BY LOGAN ORSINI:
These days, cannabis dispensaries can have a hard time keeping existing customers in a saturated market. Many stores use discount programs rather than loyalty programs. New consumers often opt out of these loyalty programs.
A new startup offers a different approach. CliqueMJ, with HQ in Irvine, offers the cannabis consumer a mobile app where they’re able to receive relevant deals based on their interests, accrue loyalty points every time they visit their favorite dispensary, and redeem local food and entertainment deals in close proximity to the dispensaries they frequent.
CliqueMJ goes as far as to create communities within the app where dispensaries can engage directly with their customers.
The founder of the company is Rahmi Sahhar (CEO). When he first started, he was offering dispensaries child-resistant exit bags for free. He would put a QR code on each side of the bag and the consumer would scan the QR codes in order to receive a cannabis deal and restaurant deal nearby, all through the CliqueMJ app.
One day a dispensary noticed that many of its customers were using the app. It asked CliqueMJ to include it in a deal.
CliqueMJ sent the deal out to the dispensary’s customers and noticed how much traffic the dispensary generated from that one outreach.
Sahhar then proceeded to build out the new company.
The startup has signed two deals recently. One is with Flowhub, a retail management platform that helps with cannabis dispensaries. The other is with restaurants.com, so CliqueMJ can offer its users a variety of restaurant deals that are within a 10-mile radius of the dispensaries they follow on the app.
This is how CliqueMJ modeled its business plan:
– $350 subscription per month per dispensary to be included in the loyalty program.
– $100 for monthly ads
Early seed funding of $500,000 came from family, friends, angel investors and the Canopy Boulder accelerator, which invests in cannabis entrepreneurs. 35% of the funds raised are in equity.
Sahhar has been using these funds for sales and marketing.
He is now looking to raise $800,000 in a late seed round, on a pre-money evaluation of $5.2 million.
Sahhar previously co-founded a natural skincare company in Newport Beach, Biovaj Skincare.
Sahhar said that this experience helped him expedite the initial steps of forming a team, structuring the company and raising money.
Sales and Revenue
The company is in revenue. Most of the customers are flagship stores in Santa Monica, West Hollywood, Hollywood, and Westwood.
Board of Advisors
One prominent person on his board is Liz Wald, previously the VP of technology at Indiegogo.
Sahhar said his exit strategy is to be acquired by a larger cannabis software company, Google or a large advertising firm.
Sahhar said there are a lot of benefits to being located in Irvine:
Irvine is a tech hub
An innovative environment to keep his team working hard and selling the product
OC has a lot of cannabis retailers and Sahhar believes that number will increase