Flowhub, a Seattle-based startup that helps businesses and consumers find and shop for cannabis strains and dispensaries, has raised a $23 million round of funding from a number of investors including Kraft Heinz.
Flowhub promises to help weed retailers and growers with a platform and analytics tools that give them access to a greater market of potential customers and cultivators. Their earlier backers included Netflix and Comcast Ventures.
“In such a rapidly changing market, tech solutions companies are often overlooked because they’re hard to understand, different, and very hard to scale,” Flowhub CEO Matt Gordon told TechCrunch. “But the growth of the market requires that we move forward and that we step out of our comfort zone. No longer are we in Seattle or Boulder — we’re going to New York, Los Angeles, and Seattle, building a global community and an incredible team of professionals.”
Currently, dispensary brands are mostly independent ventures with little interaction with consumer brands. The growth of the marijuana industry has brought tech to the market in the form of payment services and proprietary data with users able to buy products in national chains like CVS. Even food brands like Kraft Heinz are getting in on the action by teaming up with vendors like Flowhub.
“If this trend of mainstream companies looking to enter the cannabis industry continues — and a lot will depend on the tax incentives and other regulations states adopt — then it will be no longer ‘too big to fail’ but just ‘big enough to succeed,’” Jonathan Kirsch, co-founder and CEO of Kinetta and Flowhub board member, told TechCrunch.
Ketchup-maker Kraft Heinz has also been on a weed streak recently. Last year, they partnered with a company called Cronos Group, which owns a number of retail brands, including Eaze, for its new ketchup-flavored product named Klean Kanteen, featuring the aroma of a cannabis leaf on the side and no actual cannabis leaves.
The growing popularity of marijuana brands could benefit marijuana-reliant businesses. According to The Guardian, the number of companies in the medical marijuana space is now pushing 50,000 and some business owners estimate the market to be worth $7 billion.
Flowhub plans to use its new round of funding to continue its expansion in the medical marijuana industry. It also wants to double its staff to 20.