here that it is not that dispensaries don’t care to train their budtenders, but rather that finding a time in the busy schedules where budtenders could brush up on the various products on the market can be tricky. That’s why BDTNDR has created an online platform where brands can upload marketing materials, helping budtenders understand the specific benefits and uses of their products. It is available 24/7 and offers awesome perks to budtenders who choose to educate themselves.
So what have BDTNDR been up to since graduating from CanopyBoulder in November 2017? Well, they hired a CTO, building out a robust platform to collect more data and offer more customizability. They’ve also added a few brands to the site, including well-known Wana Brands, as well as new users.
And this growth has not gone unnoticed. The company was featured on the BBC’s Inside Track, where Costain dives into the potential for the US market. She has also been featured in Fast Company not once, but twice, to discuss inequalities in the cannabis space and the trickiness of working on an industry your family might not be on board with. She’s also been featured in Marijuana Venture's 40 under 40 and her team won the pitch prize at both the Austin Cannabis Entrepreneur Conference and Marijuana Business Conference & Expo’s Innovation Battlefield in the Technology category.
So what’s next for the young company?
“Right now, we’re focused on honing our business”, explains Costain, “we’re looking at what works and what doesn’t as we gain traction.”
The company is also working to get more brands and more budtenders connected, so if that applies to you, get signed up now.
It seems clear from the feedback the company has already gotten that BDTNDR is here to stay. And that maybe your mom will have a much better time in Colorado next time she comes to visit.