The weed startup that simplified the cannabis supply chain

The cannabis industry seems here to stay. As funding booms, legalization bills spread, and new innovations are being created, a whole new world of supply chain tech has unfolded in recent years. With companies like LeafLink implementing Metrc (marijuana enforcement tracking reporting compliance) for their clients, new business solutions are leading to a windfall in revenue.

Ryan Smith started LeafLink in March 2016 with one goal for the Colorado-founded startup: streamline the ordering process in cannabis. Today LeafLink is a booming wholesale marketplace, defining the way that thousands of cannabis brands and retailers manage and track their orders and relationships. The company is live in 20 territories across the U.S. and Canada, and has offices in Los Angeles, New York, and Toronto, in addition to satellite offices in the states where it operates.

Gone are the days where retailers called, emailed, or texted 50-plus sales reps to place orders. Within its first month of launching, LeafLink processed over $12,000 in orders. Today cannabis retailers and brands are using LeafLink to manage over $1 billion per year in orders. No one else in the industry has created a business-to-business, wholesale e-commerce platform, and the company says it’s staying ahead of the competition because of its approach to the weed supply chain.

Metrc is a regulatory compliance system that tracks and traces cannabis from seed to sale. Every canna-business is required to report all of what it does with its products to the U.S. government. LeafLink’s software strips that compliance process down so that brands and retailers can efficiently report to the government. It’s available to vendors in Colorado, Oregon, Nevada, Arkansas, Maryland, and California, and it’s been a hit.

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Co-founder and CTO Zach Silverman tells the Daily Dot that the company has brought together 3,100 retailers and over 1,000 brands to conduct and manage $1 billion in annualized wholesale commerce. Tackling what was once a messy offline process, LeafLink has created a space for quicker marketing of new product lines, easing the process of reorders, and making data easily available.

My co-founder, Ryan G. Smith, and I were kicking around opportunities we wanted to explore together in the basement of Grand Central Terminal in New York City,” Silverman says. “The cannabis industry came up as a topic and I’ve always contemplated why e-commerce wasn’t more prevalent as a solution between businesses. It was obvious that’s where everything was heading on the consumer side.”

The two concluded it was because as you move further back in most industry supply chains, things tend to be deeply stuck in their ways. But with the cannabis industry, Silverman thought, the supply chains are nascent and convoluted, creating an opportunity to define a new chain with his business-to-business platform. The two tech entrepreneurs already knew the e-commerce space and that the cannabis industry was a sleeping giant: It was can’t-miss.

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The company has big plans for growth, too. In addition to territorial expansion, LeafLink wants to continue making the platform more sophisticated by building solutions that alleviate pain points in client business operations. That’s a jargony way to say that the company’s next steps are to deconstruct industry logistics like payments, partnering its tech with venture capitalist investment platform Canopy Rivers in more than a dozen international markets.

“Our goal has always been to set a new, virtual standard for how the supply chain operates, and we’ve built a lot from what we’ve learned over the last three years. This new effort creates an exceptional opportunity to bring those learnings to new markets and continue to empower cannabis businesses and regulators as the industry goes more mainstream,” says Silverman. 

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Brianna Holt

Brianna Holt

Brianna Holt is a New York City journalist who covers entertainment and technology. Her work has appeared in MSN, Black Entertainment Television (BET), Best Life, and ONE37pm. She's a former music editor at BuzzFeed and previously served as an editorial intern with the Daily Dot in 2016.