With cannabis legalization materializing in more and more states, the market for marijuana-centered tech is gaining traction. Looking to provide the go-to app in the cannabis sphere, Buddy has got you covered. Providing reviews, information on pricing, locations of storefronts, doctors, and delivery services, Buddy was created for anyone to become a more informed consumer. The company is proud to release their auto-verification service, ensuring that you can register electronically. Available on iOS and Android, Buddy helps you gain reliability and access in a fast growing market.
LA TechWatch chatted with founder Paul Kinsella about the company, its origin, and how attitudes surrounding cannabis have changed.
What market are you attacking and how big is it?
First, our goal is to capture Southern California’s dispensary business. There are about 1500 in SoCal alone. With legal recreational that passed in California this year, it’s hard to pinpoint the exact size of the market. It’s certainly growing. This is evident by the size of lines to get legal recreational marijuana at dispensaries. This wait for recreational pot is a problem we are solving with our auto-verification.
How is it different?
Fun, Fresh, Entertaining with utilitarian daily advantages of time and money saving technology for both the seller and buyer. Yes, the marijuana business is serious but it doesn’t mean it can’t be fun friendly and useful at the same time. We think of buddy as the knowledgeable friend or “buddy” that shoots you in the right direction for your needs like a technology-driven helper that gives you confidence like Siri and Alexa.
Buddy is the first cannabis industry mobile app with auto-verification capabilities that is solely focused on hooking people up with the best buys, promotions, and sessions in their area. This auto-verification process lets recreational and medical users upload their photo I.D. and medical note one time, which automatically signs them up with participating sellers via the app to eliminate the time and annoyance of waiting in line and filling out paperwork. Once this auto-verification is in place, whenever a promotion is selected, Buddy automatically sends the user’s doctor recommendation and identification to the participating seller before they even leave the house. Buddy’s auto-verification process is HIPAA-compliant, operates via encrypted electronic transmissions, lets buyers and sellers go completely paperless, and is the perfect way to confirm doctor recommendations, photo I.D.s, and other new patient documents.
Why use the term “hook up”? Isn’t that potentially confusing?
In this business the term “hook up” is a very commonly used and getting “hooked up” is the goal of our users. They want the best hook-up on the best products the fastest way possible.
If I was to travel to let’s say San Francisco, I’d want to know who had the “hook up” or who has a buddy that hooks up marijuana in the area. I also know many people who do and think the same.
Tell us a little about your background and what inspired the business?
Since a pretty young age, I’ve sold to friends and have been the “ hook up” guy. I did it illegal for many years. Growing, buying, trading, selling and had plenty of customers. I finally started engaging in larger grows indoor and outdoor as a hobby and used the profits to help make a living. I was a recording engineer and bass player for studios in LA and I would sell to many artists and label people…I was their hook up. Finally, after doing it as a hobby and to make extra money, I had friends who were pushing me to open a dispensary. When the economy in 2007 started to dive for me in the stock market and other investments, I opened my first store in Ventura, which was fully legal and compliment. I open another store in Riverside and one in San Bernardino we grew most of the medicine in-house because were a collective and worked under collective rules by being reimbursed for products by our patients. The financial costs of running indoor/outdoor and storefronts was massive and every penny was invested in getting scaling business and to run fully independent without buying illegally from vendors. We had about 4500 patients that we were growing for and being reimbursed for that effort. Unfortunately, the federal government started to send our landlords letters threatening to take their properties and the DEA was counting our door swings.
Fast Forward to 2018, the laws have changed, and I got out of the stressful dispensary business. I wanted to use my experience and knowledge in an industry I know extremely well to create something that the industry has yet to see. I know all the hiccups in the industry and what buyers are looking for, so I decided to use technology to build an app that that would benefit both buyer and seller.
Tell us what building your company in LA has been like?
Being in LA and having access to so many creative people that are also pot savvy has been a huge benefit. What I didn’t expect was the massive influx of marijuana related businesses and how was I going to stand out with my project. Luckily, I have a lot of help from people with great networks and that has been the biggest asset about LA. However, this ocean of marijuana businesses is 1000 times bigger than when first started but there is one thing that hasn’t changed and that’s people still want the best bud for the best price and that the goal of Buddy- getting that word out there that he’s the go-to app if you want to be treated right.
What are the milestones that you plan to achieve within six months?
My goal would be to have 3,000 sellers signed up and seeing their coupons that they have listed on the Buddy app bringing them in new clients.
If you could be put in touch with one investor in the community who would it be and why?
I’d be really happy to work with an investor that has experience in B2B in the marijuana industry and that knows the intersection of marijuana and technology.
What does being “Made in LA” mean to you and your company?
I’m from LA and have lived through the good, bad, and the ugly within the cannabis industry. It’s great to see that entrepreneurs like myself can take what was once an illegal and taboo industry and now employ people from the art design & creative, tech, marketing who are all passionate, like-minded people. I love meeting humble people that care about making this world better in any way they know how to. It’s really fantastic to see how many different aspects of humans are here in LA most of us see the good and look for the good in each other and freely sharing that good for the common good & inspiration to all mankind.
What else can be done to promote early stage entrepreneurship in Los Angeles?
Hard, hard work! You have to want it because no one is going to give it to you. I’m a firm believer of good old street team advertising and evangelizing the capabilities of the Buddy app.
What is your favorite restaurant in LA?
My absolutely favorite places to eat in LA is not a restaurant, it’s homemade taco stands – street tacos. I know it can be risky for some but being from Ireland the best food was always served by a family and that the family feeling I get when I go to a taco stand. I’m slowly trying to eat better and healthier so I’ll only do it once a month, but there’s one place that I always hit and the feeling that I get from the lady and family that run it is pure love and care which is kind of hard to find these days.