LeafLink Inc. received some “long green” earlier this week to help expand its online cannabis marketplace. That’s long green as in $3 million in cash from multiple investors. LeafLink will use the funds to expand into newly legal medical and recreational marijuana markets, including California, Nevada and Oregon.
The funding round was led by New York-based Lerer Hippeau Ventures, a technology-focused venture fund with investments in companies such as online mattress retailer Casper, sunglasses retailer Warby Parker, mobile payment app company Venmo, social news site Buzzfeed.com and health insurance company Oscar Health.
“At LeafLink, our goal is to empower cannabis business owners with a B2B marketplace and supporting tools that will give them the efficiency they need to grow,” says Ryan G. Smith, co-founder and CEO. LeafLink provides a B2B platform for orders, sales and customer relationship management for cannabis product brands and retailers, and defines itself as an “ancillary technology business that does not touch, buy or sell cannabis.”
Cannabis retailers have typically managed their ordering process through email, text messages and phone calls with a decentralized web of cannabis flower, edible, concentrate and topical vendors, LeafLink says. The LeafLink marketplace enables them to place all orders in one legally compliant shopping website. The cannabis vendors then manage their incoming orders using the platform’s business tools, including CRM, data reporting, order status tracking and fulfillment, the company says.
Since launching in Colorado in March and in Washington in October, LeafLink says 800 dispensaries have joined the marketplace and placed orders for more than 100 cannabis product brands. The company notes it’s on pace for $65 million in orders through the platform annually.
Retailers can join the marketplace for free, while vendors pay an undisclosed fee to subscribe, LeafLink says.
LeafLink launched in March 2016 and says it has raised more than $4 million in capital, including a previous angel round of $1 million in December 2015. The company is headquartered in New York and has offices in Denver and Seattle.
LeafLink’s seed funding round is the first in the cannabis industry for New York-based Lerer Hippeau Ventures. “Legal cannabis is creating a massive new market from scratch,” says Eric Hippeau, managing partner.
The future of legal cannabis use in the U.S. is unclear. Former President Barack Obama said the federal government would not interfere in states where non-medical use of marijuana was legalized. President Donald Trump is on record saying during his campaign in 2015 that recreational pot use was “bad,” but later that year said it was an issue for states to decide. He’s on record supporting medical use of the plant.
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