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Meadow is the Amazon of weed

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Marijuana legalization is sweeping the nation, and The Green Rush is upon us. As pot sellers scramble to comply with complex regulations, one startup has built the full-stack of specialized commerce software they need. Meadow offers everything from an eye-catching digital storefront for teasing tasty plants, to automated patient records management for which you’ll go to jail if you screw up.

That’s why Meadow is emerging as the Amazon of weed. But it’s not just the website where you go to buy the best buds from a variety of top local shops. It’s the AWS powering the back end of the THC trade.

Meadow already provides:

  • Online and mobile ordering
  • Delivery logistics
  • In-store point of sale
  • Inventory management
  • Returns and discounts
  • Patient intake and registration
  • Analytics
  • Security

Today Meadow launches that final piece of its marijuana dispensary software suite: loyalty. It lets ganja buyers earn points for shopping at the same place, which they can redeem for cash back, discounts, free products and prizes. Customers can earn and apply points in-store or online, and track how many they’ve racked up at all of Meadow’s vendors. It could be especially helpful for sellers who want to get rid of pot before it goes stale or another shipment comes in, without screwing with their public pricing.

“The ability to accrue points gives the dispensary a tool to build a deeper relationship with the customer,” says Meadow co-founder David Hua. “We’ve seen a lot of dispensaries fail at managing a loyalty program. Creating one is easy, tracking it with inventory and your reporting often can be super onerous for the operator.”

Meadow co-founder, CEO and smoker David Hua

Hua is a stoner, no doubt. But Meadow’s CEO is also a shrewd businessman who won it TechCrunch’s 2015 Crunchies award for best bootstrapped startup, led it through Y Combinator and raised its $2.1 million seed round last year. Operating out of a warehouse in San Francisco’s Mission District, pungent smoke often wafts in from the courtyard of Meadow HQ. Its willingness to serve as a community hub and event space has established Meadow as the commerce layer connecting players in the burgeoning legal pot business.

Meadow frequently gets compared to fellow weed software startup Eaze. While both run a virtual doctor’s office where you can get prescribed marijuana over video chat, and both offer an aggregated online storefront and delivery logistics service, that’s where the similarities end.

Eaze has aggressively raised more than $24 million for marketing in a bid to become the Uber for weed, organizing deliveries without formally employing the couriers. But Hua sees that as a more generic piece of the marijuana commerce puzzle that could get commoditized. It’s the hardcore back-end office software for navigating heavy regulation that’s harder to copy, but critical for running an upstanding pot business.

Meadow’s point of sale software lets marijuana dispensaries offer loyalty programs

Meadow’s vision is that if a dispensary relies on it for everything from scanning bar codes on jars of weed in their store to securely storing patient medical data, they’ll tack on its online storefront and delivery logistics for convenience sake.

That plot is panning out. Despite having raised just $2.1 million in April 2016, Hua says “We still have plenty of runway. We’re good on funding.” In fact, now that the 10-person startup can serve 70 percent of California counties that allow medical marijuana, Hua tells me Meadow is “getting close to profitability.”

The pot market is poised to get much more exciting as marijuana becomes legal for all adults in California at the start of 2018. “Looking at Colorado, Washington, Nevada [where weed recently became recreationally legal], those markets tripled, quadrupled, 5Xed over night. We expect to have a nice multiplier.” While only focused on California for now, Meadow has enormous growth potential as more states decriminalize.

A customer checks out using Meadow’s tablet-based point-of-sale software

Legalization brings challenges too, though, as regulations change, competition increases and more established businesses try to muscle in on the weed trade. That’s why Hua has raced to bring in best practices from outside of the pot world, watching how Square, Belly, FiveStars and other commerce platforms handle point-of-sale and loyalty.

With the end of any prohibition comes massive opportunities for new ventures. Some jumped into holding and selling weed themselves. Others like Eaze have vied to handle how it gets to your door. But Meadow has taken the unsexy path of building serious commerce software. As weed finally becomes a serious business in 2018, all that time coding could blossom into a very sticky service.

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How Slack uses a raccoon to keep distractions on Slack at bay

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Slack has undoubtedly changed how employees at many companies communicate. But more and more, it feels like Slack’s focus on immediate responses is far more distracting than the asynchronous emails it often replaces. As Slack CTO and co-founder Cal Henderson noted at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin today, we still have to figure out how Slack can fit into many a company’s culture and how to keep Slack discussions from going off topic despite the existence of GIFs and emoji. Internally, at Slack, the company mostly uses a raccoon for doing this.

“Internally, we have this idea of the polite raccoon,” Henderson said. Whenever a conversation goes off topic, the raccoon means that it’s time to take that conversation into a different channel (or maybe offline).

Henderson noted, too, that a lot of the work that Slack is putting into machine learning is about making people more efficient and reducing the number of unnecessary messages. “There is definitely more we can do in terms of filling up people’s time so that can better separate between work and outside of work,” he said.

Henderson himself, too, uses Slack’s do-not-disturb setting to keep messages at bay during his off time, but throughout today’s panel, he noted that it’s very much up to the individual and company to set their policies. He also very much defended the existence of Slack itself.

“Something like Slack would have existed even if we didn’t build it,” he said. That’s in part due to the rise of consumer messaging in general and the fact that businesses are now comfortable with buying their software from multiple vendors, which has resulted in a situation where there is no obvious center for business software.

“Communication is the only obvious location to tie those together.”

Featured Image: Sercan Topali / EyeEm/Getty Images Readmore

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20 critical startup truths no one will tell you

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Some knowledge is so important, everyone assumes everyone already knows it. But they don’t, especially in the tech world where things move so fast that most people are faking. But Stripe’s Patrick McKenzie spends his time helping the payment platform’s startup customers survive, and now he’s laid out 20 crucial learnings everyone should read. Click or scroll through for tech’s dirty shouldn’t-be-secrets.

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Apple releases iOS 11.2 with ‘I.T’ autocorrect fix, faster wireless charging and Apple Pay Cash

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Apple released an iOS update in the middle of the night (Cupertino time). iOS 11.2 brings Apple Pay Cash, but the feature is not live yet. The company still needs to flip a switch on its servers to enable it.

Today’s update also enables support for faster 7.5W Qi wireless charging. If you have an iPhone 8 or an iPhone X as well as a wireless charger that supports 7.5W or more, your phone will now charge more quickly as Apple first limited wireless charging to 5W.

Some users have had some issues with the autocorrect feature. The default iOS keyboard would change ‘it’ into ‘I.T’ for no apparent reason. iOS 11.2 should fix that too.

In iOS 11, if you tap on the Wi-Fi or Bluetooth icons in Control Center, iOS doesn’t disable Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. Instead, your phone disconnects itself from Wi-Fi networks and Bluetooth accessories until the next day at 5 AM (or you restart your device, or you go to a new place for Wi-Fi).

Apple doesn’t disable those features so that you can connect your Apple Watch or Apple Pencil, enable Personal Hotspot from another device and use Wi-Fi for more accurate location features. With iOS 11.2, the icons are no longer greyed out. You’ll now see white icons to indicate that Wi-Fi and Bluetooth still work, you’re just not connected to any network or accessory.

In smaller news, iOS 11.2 brings a couple of revamped emojis, new wallpapers, a new indicator at the top right of the lock screen to help you find Control Center and better Wi-Fi and Bluetooth indications.

Releasing iOS 11.2 on a Friday night is a bit odd, but that might be because some iPhones keep rebooting themselves because of a time bug. After your device’s clock passes 12:15 AM on December 2nd, 2017, apps with local notifications crash your phone (workout or meditation apps for instance). Apple may have rushed iOS 11.2 to fix this bug. You can probably expect a macOS, tvOS and watchOS update next week.

So you should update your phone when you get a minute before you encounter this weird clock crash. Head over to the Settings app, then hit General, then Software Update.
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