Seattle-based Wikileaf is one of the fastest-growing names in cannatech. The site, which offers price and strain comparison tools for cannabis dispensaries, has grown to 1.6 million monthly users, and company offices in the United States, Canada and India.
In late May, Wikileaf raised $6.8 million in new funding and filed the preliminary paperwork that will allow the company to go public on the Canadian Securities Exchange later this year — making them one of the first U.S.-based cannatech firms to go public.
Yet, back in 2014, Wikileaf was but an idea in the mind of founder and CEO Dan Nelson, a Washington State graduate and fintech entrepreneur who had just returned to the United States after three years abroad. Surprised to see all of the new cannabis dispensaries in his hometown, Nelson began investigating applications for a price comparison tool he had been building in the cannatech world. Thus, Wikileaf was born.
Built In heard from Nelson himself on the ups and downs of the company’s history, Wikileaf’s impending IPO and the future of cannatech at large:
What challenges has your company overcome to get where it is today?
Internally, the biggest challenge has been related to growth and the plethora of ideas that comes with new people. Integrating those ideas and then creating prioritization was the first challenge as a new team. From an external standpoint, it’s been the continued federal stance on cannabis. Not being able to spend money to create working marketing funnels across all of the regular avenues has been an interesting challenge.
As you prepare for the next big step on Wikileaf’s journey, what achievement or milestone are you most proud of thus far?
Reaching one million in monthly web visitors is the milestone I’m most proud of. To know that millions of people are relying on Wikileaf as a trusted source for cannabis prices, dispensary locations and strain information is how I know we’re being true to our mission to empower the cannabis consumer.
A listing on the CSE is a huge deal for a U.S.-based cannatech company. What made your firm decide it was time to take this step?
We have been eyeing the public markets for over two years now and, even while private, we have always done our very best to hold ourselves to the standards of a public company. We believe that 2019 is a great year to make the move. There have been a lot of great companies in both cannabis and tech to IPO this year and we want to piggyback on their success. We’ve also hit all the internal goals and milestones that we had set for ourselves prior to going public.
How do you see the cannatech market evolving in the United States and beyond?
In the short term, I expect to see a ton of innovation and new companies finding market fit and getting funding. In the long term, I would expect things to mature and consolidate through mergers and acquisitions as well as more mainstream partnerships outside of the cannabis sector.
What predictions do you have for the future of the industry?
It will be bigger than the hype and a worldwide phenomenon.